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The action heated up on the second day of this year's Targa Rotorua tarmac motor rally in the central Bay of Plenty and southern Waikato today.
Up front Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett (Nissan GT-R35) eased away from joint day 1 event and Instra.com Allcomers 4WD class leaders Leigh Hopper and Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru Impreza WRX) to end the day 25 seconds ahead while locals Mike Lea and Grant Handley (BMW Compact) took over the pace-setting in Instra.com Modern 2WD after day 1 leaders Richard Krogh and Glenn Sharratt (Porsche 911) ran off the road in the second stage.
In Metalman Classic 2WD meanwhile, family members Mark and Chris, and Steven and Barry Kirk-Burnnand led a successful BMW E30 M3 assault on the Holden Cheetah of day 1 leaders Tony and Joanne Butler, Wellignton son-and-father pair Mark and Chris claiming four class stage wins to the Butler's two and son-and-father Steve and Barry's Kirk-Burnnand's one.
Today's schedule saw the 70-plus field cover 162km of closed road special stages with four south-west of Rotorua in the morning and a further four west of Tokoroa in the afternoon. After settling in to their borrowed Clark Proctor Nissan GT-R35 on Friday Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett started as they meant to go on today, winning the first 20.90km stage by two seconds and the second 25.40km one by six.
Leigh Hopper and Simon Kirkpatrick remained within striking distance but Quinn and Tillett went on to win every other stage with margins ranging from just the one to six seconds. Early on Quinn and Tillett struggled with fumes entering the cockpit but fortunately the problem - an incorrectly fitted filter - was easily sorted.
"I was almost sick on the second stage, "Quinn admitted. "But the boys managed to identify and fix the problem before it got too bad and after that it was just a matter of going at a steady pace."
Having won one Targa Rotorua event and four main Targa ones in a GT-R35 of his own Quinn said adapting to Proctor's car was not a particuarly big deal, either.
"If anything," he said," I think Clark's car seems to be better in the faster stuff - it seems to handle the fast corners better, more stable so I think the spring combination is probably better. The problem with the GT-R though is that if there's a bit of loose gravel or stones on the road it is a different beast. It changes almost instantly."
Fellow GT-R35 pair Harry Dodson and Glen Cupit found that out the hard way, relinquishing fifth place in class and overall when they ran off the road in one of the morning stages.  And though conditions were good - dry albeit cool - Dodson and Cupit were by no mean the only pair to leave the road.
Also losing time with off-road excursions were Wellington pair Richard and Kai Taylor in their Subaru Legacy and Aucklanders Grahame Browne and Mark Christensen in their Renault Megane.
Others to strike problems were national rally championship sponsor Brian Green and co-driver Fleur Pedersen in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 (brake issues), Allan Lewis and Colin Cole, who snapped an oil pump shaft in their Datsun 240Z V8, and Bryan and Todd Hawthorn who broke an axle in their Fiat 124.
Meanwhile, despite intense pressure from Targa event veterans Richard Scoular and co-driver Mike Patching in a Mazda RX7 and Wanganui pair Paul Tulloch and Paul Bass in their Toyota MR2, it was local man Mike Lea and co-driver Grant Handley in a Nissan SR20-engined BMW 3-series Comapct who topped the Instra.com Modern 2WD class time sheets in five on the stages, though gearbox issues for Lea and Handley late in the day saw Tulloch and Bass claim their first class win of the event in the final stage.
"Mike certainly surprised everybody with his awesome pace today, " said Scoular,"but we'll have to see what happens tomorrow."
If how close it was in the two Modern classes was not impressive enough, the depth of competiton in the Metalman Classic 2WD was even greater with seven pairings swapping placings throughout the day.
The HQ Holden-based, Chev V8-powered Cheetah convertible of the Butlers remained a bone fide class pace-seater, but it was the Kirk-Burnnands in their BMW E30 M3s who were the big movers today.
Mark started strongly by beating the Escort of Nelson pair Peter Jones and Tim Eddington and the Butlers to the quickest class time in the first stage.
The Butlers fought back to get back on top in the next two but from that point on it was a Kirk-Burnnand benefit, Mark the quickest in class in the next three stages and cousin Steven claiming his first class win in the seventh.
Traditionally Steven has sat in the co-driver's seat with his father Barry driving, but after driving yesterday Barry handed over the reins to Steven today and the result was second in class behind Mark and Chris.
"Steven did a very good job today," confirmed Barry, "I'm proud of him."
Another BMW pair to make their presence felt today were Wellingtonians Angus and Euan Howden in their 325i. Though the pair are new to motorsport competition, having only made their Targa debut in the two-day Hawke's Bay event last year, they claimed either third or fourth place in class in five of the stages to move from fifth after the first day's stages to fourth this evening.
"We wanted to ease into it," explained Angus,"rather than push too hard in the first few stages and risk going off. All credit to Oliver Shepherd, the guys who's prepared and is working on the car. It's been perfect today!"
Tomorrow there is an early start for the third and final day of this year's Targa Rotorua event with another eight stages, the first north of Lake Rotorua and the rest between Cambridge (where the lunch time service will be held) and Matamata, before a late afternoon return - via the famous Paradise Valley stage - to the finish back at Rotorua.
The 2013 Targa Rotorua event is organised and is being run with the support of sponsors Britz, NZ Classic Car magazine, Ecolight, Federal motorsport tyres, Instra Corporation, Metalman, Mobil1, TeamTalk, Trackit, VTNZ and Woolrest Biomag.
More information including an entry list and stage maps is available in the latest issue of New Zealand Classic Car magazine.
Targa Rotorua 2013 Rotorua Fri-Sun May 10-12 2013

Instra.com Allcomers 4WD
1. Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett (2008 Nissan R35 GT-R) 01:30:46
2. Leigh Hopper/Simon Kirkpatrick (1995 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) 01:31:11
3. Jason Gill/Mark Tapper (2005 Mistubishi  Evo9GT) 01:32:53
4. Rick Giddy/Paul Ottaway (2003 Subaru WRX Sti) 01:33:52
5. Brent Early/Samuel Early (2001 Nissan Skyline) 01:35:56
6. David Dobbe/Adrian Dobbe (1992 Nissan GT R32)  01:40:48 

Instra.com Modern 2WD
1. Mike Lea/Grant Hanley (1990 BMW E36 Compact) 01:40:28
2. Richard Scoular/Mike Patching (1997 Mazda RX7) 01:41:02
3. Paul Tulloch/Paul  Bass (1991 Toyota  MR2) 01:41:05
4. Bob Boniface/Simon Butler (2008 BMW 135i Coupe E82) 01:43:24
5. Robert Darrington/David Abetz (2002 BMW E46) 01:44:57
6. Peter Dudson/Dave Hannah (2004 Nissan  350Z) 01:45:02
Metalman Classic 2WD
1. Mark Kirk-Burnnand/Chris Kirk-Burnnand (1987 BMW M3) 01:41:47
2. Steven Kirk-Burnnand/Barry Kirk-Burnnand (1989 BMW M3) 01:43:07
3. Tony Butler/Joanne  Butler (1973 Holden Cheetah) 01:44:11
4. Angus Howden/Euan  Howden (1986 BMW  E30 2.7)  01:45:05
5. Rex McDonald/Kate McDonald (1990 BMW E30)  01:45:41
6. Kelly Silverthorn/Michelle McLeod (1973 Porsche 911 3.0RS) 01:46:45
7. Carl Kirk-Burnnand/Sam Gordon (1991 BMW 325i) 01:47:01

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