Harry Dodson

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 »

Tony Quinn returning to NZ to contest Targa Rotorua

Reigning Targa champion Tony Quinn and his co-driver Adam Tillet will be campaigning their Nissan Skyline GTR-35 in a 101-strong entry for this year’s Targa Rotorua tarmac motor rally. The event is scheduled for Queen’s Birthday weekend (Sat June 04-Sun June 05).

Based in Australia, Quinn took top honours in the six-day Dunlop Targa here in NZ in October of last year. His winning ways continued back over the ditch earlier this year when he won Targa Tasmania for a second time. He and then co-driver Sue O’Neill also won Targa Rotorua outright in 2009 and finished second to local rally ace Richard Mason and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick in 2010.

Quinn’s Skyline will be one of a five-strong group of high-performance GTR-35 models to compete in the upcoming Rotorua event. The other four include the cars of Auckland pairings Harry Dodson/Glen Cupit, and Clark Proctor/Tony Callaghan – will all be entered into the Modern Competition category, while the other two, entered by Ron Stroeven and Patsy Poirier, and Nigel and Roger Parr will cruise in the Rotorua Tour. Read the rest of this entry »