Targa Rotorua

Targa Rotorua Wrap-Up

With their win in the weekend’s Targa Rotorua tarmac motor rally in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato it’s a case of ‘only one more to go’ for Auckland pair Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo 6).

At the start of the year former gravel ace Inkster said he wanted to win all three New Zealand Targa events this year. He and co-driver Winn gave that goal a good start by winning the Targa Bambina event in the Coromandel in February. And they gave it another nudge this weekend, winning the sixth annual Targa Rotorua event by just over a minute from last year’s winner Leigh Hopper and his new co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru Impreza WRX) with Paeroa pair Mark Whyte and Tracey Lance third a further nine an three quarter minutes back in their V8-powered Toyota Altezza. Now only victory in the annual six-day Targa New Zealand event in October remains before the pair can claim the trifecta.

On Saturday top Rotorua rally driver Dean Sumner and co-driver Malcolm Peden (Mitsubishi Evo9) battled Inkster and Winn, Hopper and Fitzpatrick and Australian pair Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett (Nissan GTR-35) for the lead until hitting a bank and damaging his car too badly to continue. And on Sunday morning Sydney-based New Zealander Stuart Scoular, 42, was airlifted to Hamilton hospital with serious leg injuries after an accident on the first stage. Scoular and his co-driver, 35-year-old brother Bret, who also lives in Australia, were running in sixth place at the time of the accident. Bret was also taken to Hamilton hospital for observation with minor injuries. Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett were amongst a number of competitors who stopped to render assistance at the scene of the accident and – in their case – decided not to continue after it.

With the results of the first stage on Sunday cancelled because of the Scoular accident the battle for 2012 event honours started at Stage 9 near Mangare west of Lichfield.  That stage and the next were won by Leigh Hopper and Simon Kirkpatrick allowing the pair to close right up on overnight leaders Inkster and Winn.

It was Inkster and Winn who won the next three stages, however, to re-assert their dominance ahead of the lunch stop at Cambridge.  Inkster and Winn remained on top after lunch though Hopper and Kirkpatrick took one more stage win off them before they were back on top for the final two stages west of Matamata.

While all this was going on Paeroa pair Mark Whyte and Tracey Lance found their first day lead in the Instra.com Modern 2WD class under attack. Pukekohe pair Gary Murphy and James Bell (BMW M3) beat them to the quickest class time in the ninth stage only to leave the road and slip down the order in the 10th.

Then is was the turn of Hamilton pair Barry Hare and Andrew Mackintosh (MINI Cooper S) to give them a fright, Hare and Mackintosh eventually finishing an impressive third in class and fifth overall.

Usually the Metalman Classic 2WD class is a battle between Mark Kirk-Burnnand and his co-driver (this time Dave O’Carrol) from Wellington in their BMW M3 and Auckland pair Neil Tolich and Cully Paterson. But this year Tolich and Paterson were forced out of the event on the first day with a broken camshaft in their V8-engined Ford Capri Perana while Kirk-Burnnand and O’Carroll ran out of petrol.

The latter pair were able to buy petrol from a farmer and continue but they ended up down the finishing order in ninth place in class and 24th overall. Happy to take their place at the front of the Classic class field were Taranaki Targa stalwarts Stuart Rose and Gary Renall (Toyota Hilux V8) and Richard ‘Bunter’ Pierce and Willie Roach (Ford Falcon EB V8).

After the first day Speedway Modified class NZ #1 Pierce and co-driver Roach led the way but during the second day they slipped back down the order with Rose and Renall claiming class victory (not to mention sixth overall) from giant-killers Rob Ryan and Paul Burborough in their rapid Toyota AE86 and the Holden Commodore V8 of annual high profile Speedway driver, Brent Emerson and his co-driver Sheryl Hanright.

Look out for Targa Rotorua full report and results in the July edition of NZ Classic Car – on sale 25th June.

Words Ross MacKay/Fast Company. Photos Groundsky Photography

Targa Rotorua 2012 – Day 1 Report

Auckland pair Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo6) lead this year’s two-day Targa Rotorua tarmac motor rally at the end of the first day of competition after a three way battle with top local rally driver Dean Sumner and new co-driver Malcolm Peden (Mitsubishi Evo9) and last year’s Targa New Zealand winners Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett (Nissan GTR-35).

Sumner and Peden won three of today’s seven stages and were leading the event overall after the fifth stage but hit a bank just after the start of the sixth, handing the lead back to Inkster and Winn from Quinn and Tillett and last year’s winner’s Leigh Hopper and Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru Impreza WRX).

Quinn and Tillett only won one of the stages today but head into the second day of competition just 26 seconds behind Inkster and Winn and 17 in front of Hopper and Kirkpatrick.

“That’s the great thing about these Targa events,” said Inkster as his service crew worked on his car to prepare it for the second day of competition tomorrow.

“Dean’s led today, Tony’s led today and we’ve had our time leading. At lunch time I led, then Dean did a blinder through the Manawahe stage to get it back but then went off in the repeat run. That means we’re in front with 26 seconds on Tony but it’s still close so it is going to be a good battle tomorrow.”

Today’s schedule comprised just under 200kms of closed road special stage running in cool but dry weather with the tight, narrow back country roads in and around Rotorua streaming wet in the morning but drier in the afternoon.

As such they favoured the smaller, lighter Mitsubishi Evos of Inkster and Winn and Sumner and Peden over the bigger, heavier but more powerful Nissan GTR-35 of Quinn and Tillett but as Sumner found out everyone was on a knife edge thanks to the slippery conditions.

“Yeah,” he said, “the tyres must have cooled off a bit too much and I just lost the back end going up the hill. The car’s fixable but not overnight so I guess I’ll just have to come back next year!”

The 2010 New Zealand Rally champion, competing in only his second all-tarmac Targa event, was by no means the only driver to fall foul of the variable conditions either.

Metalman Classic 2WD class entrant Pat Dillon and co-driver Tony Willemsen (Ford Anglia) from Whanganui failed to take a bend and went off a bank at high speed, causing a delay on the third stage. Dillon was taken to hospital for observation but was released later in the day.

Last year’s Metalman Classic class winners Cameron Young and Stephen Fisher from Opotiki were also in the wars, Young losing control of his Mitsubishi Lancer 4WD at high speed after getting airborne over a crest.

“Obviously  I shouldn’t have tried to take it at 200 km/h” he said as he and Fisher reflected on the incident which saw them slew from one side of the road to the other (leaving lurid marks on the tarseal and grass verge to prove it) at over 160 km/h before coming to rest 500 metres down the road after the left hand front axle broke and ripped the engine’s cambelt off.

There was also drama in the Metalman Classic 2WD class with joint favourites Neil Tolch and Cully Paterson (Ford Capri Perana V8) and Mark Kirk-Burnnand and Dave O’Carroll (BMW M3) both striking trouble.

Tolich and Paterson were an early retirement after breaking a camshaft early in the third stage while Kirk-Burnnand and O’Carroll ran out of petrol. That left Taranaki pairings Richard Pierce and Willie Roach in a Ford Falcon V8 and Stuart Rose and Gary Renall (Toyota Hilux V8) in first and second place with the Pierce/Roach combination getting the nod after topping the class in three of the seven stages.

In stark contrast class winners in the recent Targa Bambina event, Mark Whyte and Tracey Lance (Toyota Altezza V8), had a perfect day, the Paeroa pair topping their class in all seven stages to lead the Instra.com Modern 2WD category from the late model Porsche 911 of Wellington pair Richard Krogh and Glenn Sharratt and the Pukekohe pair of Gary Murphy and James Bell in an M3 BMW.

Sunday brings a further nine stages, this time on the western side of the Mamaku ranges with the first car leaving Rotorua at 7.00am and not due to return until 5.00pm.

Ross MacKay Fast Company/Photos Groundsky Photography


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 »

Targa Rotorua highlights on TV this Sunday

Highlights of this year’s Targa Bambina/Rotorua will screen on TV One’s Skoda Game On this Sunday.

So, make sure you’re in front of the TV at 2pm and catch all the action from this year’s Targa Rotorua.

Richard Mason ‘Does it for Stace’ with victory at Targa Rotorua

BNT Mason Motorsport’s Richard Mason made sure he’s ‘Done it for Stace’ by safely steering the late Stace Hopper’s white Subaru Impreza WRX through atrocious weather conditions to take victory in the Dunlop Targa Rotorua, which finished over the weekend.

Stace, 27, died when the light plane he was flying, crashed in a paddock near Marsden Point in Northland on the afternoon of March 12th. He was a popular young man with a big zest for life which was borne out by his achievements in such things as TARGA rallies, jet ski stunts and performance car driving demonstrations at public motorsport events. His highly modified Subaru WRX was well known in those circles and he was carving quite a reputation.

“Our motivating force for the weekend was ‘Doing it for Stace’, said Richard, “and now we can update that to ‘We’ve Done it for Stace’, with absolute emphasis on the ‘WE’, because it was a total team effort that turned our goal into a reality.”

“Simon [Kirkpatrick - Stace's regular Co-driver] did a brilliant job inside the car, and all Stace’s Boys [his Sevice Crew] did him proud by working through the night to keep ’969′ in the rally, after a radiator hose split during stage 4 and caused the engine to overheat.”

‘Working through the night’ was exactly that, as first a replacement engine was brought down from Auckland and by 1am it was installed and ready for a test run, which meant driving over 100 kilometres to Tirau and back, but this revealed a major exhaust leak. So early this morning a road car ‘donated’ it’s manifold and Richard and Simon were the last crew to start the day’s first stage – with just 15 minutes to spare.

Read the rest of this entry »