Six days of tough competition and 35 stages totalling nearly 500 kilometres await the eager Classic GT competitors in this year’s Targa Tasmania.
Open to GT and high performance cars built up until the end of 1985, the field features a wide cross section of vehicles, from German Porsches through to Australian made Commodore and Torana muscle cars.
The category looks set to be a battle royal this year, with the 1970 Datsun 240Z of Jon and Gina Siddons starting as hot favourites, alongside Craig Haysman and Julie Boorman in their 1979 Triumph TR7 V8.
The Siddins’, from Queensland, won the Classic GT competition at Targa Tasmania in 2016, and will come into the event full of confidence, knowing many of the stages and with years of experience behind the wheel of their Datsun 240Z.
Not to be outdone, South Australian Craig Haysman took out the Classic Outright competition in 2015, and will fancy another Targa victory this year.
His Triumph TR7 V8 has a big horsepower advantage over Siddins’ Datsun, but the 240Z’s more nimble handling will make for an intriguing battle.
“It’s going to be another great Targa, which I’m really looking forward to,” Siddins said.
“Targa Tasmania is definitely not a sprint race – it’s our Bathurst and you obviously need to be there on the final day to have any chance of winning.
“We’re down on power to Craig’s TR7, but if it’s wet (which it often is at Targa) then that evens things up a lot.
“Our car is really well balanced and is easy on tyre wear, so we’re confident of another good showing.”
The favourites won’t have it all their own way, however, with a host of other drivers all eyeing the Targa silverware.
The V8 Holden Toranas of Michael Bray (Western Australia) and Michael Downey (Victoria) have shown speed that will instil them with confidence, while veteran Targa competitor Barry Faux will be hoping for more Targa success in his 1985 Mazda RX7.
“If it’s wet, then Barry Faux will be hard to beat,” admits Siddins. “He’s shown in previous years that he loves the wet and his car handles those conditions really well.”
A trio of Porsche 911s will also be there or there abouts, in the hands of David Young, Mark Clair and Stewart McAuley, and Wayne Pfingst in his 1971 Holden Torana GTR XU-4 will also be fast and pushing for a podium place.
Lisa Dunkerton, wife of five-time Australian Rally Champion driver, Ross Dunkerton, will co-drive for Mark Hammond in a 1980 Jaguar XJS, while the V8 Commodores of Michael Reynolds and Anthony Genocchio are sure to be crowd pleasers.
Targa Tasmania 2017 starts in Launceston on Monday, April 24 with four days of competition across the north of the state.
Day five sees competitors leave the West Coast town of Strahan and head towards Hobart over famous stages like Queenstown and Mt Arrowsmith, before the final day of stages to the south of Hobart on Sunday, April 29.
For more details on this year’s event, head to www.targa.com.au