Howarth completes intense preparation for title chase

Liam Howarth at Targa High Country in 2017 pic: Angryman Photography

Liam Howarth remains upbeat about clinching the Early Modern crown as the maiden CAMS Australian Targa Championship reaches its conclusion at Targa High Country from November 9 to 11.

Sitting on 160 points, Howarth has completed extensive preparations to solve a sensor issue in the 1995 Nissan Skyline GTR he shares with co-driver Larry Howarth.

With class leader Josh Sutcliffe (163 points) not entered, it means Howarth’s nearest rival is the 1992 Nissan Skyline R32 of Peter Roberts and Suzanne Atkins who are on 134 points.

Howarth spent plenty of time at Sydney Motorsport Park recently validating work to overcome a temperature problem which arose when he snatched victory in Early Modern at Targa Great Barrier Reef in early September.

“We’ve done a lot of preparation to sort out some niggling issues with the car,” Howarth said.

“On some of the longer stages at Targa Great Barrier Reef the car was getting hotter than it ever has before.

“There was a misfire over a certain temperature. It turned out to be a timing issue so one of the sensors was moving around a bit.

“We were at Sydney Motorsport Park recently doing long stints trying to get it hot enough to see if the problem arose but it all looks good.”

Howarth attributes his solid form in the three previous CAMS Australian Targa Championship rounds this year to the use of Bernie Webb’s acclaimed Smoothline pace notes.

“It’s the first time we’ve used the Smoothline notes this year so we are hoping to improve our times at High Country,” Howarth explained.

“It really helps your confidence of where you are on the road, what’s coming up, how fast you can push, surface changes etc.

“That has really helped us to stay up the pointy end of Early Modern.”

Howarth has competed in each of the eight previous editions of Targa High Country which will see 20 stages across more than 270km of competitive distance.

“We’ve done all eight Targa High Country events and finished every one.

“But we’ve never been higher than second in class, so it’s always been the one that has got away.”

Among the Early Modern field of 21 cars is the Mitsubishi Evo 8 crewed by Luana Garwood and Kelly Handley who are among 44 females competing in the 185-car field.

In other classes Nathan and Nicholas Stokes (2012 Subaru STI) go into High Country with a 23-point advantage in GT4 while the Martin Duursma and Richard Wodhams (2018 Lotus Exige Cup 430) have the GT Sports Trophy in safe keeping with a big lead.

Michael and Daniel Bray hold an all-but unbeatable lead in Classic GT with a 66-point lead.

Geoff Storr and Steve Caplice (1978 Alfa Romeo GTV) show the way in Thoroughbred Trophy on, 19 points clear of Jim and Alexander Kelly (1984 Audi quattro).

The 2002 Ford Pursuit Ute pair of Darryl and Peter Marshall have amassed 170 points to lead TSD Trophy by 21 points from Peter and Tristan Taylor (2013 Lotus Elise).

For more details, including road closure information, on Targa High Country click on