SPECIAL FEATURE 2009 Nissan GT- R • 1995 BMW M3 • 2013 Mercedes- Benz AMG C63 507
If we could climb into Dr Who’s TARDIS and travel back in time to 1995 and the inaugural Targa New Zealand, we’d immediately see that there was no such thing as the Targa Tour back then. Instead, there was a pure trials event, Targa Tempo, running alongside the main Targa competition. Only two entrants ran in that year’s Targa Tempo category — Petra Bates in her ’ 71 Chevrolet Corvette roadster with her friend Phylis Bates as navigator and timekeeper, and two brothers, Keith and Grant Loch, entered in their Australian E-type replica — the aptly named ‘Holden Cheetah’.
The formula for Targa Tempo was simple. Entrants were expected to keep within posted speed limits through all the special stages, rather than going hell for leather. Devised for those not wishing to tear apart their classic cars to fit roll cages or other competition modifications, Targa Tempo was all about fast touring and equally fast fun. Incidentally, Petra won that initial Targa Tempo event and, of course, used it as a stepping stone to the main Targa, in which she competed in the car that became her trademark mount — a bright yellow Ford Thunderbird. The Lochs also stepped up to the main competition, and onlookers soon became familiar with their brightly coloured Cheetah roadster.
The Targa Tempo category was run again in 1996, and, once again, the only entries were Petra Bates and the Lochs — this time, Grant and Keith took overall honours. However, as the category didn’t seem to be attracting fresh entrants, Targa Tempo was discontinued for 1997.
But, as the popularity of Targa blossomed, interest in the
Patsy and Ron had already begun driving in the Targa Tour, starting in 2008. Initially, Patsy acted as Ron’s co-driver in their Porsche, but, following formal driver training and regular track-day outings, her confidence grew, and the couple began alternating the driver/co-driver roles for subsequent Targa Tours.
However, blokes being blokes, Ron really wanted to do all the driving on the Targa Tour, rather than share that role with Patsy. Thus, the idea that they’d both find their own co-drivers and enter their own cars was a logical progression from this.
This year’s Targa Tour will be Patsy’s 10th at the wheel of her GT-R, and she reckons it is the perfect car for the event — “There’s plenty of room for luggage, the car’s immensely capable and safe (four-wheel drive helps in those respects), and it’s fast yet civilized enough for the open-road touring sections.”
Having participated in and enjoyed every Targa Tour since 2008, Patsy says the real lure is the change that the event offers for entrants to drive through parts of the country you would never otherwise go to — such as the Republic of Whangamomona — while being able to travel at high speeds on closed tarmac roads. Then, of course, there’s the famed Targa camaraderie and many evenings socializing with like-minded enthusiasts, not to mention the fact that, with the cars ranging from classics to supercars and everything in between all arranged in groups according to calculated car performance and individual driver experience — everyone can drive at their own pace.