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The 2008 running of Targa Tasmania will see the creation of a competition for Showroom cars. The Drivetravel.com Showroom category is designed to further enhance the long-term viability of the event and boost competitor safety.

For the first time in Australia, a tarmac rally will give full outright podium status to Showroom cars alongside the Modern and Classic competitions which have traditionally shared the limelight. There will be separate titles for two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles.

The move is designed to encourage manufacturer support of Targa Tasmania, bringing the economic might of some of Australia’s major car companies to the state through their motorsport and advertising budgets.

The Showroom competition regulations will be primarily based on those currently in place for other production class competitions in Australia, but with fewer freedoms. The split into separate two and four wheel drive classes should ensure all major manufacturers have a suitable vehicle to offer competitors.

With a pricing ceiling of $80,000 and a five year age limit, the new competition is firmly aimed at the many performance cars now being sold in Australia.

The move is also designed to offer an option with reduced speeds on competition stages by providing accolades to those competitors driving vehicles that are less powerful than the modified cars which currently dominate the modern competition.

“With the increasing speeds of modern cars, because of the design freedoms allowed under the current regulations, it won’t be long before we either have to drop some iconic stages or simply not allow some cars to compete,” said event director, Mark Perry.

“We can’t just rely on chicanes to reduce average speeds. This is a proactive step designed to bring cars that are specifically designed for every day use, to the fore.”

“Each car in the class has already been designed and built to meet the high standards required of the modern passenger car, because they are available from dealers around the country. Then they are further enhanced with safety features such as a roll cage, making them ideal for this type of competition.”

 “We’re hoping that, over the next three to five years, Showroom will become the major modern category with full support from manufacturers producing fully prepared cars for private owners.”

One manufacturer which has already thrown its support behind the competition is Mazda Australia who in this year’s event entered a two-car team in Targa spearheaded by rally ace Rick Bates in a Mazda3 MPS and a Mazda6 MPS piloted by Mazda’s first female Targa driver, Melinda Both.

Mazda Motorsport Manager Allan Horsley said: “This new showroom category is particularly attractive to manufacturers as it pits stock standard production cars against one another. Essentially, it creates a fair and realistic competition comprising cars customers can literally purchase off the showroom floor.”

 “While many promoters over the last few years have claimed to be running showroom production rules in their events, I believe that only Targa have developed their rules as a true representation of production cars as sold to the public.”
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