Tasmanian Jason White has grabbed victory at Targa High Country, despite crossing the line at Mt Buller with his $600,000 Lamborghini on fire.
He'd been in a seesawing battle with Queenslander Tony Quinn across the final day of the opening round of the CAMS Australian Targa Championship for modern cars.
White took a 10 second lead into the final day after a blistering sprint up Mt Buller late yesterday in his brand new Lamborghini saw him take 30 seconds off his rivals.
But he threw that advantage away on the first stage off the mountain, when he misjudged the base time and lost 25 seconds to Quinn, who suddenly was 10 seconds clear in his Nissan GT-R with seven stages remaining.
The top two then swapped fastest times on the run to Eildon and back, arriving at the base of the mountain for the final run to the resort village just four seconds apart - the Nissan with the slight advantage.
Quinn finished the Mt Buller sprint in 9 minutes 44 seconds. White followed up, but half way up the 18-kilometre stage the rear of the car was on fire. But he charged on regardless, crossing the line with a time of nine minutes 30 seconds, handing him a 10-second victory and top points in the series opener.
He finished, ironically, outside the Mt Buller fire station, with extinguishers at the ready to avoid the disaster of seeing his $600,000 Lamborghini going up in smoke.
“It was on fire from about the half way mark, but we thought it was best to get up to the finish where there were more fire extinguishers, rather than trying to put it out with ours. And obviously there was a win at stake so we just pushed on,” White said.
“It was a bit hard to concentrate with a fire ball hanging out the back but man, what a dramatic finish!”
Matt Sims finished third in his Nissan GTR, with Matt Close fourth in his Audi TT RS.
Queenslander Donn Todd took the Classic honours in his 1971 Ford Capri Perana, finishing two minutes 49 seconds clear of Jon Siddins in his 1970 Datsun 240Z.
"The weekend went really well,” Todd said. “It was one of those weekends where everything fell into place and we had no problems and it just flowed really nicely.
"The stage conditions were quite good today, although it was hot riding in this little car over the course of the weekend."
Siddins was compensated with a victory in the Shannons Early Classic Handicap competition. Bruce Power won the late Classic battle.
Four-time Australian Rally Champion, Simon Evans, driving a Mazda3 MPS, was without peer in the Showroom class, adding this class tarmac title to his many victories on dirt.
The TMR Performance Showroom 4WD class victory went to Ric Shaw in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, winning by just one second over fellow Mitsubishi driver Dean Evans, who had lead from the start on Saturday only to be piped on the post after suffering a puncture on the penultimate stage.
The series continues in January, with the running of round 3, Targa Wrest Point in Hobart.
Photo: Peter Whitten
Results - Australian Targa Championship
Targa High Country (Provisional)
1. Jason White / John White, Lamborghini Gallardo
2. Tony Quinn / Naomi Tillett, Nissan GT-R, +10s
3. Matt Sims / Denis Sims, Nissan GT-R, +1m16s
4. Matt Close / Casey Close, Audi TT RS, +1m32s
5. Greg Garwood / John Allen, Porsche 911 GT2 CS, +2m29s
6. Jim Richards / Barry Oliver, Porsche 911 GT2 RS, +3m24s
1. Donn Todd / Dean Tighe, 1971 Ford Capri Perana
2. Jon Siddins / Darren Ferguson, 1970 Datsun 240Z, +2m49s
3. Tolley Challis / Greg Flood, 1974 Porsche 911 RS, +3m09s
4. Bernie Wilson / John Wilson, 1971 Ford Capri Perana, +4m57s
5. Craig Haysman / Neil Branum, 1981 Triumph TR7 V8, +5m16s
1. Matthew Turnbull / Andrew Hobson, 2000 Porsche GT3 CS
2. Tim Hendy / Joanne Sibley, 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R, +3m00s
3. Steve Spada / Jessica Nicholson, 1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, +3m01s
4. Samantha Stevens / Claire Ryan, 1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, +3m13s
5. Adam Kaplan / David Kaplan, 1988 Holden Commodore HSV SS, +3m24s
1. Simon Evans / Sue Evans, Mazda3 MPS
2. Kym De Britt / David Percy, Holden Astra, +3m07s
3. Adam Spence / Tracey Button, BMW 130i, +3m53s
4. Adam Dodd / Lee Challoner-Miles, Mazda MX5, +5m44s
5. Andrew Mckay / Alex Hailstone, Mazda MX5, +6m06s
1. Ric Shaw / James Parish, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
2. Dean Evans / Simone Bachmann, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +1s
3. Scott Millar / Christopher Dean, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +2m08s
4. Ben Newman / Crichton Lewis, Subaru WRX STI, +4m28s
5. Peter Wrench / Liam Dunn, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +5m34s
1. Bruce Power / Greg Hannay, 1979 Mazda RX7
2. Paul Stuart / Mike Herrod, 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +1s
3. Greg Cook / Jenny Cole, 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +1m33s
4. John Ireland / Michael Ribot, 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera S, +2m02s
5. Greg Hutley / Craig Laird, 1972 Datsun 240Z, +2m28s
1. Jon Siddins / Darren Ferguson, 1970 Datsun 240Z
2. Donn Todd / Dean Tighe, 1971 Ford Capri Perana, +1m37s
3. Robin Lowe / Peter Lowe, 1971 Datsun 240Z, +2m50s
4. Colin Byrne / Paul Stoopman, 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, +2m53s
5. Scott Kent / Wayne Kent, 1965 Ford Mustang, +2m59s