As first event days it could hardly have gone better. After covering 138.7km over five closed special stages between the starting and finishing points in Havelock North today, Orewa-based Targa event specialist Leigh Hopper and co-driver Michael Goudie (Subaru Impreza WRX 4WD) had amassed a lead at the half-way point of the rescheduled two-day Targa Hawke’s Bay tarmac motor rally of over a minute-and-three-quarters (1:46.5).
True, the early demise of two of his usual competitors (David Rogers and co-driver Shane Reynolds to a trip off-road and Jason Gill and his co-driver Malcom Read to a mechanical issue, both in only the second stage of the day) made Hopper and Goudie’s day easier.
Local pair Ivan Knauf and Trevor Corbin in a later model Subaru Impreza WRX 4WD proved more than up the challenge, however, ending up second behind the flying Hopper and Goudie in three of the five stages to edge out former gravel rally ace Bruce Herbert and co-driver Bevan Parker in the first of the field’s Mitsubishi Evo 4WDs for second place overall by just over half a minute (0:36.2 seconds).
In fourth place at the end of the first day was former Targa NZ winner Martin Dippie and co-driver Jona Grant from Dunedin in the first of the 2WD cars home, a current model Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Dippie admitted at the lunch break that he had been taking it easy in the single-digit temperatures and cold, slippery road surfaces on the morning stages but started to make up time in the afternoon ones, ending his day just 17 seconds behind the 4WD Mitsubishi of Herbert and Parker.
Auckland pair Jeremy Friar and Katrina Renshaw (BMW 330ti) finally got the better of their 2WD doppelgangers, the always spectacular Mike Tubbs and his female co-driver Brook Walden (BMW M2) to claim fifth place, though the difference was just 10.5 seconds so the battle for first BMW home honours is still way too close to call.
Who claims Classic 2WD honours is also very much up in the air.
Early on in the day it looked like the Mazda RX7 FD3 of Targa original Anton Tallott and co-driver David Connell had Class 2 (for cars 2001cc to 3400cc) wrapped up. However an issue in the final stage of the day saw them slip back to third behind the Mercedes-Benz 190 2.3 of Mark McCaughan and co-driver Lindsay Lyons and BMW 325i of Bruce Farley and Glen Warner.
There was also a change in the leader board in the Class 1 standings (for classic 2WD cars up to 2000cc) with early leaders Tim McIvor and co-driver Kerry Sloan (Ford Escort Mk 1) shuffled back to second place in class by fellow Escort pair Steven and Shane Blackley.
The rescheduled Targa Hawke’s Bay tarmac motor rally is the first major New Zealand motorsport event run here since the COVID-19 Lockdown was lifted.
The two-day event was originally scheduled to run over the May 16-17 weekend. It continues tomorrow with another five closed special stages.
Day 1/ Leg 1
- Leigh Hopper/Michael Goudie (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1:01:14.9
- Ivan Knauf/Trevor Corbin (Subaru Impreza WRX) 1:03:01.4
- Bruce Herbert/Bevan Park (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:03:37.6
- Martin Dippie/Jona Grant (Porsche 991 GT3 RS)1:03:55.4
- Jeremy Friar/Katrina Renshaw (BMW 330ti) 1:04:22.1
- Mike Tubbs/Brooke Walden (BMW M2) 1:04:32.6
- Tony Gosling/Sarah Brennan (Ford Escort RS1800 Mk 2) 1:06:09.4
- Andrew Oakley/Steve Hutchins (Audi RS5) 1:06:10.6
- Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10) 1:07:00.
- Troy & Kyla Twomey (MINI Cooper S) 1:07.25.