Matt Close has taken the prized Showroom class title at Targa High Country after a brilliant drive in his 2015 Porsche GT3.
Close and co-driver Cameron Reeves stormed into the lead on the second of the three days, extending that advantage over the 2014 McLaren 650S of Tony Quinn to eventually win the new glamour class by two minutes and 32 seconds.
The 4WD Showroom competition was taken out by Stewart Liddle, while another Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, in the hands of Toby Gill, won the Modern category.
In one of the drives of the event, Alan Roe took the Early Modern honours in his Lancer Evo 6.5, with Steve Glenney calling the notes.
Pete Nunn was the class of the field and convincingly won the Classic Outright competition in his 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo.
The final day of the Mt Buller based event was the toughest of the three. Two massive 40 kilometre stages on the way to Eildon and back, and a competitive distance of 125 kilometres, tested drivers to their limits.
After finishing second on four previous Targa rallies, this was Matt Close’s first win, coming in the debut event for his Porsche GT3.
“It’s awesome,” Close said. “We came to tick a few boxes and we did that.
“We wanted to be competitive with Tony (Quinn), so we’re pretty happy. We kept benchmarking, but we just didn’t want to back off.
“Coming up Mt Buller the final time was probably the best drive I’ve ever had.”
Quinn was the Showroom winner at Targa Tasmania back in May, but his magnificent McLaren 650S was unable to keep up with Close’s Porsche over the twisting stages of the final day. Nevertheless, he finished clear of Craig Dean’s Ford Mustang in third, with motor racing legend, Jim Richards, fourth in a brand new Porsche GT4.
The runner-up in 2014, 4WD Showroom winner Stewart Liddle set up his win on the first day, establishing a 59 second lead after the opening stages. From there, he needed to keep up his speed and ensure that he brought the car home safely in first place.
“It’s my first ever win and the first win for the car, so we are absolutely rapt like you would never believe,” Liddle beamed.
“We had a nice clean run up the mountain and the car has just been magnificent over the three days.”
Angus Kennard, formerly a Subaru driver, kept the pressure on all weekend in his Nissan GTR, but Liddle’s pace proved too much. A good battle for the final place on the podium was eventually claimed by Trevor Norton’s Subaru.
Only three seconds separated Toby Gill and Nathan Reeves after the first day of competition in Modern, and that was the final margin after a race that see-sawed all day.
Reeves grabbed the lead with one stage to go, but Gill wasn’t to be deterred, rocketing up Mt Buller to snatch the victory.
Max Williams pushed hard throughout in his Lancer Evo X, shuffling Adam Spence and his Nissan GTR out of the top three to eventually take third place.
“This is brilliant, I am so stoked,” Gill said.
“We just didn’t think it was going to happen, particularly given there was only seven seconds in it coming into the last stage.”
Pete Nunn’s Classic Outright win was his second in a row at Targa High Country. The 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo driver was never seriously threatened after the first day, and beat home Adam Kaplan’s Mazda RX7 by just over a minute. Matthew Cardinaels was third in a 1972 Datsun 240Z.
“We won last year, but it feels better to win this year, particularly given today we had hard, long stages that were a real challenge for both the crew and the car,” Nunn said.
The handicap classes are won by the Datsun 240Z of Roger Lomman (Early Classic) and Cardinaels’ Datsun (Late Classic).
In other classes, Daniel Trevarthen (Holden Commodore) won Sports Trophy, Keith Brooke (Porsche 911) Thoroughbred Trophy, and the experienced combination of Alan and Heather Gluyas (Toyota 86) won the TSD Trophy.
Targa High Country, provisional final results
MT BULLER SHOWROOM
1. Matt Close / Cameron Reeves, 2015 Porsche GT3
2. Tony Quinn / Kate Catford, 2014 McLaren 650S, +2m32s
3. Craig Dean / Emma Quigley, 2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT, +3m08s
4. Jim Richards / Barry Oliver, 2015 Porsche GT4, +3m36s
5. Ben Newman / Tim Kulhanek, 2012 Renault Megane, +8m53s
MANSFIELD SHIRE 4WD SHOWROOM
1. Stewart Liddle / Michael Lloyd, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS
2. Angus Kennard / Ian Wheeler, Nissan GTR 35, +45s
3. Trevor Macleod / Scott Hunter, 2010 Subaru WRX STI, +1m56s
4. Ralph Norton / Malcolm Norton, 2010 Subaru WRX STI, +2m17s
5. Crichton Lewis / Adam Kudra, 2010 Subaru WRX STI, +4m18s
RDA BRAKES MODERN
1. Toby Gill / Mathew Smith, 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS
2. Nathan Reeves / Reubecca Sheldrick, 2011 Subaru WRX STI, +3s
3. Max Williams / Bruce Bush, 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, +2m36s
4. Adam Spence / Erin Kelly, 2011 Nissan GTR, +3m33s
5. Joshua Hilton / Rodney Vanderpoel, 2008 Nissan GTR 35, +3m42s
SHANNONS CLASSIC OUTRIGHT
1. Pete Nunn / Keith Johnstone, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo
2. Adam Kaplan / David Kaplan, 1985 Mazda RX7, +1m06s
3. Matthew Cardinaels / Jason Page, 1972 Datsun 240Z, +1m37s
4. Craig Haysman / Dennis Sims, 1981 Triumph TR7 V8, +4m27s
5. Lindsay Stone / Simon Martin, 1985 Mazda RX7, +10m51s
DUTTONS GARAGE EARLY MODERN
1. Alan Roe / Steve Glenney, 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5
2. Mark Balcombe / Brian Foster 1995 Mazda RX7 SP, +2m22s
3. Liam Howarth / Larry Howarth, 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR, +2m57s
SHANNONS EARLY CLASSIC HANDICAP
1. Roger Lomman / Annie Bainbridge, 1970 Datsun 240Z
2. Colin Byrne / Michael Partridge, 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000, +30s
3. Brian Dermott / Linda Dermott, 1971 Holden Torana XU-1, +5m10s
SHANNONS LATE CLASSIC HANDICAP
1. Matthew Cardinaels / Jason Page, 1972 Datsun 240Z
2. Pete Nunn / Keith Johnstone, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo, +4s
3. Adam Kaplan / David Kaplan, 1985 Mazda RX7, +53s
1. Daniel Trevarthen / Chris Ward, 2006 Holden Commodore SS
2. Martin Duursma / Nick Cox, 2013 Lotus Exige S V6, +1m37s
3. Julian Page / Diane Ridway, 2013 Audi TT RS Plus, +4m32s
SHANNONS THOROUGHBRED TROPHY
1. Keith Brooke / Karl Brooke, 1980 Porsche 911
2. Brett Dillon / Geoffrey Corah, 1968 Porsche 911, +22m41s
1. Alan Gluyas / Heather Gluyas, 2012 Toyota 86 GTS, 23 points
2. Jordan Bridge / Debbie Bridge, 2004 Subaru WRX STI, 31 points
3. Gerard Knapp / Roger Campbell, 2005 Alfa Romeo GT, 38 points
4. Gerry Bashford / Bob Watson, 2004 Mazda MX5, 60 points
5. Darryl Marshall / Peter Marshall, 2002 Ford Falcon Ute, 74 points