Targa High Country wide open in 2014
- 17th October 2014, 2:22am
Over 200 cars, covering 50 years of automotive manufacturing, will be in action at this year’s Targa High Country, to be run from November 7-9 in one of the country’s biggest tarmac rallies.
While the entire field is not in head-to-head competition given the wide spread of cars involved, each of the major categories within the overall competition will be hotly contested, providing interest for fans of some of the latest supercars, right through to the oldest car of the field, the classic 1955 Fiat Abarth of Jack Waldron and Vin Gregory.
Following Nissan’s historic second placing in October’s Bathurst 1000, a Nissan product looks the most likely to take victory in the Modern section.
With the Lamborghini Gallardo of last year’s winner, Jason White, being rebuilt after an extensive engine fire earlier this year, the 2014 modern title seems to be there for the taking.
Most of the leading modern contenders have won a Targa event, but South Australian Matt Simms will start as favourite from a host of Nissan GT-Rs.
Simms sat out last season due to work commitments, but his car actually claimed the tarmac title in the hands of Tasmania’s Jamie Vandenberg. Simms is a driver of similar talent, and he’ll be hard to catch.
West Australian, Ben Searcy, is another who’ll be pushing for the win, while the reigning Showroom competition champion, Adam Spence, has swapped to the ex-Tony Quinn Nissan GT-R and is confident the switch to Modern will go without a hitch.
A dark horse could be Tasmanian driver, Eddie Maguire, in a 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer, who has fellow top-line driver, Steve Glenney, in the co-driver’s seat. A fast driver on gravel and tarmac, Maguire will be hoping the more nimble Mitsubishi can shine, particularly on Sunday’s tighter and twistier stages.
Yet another Tasmanian, Greg Garwood, is also one to watch and he has won a Targa event in the past. Recently though he has driven a fire-breathing Holden Torana A9-X, but switches to a 2001 Nissan Skyline GT-R for this year’s event and could cause an upset in modern.
In the Classic Outright competition, Craig Haysman will be hoping to go one better in his 1981 Triumph TR7 V8. The South Australian has a second and a third placing in recent Targa High Country events, and has his sights firmly set on the top step of the podium this year.
His biggest rivals will be Roger Paterson (South Australia) in a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, Pete Nunn (Tasmania) in a 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo, and Matt Selley (South Australia), driving a rare 1985 Hartge H35-24 – a car based on the BMW E30.
Seven-time Bathurst winner, and eight-time Targa Tasmania champion, Jim Richards, returns again this year and should have the Showroom class well within his grasp in his 2014 Porsche Cayman S. With regular co-driver, Barry Oliver, in the car again, Richards is now competing simply for the enjoyment, rather than looking to notch up more victories.
Slightly more competitive will be the Showroom 4WD field, with a Subaru vs Mitsubishi battle likely to take place.
Angus Kennard will head the charge from the blue corner in his 2009 Subaru WRX STI, while WA’s Stewart Liddle will come out of the red corner in his 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.
Adding some spice to the competition will be Glyn Crimp in his 2012 Audi TT RS.
The cars will be on the start line at Mt Buller on Friday, November 7, ready for three days of intense tarmac rally competition that will culminate on the mountain on Sunday, November 9.
The event, now in its fifth year, has been significantly revamped and extended for 2014, with full three days of competition included.
Targa High Country will take the action further than ever before, with a lunch stop at Euroa for the first time.
The traditional Friday night street stage in Mansfield has moved to Saturday afternoon, a more spectator friendly time giving those from the surrounding areas the perfect opportunity to see the cars in action, then stay around for the Targafest in the main street, that follows.
Eildon hosts the Sunday lunch spot, the final chance to catch all the cars before they head to Mt Buller and the finish line.
Mt Buller is home to two thrilling finish stages, on Friday and Sunday with the Mt Buller Village Square hosting the finish celebrations, including grandstand seating, live commentary, podium presentations, Targa competition vehicles on display and a VIP enclosure.
For more details on the event, and the official program, visit www.targa.com.au
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