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The top contenders in Targa Tasmania have endured another intense battle as cars tackled eight stages across 62 competitive kilometres south west of Hobart.

Still leading the way in the drivetravel.com Modern competition, with two days remaining, is Gosford’s Tony Sullens.

But the big mover of the day was Tony Longhurst in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec C. The Queenslander was 27 seconds off the pace at the end of Thursday’s competition, but produced brilliant speed across the day to move to second place, just 13 seconds behind Sullens.

In third place was the 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 of Jim Richards, who started the day six seconds behind Sullens but finished 22 seconds off the pace.

In the Shannons Classic Outright battle, Victorian Rex Broadbent still leads the way in his 1974 Porsche 911 RS, now x seconds clear of Bill Pye’s 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera 3. Victorian Steve Coad has broken the Porsche stranglehold on the top three by taking his 1972 Holden Monaro GTS up into third place, another x seconds back.

Sullens found the warm and dry conditions added to a particularly testing day.

“We are pushing as hard as we can and as hard as we dare in this sort of hot weather,” Sullens said.

“I’d like it to be a bit cooler. I don’t mind if it’s dry, just not 25 degrees and dry.

Richards, who has won the event eight times, knows it is still early days. Just 46 percent of the total competitive distance has been completed over the first three days, and he knows that super Saturday and Sunday is where the race will be won or lost.

“We’re not changing our tactics,” Richards said. “All we can do to catch the leaders is to just keep pressing on as we have.”

Longhurst was delighted with his day.

“We are holding our own, we just need to keep the pressure on,” he said.

“I’m enjoying the dry weather. Our tyres work good on abrasive wet, but not smooth wet.”

“I think I’d like it to stay dry now and just have everyone keep hammering their tyres, because my tyres will finish in mint condition.”

In the Shannons Classic competition, Broadbent was less confident about his tyres.

“Our times today have been good, we chose tyres rightly or wrongly that were more suited to the dry weather.”

“Up until now it’s been 100 percent the right choice. If it gets wet, we won’t have the grip the guys who have chosen the softer tyres will have, but the way they are wearing their tyres, they may not have any tyres left anyway.”

Top three – drivetravel.com Modern after day 3 of 5

1. Tony Sullens (NSW)/Julia Barkley (NSW), 1999 Subaru Impreza WRX RA
2. Tony Longhurst (QLD)/Michael De Vere, +13 seconds
3. Jim Richards (VIC)/Barry Oliver (TAS), 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, + 22 seconds

Top three – Shannons Classic after day 3 of 5

1 Rex Broadbent (VIC)/Michael Goedheer (VIC), 1974 Porsche 911 RS
2. Bill Pye (NSW)/Grant Geelan (NSW), 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera 3, + 27 seconds
3 Steve Coad (VIC)/Simon Vandenberg (TAS), 1972 Holden Monaro GTS +1 min 23 secs


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