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Tasmanian Jason White has taken the honours on the opening day of competition at the inaugural Targa Great Barrier Reef tarmac rally based in Cairns.
White and his co-driver uncle John White guided their powerful Dodge Viper to a 17 second outright lead after the opening five stages of competition on challenging roads around the Atherton Tablelands.
The seven-times Targa Tasmania winners managed to squeeze out the advantage from the smaller V6-powered Lotus Exige driven by accomplished Queenslander Paul Stokell and his new co-driver Malcolm Read.
“As expected Gillies Range wasn’t so suited to what we thought but we were very happy with the speed going up there,” Jason White said.
“The car inside in the cabin and the tyres in the heat; everything was out of its comfort zone from what we’ve encountered before.
“Back down the hill nearly everyone has got a 1000bhp so obviously the Lotus got a bit of a run back at us.
“All said we were really happy with our run up Copperlode Dam. It was well beyond our expectations because that was where we thought the Lotus would be hunting.
“We didn’t have too many scary moments but it was certainly an enjoyable ride up and down the tight and twisty track.”
Jeff Morton and Cameron Reeves remain in close attendance back in third place, 36 seconds off the lead.
White, Stokell and Morton are the top three in GT2 as well.
Michael and Daniel Bray went on the attack in their powerful 1975 Holden Torana to lead the way in Shannons Classic GT. The Brays hold a 37 second lead over Daniel and Kristy Callinan (Holden Commodore).
A late incident saw the 1972 DeTomaso Pantera of Keith and Mary Anne Callinan drop out of second place.
Following the early demise of the 1941 Jimmys Special driven by Graham Copeland and Josh Herbert, Ashley Yelds and Charlie Hughes have seen their 1961 Volvo 122S head the Shannons Classic handicap standings.
Leigh Achterberg and Greg Fitzgerald are only 14 seconds back in second in their 1982 Porsche 994.
Mark Balcombe and Brian Foster in the 2011 Nissan GTR lead GT4 by 24 seconds from Nathan and Nicolas Stokes in their Subaru STI.
Tony Quinn and Kate Catford (2001 Porsche 996 Turbo) hold the lead in the Dutton Garage Early Modern from the 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR of Liam and Larry Howarth. Quinn enjoys a 32 second advantage and sits in fifth outright.
Mark and Scott Meletopoulo (Lotus Exige) finished day one leading GT Sports Trophy standings from fellow Lotus competitors Mitchell and Darryl Ringuet.
In the TSD Trophy group, Lotus Elise S pair Peter and Tristan Taylor lead with 4 points ahead the Ford Falcon Ute of Daryl and Peter Marshall on 19 points while sitting third on 31 points is Rob Bryden and Victor Lewandowski (Lotus 380 Cup).
John Coleman and David Richardson (Alfa Romeo GTV) have opened up a lead of more than one minute over Tim and Kym Hall (Holden Commodore) in the Thoroughbred Trophy class.
The event continues on Saturday with a further seven stages.
RESULTS - Day 1 of 3 (Provisional)
1 White/White (Dodge Viper)
2 Stokell/Read (Lotus Exige) +17s
3 Morton/Reeves (Lotus Exige) +36
4 Dean/Hughes (Shelby Mustang) +1min31s
5 Quinn/Catford (Porsche 996 Turbo) +1min44s
1 White/White (Dodge Viper)
2 Stokell/Read (Lotus Exige +17s
3 Morton/Reeves Lotus Exige +36s
1 Balcombe/Foster Nissan GTR R35
2 Stokes/Stokes Subaru WRX STI +24s
3 Hewitt/Hewitt Nissan GTR R35 +25s
Shannons Classic GT
1 Bray/Bray Holden Torana
2 Callinan/Callinan Holden Commodore +37s
3 Downey/Van Den Akker Holden Commodore V8 +48s
Shannons Classic (Handicap)
1 Yelds/Hughes Volvo 122S
2 Achterberg/Fitzgerald Porsche 944 +14s
3 Prieston/Braithwaite Fiat Abarth 131 Rallye +28s
Dutton Garage Early Modern
1 Quinn/Catford Porsche 996 Turbo
2 Howarth/Howarth Nissan Skyline GTR +32s
3 Gosling/Noble BMW E46 M3 +1min07s
GT Sports Trophy
1 Traverthan/Ward Holden Commodore SS
2 Ringuet/Ringuet Lotus Exige +4s
3 Meletopoulo/Meletopoulo Lotus Exige +6s
1 Coleman/Richardson Alfa Romeo GTV
2 Hall/Hall Holden Commodore +1min10s
3 Cowie/Cowie Ford Escort Mk1 +4min33s
1 Peter Taylor/Tristan Taylor 2013 Lotus Elise S 4pts
2 Daryl Marshall/Peter Marshall 2002 Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute 250 18pts
3 Rob Bryden/Victory Lewandowski 2017 Lotus 380 Cup 38pts
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