It might be nearly six weeks until the start of the 2010 edition of Targa Tasmania, but Burnie’s Jason White is already the hot favourite to take the modern title in Australia’s ultimate tarmac rally.

Victory in January’s Targa Wrest Point event has given White and his co-driver, uncle John White, plenty of confidence as they line up for their 11th Targa Tasmania together.

After several years of campaigning their four-wheel drive Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera Type R, the car is now the pacesetter in tarmac rally events, the mechanical hiccups of the past hopefully behind them.

The car’s 10-litre, 4961cc normally aspirated engine produces incredible power, and the pair were able to coax the car to victory in Targa Wrest Point, despite dropping to nine cylinders after spark plug and valve problems.

“Targa Wrest Point will go down as the most amazing thing that John and I have ever done in a car together,” White said afterwards. “We were both really happy with each other’s performance, and it gives us a real boost heading to Targa Tasmania.

“The seven-day Targa is the one that every competitor wants to win, and John and I are really keen to push as hard as we can to repeat our victory from 2005.”

White’s victory at Targa Wrest Point was even more remarkable, given that he was hampered by a double-hernia that restricted his movement.

However, come the start of Targa Tasmania on April 27, he expects to be fully fit and ready to give his home fans something to cheer about.

“The route of Targa is always lined with people, and it gives you a real boost to see them cheering you on as you drive through the stages,” White said.

“The event is such a positive thing for Tasmania and everybody seems to love it.”

“It would be great to be able to bring the winner’s trophy back to Tasmania.”

White’s biggest threats for victory are likely to be a pair of former Targa winners. Jim Richards is an eight-time winner of the event and has returned to form with some scintillating speed over recent weeks, while Tony Quinn won last year’s Targa in his Nissan GT-R, and he will be a big chance to repeat his success.

“You can never discount Jim and his Porsche,” White added. “He’s a crafty driver and knows this event like the back of his hand. You don’t win it eight times without being very, very fast.

“Likewise, Tony Quinn is very quick and his Nissan GT-R will be a real weapon, particularly if it’s wet.”

White is well aware that reliability and tyre preservation will pay an integral part in his Targa Tasmania quest, but feels his team have things well in hand.

“We’ve been running the Lamborghini for a few years now, and with the changes we’ve made to the specification during that time, it’s now going faster than ever.

“We think we’ve ironed out most of the problems that have hampered us in previous Targas, and we’re confident of a good showing,” he said.

After a 5.1 kilometre prologue around the streets of George Town to decide the event running order on Tuesday, April 27, Targa Tasmania 2010 will see competitors tackle 39 Targa stages over a total competitive distance of over 400 kilometres.

The 19th Targa Tasmania is primarily based in Launceston, while the event also spends one night in the west coast town of Strahan, before finishing in Hobart on May 2.
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