Stokell soars to maiden Targa Tasmania triumph
Highly decorated former circuit racer Paul Stokell has conquered Targa Tasmania. Stokell, 51, accomplished his first outright victory and Dutton Garage GT2 class win at the event after negotiating six days of some of the fiercest tarmac rally competition in the world.
While Stokell won the maiden CAMS Australian Targa Championship last year through consistent results, this stands as his first Targa event win.
It is also the first outright victory for his experienced co-driver Kate Catford who was calling the pace notes for Stokell for only the second time.
The win was the first for the Lotus brand at the 28th running of the rally which covered 33 special stages and a total distance of more than 2000km, spanning the length and breadth of Tasmania.
Angus Kennard and Ian Wheeler produced a sterling drive to finish second outright, two minutes 51 seconds back and with the pair also claiming the GT4 Class in emphatic style.
Matt Close and Cameron Reeves leaked some time over the final six stages but held on for third outright and second behind Stokell and Catford in the GT2 class.
“I’ve always called Targa Tasmania the hardest event I’ve ever done,” said Stokell, a three times Australian Driver’s Champion during the 1990s and double Australian Nations Cup title winner.
“It’s the most challenging and the most individual thing because you are out there on your own.
“The conditions we had – we went from icy roads that were so slippery that you could hardly stay on them to high grip, high speed stuff and you’ve got to adapt pretty quickly.
“To win a circuit racing championship you can never take it away but this means a lot.”
Co-driver Catford put in an extraordinary performance given the extreme conditions, maintaining composure to help Stokell deliver an extraordinary drive.
“This is very special and it has long been a dream of mine,” Catford said. “Sometimes you think its an unrealistic dream so I’m really excited to win Targa Tasmania.
“In the wet conditions it took a lot of focus to get through safely. Paul really drew on all his experience in the wet.”
Queensland-based former Tasmanian Stokell took over the lead on Day 4 and built a cushion of more than two minutes on Day 5 through skilfully negotiating the tricky wet stages leaving Strahan.
Michael and Daniel Bray (1975 Holden Torana) took the spoils in Shannons Classic GT from the hard-charging Jon and Gina Siddins (1970) Datsun 240Z who closed a 5 minute gap down to 2min49s at the finish.
Mick Downey and Nicholas Browne produced some solid stages to fight back and finish third in Classic GT after a 15 minute penalty stripped their lead on Day 5.
“It’s been pretty intense from the start to the finish with no let up,” Bray said.
“The rules made it a bit challenging with the Downey crash at Strahan yesterday and there’s a few grey areas but we know where it’s at and we accept it.
Guy and John Lilleyman (2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) scored a big win in Dutton Garage Early Modern with 9min37s to spare over Adam Kaplan and Aleshia Penney (2004 BMW M3 CSL)
Nik Prieston and Dylan Braithwaite (Fiat 131 Abarth Rallye) took the Shannons Classic category by 2min40s from Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter (1985 BMW E30 325i).
Trophy classes saw wins to Steven Sher/Fergal Murphy (Lotus Exige) in Country Club GT Sports Trophy while Tyson and Celise Cowie (Ford Escort Mk1) took the Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy.
Spirit of Tasmania Rookie Rallye saw Kristain Downing and Richard Woodman (Subaru WRX STI) landed the Spirit of Tasmania Rookie Rallye by more than 10 minutes.
After a battle that raged all week Darryl and Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Pursuit Ute) took the Budget TSD Trophy with 31 points from Peter and Tristan Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise S) who accumulated penalty 35 points.
The third round in the Australian Targa Championship is the newest in the series, Targa Great Barrier Reef, to be held in Cairns at the end of August.
FINAL RESULTS AFTER DAY 6 of 6 (PROVISIONAL)
1 Paul Stokell/Kate Catford (Lotus Exige 350)
2 Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler (Nissan GTR R35) +2min51s
3 Matt Close/Cameron Reeves (Porsche GT3 RS +4min24s
4 Jeff Morton/Daymon Nicoli (2017 Lotus Exige) +6min01s
5 John Ireland/Janet Binns (Dodge Viper ACR Extreme) +6min16s
=6 Paul Dowie/James Marquet (Audi TT RS) +8min38s
=6 Eddie Macguire/Michael Potter (Dodge Viper ACR) +8.38s
Dutton Garage GT2
1 Paul Stokell/Kate Catford (Lotus Exige 350)
2 Matt Close/Cameron Reeves (Porsche GT3 RS) +4min24s
3 Jeff Morton/Daymon Nicoli (2017 Lotus Exige) +6min01s
Classic Throttle Shop GT4
1 Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler (Nissan GTR R35)
2 Paul Dowie/ James Marquet (Audi TT RS) +5min47s
3 Ben Newman/Andy Sarandis (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) +6min29s
Shannons Classic GT
1 Michael Bray/Daniel Bray (1975 Holden Torana)
2 Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins (1970 Datsun 240Z) +2min49s
1 Mick Downey/Nicholas Browne (1979 Holden Commodore VB) +10.14s
1 Nik Prieston/Dylan Braithwaite (1975 Fiat 131 Abarth Rallye)
2 Peter Gluskie/Samantha Winter (1985 BMW E30 325i) +2min40s
3 Peter Ulrich/Sari Ulrich (1964 Studebaker Avanti) +4min13s
Dutton Garage Early Modern
1 Guy Lilleyman/John Lilleyman (2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX)
2 Adam Kaplan/Aleshia Penney (2004 BMW M3 CSL) +9min37s
3 Peter Roberts/Suzanne Atkins (1992 Nissan Skyline GTS) +13min39s
Country Club GT Sports Trophy
1 Steven Sher/Fergal Murphy (Lotus Exige)
2 Mitchell Ringuet/Darryl Ringuet (2017 Lotus Sport 350) +41s
3 Tony Seymour/Sandra Seymour (Lotus Exige Sport 350) +1.53s
Shannons Thoroughbred Trophy
1 Tyson Cowie/Celise Cowie (Ford Escort Mk1)
2 David Currow/Kit O’Donnell (1969 Fiat 124) +44min15s
3 Jim Kelly/Evan Kelly (1984 Audi quattro) +1hr22s.10s
Budget TSD Trophy
1 Darryl Marshall/Peter Marshall (2002 Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute) 31 pts
2 Peter Taylor/Tristan Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise S) 35 pts
3 Steve Brumby/Heather Brumby (1999 Alfa Romeo GTV) 99 pts
Spirit of Tasmania Rookie Rallye
1 Kristian Downing/Richard Woodman (Subaru WRX STI)
2 John Ralph/Mark Brooks (Subaru WRX STI) +10min17s
3 Darryl Carr/Sharon Carr (Ford Mustang Roush 727) +10mins25s