Victory in the inaugural Targa Wrest Point in 2009 eluded Jason White by just 12 seconds, but the Lamborghini Gallardo driver says he’s better placed to win this year’s event, which will run in Tasmania’s south on January 30 and 31.

White and his co-driver, uncle John White, have up-specced their Lamborghini to Superleggera Type R spec, which included adding a new paddle shift gearbox and fitting several carbon fibre parts to the car.

“We’ve probably taken 15 kilograms in weight out of the car, and after putting the car on the engine dyno we’ve managed to sort out a few minor problems that we’ve had over the last few events,” White said from his home in Burnie in Tasmania’s north.

“The car is making 530 brake horsepower at the flywheel, which is about as good as you can get out of one of these cars.”

In 2009, a problem with the car’s on-board GPS system, which displays the route pacenotes for co-driver John to read, saw them lose 20 seconds to eventual winner Greg Garwood on the first stage. It was a deficit that they never made up.

“The GPS requires contact with three satellites in order to display the notes, but unfortunately the heavy tree canopy on the first couple of stages played havoc. We didn’t have a set of notes on paper as a back up, so we basically had to drive blind,” White added.

“Those stages are used more this year, so we’ll definitely have some notes on paper to ensure that we don’t lose that amount of time again.”

For 2010, White expects that the Porsche of last year’s winner, Greg Garwood, will be hard to beat, as will the Nissan GT-Rs of Targa Tasmania winner, Tony Quinn, and up-and-coming West Australian Steve Jones. The similar Lamborghini of Kevin Weeks is also likely to pose a big threat.

“Regardless of the opposition, I expect the pace to be quicker this year than it was last year, so we’ll have to go flat out from the very first stage.

“Targa Wrest Point is a great event, but the stages are quite technical and not all that predictable. It’s certainly a course that keeps you on your toes.”

Manhandling the potent Lamborghini around the roads of southern Tasmania could prove even more challenging this year for White, who is suffering from a double hernia after injuring himself at work.

“I was going to have the surgery to repair it a couple of weeks ago, but we decided that it would be better to wait until after Targa Wrest Point,” he explained. “Once I’m in the car and strapped in it shouldn’t cause me any problems, but at the moment I’m on light duties at work.”

The expected dry conditions for the two-day, 210 competitive kilometre tarmac rally would be ideal for White and his Lamborghini, but with recent ABS brake problems now fixed, he’s not too concerned on what weather they encounter.

“In the wet you need a car that is heavy at the front and quite predictable, so the Nissan GT-Rs may have an advantage, but we’ll just take it as it comes.”

Interestingly, White has a Nissan in the workshop that the team have considered using for tarmac rallying, however the sound of the big Lamborghini, and the size of the flames that it spits out the rear, sees them likely to stick with the Italian supercar – much to the delight of Targa fans.

Starting and finishing at Wrest Point in Hobart, day one of Targa Wrest Point will see competitors tackle seven Targa stages with a competitive distance of 127 kilometres, while a further seven tests and 83 competitive kilometres will conclude the event on day two.

The second running of the event has attracted 163 entries from seven different countries. Targa Wrest Point is open to modern, showroom and classic cars. Last year’s event injected more than $3 million into the southern Tasmanian economy.

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