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Queenslander Tony Quinn, driving a Nissan GTR, has run out a comfortable six-minute winner of the modern section of Targa Tasmania after his major rival, overnight leader Kevin Weeks, crashed out of contention on the second stage of the final day.

It is the 51-year old’s first victory from 11 starts in the six-day tarmac classic, with second and third positions going to Burnie drivers Jason White in a Lamborghini, and Jamie Vandenberg in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

Victorian Rex Broadbent has made it a hat-trick of wins in the classic category, taking his 1974 Porsche 911 RS to a clear win over the similar car of Bill Pye, with early pace-setter Ben Wooster third in a 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS.

Greg Johnston has given Tasmania a home win in the Showroom class, easily defeating the similar Lancer Evo 9 of 2008 champion Tony Warren, with Brendan Reeves third in his Mazda 3 MPS.

The final day of Targa Tasmania left the west coast town of Strahan in wet and damp conditions, with Kevin Weeks holding a slender eight second advantage over Quinn.

Quinn, a former Targa New Zealand winner, threw down the gauntlet on the first stage just outside Strahan, beating Weeks by 11 seconds to reclaim the lead.

Weeks set off in pursuit, but he and co-driver, Bec Crunkhorn, crashed their Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera into trees near the end of the Queenstown stage.

Medical crew were quickly on the scene to assist Weeks and Crunkhorn. Both were conscious and talking to the rescuers before being airlifted to Hobart General Hospital for further medical assessment; their dream of a first Targa title in tatters.

Quinn’s lead was then out to nearly four minutes and, with the Lamborghini of Jason White behind him experiencing major brake problems, he was able to cruise in to Hobart to collect the spoils of victory.

“Our strategy was always to keep up with the others and if we got the wet weather over the last day or two, just to have a lunge for it,” Quinn said.

“I’ve always been bridesmaid to Jim (Richards) or the Whites or somebody else, and we’re very pleased to finally win it. It hasn’t sunk in yet and it feels like it’s been the toughest and most competitive week there’s every been in Targa.

“The top five or six guys have just been going hard at it. The proof in that is that Jimmy (Richards), for the first time ever, had a crash.”

The battle for the minor placings intensified as the day progressed, with White being chased by Vandenberg.

White’s brake problems meant he had no confidence in the stopping power of the big Italian sports car, and he was soon within Vandenberg’s grasp.

Going into the final 6.6 kilometre stage, they were separated by just four seconds, but White held on, finishing 10 seconds ahead of his fellow-Burnie resident.

“We’ve had more brake problems today and it was too risky to push on and do anything, and there wasn’t much point anyway,” White said. “We started the day deciding just to defend third place.

“A podium result at any time is always great; to stand on the podium after Targa, with all the stuff that unfolds through an event like this, is still a hell of a reason to celebrate.”

Vandenberg was equally as happy.

“To get on the podium is fantastic;” Vandenberg said. “We set our aim to finish in the top five, and we thought that if we have a good run that the top three would be possible if others had problems.

“We were counting on some falling off the road or having mechanical problems. Targa is the event that you aim to do, and do well in, so third is just fantastic.”

In the classic competition, Rex Broadbent’s dominant display in wet conditions on day four proved pivotal in securing his third straight win.

Despite suffering from a head cold early in the event, Broadbent was clearly the class of the classic field and took a commanding one minute 54 second victory.

“After the first day I was embarrassed about being 50 seconds behind the leader,” Broadbent admitted. “We lowered our expectations significantly. A podium was all we were likely to get, but weather conditions changed.

“This year we’ve all had our moments,” Broadbent said.

“I certainly spent a lot of brain energy in Melbourne thinking about all the options that the weather was going to throw up, and I thought our choice of tyres was the smartest one. I thought we had a pretty good compromise that would last the distance.

“We worked really hard for this one and we virtually snatched it from oblivion.”

Behind Broadbent, Ben Wooster and Bill Pye were fighting tooth and nail. Pye’s Porsche enjoyed the wet conditions more than Wooster’s Nissan, and he came away with second place.

“We’ve had a good day today after a shocker yesterday afternoon,” Pye said.

“I was very confident the car would be quicker in the rain, but this is the first time we’ve ever run it in the wet and it was very edgy yesterday,” Pye explained.

“We mucked about with the suspension this morning quite a bit and it was good, and I can’t help thinking that if we’d done this yesterday we would have been a lot better off.

“We also come here looking for a podium. It’s a long and difficult event, and strategy comes into it, but Rex has outsmarted us once again, so we’ll have to try again next year.”

Wooster was a happy man in third, having not expected to be as competitive before the event started.

“It’s been a fantastic event and we’ve had a ball,” Wooster said.

“We came into the event thinking we might be a contender for late classic on handicap, but to find ourselves where we are and competing for the outright classic win has just been a massive effort from all involved.

Tasmanians had plenty to celebrate in the Showroom class. Greg Johnston from Launceston, with his Burnie co-drive Mike Stoneman, were the runaway winners in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 over Hobart’s Tony Warren.

The pair finished three minutes 26 seconds clear of last year’s winner Warren and his co-driver, Natasha Deneise, who were also in a Lancer.

Third was 20-year-old Victorian, Brendan Reeves, driving the factory backed Mazda 3 MPS.

“Anyone who has any idea of how difficult these events are, knows that just to finish is pleasing, but to finish at the front is pretty special,” Johnston said.

“As a racer you always turn up to win, but in reality we thought we had a chance to be on the podium, and that’s why we came. That’s why you spend all the money.

“At the end of the day it’s the challenge of the event. We have guys in different model cars, on different tyres and with different strategies, so it’s not just what you do on the road, but what you do after hours that counts. We’ve very pleased.

“The Showroom category is probably the way forward for the event. I think it should be somewhere where the privateers get a chance to buy a car that’s relatively undeveloped and develop it more in the shed, rather than the factory.”


Targa Tasmania final results

MODERN (Provisional)

1. Tony Quinn (QLD), Naomi Tillett (SA), 2008 Nissan GTR, +8s
2. Jason White (TAS), John White (TAS), 2007 Lamborghini G allardo Superleggera, +6min 00s
3. Jamie Vandenberg (TAS ), Simon Vandenberg (TAS ), 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +6:10s
4. Klark Quinn (QLD), Toni Feaver (WA), 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +6:28s
5. Dean Herridge (WA), Glen Weston (QLD), 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +9:41s

CLASSIC (Provisional)

1. Rex Broadbent, Michael Goedheer, Porsche 911 Carrera RS
2. Bill Pye (NSW), Grant Geelan (NSW), Porsche 911 RS, +1:54s
3. Ben Wooster (QLD), Tim Kulhanek (QLD), Nissan Skyline GTS-t, +2:12s
4. John Ireland, Micheal Ribot, Prosche 911 Carrera 3, +11:56s
5. Paul Batten, Mike Batten, 1961 Volvo PV544, +16:59s

SHOWROOM (Provisional)

1. Greg Johnston (TAS), Mike Stoneman (TAS), 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9
2. Tony Warren (TAS), Natasha Deniese (VIC), 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +3:26s
3. Brendan Reeves (VIC), Rhianon Smyth (VIC), 2007 Mazdda 3 MPS, +6:12s

EARLY CLASSIC (Provisional)

1. Paul Batten (NSW), Mike Batten (NSW), 1961 Volvo PV544
2. Peter Ullrich (NSW), Sari Ullrich (NSW), 1963 Jensen CV8, +9:46
3. Andrew White (NT), Ashley Yelds (USA), 1961 Volvo 122S, +13:54

LATE CLASSIC (Handicap) (Provisional)

1. Rex Broadbent, Michael Goedheer, Porsche 911 Carrera RS
2. Bill Pye (NSW), Grant Geelan (NSW), Porsche 911 RS, +1:53s
3. Ben Wooster (QLD), Tim Kulhanek (TAS), 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS-t, +2:12

EARLY MODERN (Provisional)

1. Ric Shaw (NSW), James Parish (NSW), 1997 Mazda RX7
2. Jeff Beable (VIC), Nerida Beable (VIC), 2000 Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec, +3:33
3. David Ayers (TAS), Robbie Bolton (NSW), 1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec, +6:56
4. Matt Walsh (VIC), Patrick Bourke (NSW), 1994 BMW M3, +7:52
5. Paul Freestone (VIC), Christine Freestone (VIC), 2002 Holden Monaro CV8 T3, +11:02s

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