Peter Roberts ready for 2018 Targa Tasmania

Peter “Golly” Roberts has gained more from Targa Tasmania than most.

Not only has it allowed him to take his lifelong passion for mostorsport to the next level, but it was also where he met his wife of six years, Suzanne.

The couple now use their chemistry on the track, with Suzanne having navigated for her husband since he moved into the driver’s seat. 

Mr Roberts said it helped to have someone by his side who understood what it took to compete in the race.

“Suzanne is one of the main reasons why I am still able to do Targa Tasmania,” he said.

“It’s something we are both passionate about, so it makes it easier to justify some of the costs.

“She fully understands what the money goes towards, which is definitely a big plus.”

Roberts’ relationship with Targa began more than a decade before he met Suzanne, with the Launceston driver taking part in his 22nd consecutive race this year.

His spent his first 17 years as a navigator, giving directions in a range of different vehicles, including Lamborghinis and Porsches.

While he “definitely prefers” being behind the wheel, he said there had been plenty of memorable moments in the passenger seat.

“I’ve done it with a lot of pretty quick guys,” he said.

“Probably the most memorable was in the Lamborghini with Paul Stokell, because we crashed out when we were leading.

“The most exhilarating ride was with Wayne Park in a Ford RS 200.

“There were only 20 of them ever built, so that was just mind blowing.”

There promises to be more memories created from Monday as the 27th Targa Tasmania gets underway.

This year’s event represents the inaugural round two of the Confederation of Australian Motorsport’s newly-formed Australian Targa Championship.

Other rounds include Targa North West, Targa High Country, and Targa Barrier Reef. 

Roberts said Targa Tasmania’s place on the calendar was not the only aspect of the event that had changed since he became involved.

“I think the safety procedures have come a long way, which is great,” he said.

“We’ve got a really good device in the car called RallySafe, which tracks where you are and allows you to call for help when you need it.

“There are not the crashes there used to be, because people are more professional in preparing their cars.

“The people you see these days have got their head around it, whereas 20 years ago, drivers would take their car to their local mechanic, who probably wouldn’t understand what the car was going to go through.”

While it is a distinctly Tasmanian tradition, the race has roots in Italy, drawing its format from Sicily’s Targa Florio. 

The inaugural Targa Florio was in 1906, taking its name from organiser Vincenzo Florio.

The Targa Tasmania course comprises of six legs, with drivers starting in the North before snaking through the West and East coasts of Tasmania and finishing up in Hobart.

It includes almost 40 competitive stages and caters for up to 300 cars selected by invitation.

While all competitors who cross the finish line receive a finishers medallion, those who qualify in completing each stage under a pre-set time will also receive a Targa Plate.

Categories for the event include, Targa Tour, TSD Trophy, GT Sports Trophy, Thoroughbred Trophy, Rookie Rallye, Vintage & Classic, Classic GT, Early Modern, GT4 and GT2.

The event may officially run from April 16 to April 21, but Roberts said the Targa journey never ends for the drivers.

“Throughout the past few weeks I have done reconnaissance, and I’ve probably spent a week on maintenance, but I’m thinking about it all-year-round,” he said.

“You put a certain amount of money aside for it, because you know that you need to purchase tyres and other bits and pieces.

“The entry fee itself is not cheap, so I pre-paid that about six months ago.

“I’m always budgeting for it.”

The 27th Targa Tasmania event will begin on Monday, April 16.

There will be a welcome party in Launceston on Sunday, April 15.

The presentation will be held on Sunday, April 22.

For more information about the event, including course details, visit targa.com.au.