Third day ‘Hoodoo’ strikes Targa NZ leaderboard

| Photographer Credit: Graham Hughes for ProShotz

Ask any veteran of ‘more than a few’ five-day Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally marathons and they will tell it to you straight; if you can make it through the third day unscathed, your chances of making to the finish line at the end of the fifth (day) go up. If not…well, a quick re-cap of what happened on the third day (yesterday) of the latest ‘main Targa’ event in Taranaki should get you up to speed!

Before that though, here’s a snapshot of the overall event standings from parc ferme in Whanganui last night.

After adding another three stage wins to their tally, Subaru Impreza Sti pair Cameron Ross and Matthew Buer spent a fruitful day on Friday building on the narrow event lead they have held since the first day of the 2021 Targa NZ event in Taranaki on Wednesday.

By deftly avoiding most of the Day 3 hubris that hit other competitors the pair ended the day not only with their event lead intact, but that lead is also now able to be measured in minutes (3:2.0 to be exact) rather than the fractions of a second (0:00.5) as was the case at the end of the first day.

The Martin Dippie/Jona Grant Porsche 991 GT3 is now in 2nd place

The early demise of fellow Subaru Impreza Sti runners Rory Calloway and co-driver Samantha Gray saw Dunedin pair Martin Dippie and Jona Grant (Porche 991 GT3 RS) move form P3 o P2 in the overall event rankings, and by claiming two stage wins of their own, they at least manged to keep Ross and Buer in the leading Subaru on their toes.

What Dippie and Grant were unable to do, however, was shake Jason Gill and his co-driver Nicole Summerfield (VW Polo R) off their tail,

Targa event veteran Gill and Summerfield went into the day in P4, half a minute shy of Dippie and Grant, but came out of it in P3 and now just 26 seconds down on the Dippie/Grant Porsche. Not a bad outcome in anyone’s language!

Jason Gill & Nicole Summerfield (VW Polo R) are now 3rd overall

Auckland’s David Rogers and co-driver Shane Reynolds (Mitsubishi Evo 10) also moved up in the overall event ranking – from P6 to P4 – though in this case their cause was aided by the 90 second (minute-and-a-half) time penalty levied on BMW M2 driver Mike Tubbs and co-driver Richard Scoular for exceeding the event’s pre-set maximum average speed through the third last special stage of the day.

Penalty-aside Tubbs and Scoular had enjoyed another competitive day in Tubbs’ hi-tech, late-model 2WD BMW M2 coupe, the pair even claiming their first outright stage win in what turned out to be the ‘bogey’ stage of the day for – amongst others – fast-rising event young gun Rory Callaway and co-driver Samantha Gray, the 20.78km Mt Egmont.

For the first two days of the event Callaway, from Christchurch, and Gray (Raglan) had been vying for the lead with Wellington ace Cameron Ross and his Tauranga-based co-driver Matthew Buer in their virtually identical late model 4WD Subaru Impreza Sti hactchbacks.

Nigel and Meaghan Patterson, 11th overall and leading the Classic 2WD category in their BMW E30

That all changed in an instant, however, just 5km into the otherwise innocuous first stage of the day when their luck ran out and Callaway, Gray and the distinctive all-white Suabru Impreza they shared was off the road, and – just like that – out of the event.

As it turned out that was only Lady Luck’s first capricious act on this most inauspicious of third days in the 26-year history of Targa NZ events.

Also, out of event finally – this time after running off the road like Callaway – was event veteran Leigh Hopper who with co-driver Michael Goudie had claimed the Lion’s share of stage wins on the first two days but were (well) out of contention for a major event placing thanks to engine overheating issues forcing them out of at least two of the other stages.

Everyone in the field was given the same assessed time after two of the most popular members of the Targa NZ family, Edde Grooten and co-driver Warren Patterson (Porsche 911) left the road just 1.4km into the day’s third stage, the 13.97km Dover/Orchard Rds.

The final victims of the Day 3 Hoodoo, meanwhile, appeared to be Jane Entwistle and her co-driver Ian Wilkin (Toyota Celica) who ended up off the road – and on the ‘retirement’ list -17.5km into the 23.66km Eltham stage late in the afternoon.

The Targa Tour remains a popular part of all Targa events.

After overnighting in Whanganui, the combined Targa group headed east to Hawke’s Bay today where the event will be based for the final two nights – via stages today using Fields Track in the morning and the Gentle Annie Rd in the afternoon.

All-up, entrants face a mix of 760km of closed road special stages and 1240km of touring stages for an event total of 2000 km.

Incorporated into and set to run concurrently over the final two days with the full five-day ‘2021’ Targa New Zealand event is a separately entered and scored – two-day – ‘2021’ Targa NZ Regional tarmac motor rally which started in Whanganui this morning.

Both the five-day and the two-day regional events will also incorporate their own concurrently run but independently organised and scored VCC Time Trials run in conjunction with the Vintage Car Club of NZ, as well as concurrent but non-competitive Targa Tours.

Enjoying the new Targa Time Trial organised and run-in conjunction with the Vintage Car Club of New Zealand are Saab 96 Sport owner Graham Sharp and co-driver John Rapley

Results – Overall Day 3
1/ Cameron Ross/Matthew Buer (Subaru Impreza) 3:14:24.6
2/ Martin Dippie/Jona Grant (Porsche 991 GT3 RS) 3:17:26.6
3/ Jason Gill/Nicole Summerfield (VW Polo R) 3:17:53.5
4/ David Rogers/Shane Reynolds (Mitsubishi Evo X RS) 3:19:14.3
5/ Mike Tubbs/Richard Scoular (BMW M2) *1:30 3:20:37.3
6/ Marcus Van Klink/Matt Richards (Mazda RX8) 3:20:55.1
7/ Robert Darrington/David Abetz (BMW M3) 3:24:16.9
8/ Anton Tallott/David Connell (Subaru WRX Sti) 3:24:42.0
9/ Andy Oakley/Steve Hutchins (Audi RS5) 3:24:50.9
10/ Nathan Apatu/Donna Elder (Porsche GT3) 3:25:37.9

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 contract media work with weekend Mountain Bike missions and trips to grassroots drift days.

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