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The Mercury Cars Guide : May 2nd 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009 Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au CARSguide —19 Targa here for the long haul Targa bossMark Perry says Targa Tasmaniais recession-proof andwill continue to thrive while copy-cat events have fallenbythe wayside. A S Targa 2009 hits day four today, riv- al events that have been spawned off the back of Targa Tasmania’s enormous success are now either struggling to survive or have folded under the weight of the global economic crush, says Targa boss Mark Perry. But he has assured Targa fans that the Tasmanian event is here to stay. Perry said the disappear- ance of several high-profile tarmac rallies in Australia during the past year had impacted on the sport, but hoped that many of the plans that Targa Tasmania had in place would ensure the viabi- lity of the rally well into the future. ‘‘Over the past five to 10 years quite a few tarmac events have started up and tried to capitalise on the good times. They’ve had some suc- cess as people have had the money to spend on pursuing their passion,’’ he said. ‘‘But the supply of events has really been exceeding de- mand. ‘‘The financial crisis is really the straw that has bro- ken the camel’s back. ‘‘A lot of events have been really struggling for competi- tor numbers for a couple of years. ‘‘Fortunately for us, when people are cutting back they are focusing more on the big events that give them the week-long experience like ours.’’ Perry said Targa Tasmania gave competitors excellent ‘‘bang for their buck’’. ‘‘Six days of action, a lot of competitive kilometres, and allonsomeof the best roads in the world,’’ he said. with JAMES BRESNEHAN However, despite Targa having the biggest profile of any mass-participation tar- mac rally in the world, Perry and his team at Octagon Aus- tralia are well aware that past success does not guarantee future glory. ‘‘My analogy with tarmac rallies using public roads is that they’re like nightclubs— you can be popular one min- ute and out of business the next,’’ Perry said. ‘‘We need to stay relevant and actually build our appeal. ‘‘Relevance goes beyond being a good event for the competitors that we need to attract. ‘‘We need to be relevant to the community in which we operate and who we rely on in so many ways. ‘‘Hence, we’ve introduced things like carbon emission programs with Greening Aus- tralia to ensure we are doing our part as a good citizen. ‘‘We have moved to stan- dard fuels for all cars and we are also creating opportuni- ties for cars, like diesel and showroom cars, that haven’t traditionally been welcomed into these sorts of events. ‘‘We’re in the fortunate position of being a big event with a reasonable budget and we can afford to invest a bit of money into our future. ‘‘We have great private and public sector backing as well, and this also gives us an edge in positioning ourselves so we can look beyond the immedi- ate and beyond just organis- ing an event. ‘‘If we’re not seen to bemore than just a car race, then it’s clear that our days are num- bered.’’ The economic impact to Tasmania of more than $10 action, a lot of competitive kilometres, and all on some of the best roads in the world ‘ million a year makes it one of the state’s premier events. ’ But Targa Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government say the benefits were reaped long after each event had finished. ‘‘Every year people come to Tasmania just to drive the roads they’ve seen on televi- sion or in photos of Targa,’’ Perry said. ‘‘They might have no inter- est in ever competing in Tar- ga, but they like what they’ve been exposed to through the event. ‘‘It’s a bit like all the people who travel to Bathurst just to drive around the track at 60km/h. And no doubt Eric Bana’s movie, Love the Beast, ensures our state, with its LOOKING GOOD: Jim Richards and Barry Oliver in their 2008 Porsche. magnificent scenery and superb drives, is being show- cased around this country and the world to further enhance our appeal. ‘‘But these visitors end up in these little towns, not in Launceston or Hobart, but on the West Coast, or in St Helens, Mole Creek and all sorts of other places, where they spend their money. ‘‘Many of the tourists who stop at the local bakery and the petrol station have come here on the back of Targa Tasmania.’’ Perry said his point was proven by rental car company and event sponsor Thrifty having increased its fleet in Tasmania by 500 per cent in the past five years. ‘‘Some of that is because we’re out selling what an amazing road network we have in Tasmania,’’ he said. ‘‘Tourists might not come to visit the next week or the next month, but they’ll put it in their memory bank and even- tually they do it. ‘‘We believe Targa Tasma- nia runs for one week, but it brings benefits to the state for the other 51 weeks of the year as well. So we want our event to be around for a long time so we can keep doing that.’’ Yellow-stripe promises bulk thrills and spills C HAOS, confusion and crashes. That is the predic- tion from Todd Kelly ahead of the first two-tyre meeting in the history of V8 Supercar racing. A soft-compound tyre — officially the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx Sprint — will be stirred into the mix for Winton thisweekend and, with teams also facing compulsory refuelling at the Victoria event, there is plenty of opportunity for tactics to dictate the pace and racing. ‘‘There will be trouble. It’s not going to be avoidable. It’s gonna be weird,’’ says Kelly, who is both the boss and lead driver for the Jack Daniels Commodore team. ‘‘There will be drama. There will be safety cars, for sure. It’s going to beon for young and old.’’ Kelly says the soft-compound Dun- lops, clearly identified with a yellow stripe around the sidewall, will be as much as two seconds a lap quicker at Winton than regular racing rubber. ‘‘If there are cars on the grippy tyre and the normal tyre at the same time, there will be a massive disparity in speed. You will have blokes firing in from three car-lengths back, trying to make a pass,’’ Kelly says. ‘‘It’s going to be chaos. It will be a good race to watch, that’s for sure. And it will be interesting to be in it.’’ Teams are banned from using the soft tyre in qualifying but can make their own decisions on when to take them for the race. That means there is a chance to go for a break early, or fit the softs at the end of arace and try to come home hard. ‘‘It’s hard toknowwhat everyone is going to be doing. Before the first race, I reckon all the cars will be up on jack stands with two sets of tyres alongside them, waiting to see what the other blokes are doing.’’ Andit won’t just be before the start. ‘‘The brain will be working over- time. You either put them on and try and get an advantage . . . or if you don’t have them on, you’ll get cleaned up,’’ Kelly says. ‘‘Then we’ve got the fuel stops in the mix.’’ Refuelling was supposed to have meant smaller tanks but, with a delay in delivery, teams willhave to takeon at least 50 litres at Winton. And then there are the questions about fuel use with the new E85 ethanol fuel and how the cars will run with heavy and light fuel loads. ‘‘The biggest drama with our categ- ory is not being able to pass,’’ says Kelly. The tyre offers fairly little grip, and even if you’re a second a lap faster you often can’t have a go without crashing into the bloke,’’ he says. ‘‘The soft tyre will definitely mix things up. Winton is not an easy place to pass and it will certainly make a race of it.’’ PAUL GOVER IN THE MIX: Dunlop’s new soft-compound tyres. Six days of STYLISH: Jason White and John White on the Sideling during day two of Targa Tasmania. Pictures: ROSS MARSDEN
April 25th 2009
May 16th 2009