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Anyone involved in motorsport knows that sponsorship is extremely hard to come by, that’s why Hobart driver Simon Jansen couldn’t refuse an offer of a sponsored drive in the Targa Tasmania Rookie Rally despite not having a vehicle to compete in only two months prior to the event..

After winning the 2006 Australian Rally Championship BP Challenge, newlyweds Simon and Elysia Jansen decided it was time to take a year off, selling their Mitsubishi Evo 3 to a young Victorian driver.  The plan was to update to a newer model car later in the year but these plans were accelerated when sponsors Staging Connections and Barilla Bay Oysters came on board offering to cover the costs of entering the Targa Rookie Rally.  The Rookie Rally is a new section being run within Targa, designed to introduce new competitors to the event.  The rally is open to drivers who have not previously competed in Targa and works as an introduction where for a reduced cost teams can contest the prologue, day one and two.

“We sold the car in January and weren’t looking for a replacement until later this year” Jansen said. “But when Staging Connections and Barilla Bay came onboard as did a number of additional sponsors, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. At the time there weren’t any suitable cars on the market so the only option available to us was to build a car from scratch”

Building a rally car in such a short amount of time is certainly no small task but with assistance from Japanese Wholesale Spares the team took ownership of a Mitsubishi Evo VIII in mid February and began what has been non-stop preparations ever since.  

Jansen commented, “The rules in Targa don’t allow us to make a lot of modifications which surprisingly enough has worked to our advantage.  If we were preparing the car for gravel it would have taken two to three times as long just to get it to the start line.   The plan will be to eventually go back to gravel rallying, but I have always wanted to try tarmac, so this is a great opportunity to do so”.

When asked about his expectations of the event Simon was reserved. “The only tarmac racing I have done is the odd hill climb and club day, so we’ll have to see how quickly I can adapt to the black stuff. I’m not expecting an outright win straight up!” he joked.  “I am really looking forward to the new challenge of a tarmac rally and from the limited time I’ve had behind the wheeof the Evo VII, I can see it handles remarkably well and is great to drive.”  

The team would like to thank sponsors Staging Connections, Barilla Bay Oysters, Toyo Tyres, Japanese Wholesale Spares, Revolution Racegear, Castrol, Statewide Skylights and Away Voice and Data for their support.

The Targa Rookie Rally starts in Georgetown on Tuesday, 17th April and concludes in Hobart on Thursday, 19th April with a podium finish scheduled for 9.30pm at Wrest Point Casino.

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