Targa boss admits event’s future is in doubt

Targa Tasmania. Picture: Targa Facebook

Targa Tasmania boss Mark Perry admits the event’s future is in doubt after yet another fatal crash.

An as yet unnamed male driver lost his life in a crash on Stage 7 of this year’s event, yesterday afternoon, while his female co-driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

It represents the third fatal crash in four days of official stage running, after two in the latter days of last year’s event which claimed the lives of two drivers and a co-driver.

Motorsport Australia announced late last night that the 2022 rally has been downgraded to a touring event only, with the competitive element scrapped.

The latest tragedy has raised questions about whether this year’s 30th anniversary Targa Tasmania will be the last.

Asked about the event’s future, Perry, the CEO of Targa Australia, told media today, “[It] Definitely rattles the cage.

“I’ll be as open and transparent as I can, and I can only be honest to say [that] there’s no doubt it brings it into doubt.

“We won’t shy away from that, but we need to work through it, because we don’t know what happened [yet].”

Perry said that the circumstances of the crash would need to be known before a call could be made on whether or not Targa Tasmania goes ahead next year.

“I would say, if it was unrelated to the car, or the safety or his training or any of that stuff, then that will change the conversation dramatically,” he added.

“Until we know all that, we won’t speculate on the future, or what the event looks like.”

As to when a decision might come on whether there is a Targa Tasmania in 2023, Perry put that at “months away”.

“We don’t know what the future is,” he admitted.

“You can ask us all day today, what the future looks like, [but] we actually have no idea.

“What I can say, and what you can see out there today, is 300 cars having good time at a Targa event.

“So, just think about that; it’s not necessarily the end, but what it looks like beyond here, we’re months away from determining that.”

Motorsport Australia’s director of motorsport and commercial operations, Mike Smith, also fronted media in Tasmania today.

He does believe the event has a future, although whether the competition aspect is ever run again remains to be seen.

“Look, I certainly think there’s a future for Targa Tasmania,” said Smith.

“We’ll work with Mark and Targa Australia, his team and all the other stakeholders, to see what Targa Tasmania might look like in the future.

“I think it’s too early to say that there’s no future for Targa – it might look different – but it’s too early to speculate on that at the moment.”

On the possibility of future rallies being entirely non-competitive, he remarked, “That’s certainly part of the thinking.

“That’s a discussion we’ll have with Mark, but again, not knowing the circumstances of the incident, it’s probably too early for us to comment with any certainty on that at the moment.”

The latest death is particularly shocking in light of the fact that it came just two days into the first Targa Tasmania to be run since recommendations arising from last year’s tragedies were implemented.

Then, Motorsport Australia formed an Investigatory Tribunal which delivered 23 recommendations relating to the event and/or tarmac rallying in general.

The governing body accepted all of those recommendations, as did Targa Australia with respect to those which it says apply to it.

While the latter says two of those recommendations remain a “work in progress”, Perry maintains that officials have “done absolutely everything we can over the last 12 months.”

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