Experienced racer Paul Stokell has ordered set-up changes for his Lotus ahead of the showcase Targa Great Barrier Reef based in Cairns. Stokell remains in the box seat to successfully defend his modern crown in the CAMS Australian Targa Championship (CATC) which was established for the first time last year. The Queensland-based former Tasmanian will combine with co-driver Kate Catford for Targa Great Barrier Reef which acts as the penultimate event in the four-round CATC. Following on from their impressive victory in Targa Tasmania in May, Stokell and Catford remain strongly fancied to maintain their rich form in Far North Queensland. However Stokell remains cautious of the ever-present danger of the more powerful Dodge Viper crewed by Tasmanians Jason and John White. Stokell and Catford go into the 16-stage Targa Great Barrier Reef run over three legs, leading the Modern Outright standings on 163 points from John Ireland/Janet Binns (Dodge Viper) on 131 with White/White third on 100 points. The same three entries hold sway in the GT2 class with Stokell/Catford on 163 from Ireland/Binns (136) with the Whites on 130. Stokell’s 2014 Lotus Exige Sport 350 was given a factory upgrade leading into the start of the 2019 season which saw it gain a larger capacity supercharger. “That will help in the heat of the north and I’ve also made a few changes to the overall set-up that should suit the Cairns course a little bit more,” Stokell said. “It will be interesting to see how we go pace wise. It’s always hard to beat those guys (White Viper) but we shouldn’t be far away. “The set-up changes will help the layout up there as it’s not as undulating and bumpy as what Targa Tas is. There’s a lot of smooth flat roads. “We have changed a few things to suit but haven’t gone overboard. It’s just springs and dampers and the general set-up of the car.” While Stokell is ready for a showdown, he is not about to take any silly risks. “We are in a pretty good position again for the Championship so we can’t be silly but I do want to press on and see where we end up,” Stokell said. “The Whites are the nearest threat in potentially winning the remaining rounds. They are obviously very quick all the time. “When we are having a go I think we’ve got the measure of most other people.” “We were closer to the Viper last year at Targa Great Barrier Reef which was good. “Obviously the car was a lower spec then (than its current form) so we will have a little bit more of an advantage this year.” Following Cairns, crews will have just over two months to prepare for the season-ending round, Targa High Country based at Mount Buller in Victoria which will celebrate its 10th anniversary from November 8-10.
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