Richards sets the pace in Targa Tasmania
- 28th April 2009, 5:48pm
Eight-time Targa Tasmania winner, Jim Richards, once again looks like the man to beat in the Modern car section of the tarmac rally after setting the pace in the official Prologue, held around the streets of George Town on the north coast of Tasmania.
Victorian Gary Tierney was the quickest in the Classic category in his 1974 Porsche 911 RS, while reigning Bathurst 12-Hour winner, Rod Salmon, was the fastest of the Showroom class field in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10.
Driving a Porsche 911 GT2, Richards was 1.35 seconds faster than another Porsche, driven by Victorian Matt Close, over the twisting 4.5 kilometre street stage.
The veteran is hoping for a dry event to give him the best possible chance of taking a ninth win, and the weather gods are looking on his side at this stage.
Local favourite, Burnieâ€™s Jason White, in a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, was third, ahead of the similar car of Kevin Weeks and the Nissan GTR of West Australian Steve Jones.
Thousands of spectators lined the route of the stage, which got the 18th running of the tarmac classic started under cool, but clear blue skies.
More than 250 cars started the event, but for 2008 Targa winner, Steve Glenney, it was not the start he had hoped for. His brand new Mazda RX8 SP lost turbo pressure during the stage, and he finished a disappointing 50th. However, the Mazda mechanics will repair the car, ensuring he will start tomorrowâ€™s nine stages still in with a chance of repeating his victory.
Richards was happy with the result, but well ahead of the challenge ahead.
â€œThings went as good as it could on Prologue day,â€ Richards said.
â€œOur time was quicker than last year on this stage, but the car was only three weeks old last year. Weâ€™ve changed the suspension and put different springs in it since then.
â€œBut todayâ€™s stage means nothing really. Weâ€™ll always be competitive if itâ€™s dry, but if itâ€™s damp, slippery and wet we wonâ€™t be.â€
The winner of the Classics for the past two years, Rex Broadbent, was forced to miss todayâ€™s Prologue after falling ill overnight. The Porsche driver will be allowed to start the event tomorrow morning.
His absence allowed Gary Tierney to take a 1.15 second stage win over the 1977 Holden Torana A9X of local Launceston driver David Cooper. Gavin James was less than half a second further back in third place, at the wheel of a Porsche 944 S2.
Another pre-event favourite, Bill Pye, lies in fifth place after a steady run in his Porsche.
â€œWeâ€™re very happy,â€ said Tierney. â€œItâ€™s the same car as we ran last year and it appears weâ€™re about 11 seconds faster, which is good.
â€œWe have built a new engine in the last 12 months, and obviously thatâ€™s helped. Weâ€™re looking forward to the rest of the week, and we may even get lucky and have nice weather. While our car is nice in the wet, the driver is better in the dry.â€
Sydneyâ€™s Rod Salmon is less than two seconds clear of a pair of front-wheel drive Mazda 3 MPSs, driven by young 20-year old Brendan Reeves, and veteran Rick Bates.
The dry conditions will suit the little Mazdas, and the four-wheel drive, turbocharged cars will need to be driven to the limit if they are to stay ahead.
Todayâ€™s Prologue stage determines the start order for the first real day of Targa Tasmania, which gets underway from the Launceston Country Club tomorrow morning. Nine stages lie ahead of the competitors, before they return to Launceston tomorrow afternoon.
RESULTS - Targa Tasmania - Prologue
1. Jim Richards (VIC), Barry Oliver, (TAS), 2008 Porsche 911 GT2
2. Matt Close (VIC), Cameron Reeves (QLD), 2000 Porsche 911 Turbo, +1.33s
3. Jason White (TAS), John White (TAS), 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, +2.21s
4. Steve Jones (WA), Ruari Soutar-Dawson, 2007 Nissan GTR, +3.47s
5. Kevin Weeks (SA), Rebecca Crunkhorn (SA), 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, +3.54s
6. Dean Herridge (WA), Glen Weston (QLD), 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +3.55s
1. Ric Shaw, James Parish, 1997 Mazda RX7
2. Jeff Beable, Nerida Beable, 2000 Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec, +3.12s
3. Andrew Bollom, Brad Trenwith, 1997 Mazda RX7, +3.23s
4. Brendon Manion, Benjamin Manion, 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec, +5.99s
5. Richard Perini. Chris Perini, 2000 Porsche 911 GT3, +6.72s
1. Gary Tierney (VIC), David Carra (VIC), 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS
2. David Cooper (TAS, Brad Sherrif (TAS), 1977 Holden Torana A9X, +1.15s
3. Gavin James (VIC), Neil McLeod, (VIC), 1989 Porsche 944 S2 +1.63s
4. Ben Wooster (QLD), Tim Kulhanek (TAS), 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS-t, +3.02s
5. Bill Pye (NSW), David Potter (NSW), 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +3.78s
1. Scott Kent, Wayne Kent, 1965 Ford Mustang
2. Drew Kent, Paul Krawczyk, 1971 Ford Falcon GT, +0.23s
3. Jon Siddins, Darren Ferguson, 1970 Datsun 240Z, +0.35s
4. Paul Batten, Mike Batten, 1961 Volvo PV544, +2.24s
5. Andrew White, Ashley Yields, 1961 Volvo 122S, +5.74s
1. Rod Salmon (NSW), Samantha Stevens (NSW), 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10
2. Brendan Reeves (VIC), Rhianon Smyth (VIC), 2007 Mazda3 MPS, +1.97s
3. Rick Bates (NSW), Anthony McLoughlin, (QLD), 2007 Mazda3 MPS, +3.12s
4. Simon Clarke (QLD), Peter Wickham (QLD), 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, +5.64s
5. Greg Burrowes (QLD), Rhonda Burrowes (QLD), 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, +8.34s
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