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Current Australian Targa Champion, Jason White, is determined to win this weekend’s Targa High Country after having to settle for second place in the first round of the championship in Adelaide in August.

The Tasmanian’s fire-breathing Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera had to play second fiddle to local ace, Steve Glenney, in a Nissan GT-R in Adelaide, and the pair will resume their friendly rivalry on North East Victoria’s twisting tarmac stages.

White infamously won Targa High Country in 2011, crossing the finish line of the final stage with the rear of his $600,000 Lamborghini on fire after a hydraulic fluid leak. Last year, he was on track to take back-to-back wins, only to see a mechanical problem on the second day sideline his Italian supercar.

Since then, however, Glenney has been meticulously fine-tuning his Nissan GT-R, and in wet conditions in South Australia, he was too fast for his main rival.

The former gravel rally star has made the switch to tarmac rallying with ease, and such is Glenney’s prowess that he finished last year’s Targa High Country in fourth place – in the co-driver’s seat. Glenney called the pacenotes for Robin Knaggs, in the same Nissan GT-R that he will drive this weekend.

But the experienced White is quietly confident of repeating his Targa High Country success at an event that he rates as one of his favourites.

“It may only be the second round of four in the championship, but we always go into events with a win or bust attitude,” White said.

“Since Targa Adelaide we’ve done quite a lot of testing and have made some spring and shock absorber changes to the car which have seen us make some pretty good gains in performance.

“The car now sticks to the road a lot better in the corners, and we’ve managed this without inducing too much understeer in the front.

“We know Steve’s car will be fast on day one where his horsepower advantage will come into play, but hopefully we will have his measure on the tighter and twistier stages on day two,” White said.

Glenney also knows that it’s unlikely that he’ll have two perfect events in a row.

“We had a fantastic run in Adelaide, which makes me very nervous about what could go wrong in this event, as you rarely have two trouble-free events in a row,” Glenney said.

“There are so many electronic gizmos on these cars that can play up, so you just have to push as hard as you can and hope that everything holds together.

“The cooler weather predicted this weekend should help reduce tyre wear over stages that are usually pretty hard on tyres, and hopefully both Jason (White) and I can have a good battle.”

Veteran touring car driver and multiple Targa Tasmania winner, Jim Richards, is another who will be eager to push for a top three place, with his 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS well suited to the Targa High Country stages.

Similarly, the Melbourne husband and wife pairing of Matt and Casey Close have been regular pacesetters in their 2010 Audi TT RS Plus, and can be expected to be right near the top of the leaderboard.

Tasmanian drivers Jamie Vandenberg (Nissan GT-R) and Matt Rickards (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX RS) will also be drivers to watch.

Starting with the now traditional closed-road stage around the streets of the Mansfield on Friday night, Targa High Country will put competitors to the test over 16 stages.

A 5pm start to the street stage will allow Targa fans to come and watch the action after work, with the stage to be immediately followed by the popular Targa Fest in the town’s main street.

On Saturday, the first four stages will see competitors head down Mt Buller, then up and over Tolmie and Whitlands to Whitfield, before a lunch break at Pizzini Wines. Cars will return to Mt Buller after the same four stages, run in the reverse direction on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday’s route heads to and from Eildon over a further eight closed road stages, before the official champagne finish on Mt Buller on Sunday afternoon.

The field of over 160 cars will be made up of competitors in 10 different Targa categories, headed by the outright contending Modern section, and with classes for Classics, Showroom cars and Muscle Cars.

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