Matt Close is now the clear favourite to winning first Targa Tasmania title after his main rival Jason White retired with an engine failure mid-way through the penultimate day of the event.
White had extended the lead in the premium GT2 competition to 21 seconds after the day’s opening stage, but his Dodge Viper blew its motor on the long Mt Arrowsmith stage on the run from Strahan to Hobart; meaning Close’s Porsche 911 GT3 has a huge nine minute advantage.
“I’ve been in this position before with a day to go and that’s when you start listening for noises in your car,” said Close.
“It’s sad to see Jason out. Ideally it’s not what you want to see – you want to go out there and battle it out with the best.
“We had a strategy and plenty of rubber left for a battle tomorrow. Nothing would have made me happier than to be in a tight podium with Jason.
“While we can afford to cruise now, it’s sometimes easier to keep bit of speed up, otherwise you can just go off being lazy.
“You have to be so careful as it’s easy to make a mistake or pick up a puncture.”
After trading the lead for the first four days of the 25th anniversary Targa Tasmania, multiple winner, White, was clearly disappointed.
“I think an over rev of the engine in the Queenstown stage may be to blame. We’re gutted,” White reported.
Subaru WRX STI driver, Steve Glenney, also holds a commanding lead in the GT4 class for Showroom 4WD cars, and now sits two minutes and four seconds ahead of Tony Quinn and his Lamborghini Huracan.
Long-time Classic leader, Peter Ullrich, had a disappointing day and dropped from first to fifth after encountering problems with his 1963 Jensen CV8 leaving Leigh Achtenberg’s Porche in the lead.
In the Classic GT class, it was another good day for Jon Siddins and his 1970 Datsun 240Z. A Targa veteran, Siddins now holds a lead of five minutes and 20 seconds over the 1977 Ford Escort RS1800 of Keith and Mary-Anne Callinan,
The 1977 Holden Torana of Mick Downey and Jarrod Van Den Akker has moved up to third place at the expense of Barry Faux’s Mazda RX7, which is now fourth.
In other competitions, Brendan Winterbourn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) has the lead in Modern, the Nissan Skyline GT-R of Jeff Beable is over five minutes in front in GT Sports Trophy, and in TSD Trophy it’s Brian Marshall out in front in a VW Polo GTI.
The Early Modern competition is being dominated by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5 RS of Alan Roe, ahead of the Mazda RX7s of Mark Balcombe and Andrew Bollom.
The Vintage class is still led by Wayne Clark’s 1938 Dodge Speedster Special.
The final day of Targa Tasmania includes six stages to the south west of Hobart, before the champagne finish at Princes Wharf No. 1.
VIDEO: Daily wrap
Results after Day 5 of Targa Tasmania (provisional)
Wrest Point GT2
1. Matt Close/Cameron Reeves, 2015 Porsche GT3,
2. Michael Pritchard/Gary Mourant, 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, +9m00s
3. Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, 2015 Porsche GT4, +13m56s
1. Leigh Achterberg/Greg Fitzgerald, 1982 Porsche 944
2. Paul Freestone/Christine Freestone, 1960 Aston Martin DB4, +1m30s
3. Charlie Hughes/Mary Hughes, 1982 Ford Falcon, +1m59s
Country Club GT4
1. Steve Glenney/Tim Kulhanek, 2008 Subaru STi
2. Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett, 2014 Lamborghini Huracan, +2m04s
3. Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler, 2015 Nissan GT-R35, +2m06s
Shannons Classic GT
1. Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins, 1970 Datsun 240Z,
2. Keith Callinan/Mary Anne Callinan, 1977 Ford RS 1800, + 5m20s
3. Mick Downey/Jarrod Van Den Akker, 1977 Holden Torana, +5m41s
Spirit of Tasmania and Duttons Garage Early Modern
1. Alan Roe/Michael Lloyd, 2000 Mitsubishi Evo 6.5RS
2. Mark Balcombe/Brian Foster, 1995 Mazda RX-7 SP, + 3m24s
3. Andrew Bollom/Lee Challoner-Miles, 1995 Mazda RX-7, +4m22s
RDA Brakes Modern
1. Brendan Winterbourn/Anthony Chudleigh, 2011 Mitsubishi Evolution X,
2. Gregory Burrowes/Rhonda Burrowes, 2009 Mitsubishi Evolution X, +3m54s
3. Peter Mayer/Nicole O’Neill, 2007 Porsche 911 GT3, +7m08s
1. Wayne Clark/Trevor Berriman, 1938 Dodge Speedster Special
2. Graham Copeland/Josh Herbert, 1936 Desoto Special, +1h36m21s
Budget GT Sports Trophy
1. Jeff Beable/Nerida Beable, 2000 Nissan Skyline GT-R N1
2. Jordan Bridge/Debbie Bridge, 2004 Subaru WRX STi, +5m25s
3. Martin Duursma/Richard Wodhams, 2013 Lotus Exige S V6, + 6m02s
Budget TSD Trophy
1. Brian Marshall/Justin Marshall, 2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI, 83pts
2. Gerard Knapp/Roger Campbell, 2005 Alfa Romeo GT, 87pts
3. Darryl Marshall/Andrew Marshall, 2002 Ford Falcon Ute Pursuit 250, 95pts