Leaders Consolidate on Targa's Tough Third Day

Published: Sat 15 Oct 2016 10:40 PM
Leaders Consolidate on Targa's Tough Third Day
Overall event leaders Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo 8) and fellow class leaders Regan Ross and Shaun Howie (Ford Escort RS1800), and Martin Dippie and Jona Grant (Porsche GT3 RS) consolidated their respective positions on a tough third day of the 2016 Targa New Zealand tarmac motor between Palmerston North and Havelock North today.
Day 1 pace-setter Chris West and co-driver Chris Cobham (Mitsubishi Mirage Evo) kept Inkster and Winn on their toes for much of the day only to crash heavily in slippery conditions on the final stage through the Gentle Annie road, and leave a question mark over their ability to have West's Mitsubishi Mirage Evo repaired in time for the final day of competitiontomorrow.
West and Cobham were not the only leading lights who fell foul of the conditions on the second Gentle Annie stage either. The pair's main sponsor and sponsor of the Allcomers 4WD class, Andrew Simms and his co-driver Craig Vulawalu (Mitsubishi Evo 10), also crashed out.
The accident could hardly have come at a worst time for West and Cobham in particular as they were the only pairing able to seriously challenge Inkster and Winn earlier in the day.
Two-time event winner Inkster was quicker through five of the six stages but the margin between the two Mitsubishi crews was rarely more than a handful of seconds, and in two it was down to just one.
West and Cobham beat their rivals by a second through the 13km Taihape North stage and Inkster and Winn were just a second quicker than West and Cobham through the close to 40kms of the marathon first Gentle Annie stage.
Behind them both in the overall and Allcomers 4WD class classification, Targa Rotorua event winners Leigh Hopper and Michael Goudie in a Subaru WRX STi continued their own private battle with circuit owner Tony Quinn and his co-driver Naomi Tillett in Quinn's four-time event-winning Nissan GT-R35 for second place.
Christchurch pair Brent Early and co-driver Andrew Oakley also joined the party in Early's two-time event-winning ex Joe McAndrew Nissan Skyline GT-R34 as the day progressed.
Event first-timer Regan Ross and his co-driver Shaun Howie continued to enjoy a dream tarmac rally debut in Ross' Mk 11 Ford Escort RS1800, the Kaikoura pair topping the Metalman Classic 2WD class time sheets in all six stages to extend their lead over former class winner Mark Kirk-Burnnand and co-driving father Chris (BMW M3) to just over five minutes.
With Ross and Howie so far in front, the interest in the Metalman Classic 2WD class shifted to the two-way battle a little further back between Auckland pair Rex McDonald and co-driver David Dixon, and Nelson duo Bruce Farley and Glen Warner in near identical BMW 325i cars.
Again the difference in time was often in the single digits with just a second separating the two cars through the 13km Taihape North stage and again in Gentle Annie 1 immediately after.
Despite a scare when they slid wide on a wet corner on Friday and lost a few seconds Dunedin pair Martin Dippie and Jona Grant continued to hand out a lesson in leading from the front in Global Security 2WD Modern, winning each stage by a handy margin over either the BMW 318i Compact of Steven Kirk-Burnnand and Mick Hay, or the Mazda RX8 of Marcus Van Klink and his co-driver Matt Hayward.
With West and Cobham crashing out, Dippie and Grant moved even further up the overall event leader board to fourth (and first 2WD car) just over a minute behind Quinn and Tillett.
Also impressing in the wet, slippery conditions in a 2WD car were Cromwell pair Grant Aitken and co-driver Caroline Cullimore who lead the two-day Targa Regional Rally classification from Auckland father/daughter duo Graeme and Maree Coley in a 4WD Audi RS4.
Tomorrow (Sunday's) final leg is in and around Hawke's Bay with a ceremonial finish back in Havelock North and evening prize giving at the Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings..
Targa New Zealand events are organised with the support of sponsors, Chicane Racewear, Ecolight, Global Security, Kids In Cars,, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, Racetech, TeamTalk, TrackIt and VTNZ.
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