Sanctioning body switch for Targa events in 2020

| Photographer Credit: ProShotz

Targa tarmac motor rally organiser, Ultimate Rally Group (URG), is in the process of completing a switch of event sanctioning, permitting and licensing authorities begun earlier this year.

That switch will see all three 2020 Targa events running solely under permits issued by the Auckland-based Australasian AutoSport Alliance (AASA), rather than long-time incumbent, the Wellington-based MotorSport New Zealand organisation.

This year permitting and licensing functions were split at both the three-day Targa Hawke’s Bay in May 2019, and the five-day 25th anniversary Targa New Zealand in October; MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ) sanctioned the competition (or sporting) parts of the events and the Australasian Auto-Sport Alliance (AASA) permitted the concurrently run but non-timed Targa Tour.

For 2020, however, URG owner and Targa events director Peter Martin said that the time had come to choose one or the other.

“To that end,” he said this week, ‘I have decided to go with the AASA for both the competition and tour parts of our three Targa events in 2020.”

A 100% New Zealand-owned-and-operated agency of the Australian Auto-Sport Alliance, the New Zealand AASA was set up by business entrepreneur Dr Jacob Simonsen two years ago to provide what he describes as; ‘a simpler, more cost-effective event sanctioning service with streamlined – largely on-line based – systems and processes, and friendly, common-sense practices.”

The Australian Auto-Sport Alliance was set up 12 years ago to ‘create, promote and maintain a professionally administered sport and industry environment ensuring the viability of the professional and recreational auto racing industry for the benefit and enjoyment of all the key stakeholders – the people who participate, the people who watch them participate and the people who provide the infrastructure to enable them to participate.’

In that time it has successfully sanctioned literally thousands of motorsport events on and off-road, covering every possible style of four-wheel competition; from club-to-national level circuit racing, truck racing, and both race and winch challenge-type events off the road.  It can also permit drive or ride days, burn-out comps and parade or show ‘n shine-type events.

Here, the New Zealand-based Australasian Autosport Alliance can do exactly the same, permitting events, issuing competitors in them with competition licences and their cars with logbooks (which it calls car ‘passports’) etc.

“As an event organiser, and someone,” says Martin, “who is ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone who not only competes in but also is involved in some way in any of my events, I understand that safety is absolutely paramount. I found it refreshing this year to find that Jacob and his team at the AASA share the exact same laser-like focus on safety as I do yet – because most the processes are on-line – actually save everyone involved in the process of competing in one of my events, time as well as money!


After years of there only being one event sanctioning option ‘in town’ Martin says that he – and everyone who enters one of his events in 2019 – owes the man behind the local AASA, Dr Jacob Simonsen, a vote of thanks.

“Seriously, says Martin, “competition in any marketplace is good. It’s how – after-all – customers end up with better service at a better price.”

Speaking of which, 2020 is set to be another big year for Martin and his team at the Ultimate Rally Group.

Demand from Targa regulars has seen him re-introduce a two-day ‘season opener’ Targa Bambina event in the upper North Island at the beginning of March. This will then be followed by the three-day Targa Hawke’s Bay event in May then the five-day Targa New Zealand (main event) –  this year being run a week earlier than usual (Oct 14-18) to allow for the biennial seven-day Silver Fern international marathon gravel rally URG also owns and runs to be held between November 21 & 28.

Ross MacKay

Ross MacKay is an award-winning journalist, author and publicist with first-hand experience of motorsport from a lifetime competing on two and four wheels. He currently combines a day job editing NZ4WD magazine with contract media work, weekend Mountain Bike missions and towing his 1989 Nissan Skyline drifter to grassroots meetings around the North Island.

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