Matt Close has won Targa Tasmania for the first time, taking the 25th anniversary event by an emphatic margin of six minutes and 41 seconds in the premier GT2 class.
Driving a 2015 Porsche GT3 with co-driver Cameron Reeves, the duo took the lead mid-way through the penultimate day when arch-rival Jason White retired his new Dodge Viper with engine failure on the run from Strahan to Hobart.
Victory didn’t come easily for Close, despite his nine-minute buffer at the start of the day. An early scare on the opening stage when he got sideways was followed by a flat tyre on the penultimate stage. But Close, taking part in his 12th Targa Tasmania, secured his first victory.
“We had a bit of a fright on the Tinderbox Stage with a big moment and then three kays into Pelverata one of our rear tyres blew out,” Close said. “We had a relatively good lead, but you never know.
“It was a very stressful hour – we got in before the sweep car and within our late time, but you just don’t need that.
“It’s taken me 12 Targas to win – I hope it doesn’t take another 12 for my next one.
“We’ve already started planning for next year and we’ll make a few changes to the car and we’ll get better.”
The battle for the minor placings went the way of Hobart surgeon Michael Pritchard in a Dodge Viper. Seven times Targa winner, Jim Richards, charged through the final day’s six stages in his Porsche GT4 to finish in third place, but some four minutes adrift of Pritchard.
An impressive drive saw motoring journalist Mike Sinclair claim fourth place in his Renault Megane.
In the GT4 competition, Steve Glenney was dominant until the very end, running away with an easy three minute and 16 second win in his Subaru WRX STI over the pre-event favourite, Tony Quinn in a Lamborghini.
Queenslander Leigh Achterberg held on to win the Classic handicap in his 1982 Porsche 944, a minute clear of the 1963 Jensen of Petter Ullrich.
Jon Siddins was another easy winner on the final day, taking the Classic outright title in his 1970 Datsun 240Z by five minutes from 2014 winner, Canberra’s Barry Faux, in a 1985 Mazda RX-7.
Alan Roe suffered the ultimate heartbreak, retiring from the event, and the Early Modern lead, on the 37th of 38 stages. This gave victory to Andrew Bollom in a 1995 Mazda RX-7.
Jeff Beable led front start to finish in GT Sports Trophy after a faultless display in his Nissan Skyline, and in TSD Trophy Darryl Marshall came from an overnight third place to take the win in his Ford Falcon Ute.
The Vintage class was won by Wayne Clark’s 1938 Dodge Speedster Special.
VIDEO: Final day wrap
Final results of Targa Tasmania (provisional)
Wrest Point GT
1. Matt Close/Cameron Reeves, 2015 Porsche GT3,
2. Michael Pritchard/Gary Mourant, 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, +6m41s
3. Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, 2015 Porsche GT4, +11m18s
1. Leigh Achterberg/Greg Fitzgerald, 1982 Porsche 944
2. Peter Ullrich/Sari Ullrich, 1963 Jensen CV8, +1m06s
3. Paul Freestone/Christine Freestone, 1960 Aston Martin DB4, +2m20s
Country Club GT4
1. Steve Glenney/Tim Kulhanek, 2008 Subaru STi
2. Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett, 2014 Lamborghini Huracan, +3m16s
3. Angus Kennard/Ian Wheeler, 2015 Nissan GT-R35, +4m13s
Shannons Classic GT
1. Jon Siddins/Gina Siddins, 1970 Datsun 240Z,
2. Barry Faux/Therezia Mihajlovic, 1985 Mazda RX-7, +5:25
3. Cameron Wearing/Tania Wearing, 1981 Triumph TR7 V8, +7m24s
Spirit of Tasmania and Duttons Garage Early Modern
1. Andrew Bollom/Lee Challoner-Miles, 1995 Mazda RX-7
2. Mark Balcombe/Brian Foster, 1995 Mazda RX-7 SP, +1m15s
3. Stephen Thatcher/Kelly Handley, Nissan ATTKD Select R SP, +4m40s
RDA Brakes Modern
1. Brendan Winterbourn/Anthony Chudleigh, 2011 Mitsubishi Evolution X,
2. Gregory Burrowes/Rhonda Burrowes, 2009 Mitsubishi Evolution X, +5m15s
3. Peter Mayer/Nicole O’Neill, 2007 Porsche 911 GT3, +9m18s
1. Wayne Clark/Trevor Berriman, 1938 Dodge Speedster Special
2. Graham Copeland/Josh Herbert, 1936 Desoto Special, +1h32m02s
Budget GT Sports Trophy
1. Jeff Beable/Nerida Beable, 2000 Nissan Skyline GT-R N1
2. Jordan Bridge/Debbie Bridge, 2004 Subaru WRX STi, +6m22s
3. Martin Duursma/Richard Wodhams, 2013 Lotus Exige S V6, + 7m39s
1st Classic: Simon Froude/Jason Powning, 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR +33:14
Budget TSD Trophy
1. Darryl Marshall/Andrew Marshall, 2002 Ford Falcon Ute Pursuit 250, 102pts
2. Gerard Knapp/Roger Campbell, 2005 Alfa Romeo GT, 104pts
3. Brian Marshall/Justin Marshall, 2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI, 117pts