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Burnie brothers Jamie and Simon Vandenberg have taken an early lead in the two-day Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge.

Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, the local favourites took the lead on the first stage of the event, as pre-event favourite, Jim Richards, faltered, and then floundered.

Vandenberg is 6.8 seconds ahead of a surprise second placed Simon Gillet in a Subaru Impreza WRX, with the similar car of former Bathurst winner, Tony Longhurst, in third place.

Richards, who led the field away from the start in Burnie this morning, suffered turbo boost problems in his Porsche 911 GT2 and was forced to withdraw after special stage three. His crew are now trying to get his car going for the day’s final stages.

Road conditions have been wet and slippery this morning, and while the weather started out fine, passing showers have made conditions tricky for crews.

Circuit racer Tony Quinn is in fourth place in his Mitsubishi, just ahead of the imposing Nissan GTRs of Peter Leemhuis and Tony Alford.

One of the drives of the morning came from Brendan Reeves in the factory Mazda3 MPS. While the conditions weren’t conducive to the front-wheel drive Mazda, Reeves used his experience to good effect and lies in eighth place.

Brett Kay’s Mazda RX7 leads the Classic rally, but only by 0.7 of a second from Cameron Wearing’s V8 Ford Capri Perana. Steve Cadden is third in a Porsche 911.

Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge results:

Modern – after SS4
1.    Jamie Vandenberg, Mitsubishi Lancer, 22m57.8s
2.    Simon Gillet, Subaru Impreza WRX, +6.8s
3.    Tony Longhurst, Subaru Impreza WRX, +9.3s
4.    Tony Quinn, Mitsubishi Lancer, +23.0s
5.    Peter Leemhuis, Nissan GTR, +32.2

Classic – after SS4
1. Brett Kay, Mazda RX7, 24m58.8s
2. Cameron Wearing, Ford Capri Perana, +0.7s
3. Steven Cadden, Porsche 911, +41.8s
4. Donn Todd, Holden Torana A9X, +56.9s
5. Glyn Crimp, Porsche GTS Rallye, +1m04.2s

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