Jason and John White deserve every accolade after scoring their sixth win in Targa Tasmania but in the popularity stakes it was a husband-and-wife team from Queensland who upstaged the whole field.
Jon and Gina Siddins, driving their 47-year-old Datsun 240Z, were the undoubted stars in the 130-car competition field not only winning the Shannons Classic GT category, but finishing a remarkable ninth overall against the best tarmac rally cars and drivers in the business.
Logic says it shouldn’t have happened but this was a true case of a David and Goliath battle.
Team “24 ounce” (24oz) won their category by a massive nine minutes twenty five seconds, winning 27 of the 33 competitive stages scoring five seconds with a worst result of fourth on the very fast Riana stage where they were outgunned by three powerful V8s.
Obviously they work superbly as a team and Jon is a skilled driver, but what of the car that gave them such a great result.?
It’s a car that the 53-year-old mechanic built in his garage in 2007, had been stored in his father’s shed for fifteen years and was in need of a complete rebuild.
Over the years it has evolved to its present state featuring a 3280cc six-cylinder engine, with billet crank, producing 250 horsepower at 6800 rpm at the wheels and is fitted with a five-speed gearbox complete with Nissan Silvia internals.
At the rear there is a R180 limited slip differential and the car is fitted with four spot Willwood disc brakes all round and the larger wheels are fitted with Dunlop medium compound R specification tyres.
The car only weighs 1000 kilograms so it has a very competitive power to weight ratio.
Jon started his competition career in 1983 rallying a Datsun 1600 and over the years competed in hillclimbs at Mt Cotton, Grafton and Noosa and street sprints at Leyburn, Pittsworth, Gatton and Maryborough.
He also competed in motokhanas and circuit racing before lining up for his first foray into tarmac rallying when he navigated for Ken Feeney in an Audi in Targa Tasmania in 1995.
He was obviously smitten by the bug and between 2000 and 2005 shared a drive with fellow Queenslander Graham Copeland in Targa Tasmania.
“I then built my own car, which is the same 240Z that we currently compete in, and I absolutely love the sport of tarmac rallying and in particular TT,” Siddins said.
Jon has now contested 16 Targa Tasmania events, the last two with Gina alongside, and has been a consistent front runner in the Classic competition, both in handicap and outright results.
Since 2002 he has scored ten first places in Targa Tasmania in the various categories and classes against a range of very competitive cars and teams and, like good wine, seems to be getting better with age.
He has also competed in Targa High Country and Targa Adelaide, again with impressive results, and just to show how much he loves competing he will be circuit racing this weekend.
Jon and Gina met in 2011 and already had a love of cars which she says she inherited from her father.
She entered her first sprint event in 2011, competing in sprints and regularity events since then, and has now obtained her full race licence to compete in Improved Production events.
Gina’s competition car has an interesting background – it’s a 1990 Nissan Pintara TRX built by racing identity Murray Carter for the Bathurst 12-hour race in 1993 and 1994.
“At the moment I am building her a Datsun 1600 to compete in which brings back many memories of where I started 34 years ago,” Siddons said.
“Gina has only navigated for me twice in Targa Tasmania and twice in Targa High Country but she had navigated for other drivers-once in Targa Adelaide and once in Targa High Country.”
So where did the name “Team 24oz” originate?
It comes from the early introduction of the Datsun 240Z in Australia where they were considered to be “a poor man’s E-type Jaguar” and were subsequently referred to as 24oz (24 ounce).