Tasmanians Jason and John White have dominated the field at Targa High Country to take the outright victory after three days of testing competition on the roads around Mt Buller and Mansfield.
While victory went to the Dodge Viper combination, adding to their wins at Targa Tasmania and Targa Great Barrier Reef earlier this year, the Outright Modern CAMS Australian Targa Championship was secured by Paul Stokell, in his Lotus Exige, who finished seventh today, teamed with Malcolm Read calling the notes.
Stokell won the title with four strong results across the season without actually notching a win, whereas White failed to produce any points in the season’s opening event, Targa North West, which cost him heavily in the end.
The Overall Classic CAMS Australian Targa Championship was won by Michael and Daniel Bray, despite the pair facing heartbreak today when their 1975 Holden Torana broke down on the final stage. After three wins earlier in the season, they had enough of a buffer to take the title with 240 points from Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter on 232 points.
“From day one when the championship was announced, we said 100% we’re up for it,” said Michael Bray. “We committed to it straight up and said we wanted to be a part of it, so now we’ve realised the dream.”
Mick Downey and Jarrod Van Den Akker were third in the Championship, but victors in Classic GT at Targa High Country in their 1979 Holden Commodore V8.
The final day of Targa High Country was the longest of the three, with just four stages but over 120 competitive kilometres, more than 40 per cent of the overall 271 kilometre course.
White lead from start to finish, and extended his overnight lead out to 51 seconds on the lunch break. He nursed his Viper home with wearing tyres, but crossed the finish line 30 seconds clear of Matt Close in a Porsche GT3 RS.
Close, winner of the past three Targa High Country titles, kept the pressure on White on every stage, and finished well ahead of the third placed Jeff Morton and co-driver Stuart Benson, a further three minutes 44 seconds back in their 2017 Lotus Exige. White, Close and Morton also filled the GT2 class podium.
White was delighted with his win at High Country, his third in the event’s nine year history.
“We were going as fast as we could through the longer stages, but the tyres were not coping and I thought we’d lost a lot of time, but we were surprised to see we had pulled even more of a gap,” White said.
“But the car started to vibrate after that and we thought it was a de-laminated tyre, but it was a big chunk of melted tar from the road that had stuck to one of the front tyres.
“We knew we had a bit of a gap, so we slowed down a bit, and when we got to the final stage, we had a great run up Mount Buller.”
In Classic GT, it wasn’t just the Brays who experienced drama. Adam Kaplan controlled the event all the way to the final afternoon, when delaminating tyres on the penultimate stage cost him over two minutes and the lead. Downey grabbed the opportunity to take class honours by 36 seconds for the weekend.
“We went like a bull at a gate this morning and ripped 20 seconds out of Adam Kaplan and then he de-laminated a tyre, so we had a 56 second margin for the final stage,” Downey said. “It was a pretty tense drive up the mountain, but we brought it home.”
It was a day of upsets in Shannons Classic Handicap as well. The 1941 GMC Jimmy Special of Graham Copeland and Josh Herbert looked on their way to victory, but mechanical issues forced them to retire on the 48 kilometre Jamieson stage. Colin Byrne and Michael Partridge took their Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 to a three minute 38 second win over Peter Gluskie and Samantha Winter in a BMW 325i.
In RDA Brakes GT4, Paul Dowie and co-driver James Marquet lead from start to finish in their 2010 Audi TT RS Plus, victory theirs by three minutes 50 seconds over Geoffrey and Toni Hewitt in a GT-R. Barrie Smith and Dale Moscatt climbed to third on the final day in their Audi TTRS.
In Dutton Garage Early Modern category, Stephen Marlin and Stephen Horobin, driving an Evo 9, came through the field when overnight leaders Liam and Larry Howrath had troubles, to run out comfortable winners by four minutes over Dean Coutts and Anthony Carr (Subaru Spec C). The Howarths had to settle for third.
NSW pair Mark and Scott Meletopoulo maintained their dominance in the Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy, taking their Lotus Exige S to a one minute 46 second win over the Exige Martin Duursma and Richard Wodhams.
In the Mansfield Shire Thoroughbred Trophy, Jack Waldron and Vin Gregory finished more than 11 clear in their class.
Peter and Tristan Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise S) held on to win the Mt Buller TSD Trophy with 26 points, from the experienced Marshall combination (2002 Ford Falcon Ute Pursuit 250) on 51 points and with Michael Moore and Richard Woolford third with 80 points in their 2006 Lotus Exige.
Targa High Country – Provisional final results
1 White/White (Dodge Viper)
2 Close/Reeves (Porsche GT3 RS) +30secs
3 Morton/Benson (Lotus Exige) +3min44secs
4 Dean/Hughes (Ford Shelby Mustang GT) +4mins 49secs
5 Ireland/Binns, (Dodge Viper) +5mins01secs
Mount Buller GT2
1 White/White (Dodge Viper)
2 Close/Reeves (Porsche GT3 RS) +30secs
3 Morton/Benson (Lotus Exige), + 4mins14 secs
RDA Brakes GT4
1 Dowie/Marquet (Audi TT RS Plus)
2 Hewitt/Hewitt (Nissan GT-R R35) +3min50secs
3 Smith/Moscatt (Audi TTRS) +4min23secs
Shannons Classic GT
1 Downey/Van Den Akker (Holden Commodore)
2 Kaplan/Penney (Mazda RX7) +36secs
3 Lonmann/Bainbridge (Datsun 240Z) +8min43secs
Shannons Classic (Handicap)
1 Byrne/Partridge (Alfa Romeo GTV 2000)
2 Gluskie/Winter (BMW 325i) +3min38secs
3 Dermott/Dermott (Austin Healey 3000 Mk2 BT7) +5mins27secs
Dutton Garage Early Modern
1 Marlin/Horobin (Mitsubishi Evo IX)
2 Coutts/Carr (Subaru Spec C) +4mins 05secs
3 Howarth/Howarth (Nissan Skyline GTR) +6min41secs
Mansfield Shire GT Sports Trophy
1 Meletopoulo/Meletopoulo (Lotus Exige S)
2 Duursma/Wodhams (Lotus Exige Cup 430) +1mins46secs
3 Downing/vonSanden, +2mins41secs
Mansfield Shire Thoroughbred Trophy
1 Waldron/Gregory (Mitsubishi Sigma)
2 Kelly/Kelly (Audi quattro coupe) +11mins09secs
1 Taylor/Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise S) 26 points
2 Marshall/Marshall (2002 Ford Falcon Ute Pursuit 250) 51 points
3 Moore/Woolford )2006 Lotus Exige), 80 points
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