Targa officials did ‘absolutely everything’ for event safety

Targa Tasmania organisers believed they did everything possible to ensure the event’s safety

Officials running Targa Tasmania believe they did everything they could to ensure this year’s event progressed safely.

A 59-year-old competitor died yesterday when his car left the road and crashed over an embankment on Day 2 of this year’s event.

It comes after an Investigatory Tribunal last year handed down a raft of recommendations addressing the event and tarmac rallying in general after three competitors lost their lives in the 2021 edition.

The crash has thrown a cloud over not only this year’s event but also its future, though organisers have conceded any decision will likely be months away.

“There was an Investigatory Tribunal that was undertaken after last year’s event,” explained Mike Smith, Motorsport Australia’s director of motorsport and commercial operations.

“There were 23 recommendations that were handed down. A lot of work went into make sure that this event was not only complying with those recommendations but was the safest possible.”

It’s a view echoed by Mark Perry, CEO of Targa Australia, the organisation which promotes the event.

Perry delivered the drivers’ briefing to competitors ahead of the event, stating that it was the most comprehensive it has ever been.

“I’ve given this briefing for 15 years, and they’ve never been more extensive,” he explained.

“I can stand here, hand on our heart, and say we’ve done absolutely everything we can over the last 12 months.

“And that’s why we did cancel [competitive running], because we need to analyse what’s actually happened, because we’re as shocked as everybody that after everything we have done, that this has still happened.

“We need to understand that.”

Police are today set to return to the scene of yesterday’s crash after failing light yesterday inhibited their investigation.

Work there is set to be concluded today, but Perry has suggested it could be some time before any findings from that are shared.

While the event itself continues, competitive running has been cancelled, with all running limited to the sign posted speed limit, with roads to remain closed for the event.

Perry estimated some 60 cars had opted not to start Day 3 of the event, though more than 300 have continued.

“There’s no question that even at the speed limit, a closed road is much safer than an open one,” Perry said.

“There’s no trucks or anything coming the other way, so it still would have been much safer to close the roads.

“We’ve got officials, 500 officials, all over the island ready to close the roads, al the infrastructure is in place, everything’s booked.

“We’re grateful to Motorsport Australia and everybody within our business that we’re still able to close the roads for them [entrants] and give them what they paid for, their full experience.

“From an economic return and all the great things we often talk about with Targa Tasmania, that is actually still happening today,” the event boss added.

“We’ve turned down the tour as well, just to keep them even safer, but they’re all going out to St Helens, having lunch and spending their money.

“That’s probably the upside today: the event has changed dramatically anyway, and people will actually see that firsthand today without any competition cars out there.”

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