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The red-hot favourite to take line honours and the modern title at this week's Targa Tasmania is local Lamborghini driver, Jason White.

White is the defending modern champion, one of three titles he has won in his 15 years in the event.  It seems remarkable that the Spreyton driver has such a long history in Targa Tasmania despite his relatively tender years of 40.

His first victory with uncle and co-driver, John White, was in a 2001 R34 Nissan Skyline back in 2005.

A relatively long drought followed, the Whites having to wait until 2010 to add a second title, this time in their Italian supercar, having finished runner-up in 2009.

Since then their dominance of the sport has increased. Not only did they win the six-day Targa test in 2012, they are also the reigning CAMS Australian Targa Champions, having clean-swept the three event series in 2012, and they have won two of the three rounds in the current season, with Targa Tasmania the finale.

Some put the run of success down to the car, the fire-breathing 2011 Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale that thrills crowds wherever it goes. But the event director, Stuart Benson, says it is White’s talent as a driver that has been the key to the team’s success.

“Having a great car helps,” Benson says, “but winning as often as Jason does in all sorts of conditions is testament to his extraordinary driving skills.”

“His uncle recognized his exceptional driving talents at an early age, and that’s why he threw him the keys of some pretty expensive machinery and agreed to sit in the passenger’s seat and call the notes for him.

“It was a huge act of faith, of trust, and it has paid off in spades.

“John understood that with Jason he could create a winning combination. Yes, the car is always important in motorsport, and the Whites have certainly put together a good support team, but without Jason behind the wheel they would not have had anything like the success they have enjoyed.

“His skill is exceptional. I really believe that Jason is one of the premier talents in any form of motorsport in this country.

“What is fantastic now, given we have a national Targa championship that takes in Victoria as well as South Australia, is that the Jason White story is going outside of our island state.

“More and more people are starting to understand that the guy is a bit if a genius behind the wheel. If you are in any doubt about that, go and stand on the side of the road and watch how he attacks, how he backs his own ability and the things that he can make that car do.

But as good as White is, Benson says he won’t have it all his own way.

“Six days of racing is a different test to the past two events the Whites won that were really two day sprints.

“So consistency is everything, and knowing when to attack and when not to. This was something that Jim Richards was the master of in winning his eight Targa Tasmania titles.

“In modern, expect Tony Quinn to be ready to pounce in his Nissan GT-R. He and Naomi Tillett are a wily combination and know how to win, having taken the title in 2011.

“Matt Close, along with his wife and co-driver, Casey, are another terrific combination. They have been getting better and better and are ready for a break through win in their Audi TT RS.

“Steve Glenney is another past champion, back with his long time co-driver, Bernie Webb. They have got a Nissan GT-R for this campaign. They have the speed, the question will be the reliability of the car I suspect.”

Targa Tasmania gets underway with the traditional TEMCO Prologue in George Town on Tuesday April 16, with the five day rally to follow, finishing at Hobart’s Wrest Point on Sunday April 21.
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