Council says Targa is paying the bills
Mansfield commits to event until 2022
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.
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.
ALPHA DOG: Colin Byrne thrills the crowd in Mansfield in his Alfa Romeo.
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.
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.