Targa Tasmania day one takes on George Town

For the second year in a row Bjorn Ostbye has travelled more than 14,000 kilometres to take part in Targa Tasmania. 

The Norwegian takes part in the Classic GT competition with Tasmanian Bob Evetts.

“My son is married to his daughter in Norway,” Mr Evetts said. “I’ve invited him down here quite a few years ago and last year he decided to come.” 

Mr Ostbye said his home country of Norway has nothing like Targa Tasmania. 

“It’s a good challenge, especially sitting on the wrong side of the car and driving on the wrong side of the road,” he said. 

“Tasmania is a lot like driving in Norway in many ways – the nature is so beautiful and it’s like being at home, we even saw snow on the mountain yesterday.”

He said rally events in Norway were mostly on the dirt and narrow roads.

“The speed here is higher … but driving as fast as we think is safe is fun,” he said. 

Mr Evetts said Mr Ostbye has settled into his role as navigator, and sometimes driver, quite well. 

The pair were just two of about 600 people who took to the streets of George Town yesterday for stage one of Targa Tasmania’s 2018 event. 

The streets were lined by hundreds of locals as Targa engines roared around the town. 

Brisbane-based classics competitor Bill Wright’s love for the competition saw him buy a house in Tasmania.

Mr Wright, who builds boats, has been visiting Tasmania “for years and years”. 

“We go to the timber boat show in Hobart and some of work takes me to the AMC in Launceston,” he said. 

“One of my friends came down and did a Targa. He told me what a great time he had so I came down and did it.” 

That was five years ago, now it’s an event Mr Wright has turned into a family affair, with wife Susan, brother Ian, and nephew Tom taking part.  

“The [Tasmanian] people, they’re lovely, we love the cool climate, we love the waterways and beautiful roads. It’s just such a friendly place,” Mr Wright said. 

“We moved into Beauty Point and have got to know a lot of people already.” 

The George Town Lions Club have spent the last few weeks preparing to cater for spectators. The club chopped about 10 kilograms of onions for the barbecue. 

Club secretary Doreen Cook said the van nearly sold out of food. All funds raised will be donated to childhood cancer research. 

Jason White finished day one five seconds clear of his nearest rival, Queensland pair Paul Stokell and Erin Kelly.

On Tuesday Targa will head to the North-West Coast before moving throughout the rest of the state during the week. The event finishes in Hobart on Saturday.