THE third round of the Australian Targa Championship will take place in two weeks' time and while the overall entry is down a little on previous years at 100, the quality of the field will ensure there are going to be some tough battles across most categories.
This will be the fourth running of Targa Wrest Point and the 14-stage event over 210 competitive kilometres will be over the same course as 2012.
In the modern category, all the big guns have entered, including championship leaders Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett in the Nissan GTR, who have a first and a second to their credit.
Defending champions Jason and John White won the opening round in Adelaide, but unfortunately failed to finish Targa High Country so they will be aiming to secure maximum points on this event, which they have won previously in the Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale.
Also in GTRs will be Matthew and Dennis Sims, from South Australia, who will be looking for a good result after failing to finish the first two rounds, and the West Australian team of Peter Rullo and Simon Iseppi, who are second in the championship.
After a solid second place in Targa High Country, Matt and Casey Close will be looking to go one better in their Audi TT RS and Jim Richards and myself will be hoping to improve on our third place in Targa High Country.
In the early modern category, there is also a very competitive entry with Targa High Country winners Michael Pritchard and Gary Mourant in the GT3 Porsche up against Tony Warren and Scott Strong in the Evo V1 Lancer, David Ayres and Max Griffiths in the Nissan Skyline 400R, Graeme Pitt and Keith Wenn in the Evo V11 Lancer and Peter Nunn and Keith Johnson in the Porsche 944 S2.
Perhaps the biggest threat to all of them will be the Evo V11 RS Lancer team of Matthew Rickards and Damien Grimwood, who blitzed the category in last year's event and finished an amazing fourth overall.
In early classic, Donn Todd and Dean Tighe, from Queensland, will be hard to beat in the V8-powered Ford Perana, while in the late classic category the 911 Porsches of Roger Paterson- Roger Geue, Nick Ellis- Travis Lacey and John Ireland-Michael Ribot will be up against the De Tomaso Pantera of Keith and Mary-Anne Callinan.
In a late move, inaugural Targa Wrest Point modern category winners Greg Garwood and John Allen will take over the Late Classic Torana A9X of David Cooper and while it will take some getting used to they should be very quick, especially on the Tahune and airwalk stages.
The showroom two-wheel- drive category should see Adam Spence and Erin Kelly, in their Renault Migane RS 250, repeat their winning performance from Targa High Country but they will need to keep an eye on their team-mates Benjamin Noor and Lee Challoner-Miles in the other Renault and Glyn Crimp and Paul van der Mey in the Ford Focus RS.
In the showroom four- wheel-drive category, Scott Millar and Chris Dean, in their Evo X Lancer, have a good chance of improving on their second place in Targa High Country but they will be under some pressure from the Neil Buckby Motors team of Ben Newman and Chrichton Lewis, which finished third in Targa High Country in the Subaru WRX STi.
On February 2, there will be stages at Lucaston, on the Tahune Airwalk road in both directions twice, at Dover and finish with a run through the traditional Longley stage.
On February 3, there will be stages at Pelverata, Oyster Cove, Woodbridge and Cygnet.