Launceston’s Les Walkden Rallying have made an impressive start to Targa Tasmania, with touring car great, Tony Longhurst, finishing the first day in third place.

Driving the LWR-prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Longhurst and co-driver, Jahmeil Taylor, were never outside the top five on any of the opening day’s nine closed road special stages.

Team-mates, Klark Quinn and Natasha Deniese, lie in thirteenth place in their identical Subaru, but are just four seconds outside the top ten.

Longhurst, the two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, was happy with his opening day, and is determined to maintain or increase his overall standing over the remaining four days of the event.

“I’m very, very happy,” Longhurst said at the end-of-day service break in Launceston. “We’ve had a really good day, and Jahmeil and I really started to gell well together in the car.

“The Subaru has been really good today and the LWR team have managed to get the set-up more to my liking. We’ll make some minor suspension changes to the car overnight, but otherwise it’s been perfect.”

Longhurst’s confidence for the rest of the event has been boosted by his stage times, which have been equal to those of arch-rival, Steve Glenney, for most of the day. He trails Glenney’s Mitsubishi by only three seconds after the day’s stages.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to pull time back on Steve Glenney this afternoon, as he was consistently quicker than us at Rally Tasmania in February. We’ve narrowed his advantage, and he’s going to have to press on to beat us.

“Tomorrow’s stags should suit us better than today. In 2007 we were stronger on day two than on day one, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow,” he added.

After a slow start to the day, Quinn has moved his way up the leaderboard to be thirteenth – a remarkable effort given that this is his first competitive drive since a major crash in Rally Tasmania just two months ago.

Still nursing sore ribs from the crash, Quinn got through today’s stages unscathed, but the LWR mechanics will make some minor changes to his Subaru tonight to hopefully increase the car’s speed over Thursday’s stages.

A pacenote school with rally great, Ed Ordynski, in the lead up to Targa Tasmania, has been beneficial for Quinn and co-driver, Natasha Deniese, and they are now looking to reap the rewards with a strong Targa finish.

Day two of Targa Tasmania gets under way at 8:00am tomorrow morning. Crews face a further eight stages and 68km of competitive driving, before returning to Launceston at around 3:00pm.

Targa Tasmania – Modern Results after Day 1

1. Jim Richards (Porsche 911 GT2) +12 seconds
2. Steve Glenney (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX), +13 seconds
3. Tony Longhurst (LWR Subaru Impreza WRX STI), +16 seconds
4. Kevin Weeks (Lamborghini Gallardo), +20 seconds
5. Jason White (Lamborghini Gallardo), +21 seconds.

13. Klark Quinn (LWR Subaru Impreza WRX STI), +36 seconds
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