There was no denying, of course, who was the ultimate pace setter, Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn winning 18 of the 21 stages outright, and finishing a comfortable four-andthree-quarter minutes in front of fellow Instra.com Allcomers 4WD category member, Nic de Waal, and his new co-driver Tom Grooten (Subaru Impreza WRX), with Instra.com Modern 2WD class winners Clark and Somerville coming in an impressive third overall in their M3.
Last year’s winner Leigh Hopper, and new co-driver Ben Grooten, provided an early threat in Hopper’s Subaru Impreza WRX, but the Orewa pair went out late on Friday morning after running off the road.
However, they returned in a leased Mitsubishi Evo on Saturday — “Just to have fun!” according to Hopper, event rules stating that you can only remain in contention for a place if you start and finish in the same car.
Despite last-minute dramas on the final day (including having to do a differential change at the side of the road on Sunday morning) victory in the Metalman Classic 2WD class, and fourth place overall, went to Bevan Claridge and his co-driver Campbell Tannock from class and event stalwart Barry Kirk-burnnand and co-driver Dave O’carroll, from Auckland, in their BMW M3.
For most of the event Claridge and Tannock were locked in a battle for category supremacy with two other members of the Kirk-burnnand motor-sport clan, Mark and Chris from Wellington in their BMW M3, and Claridge’s former co-driver, Jason Easton, in a classic notchback Ford Mustang. Easton was joined in the greatsounding pony car by co-driver Campbell Ward.
Alas, Easton and Ward crashed out of the Hobbiton stage west of Matamata on Saturday, while late in the penultimate event stage on Sunday, Mark and Chris KirkBurnnand were also forced to pull out after a suspension bolt broke.
Battle of Attrition
The Instra.com Modern 2WD category also turned into something of a battle of attrition, with Clark Proctor and Sue O’neil’s Metalman Escort out on Friday with a broken crankshaft, and clutch problems. Mechanical woes sidelined Ross and Carmel Graham’s Torana on Saturday morning, their demise giving Perth-based Kiwi expat Robert Darrington and his co-driver David Abetz the class lead in their E36 BMW M3. They, in turn, held that position through Saturday and into Sunday morning before running off the road in Stage 18 on Sunday morning, passing the class baton to Clark and Somerville in their M3.
Robert Darrington and David Abetz hung on for second in their BMW from Mike Lea and Grant Handley’s BMW 318i.
There was real depth and diversity in the Instra.com Modern 2WD class, with six different class winners. There was also a fascinating event-long battle in the Instra.com Modern 2WD class for Toyota 86 coupé bragging rights between former Mini racing aces Chris Lewis and co-driver Kieran Anstis from Waiheke Island, and Grant Aitken and Caroline Cullimore from Cromwell.
Lewis started and finished with the upper hand, ending up seventh in class to Aitken’s ninth, but often there were only seconds between the Toyota twins on stage.
This year’s three-day Targa North Island event attracted 50 starters, plus another 30 in the allied but noncompetitive Targa Tour.
Targa New Zealand events are organized with the support of sponsors Ecolight, Federal Tyres, Global Security, Instra Corporation, Metalman, Nzclassiccar magazine, Race Brakes, Teamtalk, Trackit, VTNZ, Chicane Racewear, Racetech and Woolrest Biomag. Targa’s preferred charity is Kids in Cars.