THERE may still be four days to run but 2008 winner Steve Glenney has given notice that he is the man to beat in this year's modern section at Targa Tasmania with an impressive opening day drive in his Nissan GT-R.
Glenney opened up a 27-second buffer over the remainder of the field, with Victorian Matt Close second in his Audi TT RS and defending champion Jason White third, a further three seconds back.
The first eight competitive stages north and west of Launceston were conducted in near-perfect driving conditions.
In the Classic car competition, former Tasmanian touring car driver Andrew Miedecke was in a class of his own, taking his 1971 Ford Perana to a one-minute, 24-second lead over South Australia's Craig Haysman in a Triumph TR7 V8.
Jim Richards was supreme in his newly adopted class, Showroom Sports, steering his Porsche Cayman S to a two-minute, 33-second lead over Michael Minshall's Audi.
In a tight tussle, Clinton Arentz in a Mitsubishi Evo X leads Showroom 4WD by just three seconds over local hope Ben Newman, in a Subaru WRX STI.
Glenney showed his class on the day's third stage, Sheffield, crossing the 15-kilometre tarmac test 16 seconds before his rivals.
``I loved the Sheffield stage today,'' Glenney said. ``It's a stage I've liked a lot over the years.
``There's spots where there's time to be made, a lot of corners and crests and tricky bits, so we pressed on and it was nice to gain some time through there.
``The cars going all right. It complains a little bit when we thrash it, but most cars have every right to do that.''
Defending champion Jason White is still in the mix, but he knows the Lancer Evo 9 that he's driving is not quite the Lamborghini that took him to victory in each of the past two years.
``We're really starting to warm up to this car gradually and getting used to the very different aspects of this compared to the Lambo,'' White said.
``The higher roll centre is taking some getting used to in the fast stuff, but it's still quite good, so I think it's fast enough to keep us around where we are in the field at the moment.
``We're more than happy with our stage times and position in the field. It's better than we thought it would be.''
Miedecke is a perfectionist and is committed to getting the most out of his Les Walkden Rallying- prepared Ford V8.
``It's going well, apart from our wheel spin issues,'' Miedecke said.
``We made a few changes to the rear suspension after lunch, which made a bit of improvement, and we'll make a few more tonight, which should make it better for tomorrow.
``We need to conserve the rear tyres and get the power on to the ground.''
Miedecke also leads Early Classic Handicap ahead of Peter Ullrich's 1963 Jensen CV8.
Canberra's Barry Faux leads Late Classic in his 1981 Mazda RX-7.
The highly competitive Early Modern class is led by Tasmanian Ben Manion in a 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS-t, and Craig Dean heads Modern Muscle Cars in his 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
The Vintage Rallye sees the Flag Car, the 1934 Ford Indy Car Special of Graham Copeland, 42 seconds clear of the 1938 Dodge Speedster Special of Wayne Clark.
Day two of Targa Tasmania takes the 180-strong field from Launceston out to St Helens on the East Coast and back, finishing with a street stage in historic Longford.