After our, um, lead in the early stages (tied with everybody else) we, ah, did slip back a little.
Listen; we couldn’t compete with these people on OUR turf, let alone theirs.
Yet, as competitive as they are, they would give you the shirt off their backs to help you out.
And I mean that literally - one of the chaps who helped fix our car on Day Four asked if we wanted to borrow some clothes so we could get out of our gamey driving suits while the repairs were being effected.
When we speak about ‘The Spirit of Targa’, it isn’t just a slogan, down here or back home in our Newfoundland equivalent.
As it happened, missing the afternoon of Day Four might have been a blessing in disguise. Heavy rains made the already treacherous stages even more difficult, and several cars were at least knocking on the doors of that Big Boneyard in the Sky.
Four drivers required medical care, and there was one unconfirmed media report of a cracked vertebra when a Porsche 911 hit a ‘yump’ at a great rate of knots, flew so far they were served a meal and shown a movie, and blew a rear tire upon landing.
Full recoveries for all (even, probably, the cars) are expected.
Except possibly for one Subaru, which burned to a crisp.
Given that you can always count on at least one day of rain in Targa Tas, we were stunned that so many competitors chose to run on ‘dry-compound’ tires - the rules require that you run the same kind of tire throughout, although you can have spares. As veteran competitor Jim Richards told us, “The few seconds you lose in the dry on intermediates is more than worth the minutes you lose in the wet on drys.”
This guy’s won eight of the 20 Targa Tasmanias so far. I listen to people like that.
Our driver Doug Mepham commented that the end-of-rally ceremony might have been the biggest champagne shower in the history of motorsport. There are several categories and classes here, with first-, second- and third-spot finishers in each, two members per team, so the podium was stacked four deep in places.
So did every single team which won a ‘plate’, for meeting the ‘Trophy Time’ on every stage.
So did every single team which won a ‘finisher’s medal’, like - ahem - we did. Just getting to the finish line is a daunting task.
So in fact did every single team which entered, even if they didn’t finish. It requires huge courage and commitment to marshal the resources to give this a shot. It should be on every motorsport enthusiast’s ‘Do Before You Die’ list.
And if you can’t get all the way down here, then give Targa Newfoundland a try.
For complete results and some amazing shots of the cars, visit the Targa Tasmania Web Site.
With 340 teams, I can barely even begin to mention a few of my favourites. But both Doug and I have special admiration for those who keep the vintage cars running for this entire week.
John and Andrew Lawson’s 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Spyder, which John brought to the first Targa Newfoundland in 2002; Wes and Dianne Wilkinson’s 1920 Frontenac Indianapolis race car, which Wes essentially fabricated from the tiny subset of the parts which remain from the original which was driven in the Indy 500 by Gaston Chevrolet; and probably my favourite of all, Michael and Andrew Clark's 1937 Riley 12/4 Brooklands Special - shown here - which looked as sensational at the end of the event as it did at the beginning.
We (and others) had enough trouble getting more-or-less modern cars through this. How these folks nurse these old babies along beggars belief.
Huge thanks from me to Doug Mepham for allowing me to take part in this thing with him.
At the risk of this sounding like an Oscars speech, we both again want to thank:
- all those who helped us during the week, especially Gary Hughes and James Huddlestone who were with us throughout;
- all the competitors who don't just walk the walk, they drive the drive;
- the organizers who do an incredible job of whipping the 340 teams into reasonable-enough shape to make it all run smoothly, with special mention to the 'Queen of Targa' Helen Coad, officially sales manager for the event but also the go-to person for just about anything, and Stewart Benson, who in addition to serving as Clerk of the Course (essentially, Head Referee) is the owner of the Mazda RX-7 Doug rented for the occasion;
- the countless volunteers who act as timing and scoring officials, safety marshals on the course, traffic wardens in the parking lots, and who run the shuttle bus service to and from the hotels;
- and most of all, the people of the beautiful state of Tasmania who allow us to borrow their roads (at no small inconvenience to themselves) so we can enjoy this spectacular event.
If you were to drill a hole from the Tasmanian capital of Hobart into the centre of the earth and just kept going, you’d come out pretty close to St. John’s Newfoundland.
There are easier ways to get there.
See you in September!