The home state’s best chance of a local victory in the modern section of next month’s Targa Tasmania again looks like being the nephew and uncle pairing of Jason and John White.

The former event winners held a 40 second lead in last year’s ultimate tarmac rally, before problems with the anti-lock braking system saw them have a small off-road excursion, putting them out of the event.

In 2008, their Lamborghini Gallardo has been up-specced to ‘Super Leguera’ specifications, and with the ABS issues now resolved, Jason White, who won Targa Tasmania in 2005, is confident of again pushing for victory.

“The upgrades to the car should make it both lighter and faster,” White says. “We’ve fitted a new engine management system to the car which will increase the power, and the addition of carbon bodywork and carbon ceramic brakes will help to significantly reduce the weight of the car.”

White expects that the car will weigh in around the 1400kg minimum weight for the Lamborghini, while it is hoped that an extra 40kW in power will be found, increasing the power to 300kW at the wheels.

Like most of his rivals, he says the weather will play the most significant role in determining the results.

“If it’s dry, then that’s as good as it gets in the Lambo, but if it rains, it’s a very, very nasty car to drive,” he adds.

Upgrading the car to Super Leguera spec has also meant that the Lamborghini now has to use 19” tyres, and with only four tyres allowed during Targa Tasmania (without penalties being applied), White says that this is the biggest unknown about their 2008 campaign.

“We’re using a new 19” Toyo tyre, and at this stage we’re unsure on what the wear rate on the tyres will be, but that’s something we’ll just have to keep an eye on over the course of the event.”

White sees multiple winner Jim Richards (Porsche GT2) and gravel rally star Steve Glenney (Lancer Evo 9) as his biggest threats for victory in Modern, but knows that he’ll have to drive his own rally in order to take that coveted second win.

“You can’t spend too much time hanging about early in the event, otherwise you can get too far behind, and it’s all over from there,” he explained. “If you have a slow start you put too much pressure on yourself later in the event.

“I aim to take it relatively easy in the prologue stage, but as long as we’re somewhere in the top ten I’ll be happy. After that, it’s flat out until the finish.”

A podium finish would be nice, but you can sense that White won’t be happy with anything other than a victory. His 2005 win came at the wheel of a Nissan Skyline GTR, but the Lamborghini’s best result so far has been third in 2006.

“This will be my eleventh Targa, and I’d love to give the four-wheel drive cars a run for their money and take another victory,” he said.

While the weather in Tasmania has been warm and dry for many months, White knows that Targa always has at least one day of wet weather. He’s just hoping that if that happens, his two-wheel drive Lamborghini is far enough in front for it not to bother him.

Over 300 competitors from Australia, the USA, UK, UAE, Japan and Hong Kong have entered this year’s Targa Tasmania, the 17th anniversary event.

The rally roars into action on April 15 in Launceston and will take competitors through the heart of Tasmania, before the Hobart finish line at Wrest Point on April 20.
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