Up to 100 expected for Targa title race

TARGA Wrest Point organisers are expecting 100 entries for the third round of the Australian Targa Championship on the first weekend in February with competitors facing a significantly changed course from previous years.

The event will consist of 14 special stages covering over 200 competitive kilometres over some of the most challenging roads in the four-round championship.

After leaving Hobart on the Saturday morning the teams will contest the traditional Lucaston shakedown stage before transporting to the Esperance Coast stage near Dover, which has been run in recent years, but will also be run in the opposite direction later in the day.

From there it's onto the traditional Tahune stage, which is then run in the opposite direction as the Airwalk stage before the crews return to Dover.

The Longley stage will then be run but in one of the major changes for the event the stage will then be run in the opposite direction for the very first time since Targa Tasmania commenced in 1992.

On Sunday the crews will contest the usual Pelverata stage before moving to the traditional Nichols Rivulet, Woodbridge and Cygnet stages with these last three stages then run in the opposite direction before the finish at Wrest Point.

There are several categories of competition in the championship and one of the most competitive will be Showroom 4WD with the Buckby Motors Subaru WRX STi team of Ben Newman and stand-in co- driver Tim Kulhanek aiming to go one better than a second place finish in this event last year.

Newman and previous co- driver Chrichton Lewis lead the championship after two rounds by just three points from the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X team of Clinton Arentz and Peter Burrey but there are three other teams who could spoil the party.

Angus Kennard and Ian Wheeler in the Subaru WRX Sti will be very much on the pace as will the West Australian team of Stewart Liddle and Michael Lloyd in the Evo X Lancer and Scott Millar and Chris Dean in a similar car.

The Late Classic competition looks set to be a three-way battle for supremacy between the Greg Garwood-John Allen Torana A9X, South Australians Roger Paterson and Richard Geue in the 911 Porsche and the V8-powered Triumph TR7 of Craig Haysman and Neil Branum.

In the Early Modern competition there are three Tasmanian teams that could be in with a chance of beating the very quick BMW M3 of West Australians Brett Morse and Rodney Ng.

After a great performance in Targa High Country Eddie Maguire and Jobe Sims in the Evo 5 Lancer should be very much on the pace as will Peter Nunn and Keith Johnstone in the 944 Porsche and Sam Kirkland and Matt Best in the Evo 3 Lancer.

The Modern competition will see the usual suspects vying for the honours but last year's winners and current championship leaders Jason and John White in the Lamborghini Gallardo will be the team to beat.

They will need to be on their game as Steve Glenney and Bernie Webb pushed them very hard on the first day of Targa High Country until they crashed the GTR Nissan R35 and they will be all out to make amends.

Matt Close and Gary Morant will be very strong in the Audi TT RS after a second place finish in Targa High Country as will the GTR Nissan R35 of Ben Searcy and Todd Paine which finished third in THC.

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