Coun­cil says Targa is pay­ing the bills

Mans­field com­mits to event un­til 2022

Mansfield Courier - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAR­RAH LOH jloh@ ne­me­

AF­TER a hugely suc­cess­ful 2017 Targa High Coun­try, Mans­field Shire Coun­cil has signed a ma­jor part­ner agree­ment with Targa Aus­tralia and Mt Buller Mt Stir­ling Alpine Re­sort Man­age­ment Board – com­mit­ting to the event un­til 2022, in­clu­sive.

On the week­end, the race was run and won for the eighth year, and many of the com­peti­tors re­ported that it is their favourite event – pri­mar­ily be­cause of the qual­ity of the roads and the Mans­field street stage that stands out with our wel­com­ing com­mu­nity and ex­cel­lent lo­cal busi­nesses.

“You cer­tainly don’t need to be a car en­thu­si­ast to ap­pre­ci­ate what Targa brings to town,” said Mans­field tourism and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment team leader Judy Dixon.

Though some crit­i­cism has come up around coun­cil ex­pen­di­ture on the event, Ms Dixon said the num­bers speak for them­selves.

“Targa High Coun­try pro­duces a far greater eco­nomic re­turn than any other event in which coun­cil in­vests, with our $37k re­sult­ing in 12,155 vis­i­tor bed nights (be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter), $196 spend, av­er­age, av­er­age 6.85 9.1 nights peo­ple per per­son stayed stay­ing daily on per com­pe­ti­tion en­try and 81 per cent re­port­ing ad­di­tional vis­its out­side of Targa,” Ms Dixon said. She also pointed out that not only does it in­ject over $2 mil­lion into our lo­cal econ­omy over the course of the event, it has spawned the growth of the lo­cal De­latite Car Club and en­gaged the in­ter­est of tour­ing car clubs and en­thu­si­asts from all over Aus­tralia.

A con­sid­er­able bonus is that Targa High Coun­try is broad­cast na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally to over 100 in­ter­na­tional coun­tries each year, pro­mot­ing the re­gion, rais­ing aware­ness and stim­u­lat­ing fur­ther vis­i­ta­tion.

“We also really ap­pre­ci­ate the pa­tience from those af­fected by the var­i­ous road clo­sures over the course of the event,” said Ms Dixon.

MATT Close and Cameron Reeves have won the over­all ti­tle at Targa High Coun­try for the sec­ond time, af­ter a dom­i­nant drive over three days and 18 tar­mac stages.

Driv­ing a 2017 Porsche GT3 RS, the pair made it back-to-back out­right wins, fin­ish­ing with an ad­van­tage of over six min­utes from Tas­ma­nian Peter Nunn and Keith John­stone in a Porsche GTS.

An­gus Ken­nard and Ian Wheeler, in a 2015 Nis­san GTR, had been sec­ond go­ing into the fi­nal stage, but spun their car on the run to the fin­ish line at Mt Buller, get­ting stuck and drop­ping right down the leader board.

The fi­nal podium place was taken out by Ben Calder and Steve Glen­ney in a Mit­subishi Lancer, af­ter Craig Dean dropped out of contention on the fi­nal day with a flat tyre on his Ford Mus­tang.

The last day of Targa High Coun­try was the tough­est of the three, with over 135 kilo­me­tres of com­pet­i­tive driv­ing.

The real chal­lenge for the re­main­der of the 140 com­peti­tors were the two 40 plus kilo­me­tre stages be­tween Jamieson and Eil­don.

With tem­per­a­tures reach­ing 30 de­grees, it put a real strain on the crews, as well as on their tyres and brakes.

To cap off the per­fect week­end, Close won the fi­nal stage up to the Mt Buller sum­mit, but couldn’t quite beat the stage record he had set on day one.

“It’s great to get back to back wins,” Close said.

“We had a great fi­nal day, although we drove pretty safely and made sure we kept ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol.

“Some of the stages to­day were very slip­pery, so it would have been easy to put the car off the road, so we were mind­ful of not do­ing that.

“We were hope­ful of try­ing to set a new stage record up Mt Buller, but the road and tyre con­di­tions weren’t as good as they were on Fri­day, so we just made sure we got to the end.

“Now we’ll fo­cus our ef­forts on get­ting ready for Targa Tas­ma­nia next year, and try­ing to win that one as well.”

In the RDA Brakes GT4 class, An­gus Ken­nard and Ian Wheeler had looked un­catch­able in their Nis­san GTR hav­ing lead for all three days un­til their fi­nal stage mis­de­meanour.

How­ever, their mishap when vic­tory looked as­sured handed the win to Paul Dowie and Bernie Webb in an Audi TT RS, ahead of Josh Hil­ton and Rod­ney Van­der­poel in a Nis­san GTR.

Queens­lan­der Lind­say Stone was look­ing good for vic­tory in Shan­nons Clas­sic head­ing into the fi­nal day, but he crashed his Mazda RX7 on the day’s sec­ond stage, hand­ing the lead to a fast-charg­ing Colin Byrne.

Byrne and co-driver, Michael Par­tridge, driv­ing a 1971 Alfa Romeo, had been fourth go­ing into the fi­nal day, but then con­trolled things from the front to run out 1m 45s win­ners over Peter Gluskie in a BMW 325i.

The fam­ily pair­ing of Michael and Daniel Bray led all the way in Shan­nons Clas­sic GT, tak­ing vic­tory by over six min­utes in their 1975 Holden To­rana.

Their near­est chal­lengers were John Bourke (Holden To­rana) and Ge­off Good­win in a Nis­san 300 ZX.

In Mans­field Shire GT Sports Tro­phy, there was an ex­cit­ing tie for vic­tory be­tween Mar­tin Du­ursma and Richard Wod­hams, and Mark and Scott Mele­topoulo, both in 2013 Lo­tus Ex­iges.

Mele­topoulo led by 21 sec­onds be­fore the fi­nal stage, but a scin­til­lat­ing run up Mt Buller by Du­ursma saw him share the top step of the podium.

The 2016 Jaguar F-Type guided Chris Wal­dock and Chris­tine Kelly to a nar­row vic­tory in the av­er­age speed Mt Buller TSD Tro­phy com­pe­ti­tion, over Michael Moore and Richard Wool­ford in a Lo­tus Ex­ige.

PHOTO: Fred­die Leong

START YOUR EN­GINES: Si­mon and Sally Kelly held the full grid back in their Austin Healey as driv­ers pre­pared to roll off from Jamieson on the week­end for the fi­nal stage of the Targa High Coun­try 2017 race.

PHOTO: An­gry­man

AL­PHA DOG: Colin Byrne thrills the crowd in Mans­field in his Alfa Romeo.

PHOTO: Rhyll McCor­mack

OR­ANGE POWER: The Elvins Street cor­ner was a quiet one dur­ing Targa, with just a hand­ful of en­thu­si­asts gath­ered to cheer on the cars as they rounded the bend.

PHOTO: Rhyll McCor­mack

VROOM: Ev­ery kind of car en­thu­si­ast was catered for dur­ing Targa, with all kinds of ve­hi­cle makes and mod­els in­cluded, from the su­per slick Lo­tus to clas­sic Holden Com­modores.

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