Last year tarmac motor rally organiser Targa New Zealand marked its 20th anniversary with a six-day Christchurch to Queenstown odyssey – the event’s first foray into the South Island. This year the event returns to its North Island roots with another event first – over 1000 kms of closed special stages.
“It’s a biggie alright,” says Event Director Peter Martin. “And we’ve done it as a direct response to competitor feedback.
“Typically over the six days of a main Targa event we would run to, say, 6-800kms of special stages and between 1500 and 1800 kms of travelling in-between.”
“This is the first time in our knowledge that any modern Targa-type event around the world has been able to clock up over 1000kms of special stages. In terms of bang for your buck it is unprecedented, here or anywhere else.”
This year’s six-day event starts in Auckland on (Labour Day) Monday October 26 and finishes in Palmerston North on Saturday October 31.
In-between are 35 closed special stages comprising a total of 1067kms linked by 1431.7kms of touring stages with overnight stops in Hamilton, New Plymouth (two nights), Palmerston North and Havelock North.
Included are some classic stages from previous main Targa events like Glen Murray, Kawhia, Inglewood, Whangamomona, Gentle Annie and Mangatainoka.
“What we’re doing, in effect,” says Martin, “is celebrating our return to the North Island, to the event’s roots if you like, by taking some of the best and most popular stages from previous events and putting them together in one. It’s going to be mega!”
Response from the event’s many regulars has been immediate and enthusiastic with defending Targa South Island winner Glenn Inkster and co-driver Spencer Winn one of the first pairings to confirm their entry.
Others like former Targa Rotorua winner Leigh Hopper and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick, and high-profile motorsport personality Clark Proctor and co-driver Sue O’Neill, have also been quick to sign up.
Inkster and Winn also won the recent three-day Targa Bambina event between Auckland and Rotorua and Inkster says that after having to pull out of the 2013 Targa New Zealand event he and Winn have some ‘unfinished business’ to deal with this time around.
“Winning the 20th anniversary event was our big goal last year, but now that we have done that we decided that our main goal this year would be to not only finish all three Targa events, but to win them as well,” he said.
Interest in the concurrent but non-competitive Targa Tour is also high, with over 30 entries already confirmed.
Entry information is available on the event website www.targa.co.nz with the standard pricing structure in place until the end of the month (July) before late entry fees kick in from August 1.