The latest Targa tarmac rally event – next month’s three-day Targa Hawke’s Bay – is proof that two into one does go. Just ask the CEO and Event Director, Peter Martin, of the Ultimate Rally Group (URG), the company that owns and runs Targa events in this country.
“Previously,” said Martin this week,” we’ve had two separate – and very successful – Targa events in the early part of the year. In actual fact, if you count the various Targa Bambina events we’ve run in the first quarter, we’ve had three. So in terms of working out what we wanted to do in our 25th anniversary Targa NZ year, we had, if you like, an embarrassment of riches to choose from.”
The longest running of these pre-main Targa events has been the two-day Targa Rotorua, but for the past two years Martin and his Ultimate Rally Group have run a two-day Targa Hawke’s Bay event to provide the many regular Targa entrants with something new to get their teeth into.
“Both have proved to be excellent events in their own right,” says Martin, “but in planning our programme for our 25th Anniversary year, we decided we wanted to do something special, which was to basically take the best bits – the roads, the scenery and the special ambience from each two-day event – and combine them to make an absolute cracker of a three-day one.”
To that end, documentation and scrutineering for the new, three-day Rotorua-to-Havelock North Targa Hawke’s Bay event will be held in Rotorua on Thursday May 16 followed by three full days of competition covering over 440kms of closed special stages and 700km of touring from Friday May 17 to Sunday May 19 before a ceremonial finish under the Targa arch in Havelock North.
On the first day of competition the field will travel across the Mamaku Ranges for stages in the south and central Waikato before returning to Rotorua for the first overnight stop,
On the second day competitors do some traditional ‘Targa Rotorua’ stages on the eastern side of the Mamakus in the morning before heading south via Taupo and Turangi for the first of the afternoon stages over the Gentle Annie road which brings them to Hawke’s Bay and the second overnight stop at Havelock North.
The final day is then spent criss-crossing Hawke’s Bay, before the traditional – and always popular – return to Havelock North down Middle Road.
Martin knew he had done the right thing in creating the new ‘two-in-one’ event not long after regulations and entry information was posted on the event website in January.
That’s right,” he said. “Kiwis being Kiwis in previous years even some of our long-term regulars would not get their entries in until the final weeks for an event like Targa Rotorua. Not this time. By the middle of February we had over 40 entries in our competition section and close to 30 in the Tour, and with just over a month to go now I think we’re going to have close to if not just over 90 entries across both.”
Amongst the first to sign on were last year’s two-day Targa Hawke’s Bay event winners, Steven Kirk-Burnnand and co-driver Mike Hay (BMW 318ti), and the runners-up in last year’s ‘main-Targa’ event in the South Island, fellow Aucklanders, David Rogers and co-driver Aidan Kelly (Mitsubishi Evo 10).
Also committing to the new event early were multi-time Targa Rotorua event winner Leigh Hopper and co-driver Michael Goudie (Subaru WRX Impreza), and fellow Aucklanders Haydn Mackenzie and his co-driver Matt Sayers (Mitsubishi Evo 10).
The Targa Tour has also again proved popular with the owners of exotic sports, luxury and performance cars, with Porsche enjoying the early running as most popular marque with nine entered, followed by BMW with four, Audi three and (so far anyway) Alfa Romeo and Ferrari one each.
Once the new three-day Targa Hawke’s Bay event the country’s tarmac rally specialists will then focus their efforts on preparing for the full five-day 25th anniversary Targa New Zealand event which starts in Taupo on October 29 and is set to finish in Palmerston North on Saturday November 02.
Targa New Zealand events are organised by the Ultimate Rally Group with the support of sponsors AndrewSimms.co.nz, Chicane Racewear, Global Security, HW Richardson Group, NZ Classic Car magazine, Piako Group, Race Brakes, Race4Life Trust, Racetech, TeamTalk, TrackIt, and Writeraze.
For more information go to www.targa.co.nz or check out the Targa NZ page on Facebook.