He’s more widely recognised as one of Australia’s fastest rally drivers on gravel, but Western Australian Dean Herridge is quickly gaining a reputation as a star on the tarmac as well.

The former Subaru Rally Team Australia driver will return for his second tilt at Targa Tasmania in 2008, after contesting the event for the first time in 2006 as part of the Subaru factory outfit.

Then, Herridge finished in thirteenth place, but had it not been for nine minutes of time penalties, he would most likely have finished on the podium.

This year, he’ll use a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI that has been converted from a gravel rally car into a tarmac car that conforms with the M2 regulations.

“The car was built by Maximum Motorsport last year for South Australian Sam Brand, but has never been used in competition until this event,” Herridge explained.

“Our family business, Maximum Motorsport, has prepared five cars for Targa this year, with all crews coming from Western Australia. We’ll have a team of eight guys working on the cars, including my Dad.”

Herridge’s father, Rob, is a two-time Australian Rally Champion and is aiming to make his competitive Targa Tasmania debut in 2009.

But for this year it’s all about Rob supporting his son, who is confident of performing well.

“My strategy will be to clear all the stages and look after the tyres, but that won’t be as easy as it sounds.

“I will be aiming for some sort of result! The field is very good and a lot of drivers have a lot more experience than me. I learnt a lot from 2006, so will be trying to put that into practice.”

Aside from Targa Tasmania, Herridge’s rallying program is as busy as ever in 2008. He will drive a Subaru Impreza in both the Asia-Pacific and Chinese Rally Championships, and is also expected to appear in selected rounds of the Australian Rally Championship.

While Targa Tasmania is just a small part of his season, he’s determined to push his Subaru to the limit and achieve a result that he thinks should have been his back in 2006.

“I would be rapt with a podium - but it won’t be easy,” he added.

Over 300 competitors from Australia, the USA, UK, UAE, Japan and Hong Kong have entered this year’s Targa Tasmania, the 17th anniversary event.

The rally roars into action on April 15 in Launceston and will take competitors through the heart of Tasmania, before the Hobart finish line at Wrest Point on April 20.

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