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Targa Tasmania 2009: Drama Filled Day 3 for Nissan GT-R Pilots

May 1, 2009

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Day three of Targa Tasmania 2009 was a troublesome one for three of the five Nissan GT-R teams as they battled in early wet conditions. First incident of the day involved Team Donut King’s GT-R driven by Tony Alford when they had an off around 11am on TS19. Front damage included a cracked radiator so he pulled out of the event.

Next was the sad news that Steve Jones, the young Western Australian who had been maintaining a solid top 5 position on days 1 and 2 had also had a more serious off on TS21. Steve was taken to hospital for observation but co-driver Rauri is OK. The car is damaged but witnesses said it could have been worse.

Thirdly, Russel Newman’s GT-R was seen exiting TS20 driving quite slowly. Mechanical dramas may have befallen them but we cannot say for sure. Chances are they will investigate the issue overnight and assess if they will continue in the morning. Fingers crossed.

Tony Quinn who began the day in first position on the other hand, had another top day of racing. No serious troubles except for the serious competition from the Lamborghini teams of Weeks/Crunkhorn (1st) and White/White (2nd) both in 2007 Gallardo Superleggeras. Tony, in third place, is only 4 seconds behind the leader and just 1 second behind 2nd place however as the competition this year is extremely close.

Peter Leemhuis in the second Team Donut King Nissan GT-R had a solid day finishing in 14th spot for day three.

Jim Richards who is always a favourite was also not immune to the dramas that befell teams today. After seemingly misjudging the surface conditions of a second gear corner, not expecting so much loose debris to be on the tarmac, he parked the nose of his Porsche GT2 into an embankment. This was enough to hole the radiator and end the event for him. Jim is in good spirits though even considering this is the first stage of a Targa Tasmania he’s ever entered but not finished.

Two more days of competitive racing ahead, weather is expected to be fine for both of them. Stay tuned for more updates and check out the entire press release from Targa Tasmania 2009 after the jump…

Link: Targa Tasmania 2009 Website – Results
Link: Targa Tasmania – News Website
Photos: Joel Strickland (C) Joel Strickland Photographics

Wooster, Weeks and White storm Targa
Friday, 01 May 2009

South Australian Kevin Weeks and Tasmanian Jason White have been the big movers on day three of Targa Tasmania, wrestling the lead off Tony Quinn and making it a Lamborghini 1-2 with two days of the event still to run.

In a day of high drama, eight-time winner, Jim Richards, crashed out of the event on the day’s fifth stage, putting the Targa legend on the sidelines for the first time in his 16 year history in the event.

The classic section is still led by Queenslander, Ben Wooster, but an off-road excursion in his Nissan Skyline GTS on the day’s first stage saw him have to work harder than expected to maintain his lead 20 second lead over the 1974 Porsche 911 of Rex Broadbent.

In the Showroom class, Greg Johnston continues to lead the way in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, well clear of the Mazda 3 MPS of 20-year old Victorian, Brendan Reeves.

The third day of the 18th Targa Tasmania started with wet roads for the first time this year, but the overnight rain quickly dissipated and clear skies prevailed for much of the day.

With his slight engine problems from yesterday all sorted, Kevin Weeks was the early mover, winning the opening stage and reducing the gap to overnight leader Tony Quinn. But it was the drama among the other event favourites that was creating all the interest.

Western Australian Steve Jones, the winner of last year’s Targa West, was lying fourth in his Nissan GTR until he crashed heavily on the Stoodley test. Co-driver Ruari Soutar-Dawson was uninjured, but Jones was taken to Launceston General Hospital for observation with back pain.

Two stages later, Jim Richards shocked onlookers when he hit a bank on the Paloona stage, damaging his Porsche’s radiator beyond repair and retiring from the event for the first time.

“We hit a bank on a little second gear corner and broke the radiator,” Richards explained. ” The radiator’s right at the front of the Porsche, so unfortunately we just rolled down the road and parked it an SOS point and waited for the truck to arrive to pick it up.

“These things happen, and they happen to other drivers. It’s just a consequence of going in a rally; every now and then you make a little blue and hit something, I suppose.”

“I turned into the corner in second gear, got to the middle of the corner and the car understeered off on all the gravel and mud that was on the road. But hey, 200 other cars got around the corner without hitting the bank, so I was obviously going a fraction too fast,” a philosophical Richards added.

“There’s no excuses. The fact is that we hit the bank and no-one else did.”

Back at the front of the field it was shaping into a ding-dong battle between the Lamborghinis of Weeks and White, and Quinn’s Nissan.

Weeks moved ahead of Quinn, but local boy Jason White was the man on a mission. He set the fastest time on the final four stages and finished the day just three seconds from the lead, having started the day with a 16 second deficit.

Quinn remains a big threat, particularly with wet weather expected as the event moves from Launceston to Strahan on Saturday, before the final day into Hobart on Sunday.

“It’s great to see two Lamborghinis at the top of the leader board,” Weeks said.

” We really pulled all the stops out on Paloona, but that’s Whitey’s back yard. We didn’t think anyone would beat us on that, but we got beaten by eight seconds, so you have to hand it to him, he did a sensational job on that stage. To stay in the lead we’ll have to go faster tomorrow.”

White feels that things are getting better the longer the event goes.

“We’ve made good progress with our pacenotes today, and things are really starting to click,” White said.

” John was a bit rusty on reading them at first, but it’s not working well and the stages times are showing that.

” It’s a shame to see Jim out of the event, but we’d moved ahead of him before his problem. Having said that, if you get a chance to stand on a podium you want them standing below you, not having retired from the event.”

After an overnight engine rebuild, Dean Herridge’s Subaru Impreza WRX has moved up to fourth place, but is over a minute and a half off a podium placing, but maintains a handy advantage over fifth placed Matt Close in a Porsche.

Classic category pacesetter, Ben Wooster, from Queensland, started the day with a 17 second lead over a charging Rex Broadbent, but it wasn’t long before he found himself six seconds in arrears after going off the road on the second stage.

” We came into the corner a bit hot and locked a brake,” the Nissan Skyline GTS driver explained. “We had to make a decision on whether to take the corner, which I don’t think was ever going to happen. I had to go through a fence, then out through some poor farmer’s paddock, and then choose where I was going to come back out onto the road.”

Fortunately his car was not damaged, and he regained his composure to storm back into the lead, finishing the day 28 seconds in front.

In second place, Broadbent has just a nine second advantage over the similar Porsche of Bill Pye, but with rain expected and Pye’s car set up for those conditions, the battle of the German cars is far from over.

Gavin James is fourth, with Porsches holding five of the top six positions in the classic field.

Showroom class leader Greg Johnston has had another solid day, with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 holding a one minute and nine second lead over the front-wheel drive Mazda3 MPS of the brother and sister pairing of Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth.

Johnston’s four-wheel drive Lancer is using its extra traction to good effect, but Reeves and his team-mate, Rick Bates, are making up time on the longer stages, keeping Johnston on his toes.

Last year’s winner and runner-up in the Showroom class, Tony Warren and Scott Millar, lie in fourth and fifth place, but their hopes of repeating last year’s successes seem to be fading rapidly.

Day four of Targa Tasmania is the longest of the event, and sees the remaining competitors travel from Launceston to Strahan via eight stages totaling nearly 138 competitive kilometers. The highlights are two of the event’s most famous stages, Cethana and Hellyer Gorge.

RESULTS – END DAY 3, 2009 Targa Tasmania

MODERN (Provisional)
1. Kevin Weeks (SA), Rebecca Crunkhorn (SA), 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera
2. Jason White (TAS), John White (TAS), 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, +0:03
3. Tony Quinn (QLD), Naomi Tillett (SA), 2008 Nissan GTR, +0.04
4. Dean Herridge (WA), Glen Weston (QLD), 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI , +1:44
5. Matt Close (VIC), Cameron Reeves (QLD), 2000 Porsche 911 Turbo, + 2:08
6. Jamie Vandenberg (TAS ), Simon Vandenberg (TAS ), 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +2:26

CLASSIC (Provisional)
1. Ben Wooster (QLD), Tim Kulhanek (QLD), 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS-t
2. Rex Broadbent, Michael Goedheer, 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS,+0:28
3. Bill Pye (NSW), Grant Geelan (NSW), 1974 Porsche 911 RS,+0:37
4. Gavin James (VIC), Neil McLeod (VIC), 1989 Porsche 944, +1:41
5. John Ireland, Micheal Ribot, Prosche 911 Carrera 3, +3:52

SHOWROOM (Provisional)
1. Greg Johnston (TAS), Mike Stoneman(TAS), 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9
2. Brendan Reeves (VIC), Rhianon Smyth (VIC), 2007 Mazdda 3 MPS,+1:09
3. Rick Bates (ACT), Anthony McLoughlin (QLD), 2007 Mazda 3 MPS,+1:48
4. Tony Warren (TAS), Natasha Deniese(VIC), 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9,+1:54

EARLY CLASSIC (Provisional)
1. Paul Batten, Mike Batten, 1961 Volvo PV544,
2. Peter Ullrich (NSW), Sari Ullrich (NSW), 1963 Jensen CV8, +3:04
3. Andrew White, Ashley Yelds, 1961 Volvo 122S, +7:03

LATE CLASSIC (Handicap) (Provisional)
1. John Ireland, Micheal Ribot, Prosche 911 Carrera 3
2. Ben Wooster (QLD), Tim Kulhanek (TAS), 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS-t, +0:11
3. Rex Broadbent, Michael Goedheer, Porsche 911 Carrera RS, +0:39

EARLY MODERN (Provisional)
1. Ric Shaw (NSW), James Parish(NSW), 1997 Mazda RX7
2. Matt Walsh (VIC), Patrick Bourke (NSW), 1994 BMW M3, +2:06
3. Jeff Beable (VIC), Nerida Beable (VIC), 2000 Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec, +2:07