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Former Bathurst 1000 winner, Tony Longhurst, and local Burnie driver, Jamie Vandenberg, have finished equal first in the Modern section of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge – the first time the event victory has been shared.
 
Heading into the final stage of the day, Longhurst (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) held a slender 1.1 second lead and had to fend off a charging Vandenberg (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) to deny the Heat 1 a spot alone at the top of the dais.
 
The veteran racer managed to do just that, winning the day by just 3.3 seconds.
With both drivers taking a first and a second place from the weekend, they had to share the spoils at the victory presentation.
 
It was a similar story for third place, with Tony Quinn and Simon Gillet sharing the podium after both had consistent weekends behind the wheel.
 
Ties were the order of the weekend, as in the Classic section Brett Kay (Mazda RX7) and Cameron Wearing (Ford Capri Perana) shared the honours, while young gun Brendan Reeves again dominated the Showroom category in his Mazda3 MPS.
 
The second day of the Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge was held in changing weather conditions. Rain in the morning blew away this afternoon as competitors tackled five stages over 88 competitive kilometres.
 
Longhurst’s victory, his first in tarmac rallying, has been a long time coming, and has given his Launceston-based Les Walkden Rallying team a huge boost. After a long run of bad luck, the team hope their fortunes have finally changed.
 
“To win my first tarmac rally is a really special feeling – it’s been a long time coming,” Longhurst said.
 
“We probably should have been on the podium at Targa this year, except I put the car off the road, but to finally get the win is great.
 
“I tried a lot harder today and was really committed to the pacenotes. It’s been an incredible tussle with Jamie (Vandenberg).
 
“Yesterday was my first time on the Dunlop tyres, and with more confidence in them today, I was a lot more comfortable to push harder.”
 
After yesterday’s Heat win, Vandenberg’s crew opted not to change his broken gearbox (which had lost reverse gear), but he was able to get through the day unscathed.
 
“I pushed as hard as I could through the last Hellyer Gorge stage, and I thought I would have beaten Tony, but he’s obviously driven the wheels off his car to do a time like that,” the local lawnmower salesman said.
 
“The car has been great all weekend, apart from the gearbox issue, which was my fault. It was tricky to push so hard today as I had to make sure I didn’t spin the car. With no reverse gear, that could have been fairly dramatic.”
 
Veteran circuit racer, Tony Quinn (Mitsubishi), took third place for the day, reversing yesterday’s positions with the Subaru of Simon Gillet.
 
“We had a lot better day today. We used the softer Dunlop tyres that Tony (Longhurst) used yesterday, and that made a big difference to the car,” Quinn said.
 
“It’s been a great event, and I think that having the ARC guys competing here has worked well. Now we have to work on getting a national tarmac rally championship and putting all this great events together in a series.”
 
Gillet led the event after the first stage this morning, but dropped back as the day wore on.
 
“On the drier roads this afternoon, our soft tyres were not ideal and we dropped time because of that, but overall I’m very happy with how things have gone,” he said.
 
On his debut drive for the factory Mazda outfit, Reeves was overjoyed with his eighth outright and first in the Showroom category.
 
“On my first factory drive, I’m very happy to be able to bring the Mazda home in one piece, without even a scratch on it,” Reeves said.
 
Ford Capri driver, Cameron Wearing, was frustrated yesterday with a lack of grip in his V8-powered car, but with a fresh turn of speed, he was able to turn the tables on arch rival Brett Kay’s Mazda RX7 today. The pair will share the Classic section victory after both put in strong drives.
 
Racing legend, Jim Richards, retired from today’s Heat with further turbo problems in his Porsche 911 GT2. He was eighth before his demise, having struggled in this morning’s wet conditions in the rear-wheel drive Porsche.
 
Final Results – Modern, Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
 
=1 Tony Longhurst/ Jahmeil Taylor, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 74 points
=1 Jamie Vandenberg/Simon Vandenberg, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, 74 points
=3 Tony Quinn/K Wenn, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, 56 points
=3 S Gillet/K Norton, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 56 points
 
Final Results – Classic, Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge
 
=1 Cameron Wearing/B Fitzsimons, Ford Capri Perana, 74 points
=1 Brett Kay/Stuart Jack, Mazda RS7, 74 points
3 S Cadden/S Strik, Porsche 911, 60 points
 
Heat 2 Results – Modern
 
1. T Longhurst/ J Taylor, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 47:50.0
2. J Vandenberg/S Vandenberg, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, +3.3seconds (diff. to leader)
3. Tony Quinn/K Wenn, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, +29.2
4. S Gillet/K Norton, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +35.2
5. T Alford/K Handley, Nissan GTR 35, +1:29.1
6. P Leemhuis/N Deniese, Nissan GTR32, +1:29.5
7. D Walden/R Ferguson, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 1:48.2
8. B Reeves/R Smyth, Mazda3 MPS, +2:31.3
9. R Newman/B Wooster, Nisssan GTR3, +2:34.0
10. S Bartter/I Wheeler, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, +3:12.7
 
Heat 2 Results – Classic
 
1. C Wearing/B Fitzsimons, Ford Capri Perana, 52:22.3
2. B Kay/S Jack, Mazda RS7, +7.4 secs (diff to leader)
3. S Cadden/S Strik, Porsche 911, +1:39.8
4. G Tierney/D Carra, Porsche Carrera RS, +2:32.5
5. G Crimp/P Van der Mey, Porsche GTS Rallye, +2:45.6
6. D Todd/D Tighe, Holden Torana A9X, +3:05.6
7. R Lowe/P Lowe, Datsun 240Z, +4:54.3
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