SPE­CIAL FEA­TURE 2009 Nis­san GT- R • 1995 BMW M3 • 2013 Mercedes- Benz AMG C63 507

New Zealand Classic Car - - Special Feature -

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.

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