Tasmanian Jason White has dominated the opening day of Targa Wrest Point, opening up a handy 44 second buffer over his closet rival, Victorian Matt Close, with one day remaining in the third round of the CAMS Australian Targa Championship.
White, joined by his uncle and co-driver John White in the all-conquering Lamborghini, showed a love for the roads around the Huon Valley to put himself in the box seat for a fourth straight Targa Wrest Point title tomorrow.
Close, who teams with his wife Casey in an Audi TT RS Plus, kept the pressure on White on the morning stages, but across the afternoon White moved in to another gear and pushed out his margin on each of the final three stages.
Queenslander Tony Quinn had to settle for third place after the opening seven stages.
While his Nissan GT-R could not match the speed set by White, he and co-driver Naomi Tillett are within four seconds of Close and are ready to pounce should either falter tomorrow.
Matthew Cardinaels was brilliant all day in his 1972 Datsun 240Z to clearly lead the Classic competition. He finished one minute 17 seconds ahead of Launceston’s Greg Garwood in his 1976 Holden Torana A9X.
One of the most impressive drives from the day came from Hobart’s Matthew Rickards in 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3. Not only did he dominate his Early Modern class, his time of the Esperance Coast stage was actually quicker than White’s, and he was the second fastest of all comers across the day.
White, who failed to finish at Targa High Country, knows that with another seven stages remaining, victory is far from certain. Even on a day he dominated, he had issues with the Lamborghini that caused him concern.
“We had a good start to the day, but then we had a gearbox mechanism problem and we couldn’t get any gears, so we had to get under the bonnet and try to fix the problem,” White said.
“We managed to make it through the stage alright and then on the Esperance Coast stage we got stuck in fourth gear for the whole way.
“Despite this we had a great day, although I tore off a $4000 side mirror on the way out the Airwalk stage. I didn’t even see the culprit, so I’m not sure if it was a guide post, a sapling or a bit of armco.”
In the other classes, Indonesian driver Bunjamin Noor leads Showroom in a Renault Megane RS 250, Queenslander Scott Millar in his Lancer Evo X heads Showroom 4WD from Launceston’s Ben Newman in a Subaru WRX STI, and Neill Ford leads Showroom Sports in his Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
Geoff Duggan is the Early Classic Handicap leader in his trusty 1969 Datsun 2000 Sports, while Cardinaels also holds first place in Late Classic Handicap. Phillip Frith dominated Regularity.
The event continues across Sunday with a further 100 competitive kilometres south around Cygnet, before finishing back at Wrest Point around 2pm in the afternoon.
Day 1 video highlights