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A field of almost 100 modern and classic cars will tackle the demanding roads south of Hobart this weekend when they compete in Targa Wrest Point in the Huon Valley and surrounding areas.

Targa Wrest Point is the third round of the four-round CAMS Australian Targa Championship series, and with the race for the title entering a critical phase, the competition is expected to be fierce across all nine classes.

While the battle for line honours will be fought out between cars entered in the Modern competition, valuable championship points will also be up for grabs in the Regularity, Early Classic Handicap, Late Classic Handicap, Classic Outright, Early Modern, Showroom, 4WD Showroom, And Showroom Sports categories.

The two-day event will include stages in the Lucaston, Longley, Esperance, Tahune, Pelverata, Nicholls Rivulet, Cygnet and Gardner’s Bay areas, covering a total of 588 kilometres, including 208 kilometres of competitive driving over 14 stages.

In the fourth year of Targa Wrest Point, the event looks set to be the most competitive ever.

The battle for line honours will see defending champions and reigning Australian Targa champions, Jason and John White (Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera), out to get their title defence back on track.

The Whites won a wet Supaloc Targa Adelaide in the first round in August, but failed to finish the second round, Targa High Country, in Victoria in November, when their Lamborghini struck differential problems.

They will also be looking to continue their amazing run of success in Targa Wrest Point, having won the last three in a row, and three of the four contested.

Although a top six finish will bring them back into title contention with the final double-points round being Targa Tasmania in April, the Whites will be keen to do even better and put some pressure on championship leaders Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett, who won Targa High Country in their Nissan GTR and finished second in Targa Adelaide.

Melbourne-based former Tasmanians, Matt and Casey Close, finished second at Targa High Country in their Audi TT RS and are also a team capable of winning, while veteran eight-times Targa Tasmania winners, Jim Richards and Barry Oliver, should never be underestimated in their seemingly bullet-proof Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

Classic Outright (for cars from 1947-1985) should also provide a close battle between reigning Australian Targa champions, Donn Todd and Dean Tighe, in their wickedly quick V8-powered 1971 Ford Capri Perana, and NSW-WA pairing, Michael Cardinaels and Jason Page, in their 1972 Datsun 240Z.

Queenslanders Todd and Tighe struggled in the wet in Targa Adelaide, but were victorious in fine conditions at Targa High Country, and are anticipating fine Tasmanian summer weather for the Targa Wrest Point weekend.

South Australian Roger Paterson is a regular front-runners in the Classic competition, and although he missed Targa High Country, a third place in his home event at Supaloc Targa Adelaide suggests he and co-driver, Richard Geue, will again be one of the front runners.

Although the Showroom section (for mass produced models built after 2003) is divided up into three different sections, the battle for honours in the 4WD Showroom competition will be the fiercest.

Mitsubishis have dominated the first two rounds, but a third place at Targa High Country by the Launceston team of Ben Newman and Chrichton Lewis in their Subaru Impreza WRX STi has given them a sniff of better things to come, and hopefully an end to the Mitsubishi dominance of the championship to date.

Although with a smaller entry list, the battle for victory in the Showroom Sports section (for mass produced cars costing more than $100,000), will create a great deal of interest, simply because of the types of cars competing.

The competition will see a classic Ford vs General Motors battle between Queensland’s Neil Ford, ironically in a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, who won Targa Adelaide, and Victorians Craig Dean and Emma Quigley in their 2012 Ford Mustang Shebly GT500, who won Targa High Country.

However, John Mansell (NSW) and Tristan Catford (SA) have also entered a brand new Porsche Cayman, which is an extremely rare and super fast car capable of turning the battle for Showroom Sports honours into a three-way battle.

Targa Wrest Point is the third round of the four-round Australian Targa Championship series and will be held on roads in the Huon Valley and surrounding areas, south of Hobart, on February 2 and 3.

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