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The 2008 Targa Tasmania course released today continues the three year rotation policy of ensuring all areas of Tasmania gain benefit from the multi-million dollar event and addresses the strong competitor demand that Australia’s ultimate tarmac rally continues to provide a fresh challenge annually.

Additionally, the new course also addresses vital competitor and general public safety issues by minimising travel time and focussing on user-friendly roads.

Event Director Mark Perry believes the changes will strengthen the event for the long term.

“Pivotal in all the changes included, and there are many, is that we continue to conduct the best event of its kind in Australia and produce an event that keeps competitors coming back year after year in the face of increasing competition from the mainland.”

“In some ways Targa has become a victim of its own success. People have seen what we have done here in Tasmania and over the last few years, many new events have started in Victoria, New South Wales and just recently in Queensland.”

“To survive and thrive we have to remain the best, and the status quo simply won’t achieve that goal.”

The 2008 course sees the West Coast finally rewarded for its years of loyal service to the event with its first ever overnight stop. Strahan will host the field at the end of a gruelling Day 4 (Saturday April 19).

Queenstown will also share the economic benefits and the event will provide a major showcase for the region and its visitors when the cars of Targa go on display on Saturday night in Strahan.

West Coast Mayor, Darryl Gerrity, who has lobbied for years to obtain a larger slice of the Targa pie, greeted the news with excitement.

“We have sat by and seen Targa just pass through the area for one day each year for the last 16 years, not complaining because we know of its great benefit to Tasmania as a whole. Now we will finally be rewarded for this loyalty with a direct financial return to the West Coast,” Gerrity said.

“It is great news for the tourism industry here and will see an extension of the peak season, which I’m sure will please many of the local operators”

Other parts of the course have been reviewed to ensure the safety of competitors and the motoring public, and to restrict long touring sections, particularly on the busy Midland Highway.

The result is that the overall length of the course has been reduced 10 per cent on last year.

With the course growing over recent years to more than 2,100 kilometres, research showed that a duty of care issue could be raised based on driver fatigue.

Perry, who has competed in Targa eight times, said safety was a vital issue in course design.

“Fatigue is a factor in many road accidents and the issue has been raised with us by numerous competitors concerned, not just for their own safety but that of everyday road users.”

“To travel over 2000ks in under a week is a big ask so we have made the decision to cut the overall length.”

“This change will also bring Targa into line with other events and reduce the need for long sections of touring.”

“So safety is enhanced and competitor satisfaction is also enhanced in reducing traveling distances between stages.”

“Competitors who make the trip to Tasmania come to enjoy our fantastic road network, and decreasing the ratio between competitive and non-competitive stages is vital as we face increasing competition from mainland events desperate to grab our mantle as the country’s leading tarmac rally.”

“By having a Launceston base for longer, we remove the event’s Achilles heel which saw competitors face the cost and logistical challenge of travelling to Hobart twice.”

“Instead they will complete loops in and out of Launceston on the first four days of the six day event. I’m sure the hospitality industry in Launceston and surrounding areas will welcome these two extra days of Targa with open arms,” said Perry.

Launceston Acting Mayor, Ald Jodie Campbell, shared Perry’s view.

“Having the extra days of Targa Tasmania in Launceston is fantastic news and not only will it bring millions of extra dollars into the city, it will give the people of our city more opportunity to enjoy the event.”

While Hobart will see fewer stages in 2008, they will be held on Sunday allowing more people greater opportunity to witness the spectacle.

Hobart will remain the administrative home of Targa Tasmania.

New Norfolk, who lost their street stage in 2007 due to safety concerns, will host its first lunch break on the final day, giving the residents a perfect opportunity on a Sunday to view the cars, while providing an economic boost to the local economy.

St Helens is another winner in 2007. Instead of simply watching the cars pass through as they have done in the past, the scenic East Coast town will host the luncheon break in the totally revamped Day 2 of competition (Thursday April 17).

Devonport will host a lunch, bringing the cars and competitors to the heart of the City on April on Friday April 18.

Although Burnie will not host an overnight stop in 2008 for the first time, the North West Coast city will host its first lunch break to ensure that Targa continues to support the city.

Perry said the event was certainly not turning its back on the city.

“There is no doubt that people in Burnie will be disappointed with the change, but after sixteen years it was time to share some benefit around.”

“With Rally Tasmania also supporting Burnie heavily, with many cars attracted to that event as a warm-up to Targa, we felt it was time to drive our benefit into other regional areas. In saying that, we will be back in the years to come.”

Triabunna and the Huon/Channel area will also not receive a visit from Targa in 2008.

“In the case of Triabunna, we would like to look at how we can do it better without causing the current disruption to the town and its school. Added to this is the long touring required either side of the town, which is a concern. We hope to go back to Triabunna in the years ahead once we have assessed our options fully.”

“The home of the traditional Day 3 in the Huon/Channel area sees growing safety issues for the event.”

“As the years have ticked away there have been fewer suitable roads to use in the area.  We totally understand and accept that roads can’t be upgraded just for one day a year but competitor safety is of paramount importance to the event.”

Targa will continue to visit George Town for the Temco Prologue and it is hoped that with West Tamar Council support another visit to Beaconsfield will also occur at the end of Day 1 of competition. Sheffield will again host the lunch on the opening day after a successful first stop this year.

“It is a fact that any change creates winners and losers, but it is time to share around the multi-million dollar economic benefit that Targa brings to Tasmania and to look at the big picture - ensuring the event’s appeal for many years to come.

“This course is the second phase of our new three course policy to ensure all communities gain some benefit over a three year period.”

2008 Course Summary

Day 0 - 15th April – Launceston - Temco Prologue at George Town - Launceston

Day 1 - 16th April - Launceston- Deloraine- Sheffield- Beaconsfield - Launceston (9 stages)

Day 2 - 17th April – Launceston – Scottsdale - St. Helens - Campbell Town- Launceston (9 stages)

Day 3 - 18th April – Launceston – Don – Longford - Launceston (8 stages)

Day 4 - 19th April – Launceston - Mole Creek - Burnie- Zeehan - Strahan (8 stages)

Day 5 - 20th April – Strahan – Queenstown - Tarraleah- New Norfolk - Hobart (6 stages)
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