Reigning and perennial Targa Tasmania champions Jason and John White are in early command following a powerful opening three-stage display on Monday.
The Dodge Viper pair, chasing a seventh win in Australia’s most celebrated tarmac rally event, are five seconds of clear of Queensland duo Paul Stokell and Erin Kelly in their Lotus Exige.
Six seconds further back are Matt Close and Cameron Reeves in a 2017 Porsche GT3 RS, after Jason White put on clinic during the George Town street stage.
“Leading after day one is a good start, but we probably tried a bit harder than we really should in George Town as far as tyre wear goes, but it’s just too hard to resist,” White said.
“You get to George Town and there’s people everywhere and it would be a shame not to drive around as quick as you can.
“That was fast as I could possibly get the car around there, but it was well behaved and everything felt as good as it could.
“We’re as confident as we can be that the issues we had at Targa North-West are now a thing of the past.”
Targa North-West champions Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis (2015 Subaru WRX STI) sit in fourth ahead of last year’s overall runner-up Michael Pritchard and Gary Mourant (2016 Porsche 911 GT3).
Defending Classic GT winners Jon and Gina Siddins are in control of that class and sit sixth overall, while Liam and Larry Howarth sit on top of the Early Modern leaderboard in a 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR.
Jimmy Special (1941 GMC) leads the Classic handicap competition Jeff and Nerida Beable (2000 Nissan Skyline R34), rule the Sports Trophy class, Jack and Vin Gregory (1981 Mitsubishi Sigma) are comfortable in the Thoroughbred Trophy standings and Brain and Justin Marshall (2011 VW Polo GTI) head the TSD Trophy.
Other class leaders see Jeff Morton and Steve Fisher heading the Rookie Rally GT Class in their 2017 Lotus Exige, the Rookie Early Modern is led by Adam Gosling and Ian Noble in a 2002 E46 BMW and Rookie Classic GT sees Justin Gan and David Hart in a 1978 Porsche 911.
The battle for the budget TSD Trophy is again an all-Marshall affair with Brian and Justin in a 2011 VW Polo GTi finishing the day six-points clear of last year’s winners Daryl and Peter Marshall in their 2014 Ford Falcon Ute.
OVERALL | DAY 1
- Jason White/John White 2016 Dodge Viper ACR Extreme
- Paul Stokell/Erin Kelly 2014 Lotus Exige S +5s
- Matt Close/Cameron Reeves 2017 Porsche GT3 RS +7s
- Steve Glenney/Andy Sarandis 2015 Subaru WRX STI +8s
- Michael Pritchard/Gary Mourant Porsche 911 GT3 RS +9s
- Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins 1970 Datsun 240Z +10s
- Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler 2015 Nissan GT-R R35 +10s
- Jeff Morton/Steve Fisher 2017 Lotus Exige +11s
- Liam Howarth/Larry Howarth 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec +13s
- Joshua Hilton/Rodney Vanderpoel 2016 Nissan Skyline GT-R R35 +13s
Targa Tasmania will head to the state’s North-West on Tuesday. Cars and crews will depart Launceston for the six-stage second leg bound for High Plains before moving on to and through Sheffield, Nook, Moriarty, Paloona and Mount Roland.
Jon Siddins, who sits sixth overall along side Gina Siddins in their 1970 Datsun 240Z, said: “I’m not here to chase back-to-back classic victories. I just come here to have fun”. “Today’s really been our first hit-out for a while, so I’ll check over everything tonight and we’ll be okay,” he said.