Great roads draw Targa competitors to Tassie
- 4th February 2015, 2:37am
The joy of driving a competition car on a magnificent piece of road is the carrot that has lured many of this weekend’s Targa Hellyer Gorge entrants to the north west of Tasmania.
The inaugural event, supported by the Burnie City Council, has attracted a diverse field of drivers and cars in what is shaping up to be a brilliant event.
But while the rally itself is new, the iconic Hellyer Gorge road has been used countless times in Targa Tasmania over the past 20 years, and it’s a road that competitors can’t get enough of.
“I think the beauty of Hellyer Gorge is the nature of the road – the way it constantly winds under the trees and out of the gullies,” former Targa Tasmania winner, Steve Glenney, said.
“The stage is twisty with plenty of long corners, and it really is a fun, rollercoaster type of road.
“When the road was first sealed it was nice smooth hot mix, but over the years there have been a few bumps and things that have appeared that really add character to the road.
“The road flows really well, and it’s a great feeling when you drive it at speed in a good car,” Glenney explained.
The Hellyer Gorge road will be used in both directions for Saturday’s event, with the one-day rally comprising six stages and nearly 100 kilometres of competitive driving.
One of the most talented tarmac rally drivers in Australia, Glenney finds himself in the co-driver’s seat again this weekend, calling the pacenotes for local driver, and Targa rookie, Stephen Maguire.
“I love driving, but co-driving is a very important part of rallying, and it’s something I enjoy doing as well,” Glenney added.
“The first couple of times I sat with top-class rally drivers I was a bit worried, but you soon realise that it feels a lot faster when you don’t have control of the car. You gradually get a gauge for when a driver is pushing too hard, and I’m not afraid to slow a driver down if he’s getting on the edge.
“Like all sports, rallying is about getting things set-up properly, both with the crew and the car, and it’s satisfying to sit beside young drivers who are new to the sport, and to assist them to improve.”
Maguire is the brother of Eddie, another local, who Glenney co-drove to victory in last November’s Targa High Country in Victoria.
In this event, Stephen Maguire and Glenney will pilot a 1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5, a car that Maguire drove for the first time in anger at Baskerville Raceway recently.
With Glenney, Eddie Maguire and Targa legend Jason White looking on, Stephen impressed with his ability to control the car at speed, and how quickly he became comfortable with the car set-up.
“He showed a real poise, presence and skill that is quite rare for a guy driving a competition car for the first time,” Glenney says.
While the pair is hopeful of a good first-up result in the Rookie competition of Targa Hellyer Gorge, Glenney says the finishing position is not even on their radar.
“To be honest, the result needs to be the furthest thing from our mind,” he said.
“There are lots of tricky corners and places where you can make a mistake on the Hellyer Gorge road, but if we make good pacenotes, drive smoothly and to the conditions, then the result will take care of itself.”
Targa Hellyer Gorge features vehicle classes for a wide range of cars under the Targa rules, as well as a category for vehicles that do not fit within the Targa Technical Regulations.
The winner of the Rookie competition in Classic, Early Modern and Modern will receive entry into May’s Targa Tasmania, valued at over $7000.
For further information on Targa Hellyer Gorge, visit the official website at www.targa.com.au
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