New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature -

Clas­sic Targa tales

As usual, there were some clas­sic Targa tales be­hind the head­lines — start­ing with that of Me­tal­man class win­ner Be­van Clar­idge, from Opiki, south of Palmer­ston North. Clar­idge’s four-door 1992 Holden Com­modore V8 is not the first car that might spring to mind when you think ‘Targa Rally’, but Be­van won’t hear a bad word about it — and for good rea­son. He bought the Holden new back in 1992 and, af­ter al­ways re­gret­ting sell­ing it, swore that if he ever found it again, he’d buy it back and run it in Targa.

One day, he was driv­ing through Cam­bridge and saw his old car parked in a drive­way so, true to his word, he stopped, found the owner, and of­fered to buy it back on the spot. The owner de­clined but agreed that, when he did de­cide to sell it, he would of­fer it first to Be­van. When that time even­tu­ally ar­rived, Be­van didn’t waste any time, cag­ing it, up­grad­ing the brakes and sus­pen­sion, and turn­ing it into what in just three years has be­come a bona fide BMW M3–beater!

Fast-fin­ish­ing Bruce Far­ley from Nelson also had a story to tell — three weeks be­fore this year’s event, he con­tracted Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease from han­dling pot­ting mix and spent the next 10 days in hos­pi­tal.

“I was a very sick puppy, but I was de­ter­mined, de­spite what the doc­tors were say­ing, to be well enough to get back in the car,” he said.

And he was — al­though an off-road ex­cur­sion, com­plete with oil-line fire and an­other com­peti­tor crash­ing into the prone car on the third day, meant his luck hadn’t com­pletely turned around.

“We had to fight re­ally hard to get back into con­tention,” said Bruce. “We ba­si­cally lost 10 min­utes but I thought that by driv­ing re­ally, re­ally hard we could peg most of that back — and we did!”

Also fac­ing up to and star­ing down ad­ver­sity were vis­it­ing Amer­i­can Hank Moore and com­pa­triot Kelly Sil­ver­ton, in a BMW 320i that Moore had bought specif­i­cally for the event. The skills learned run­ning a race shop at home in Spokane in Wash­ing­ton state came in handy when Moore ran off the road on the Whang­amomona stage when his BMW’S throt­tle stuck open. The car’s re­sul­tant flight off a size­able bank and into a swamp was long enough to break sus­pen­sion com­po­nents and both en­gine mounts, but, with the help of Matt and the guys at Pulse Au­to­mo­tive in Palmer­ston North — rec­om­mended by BMW mar­que­mate Gerry Hodges — Moore was able to re­pair the dam­age and fin­ish the event.

Boy’s Own ad­ven­ture

Then there were NZ Clas­sic Car’s Novem­ber cover car owner Mark Hel­lier, co-driver Glenn Ed­ley, and their Porsche.

“We broke an axle on the first day, then we ripped the left rear shock tower off the car on the big jump at In­gle­wood,” ex­plained Mark. “The great thing about Targa, though, is that you deal with th­ese things. It re­ally is the last Boy’s Own ad­ven­ture.”

Hel­lier and Ed­ley also loaned a set of wheels to fel­low Porsche afi­ciona­dos Ed­die and Ben Grooten, when an old Dun­lop tyre they were run­ning de­lam­i­nated.

What of event stal­warts Mike Lowe and co-driver Phil Sut­ton in ‘Barty 2’ — Lowe’s new Enzed-backed Fiat Abarth As­setto Corse?

The pair ended up 11th in class and 21st over­all in a car that Lowe spent most of the event sort­ing while he de­vel­oped a to-do list for fu­ture events.

“For the first three or four days, we re­ally weren’t in the groove, and, yes, I think there were times we both wished we were in the old car. It wasn’t just the car, ei­ther,” said Lowe. He ad­mit­ted to ‘ driv­ing the car like Barty’ (his orig­i­nal Abarth) for the first cou­ple of days: “With Barty, the throt­tle was like a switch — ei­ther on or off. With the new car, you have to feather the throt­tle to get the best out of it; that took a bit of get­ting used to. We were still wheel-spin­ning in fourth gear go­ing into Whang­amomona!”

Top: Al­ways in­cred­i­ble: Bruce Far­ley and Glen Warner in their BMW 325i Above: Five-time event win­ner Tony Quinn and co-driver Naomi Til­lett were back in the Nis­san GT-R35 for the 21st Targa New Zealand

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