TARGA HAWKE’S BAY: FULL RE­PORT AND RE­SULTS

VER­SA­TILE HOPPER ADDS NEW HAWKE’S BAY EVENT TO TWO-DAY TARGA TALLY

New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS - Words: Ross Mackay Pho­tos: Fast Com­pany, Proshotz, Owen de Mooy, Ben Hughes, Gra­ham Hughes

Aver­sa­tile Leigh Hopper and co-driver Michael Goudie (Mit­subishi Lancer Evo X) added vic­tory in the new Targa Hawke’s Bay tar­mac mo­tor rally over the May 20 and 21 week­end to the Orewa driver’s im­pres­sive two-day event tally.

Last year, Hopper won his fourth two-day Targa event in Ro­torua, mak­ing his win in the new Hawke’s Bay event a record fifth.

He and Goudie did in style, too, tak­ing over the lead half­way through the first leg on Satur­day when early pace-set­ter Jason Gill and co-driver Mark Robin­son (Mit­subishi Evo IX) slid off the road and lost time.

They then with­stood day-long pres­sure from for­mer New Zealand rally cham­pion Chris West and co-driver An­drew Simms (Mit­subishi Evo X) on Sun­day, to ar­rive at the fin­ish line in Have­lock North with 42 sec­onds in hand.

Mak­ing the win even more noteworthy was the fact that it was achieved in an un­fa­mil­iar car — Hopper was forced to lease a pro­duc­tion-spec Mit­subishi when it be­came ap­par­ent that work re­pair­ing dam­age to his own much-mod­i­fied Subaru Im­preza WRX (da­m­aged on de­but in this year’s Targa Ro­torua event) would not be fin­ished in time.

“We’ve def­i­nitely been giv­ing it all she’s got, but at the same time, not do­ing any­thing silly,” Hopper said at the end of the first leg.

It was a strat­egy which, as it turned out, suited the cold, wet/dry road con­di­tions as much as it did the change in Hopper’s cir­cum­stances.

Early po­ten­tial

Jason Gill and Mark Robin­son showed stage- and po­ten­tially event-win­ning pace on Satur­day morn­ing, only to lose three min­utes on Hopper and Goudie with a spin which stranded them in the mid­dle of a stage.

The pair won the next three stages on Satur­day, and two more on Sun­day, to pull some time back on Hopper et al. be­fore a tummy bug got the bet­ter of Gill in the early af­ter­noon, and he de­cided that dis­cre­tion was the bet­ter part of val­our and re­luc­tantly with­drew. That left Chris West and An­drew Simms in the box seat. But, de­spite their stage-win­ning (three) pace on Sun­day’s drier roads, they could not se­ri­ously dent the close-to-a-minute mar­gin Hopper and Goudie had built up in the slip­pery road con­di­tions the rain had brought with it the day be­fore.

Even five-time for­mer Targa New Zealand event win­ner Tony Quinn and new co-driver Kieran An­stis, who fin­ished third, found the con­di­tions dif­fi­cult.

In Quinn’s sec­ond event in his new Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Quinn and An­stis pipped the sim­i­lar car of fel­low for­mer Targa New Zealand event win­ner Martin Dip­pie and co-driver Jona Grant for third place (by 43 sec­onds!) and first two-wheel-drive-car-home hon­ours. But both Porsches ended up over three min­utes down on the Mit­subishi Evo Xs of Hopper and Goudie, and West and Simms, with a third Evo X — in the hands of an­other Auck­land pair, David Rogers and co-driver Ai­dan Kelly — fifth, and Palmer­ston North rally vet­eran Brian Green and co-driver Fleur Ped­er­sen sev­enth in Green’s lo­cally built Evo X– pow­ered Mit­subishi Mi­rage.

Storm­ing run

Split­ting the Rogers/kelly Evo X and Green/ped­er­sen Mi­rage was Perth-based Kiwi ex­pat Robert Dar­ring­ton and his co-driver Dave Abetz, in the first BMW home, the pair join­ing the list of stage win­ners on Sun­day af­ter a storm­ing run through the epic 33km long El­sthorpe stage up the Kahu­ranaki Val­ley behind Have­lock North. Also im­press­ing in a BMW, and first Hawke’s Bay pair­ing home, was Terry and Frank May from Have­lock North in their 330Ci coupé, the pair fin­ish­ing eighth over­all, and half a minute ahead of

ex­pe­ri­enced Cromwell driver Grant Aitken and co-driver Caro­line Cul­limore in Aitken’s ex­otic new mid-en­gined 3.8-litre Porsche Cay­man GT4.

Round­ing out the top 10, and win­ning the Me­tal­man Clas­sic 2WD class, was Welling­ton pair Chris and Mark Kirk-burn­nand in their E30 BMW M3. Targa event re­turnees Nigel Pat­ter­son and War­ren Glass­ford, and Nelson pair Bruce Far­ley and Glen Warner, were quicker out of the blocks on Satur­day in their more pro­saic E30 mod­els. But Far­ley and Warner crashed out of the class lead with a wild trip off the road in the fi­nal stage on Satur­day. And the Kirk-burn­nands found their mojo on Sun­day, bridg­ing the gap to the Pat­ter­son/ Glass­ford BMW be­fore leap-frog­ging it to re­claim class hon­ours by 11.1 sec­onds. As well as a class win in the Me­tal­man Clas­sic 2WD, the pair also scored enough points to take the lead in the Se­ria Cam­pi­one com­pe­ti­tion (judged over the three events) from the Dip­pie/grant and Quinn/an­stis pair­ings, who tied for sec­ond.

Other class win­ners were Hopper and Goudie (An­drewsimms.co.nz All­com­ers 4WD); Subaru STI pair Ivan Knauf and Trevor Corbin, who fin­ished 16th over­all (An­drewsimms.co.nz Pro­duc­tion 4WD); Dar­ring­ton and Abetz (Global Se­cu­rity All­com­ers 2WD); and Quinn and An­stis (Global Se­cu­rity Pro­duc­tion 2WD). Well re­ceived As al­ways there were some amaz­ing tales of go … and woe!

Brothers Tom and Ben Grooten were again do­ing amaz­ing things in Tom’s gi­ant-killing KP61 Toy­ota Star­let, and were sev­enth over­all when the (Mazda MX-5) gear­box cried enough on the third-last stage on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Joe Kouwen­hoven and prepa­ra­tion guru Carl Han­naford (Nis­san GT-R35) were also go­ing great guns, both in class and the over­all clas­si­fi­ca­tion, be­fore rolling out of the event on Stage 11 on Sun­day.

Over the two days of com­pe­ti­tion in the new Targa Hawke’s Bay event, fin­ish­ers com­pleted 15 closed spe­cial stages cov­er­ing a to­tal of 192.07km, linked by 309km of trans­port stages. The event was added to the Targa sched­ule to bridge the gap be­tween a resched­uled two-day Targa Ro­torua (run ear­lier in the year to get more day­light and bet­ter, more set­tled weather) and the an­nual six-day Targa New Zealand event, which, this year, will re­vert to a late Oc­to­ber time slot, and an Auck­land–welling­ton route.

The new event was well re­ceived by Targa event and Targa Tour regulars and lo­cals (both au­thor­i­ties and in­di­vid­u­als), as was the gala-style at­mos­phere in and around event HQ in Have­lock North over the week­end.

As well as the two-day event, a one-day Rally of Hawke’s Bay tar­mac event was run con­cur­rently on Satur­day, and also proved a pop­u­lar move with all in­volved.

That was won by Hast­ings driver Nathan Tough and co-driver Greg Browne, in Tough’s Honda CRX. Christchurch pair Tony Gosling and Blair Read were sec­ond in Gosling’s MKII Ford Es­cort, and Karl Dou­glas and Jeremy Daw­son were third in a Subaru WRX.

Targa New Zealand events are or­ga­nized by the Ul­ti­mate Rally Group with the sup­port of spon­sors An­drewsimms.co.nz, Chi­cane Racewear, Eco­l­ight, Global Se­cu­rity, Kids in Cars, Me­tal­man,

New Zealand Clas­sic Car mag­a­zine, Race Brakes, Racetech New Zealand, Teamtalk, Trackit, and VTNZ.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to targa.co.nz.

Right: Tenth over­all and win­ners of the Me­tal­man Clas­sic 2WD class were Mark and Chris Kirk-burn­nand in their No. 293 BMW M3

Right: In­au­gu­ral Targa Hawke’s Bay event win­ners Leigh Hopper and Michael Goudie (No. 969 Mit­subishi Evo X) cel­e­brate at the fin­ish line in Have­lock North on Sun­day evening

Top: Sec­ond over­all in a car vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal to that of Hopper and Goudie were Chris West and An­drew Simms (No. 975 Mit­subishi Evo X) Above: Win­ning a stage out­right was a high­light for ex­pat Robert Dar­ring­ton and co-driver Dave Abetz in their No. 746 BMW M3

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