Nothing less than outright victory is the goal for Ravage Raceworks when they return to tackle the iconic Targa Tasmania rally next week.
The Melbourne-based team has entered a Lotus Exige Sport 350 in the iconic Apple Isle event and has secured 2008 Targa winner Steve Glenney to drive it.
Dennis Sims, who won the rally in the navigator’s seat in 2014, will call notes for Glenney across the 29-April – 4 May challenge; one of the world’s most iconic and challenging Tarmac Rallies.
The car has serious pedigree, having won the Australian Production Car Championship in the hands of Jim Pollicina and co-driver Ryan Simpson last year.
Now converted to Tarmac Rally specification, the Ravage Raceworks team hope it is the right tool to guide Glenney and Sims to a Targa victory.
“We hope to be contenders – that’s the plan,” Glenney said.
“The car is quicker than the Subaru that we’ve run for the last few years. That was car competitive to a point but we needed rain to take advantage of the WRX compared to the Supercars in the field.
“The biggest advantage of the Lotus will be our tyre life. We think it’s a good package to contend.
“You only need to be ‘in the ballpark’ to have a shot at winning this rally and we think this car will very much do that.”
Glenney, who has achieved success in both the driving and navigators seat in top-level rally competition, said the program was put together through a group of old contacts.
“The whole thing came about via Dennis (Sims), who won Targa four or five yeas ago with Jamie Vandenberg but retired afterwards and stepped away,” Glenney explained.
“He wanted to make a comeback and Jamie wasn’t available – so he approached me. We wanted to find a competitive car that could compete for outright honours and Deano at Ravage had the Lotus available.
“From there it was ‘away we go’ and it all came together. It’s pretty exciting.”
Ravage Raceworks boss Dean Lillie said targeting an outright win in Targa Tasmania was like chasing the holy grail.
“It’s the biggest test in Tarmac Rallying in Australia and winning it is the ultimate prize,” he explained.
“As a business it would be amazing for us, but it’s important personally as well. It’s one of those key, famous events everyone wants to have on their CV.
“We’ve got a combination this year who have both won the event and understand what it takes and the car is as good as it can be. We’re in pretty good shape.”
From winning a Phillip Island six-hour endurance race late last year, the Ravage Raceworks Lotus has undergone a change in preparation to ready it for the rigors of Tarmac Rallying.
“There are some different rules between 3E (Production Cars) and Targa competition but they are not enormous.
“The car has already proven to be durable over a long race distance, being driven hard all the time, so we think it will be very good for the stages throughout the rally.
“We’ve been testing and like what we’ve seen with regards to tyre wear over the duration, so while it might not have quite the outright firepower of the ‘Supercars’ in the field, it will make it up in other areas.
“It’s an exciting period for the team and we can’t wait for the challenge.”
The 2019 event kicks off on Monday, April 29 before concluding near Hobart on Saturday, 4 May.
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