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Launceston driver Greg Garwood has set the pace on the opening day of Targa Wrest Point, held on the flowing tarmac roads south of Hobart today.

Garwood and his Queensland co-driver, John Allen, weren’t expected to challenge for victory on the event, but have set a scorching pace in their 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

They hold a 14 second lead over the 2008 Nissan GTR of Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett.

Tasmanians are dominating the top of the leaderboard in the modern section, with Devonport driver Jason White and co-driver John White lying third in their 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, a further 15 seconds back.

2008 Targa Tasmania champions, Steve Glenney and Bernie Webb, comfortably lead the Late Classic category in their 1981 Holden Commodore, but only after rivals Bill Pye and Grant Geelan (1974 Porsche Carrera RS) crashed on the final stage of the day. Just five seconds separate the pair with just one stage to go.

Peter Eames and Will Logan (1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS) now lie second, but are over a minute behind Glenney.

Tony Warren has shown that his Targa Tasmania Showroom category win in 2008 was no fluke, and he again leads the pack in his 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. He has a commanding lead over Scott Millar’s newer Lancer Evo X, with Greg Burrowes in third.

An accident early in the day forced the cancellation of three of the scheduled eight stages, but it didn’t affect Garwood.

Driving a 2004 Porsche, the Modern category leader set a scintillating pace, winning two of the day’s four competitive stages. He holds a strong 14 second advantage at the end of the first day.

“The car has been fine,” a relaxed Garwood said. “Normally it takes us two or three days to get on the pace, but the pacenoting we’ve done in Targa last year has really paid off.

“I expect to have a really good battle with Tony Quinn and his Nissan GTR tomorrow, but hopefully we can keep him at bay.”

Debuting his brand new Nissan GTR, veteran circuit racer, Tony Quinn, was predicted to be fast from the start, although there were question marks over whether the big Nissan would be competitive due to its weight. In true Tony Quinn style, he proved that driving ability can overcome most things.

Despite clutch problems in his awesome Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, Jason White, and uncle John White, lie in third place. A former Hobart local, White is now based on the north west coast, but he showed that local knowledge of the roads does help.

Eight-time Targa Tasmania winner, Jim Richards, with Launceston’s Barry Oliver calling the pacenotes, lies in sixth place, but they lost a valuable 30 seconds when a turbo hose came off the intercooler on his Porsche 911 GT2.

“We had a really good day, apart from that problem,” Richards said on arriving back at Wrest Point. “It’s a problem we’ve had before on the car, but we think we might have fixed it for good now.”

Former Subaru Rally Team Australia driver, Dean Herridge, is just behind Richards, in the debut event for his 2008 Impreza WRX STI.

In the Late Classic category (1972-1990), Glenney was the favourite to set the pace, and indeed that was the case.

“We’ve had a really good day. We had a real go on the first few stages and evengave the Modern boys a bit of a hurry up,” Glenney said. “The car’s a lot different to drive than the Lancer we normally drive, but it’s great fun. It has heaps of power and goes sideways, which the spectators love.”

The second, and final, day of Targa Wrest Point will see competitors tackle a further five stages covering a over 50 competitive kilometres. The cars are expected to arrive back at Wrest Point early on Sunday afternoon.

Targa Wrest Point - End of day one results

Modern (2003-2009)
1. Greg Garwood / John Allen, 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, 32min 20sec
2. Tony Quinn / Naomi Tillett, 2008 Nissan GTR, +14sec
3. Jason White / John White, 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, +29sec
4. Matt Close / Cameron Reeves, 2000 Porsche 911 Turbo, +41sec
5. Andrew Miedecke / Daniel Wilson, 2007 Daytona Coupe, +43sec
6. Jim Richards / Barry Oliver, 2008 Porsche 911 GT2, +52sec

Early Modern (1991-2002)
1 David Ayres / Robbie Bolton, 1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R, 35m06s
2 Adam Poole / Clayton Lang, 2001 Nissan Skyline GT-R, +23s
3 Leigh Finlayson / Mike Stoneman, 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, +30s

Late Classic (1972-1990)
1. Steve Glenney / Bernie Webb, 1981 Holden Commodore, 33min 02sec
2. Peter Eames / Will Logan, 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +1m35sec
3. David Cooper / Brad Sherriff, 1977 Holden Torana A9X, +3m04s

Early Classic
1 Steve Coad / Kaila Coad, 1971 Holden Monaro GTS, 35:09
2 George Nittis / Stuart Boyce, 1969 Ford XY GT HO, +1m:51s
3 Drew Kent / Paul Krawczyk, 1971 Ford Falcon GT, +1m:52s

Showroom (2003-2009)
1. Tony Warren / Natasha Deniese, 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 34min 18s
2. Scott Millar / Christopher Dean, 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +1m17sec
3. Greg Burrowes / Rhonda Burrowes, 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +3m16sec

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