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Reigning Targa champions Jason and John White have taken an early lead after the opening three stages of Targa Tasmania. The Dodge Viper pair, chasing a seventh win in Australia’s most celebrated tarmac rally event, are five seconds ahead following Day 1 of the event which covers 33 Special Stages across six gruelling days of competition. Jason White put on a show on the George Town street stage, to finish the day five seconds clear of his nearest rival, Queensland pairing of Paul Stokell and Erin Kelly in their Lotus Exige. Leading the Shannons Classic GT field and a remarkable sixth outright is the 1970 Datsun 240Z Jon and Gina Siddins. The pair are six seconds ahead of their nearest class rival, the Holden Torana of Michael and Daniel Bray. White finished the day, thinking he will have to be more circumspect going forward. “Leading after day one is a good start, but we probably tried a bit harder than we really should in George Town as far as tyre wear goes, but it’s just too hard to resist,” White said. “You get to George Town and there’s people everywhere and it would be a shame not to drive around as quick as you can. “We’re as confident as we can be that the issues we had at Targa North West are now a thing of the past.” Stokell, a former circuit ace, also gave it his all on the 4.74 town sprint. “I went as hard as I could and it was only the horsepower of the Whites and their Dodge Viper which beat me,” Stokell said. Matt Close and Cameron Reeves are in close attendance, a further two seconds back in third place in their 2017 Porsche GT3 RS. “We’ve done a few tweaks to the suspension since last year and I’m a lot happier with it,” Close said. “We sat around at the start of George Town for a very long time, so our tyre pressures weren’t right. “It took me about four corners to get some heat in them, so that was a bit disappointing, but we’ve got a good package for the rest of the event.”

Jon Siddins leads Classic GT after Day 1 in his Datsun 240Z. Photo: Angryman Photography

2018 Targa North West champions Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis (2015 Subaru WRX STI) sit in fourth ahead of last year’s overall runner-up Michael Pritchard and Gary Mourant (2016 Porsche 911 GT3). Liam and Larry Howarth sit on top of the Early Modern leader’s board in a 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR. Thrilling the crowd was the 1941 GMC Jimmy Special who leads the Classic handicap competition. Other class leaders after the opening day are Jeff and Nerida Beable in a 2000 Nissan Skyline R34 (Sports Trophy), Jack and Vin Gregory in a 1981 Mitsubishi Sigma (Thoroughbred Trophy) and Brain and Justin Marshall head the TSD Trophy in a 2011 VW Polo GTI. Other class leaders see Jeff Morton and Steve Fisher in heading the Rookie Rally GT Class in their 2017 Lotus Exige over Anthony Moss and Julie Hunter in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X by nine seconds. The Rookie Early Modern is led by Adam Gosling and Ian Noble in a 2002 E46 BMW. Rookie Classic GT sees Justin Gan and David Hart in a 1978 Porsche 911. The battle for the budget TSD Trophy is again an all Marshall affair with Brian and Justin in a 2011 VW Polo GTi finishing the day six points clear of last year’s winners Daryl and Peter Marshall in their 2014 Ford Falcon Ute. OVERALL at end of Day 1 1. Jason White/John White 2016 Dodge Viper ACR Extreme 2. Paul Stokell/Erin Kelly 2014 Lotus Exige S +5s 3. Matt Close/Cameron Reeves 2017 Porsche GT3 RS +7s 4. Steve Glenney/ Andy Sarandis 2015 Subaru WRX STI +8s 5. Michael Pritchard/Gary Mourant Porsche 911 GT3 RS +9s 6. Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins 1970 Datsun 240Z +10s 7. Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler 2015 Nissan GT-R R35 +10s 8. Jeff Morton/Steve Fisher 2017 Lotus Exige +11s 9. Liam Howarth/Larry Howarth 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec +13s 10. Joshua Hilton/Rodney Vanderpoel 2016 Nissan Skyline GT-R R35 +13 Wrest Point GT2 1. Jason White/John White 2016 Dodge Viper ACR Extreme 2. Paul Stokell/Erin Kelly 2014 Lotus Exige +5s 3. Matt Close/Cameron Reeves 2017 Porsche GT3 RS +7s RDA Brakes GT4 1. Steve Glenney/Andy Sarandis 2015 Subaru WRX STI 2. Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler 2015 Nissan GT-R R35 +2s 3. Joshua Hilton/Rodney Vanderpoel 2016 Nissan Skyline GT-R R35 +5s Shannons Classic GT 1. Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins 1970 Datsun 240Z 2. Michael Bray/Daniel Bray Holden Torana +6s 3. Anthony Genocchio/Scott Hamilton 1983 Holden VH Commodore SS +13s Shannons Classic 1. Graham Copeland/Josh Herbert 1941 GMC Jimmy Special 2. Colin Byrne/Michael Partridge 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 +14s 3. Wayne Clark/Trevor Berriman 1938 Dodge Speedster Special +20s Duttons Garage Early Modern 1. Liam Howarth/Larry Howarth 1995 Nissan Skyline R33 GTR V-Spec 2. Joshua Sutcliffe/Jon Mitchell 2006 Subaru S204 +01s 3. Stephen Thatcher/Phillip Parker 1994 Nissan ATTKD Select R SP +06s Country Club GT Sports Trophy 1. Jeff Beable/Nerida Beable 2000 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R N1 2. Richard Woodman/Marcus Towle 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI +04s 3. Martin Duursma/Richard Wodhams 2013 Lotus Exige S V6 +05s Spirit of Tasmania Thoroughbred Trophy 1. Jack Waldron/Vin Gregory 1981 Mitsubishi Sigma 2. Geoff Storr/Steve Caplice 1978 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV +09s 3. Jim Kelly/Evan Kelly 1984 Audi Quattro Coupe +1.33s TSD Trophy 1. Brian Marshall/Justin Marshall 2011 VW Polo GTi 1 point 2. Darryl Marshall/Peter Marshall 2002 Ford Falcon Pursuit Ute 250 7 points 3. Steve Brumby/Heather Brumby 1999 Alfa Romeo GTV 12 points Rookie Classic GT 1. Justin Gan/David Hart 1978 Porsche 911 2. Gregg Taylor/Callum Taylor 1978 Ford Escort RS 1800 +25s Rookie Early Modern 1. Adam Gosling/Ian Noble 2002 BMW E46 M3 2. Leigh Ford/Nicholas Browne 2003 Honda Integra Type R +12s 3. John Swan/Barry Swan 1991 Porsche 944 S2 +18s Rookie GT 1. Jeff Morton/Steve Fisher 2017 Lotus Exige 2. Anthony Moss/Julie Hunter 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +09s 3. Jesse Medwin/Zak Brakey 2011 Subaru STI Spec C +17s
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