GT2 set to be a Close call at Targa Tasmania
- 18th April 2017, 5:41am
For a man who was a late starter to the world of racing, ironically due to a career at sea working on oil tankers, Matt Close has achieved much success in his 20-year motorsport career.
Close is the defending Targa Tasmania GT2 champion and is predicting a close contest when Targa Tasmania gets underway on Monday.
Tasmanian stars Jason and John White in their Dodge Viper, along with Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett in their Porsche GT3 RS and last year’s runners up Michael Pritchard and Gary Mourant, also in a Dodge Viper, are considered the biggest threats, however Close will also be keeping a keen eye on a couple of locals – Peter Nunn and Keith Johnstone.
“I've got my eye on a smoky if the event turns up a lot of wet roads - Pete Nunn and Keith Johnstone in a new Porsche Cayman GTS will be hard to match with the softer rubber they can run. It's a very smart combination, and Pete is a gun driver and won't hang around if he gets his conditions,” Close said.
Last year, Close and co-driver Cameron Reeves took out the GT2 class in a 2015 Porsche GT3. This year, the defending champions will be competing in a 4.0 litre 2017 Porsche GT3 RS, however, they haven’t had a lot of time to familiarise themselves with the vehicle.
“We were offered an incredible opportunity by Porsche Australia; we took delivery of the car on April 3rd,” Close said.
“I’ve done 250kms of highway driving in it,” Close added. “I’m on a very steep learning curve when we start next week.”
“Cameron (Reeves) hasn’t even seen the car. I’m sure he thinks it’s all just a joke and I’m bringing the red GT3,” Close said.
This will be Close’s 13th Targa Tasmania and he says there is one simple reason he keeps returning.
“It’s driving those awesome roads in Tasmania,” he said. “It’s like racing 40 different race tracks in one week.
“Also, the friendships you develop over the years with other competitors, organisers and volunteers is important. I missed Targa in 2015 and I was not a happy camper; I actually had to fly down for the finish to feel a part of it,” Close added.
Close started racing in the late 1990’s, competing in a 1997 Subaru WRX, a move that didn’t amuse his boss at the time.
“I started hill climbing in my company car, and after winning the Collingrove Australian Hillclimb Championship I was encouraged to buy a dedicated race car after that,” Close said.
As for the best driver he has seen?
“I think I speak for many Tarmac competitors here – Jim Richards. He has won so many races in so many different disciplines; it’s hard to compare anyone else to that,” Close said.
Featuring 35 stages, Targa Tasmania gets underway this Monday, 24th April and runs for six days, finishing on the Hobart waterfront at PW1 at lunchtime on Saturday, 29th April.
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