Defending title holders Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo 8) made the early running on the opening day of the 21st annual Targa New Zealand tarmac rally event today (Labour Day Monday).
The pair, who have also won the one-day Targa Sprint event and three-day Targa Bambina earlier this year were comfortably fastest in both timed stages and on the event’s Prologue stages. And though crew members were busy at the end-of-day service in Hamilton replacing a turbo, Inkster said he and Winn could hardly have wished for a better day.
“The turbo was new and we are really only replacing it because people told us the car was smoking a bit when it was idling. It was fine out on the road, but we decided to replace it just in case and it is good to see that by doing that we have fixed the smoke problem.”
Five-time former champion Tony Quinn and co-driver Naomi Tillett also reported a good start to the event in the Targa Tasmania and Targa NZ-winning Nissan GT-R35 which for the past two years has been on display at the National Motorsport Museum in Cromwell.
Outright and Andrew Simms Allcomers 4WD class rivals Leigh Hopper and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru WRX), and Jason Gill and co-driver Mark Robinson, (Mitsubishi Evo 8) were not so lucky, however.
Hopper and Kirkpatrick crashed heavily on the second run through the day’s Prologue stage in the north Waikato, and Gill and Robinson were contemplating an overnight gearbox change after problems in the second afternoon stage.
“I could shift down alright, but not back up,” reported Gill. “We didn’t lose too much time with it stuck in fourth but it was enough.”
In the other classes Clark Proctor and co-driver Sue O’Neill set the early pace in Instra Modern 2WD in their hybrid Nissan turbo-engined Ford Escort.
They ended the day 19 seconds in front of the late model Porsche 911 GT3 of 2013 class and event winners Martin Dippie and Jona Grant from Dunedin, who in turn had a three second margin on Christchurch gravel rally ace Marcus Van Klink and his co-driver Dave Neill in Van Klink’s 2004 Citroen C2 Super 1600 ex WRC cars.
In Metalman Classic, meanwhile, Targa Bambina class winners Bevan Claridge and co-driver Campbell Tannock (Holden Commodore V8) spent most of the day locked in a battle for class supremacy with good friends Jason Easton and Campbell Ward from nearby Foxton/
The result was that Claridge and Tannock lead the class with Easton -who got his start in the sport as Claridge’s co-driver – and Ward just two seconds behind, but a further two seconds clear of class stalwarts Mark and Chris Kirk-Burnnand in their BMW M3.
With today’s two untimed Prologue stages and timed Glen Murray and Rotongaro stages now over, the 80-strong Targa NZ field now heads south-west for two days of stages in Taranaki (with two nights in New Plymouth) then east to Palmerston North and Havelock North before returning west for the finish at Palmerston North (at the city’s Square) on Saturday October 31.
Information on both the main (six-day) 2015 Targa New Zealand and two-day Targa Regional Rally events is available on the event website www.targa.co.nz or in the latest copy of NZ Classic Car magazine.
Andrew Simms Allcomers 4WD
1. Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn (2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) 00:18:04
2. Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett (2008 Nissan GT-R) 00:18:38
3. Jason Gill/Mark Robinson (2005 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) 00:18:47
4. Nic de Waal/Guy Hodgson (2002 Subaru Impreza) 00:19:07
5. David Rogers/Aidan Kelly (2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS) 00:20:17
6. Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen (2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS) 00:20:20
Metalman Classic 2WD
1. Bevan Claridge/Campbell Tannock (1992 Holden Commodore) 00:19:33
2. Jason Easton/Campbell Ward (1966 Ford Mustang) 00:19:35
3. Mark & Chris Kirk-Burnnand (1987 BMW M3) 00:19:37
4. Bruce Farley/Glen Warner (1986 BMW 325) 00:20:17
5. Ashton Wood/Chris Lancaster (1976 Ford Escort RS1800) 00:20:35
6. Barry Kirk Burnannd/Dave O’Carroll (1989 BMW M3) 00:20:48
Instra.com Modern 2WD
1. Clark Proctor/Sue O’Neill (1973 Escort MK1) 00:19:18
2. Martin Dippie/Jona Grant (2007 Porsche GT3 RS) 00:19:37
3. Marcus Van Klink/Dave Neill (2004 Citroen C2 Super 1600) 00:19:40
4. Robert Darrington/David Abetz (2002 BMW M3) 00:19:53
5. Grant Aitken/Caroline Cullimore (2013 Toyota 86 RC) 00:19:54
6. Andre Cowan/Brett Cowan (1992 BMW 325i) 00:19:58