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One of Tasmania’s signature events, Targa Tasmania, has reached a major agreement with a French rally that will significantly increase its international appeal and reputation.

For over 50 years Corsica has been home to a round of the World Rally Championship. But in 2009, with venues now only hosting a WRC round every second year, the island will swap to a Targa-style event, cloning the format and regulations of Targa Tasmania.

The event, to be held in October, 2009, will be called Targa Corsica-Rallye des 10,000 virages, and will be an official sister event of Targa Tasmania.

French representatives attended this year’s Targa Tasmania to learn about the ‘exotic rally on the other side of the world’, and returned home enormously impressed.

Last month Targa Tasmania Event Director, Mark Perry, flew to Corsica to attend the WRC round, where he had lengthy discussions with his French counterparts about the possibility of a Targa event on their island.

Corsica possesses very similar geography and roads to Tasmania making it an ideal venue to attract car enthusiasts.

Now an in-principle agreement has been reached for the Corsica event to take Targa to its name and to share ‘sister status’ with the original Tasmanian event.

But the deal is more than a name and a relationship. The format of the new Corsica event will be like Targa Tasmania in every way, including the awarding of Targa Plates and vehicle eligibility rules.

Perry has no doubt that the new French Targa will provide big returns for Tasmania and firmly establish Targa Tasmania as an iconic state asset as it heads towards its 20th anniversary in 2011.

“Corsica is an amazing island and will provide a perfect backdrop for a ‘sister’ Targa event’,” Perry said.

“This new deal will see a large increase in awareness of Tasmania in Europe, which will, in turn, lead to more visitors coming to our shores to explore our unique state.

“As far as Targa Tasmania goes, having this relationship will inevitably lead to many more internationals competing here each year, bringing a new dimension to the event and, over time, increase our status and level of awareness in the international motorsport world.

“Targa Tasmania is the largest tarmac rally in the world today and we will continue to spread the highly successful Targa concept overseas to ensure our event prospers and brings important economic returns to the state and enjoyment to its people.”

Tasmanian Minister for Tourism, Michelle O’Byrne, agrees the spreading of the Targa concept can only be good news for the state.

“Targa Tasmania is one of this State's major event success stories,” O’Byrne said.

“Every year it brings high quality motor sport to local communities, involves thousands of local volunteers, promotes Tasmania to millions of viewers around the world, and provides a major boost to regional tourism.”

Targa Tasmania currently has 210 entries for its 18th running in 2009.  This is fifteen up on the same time 12 months ago, indicating the event is on-track to again have a field of around 300 cars when the official prologue takes place in George Town on April 28.

The news is also good for the inaugural Targa Wrest Point to be held in late January, with over 90 entries received to date.

“We know it is a tough economy out there, but 2009 is shaping up to be another boom year for Tasmania’s largest annual event,” Perry said.
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