TARGA Bambina first test for Japanese student rally team

They say that the best way to learn is by doing….a theory a group of university students from Japan are keen to prove in next month’s Targa Bambina tarmac motor rally at Pukekohe.

The group, made up of students from the University of Tokyo and the Honda Technical Institute Kanto, have spent the past year learning about every aspect of motorsport. And the two-day Targa Bambina tarmac motor rally is their first chance to put theory into practice.

Entries from competitors overseas are nothing new to Targa New Zealand owner and event director Peter Martin. But he admits he did do a double take when he was first approached by the students behind the Team Musashi Historic Rally Abroad Project.

“It was just the way they explained it.” he says. “Everything about the process is part of their learning experience, and I mean everything, from picking up the phone to solicit sponsorship to organising the shipping to and from Japan and – obviously – preparing the cars and competing in our event.”

Originally the team – which has been buying and race-preparing classic cars and entering them in events around the world for the past six years – targeted the annual Monte Carlo Historic Rally. But after the terrorist attacks in France last year they looked elsewhere…and discovered that the two-day Targa Bambina event here, and six-day Targa Tasmania events, were on within a month of each other.

The two Honda Civics the students have prepared and shipped out are 1979 models which will contest the Metalman Classic 2WD class. Veteran Japanese rally driver Kenjiro Shinozuka will drive one with Mitsuru Takagi co-driving, and lecturer Masatoshi Kubo will drive the other with Nagai Susumu in the co-driver’s seat.

This year’s Bambina 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.

The new-look Bambina event has attracted over 60 starters, with just over 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.

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