Gray Hopper

Hoppers take top honours at Targa Rotorua

Orewa father-and-son pair Leigh and Gray Hopper have taken top honours in this year’s Targa Rotorua tarmac rally in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Three years ago Leigh’s other son Stace finished third in the annual event in his then newly-built Subaru Impreza WRX. It was an impressive debut for the car and driver but before he could return to do even better Stace was killed in a light plane crash in Northland.

To honour his memory his father and brother entered former New Zealand rally champion Richard Mason and Stace’s original co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick in the car in last year’s Targa Rotorua event and despite some engine dramas the pair went on to win the event with Leigh and Gray sixth in Leigh’s similar but less developed WRX.

This year Leigh and Gray decided to share Stace’s car themselves and in a fairytale result they dominated the event, establishing a lead of over two minutes on the first day, and extending that to four-and-a-half minutes today.

“We did it for Stace,” Leigh said as he and Gray were surrounded by well-wishers in parc ferme after the event. “There was a bit of pressure yesterday, but that was probably more the adrenaline than anything else. Today was more about settling in and maintaining our lead.” Read the rest of this entry »