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When Targa Tasmania gets underway with the official Prologue in George Town on April 17, at the start line for the first time will be a diesel-powered vehicle.

Motorsport veteran, Phil Buggee and his co-driver Paul Freame, will be behind the wheel of a Fiat Punto, competing in the Showroom category.

Not only will it be the first time that a diesel-powered vehicle has entered Targa Tasmania, it will also be the first diesel-entry in any tarmac rally in Australia.

The Punto meets the toughest emissions standards of Europe, EN590, and will use BP’s latest generation 10ppm low sulphur diesel.

The Fiat will be the most economical and environmentally friendly vehicle in the field.

“We are looking forward to contesting the Modern section after five years of competing with the Classics, in a brand new car, literally straight off the showroom floor,” Buggee said.

Buggee and Freame are past class and category 5MS winners in Targa Tasmania, and are making their competitive return to the event after missing the action in 2006.

Buggee, a life-member of the Fiat Car Club of Victoria, has been racing and rallying Fiats for over 30 years.

“Fiat has returned to the Australian market after an 18-year absence, so it’s great to see it back and in such a high-profile event.”

“When the opportunity came up to drive the Punto in Targa we jumped at the chance, and with the support of BP in Tasmania and Pirelli, we’ve made it happen.”

“The Fiat Car Club of Victoria is 50 years old this year and entering Targa is a great way to celebrate.”

“The chance to be the first turbo-diesel to compete in Targa Tasmania is just one of the firsts for this project.”

“Diesel really is the way of the future. We’re probably going to use less fuel than any other car in the field. We reckon our total usage will be less than 250 litres for the whole trip, which is pretty amazing.”

“I know that the organisers of the event are really looking forward to growing the Showroom class and we’ll certainly welcome any others who want to join us in the future.”

Fiat Cars General Manager, David Stone, is pleased the Punto will be at Targa.

“I am delighted that a Fiat Punto is competing in this year’s Targa – especially as a diesel’” Stone said.

“As our 1.9 diesel engine represents our sporty models in the range, I’d expect that the Punto will be very competitive whilst being economical and environmentally at the same time. We look forward to a great result from Phil and Paul.”

The Punto Sport turbo diesel, producing 96kW (130hp) at 4000rpm and 280Nm at 2000rpm, will also be a visual stand-out across the 2000 kilometre course in its bright orange livery.

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