In the past two years Targa tarmac motor rally events have taken Patumahoe driver Glenn Inkster and Howick-based co-driver Spencer Winn all over New Zealand. So this weekend’s Pukekohe-based Targa Bambina event means a rare race weekend ‘at home.’.
“It’s certainly nice to have an event so close and spectator-friendly, ” Targa specialist Inkster said this morning. “With the service park at the Showgrounds, and Kids In Cars there both days we’ve been able to say to people, look, come on down, bring the whole family this time, have a bit of fun and see what a Targa event is all about.”
This year’s Bambina event reverts to a full two-day ‘weekend Targa’ format (after several years as a single day ‘sprint’ event), with stages laid out clover leaf-style from a central command centre at Pukekohe’s A&P Showgrounds.
It has attracted almost 60 starters, with 40 across the various competition classes and an even mix of classics and modern cars in the Targa Tour.
Competitors and tour participants will cover just over 160kms of closed special stages (13) and 340 kms of touring stages over the two days.
Stages range in length from the 6.6km Kern Rd between Ramarama and Paerata on the first day and the 17.39 of Maioro west of Waiuku on the second.
Having now won four Targa NZ events on the trot (Targa NZ 2014 and Targa Sprint, Targa North Island and Targa NZ in 2015) Inkster and Winn are firm favourites. In fact Inkster says that so well did their Ecolight-backed Mitsubishi Evo 8 handle the record 1000kms of special stages that made up last year’s six day Targa NZ event from Auckland to Havelock North that they are treating this weekend’s Bambina event as a simple extension of that one.
“It’s true,” says Inkster. “The car just felt so strong over the last couple of days of main Targa last year that all we’ve really done since then is give it a good spanner check and change the fluids.”
Set to provide competition overall and in the the Andrewsimms.co.nz 4WD class are fellow fast men Jason Gill and co-driver Duncan Mackenzie in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, Leigh Hopper and co-driver Michael Goudie in a Mitsubishi Evo 3, and class sponsor, Auckland motor vehicle dealer Andrew Simms, and his co-driver Craig Vulawalu in a Mitsubishi Evo 10.
Back in action after a big crash in the Targa NZ event last year is Subaru WRX driver Nic de Waal and co-driver Natasha Oakden, and back for another shot at a Targa event is New Plymouth ace John Rae and co-driver David Leuthart in Rae’s hybrid Mitsubishi Evo-engined VW Polo tarmac rally car.
The battle for Global Security Modern 2WD class honours, meanwhile, looks set to be between Targa regular Clark Proctor and co-driver Sue O’Neill in Proctor’s Nissan V6-engined Ford Escort, and Ross Graham and Matthew Merwood in Hawera man Graham’s Holden Torana A9X V8.
On their return to Targa competition after a year out, the man behind class sponsor Global Security, Aucklander Ross Johnson, and co-driver Mike Patching, will also be front-runners in Johnson’s Porsche GT2.
There will also be a’battle of the BMWs’ in the Global Security Modern 2WD class involving the late-model BMW M3 of Tauranga driver Simon Clark and co-driver Richard Somerville, the earlier model M3 of Perth-based expat Robert Darrington and co-driver David Abetz, and the 135i of father and daughter pair Rick and Ellie Martin from Auckland.
Interest in the Metalman Classic 2WD class, will centre of the fortunes of the two University-based cars and crews from Japan, Kenjiro Shinozuka and Mitsuru Tagi in one 1979 Honda Civic, Masatoshi Kubo and Nagi Susumu in another.
And making a return to Targa competition this year after a long break is 2000 Targa NZ 2WD class winner Anton Tallott, with co-driver David Connell, in a Mazda RX7.
Targa NZ’s official charity, Kids In Cars, will be based at event HQ at Pukekohe’s A&P Showgrounds both days providing family-friendly entertainment including a Bouncy Castle.
First car away from the start at Pukekohe on Saturday morning is at 9.00am and the field of cars returns to the showgrounds for service stops twice during the day (between 11.00am and 12.15pm and 1.15 and 2.15pm) before arriving for a final service and overnight parc ferme at 3.15pm.
First car away on Sunday morning is at 8.30am and there are three service stops during the day (10.00-10.20am, 11.25am-12.25pm and 2.00-2.15pm) before event finish at 3.20pm at the showgrounds.