The annual Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally is 25 this year and the man behind it, Peter Martin of the Ultimate Rally Group, says it has never been easier to enter the event than in its anniversary year.
This year the annual five-day event, which Martin markets as ‘The Ultimate Road Race,’ starts in Taupo on Tuesday October 29 and ends in Palmerston North on Saturday November 02. And with three separate starting groups – Competition, the Targa Tour and now a Time Trial organised in conjunction with the Vintage Car Club or New Zealand – Martin reckons that if anyone has ever harboured a desire to do the event, then this is the year to turn dream into reality.
“Seriously,” he said this week. “While we have already had a fantastic response from our regulars (with over 60 already signed on in the main Competition section, over 30 in the Targa Tour and now more than 20 in the VCC Time Trial) there is plenty of room for more. Our systems are designed for up to 150 cars in the Competition section alone, and because all our entry and documentation systems are now computerised, we can take entries across our three categories up until 5.00pm on Monday October 28, the day before the event actually starts.”
As a very much hands-on former competitor and now event owner and manager Martin says that in the vast majority of cases actually committing to do ‘your first Targa’ is the hardest part.
“Believe me,” he says, “I’ve heard all the excuses, and all the reasons why somebody ‘can’t do Targa.’ So what I’m doing is pushing back and saying ‘yes you can.’
“You want to do it but ‘don’t have either ‘a’ car or ‘the right’ car?” No problem, get in touch with me and I will find you either a car to buy or one to lease.
“Like the idea of ‘doing a Targa’ but don’t think you are up for the competition side of things? Again, no problem, that was one of the reasons the Targa Tour was set up for. You get to use the same closed public roads as the competition cars but in convoy with other Tour-goers in their road cars.
“I’m also very proud of our latest ‘product’, the Vintage Car Club Time Trial. Again, you are taking advantage of the road closures we organise for the Competition and Tour sections, but in this case the skill is driving to a set, average, stage speed, rather than as fast as you can. Don’t think that you need a pukka veteran car to do it either. The Vintage Car Club of New Zealand operates a rolling eligibility limit of 30 years meaning that this year you could compete in a car built in 1989.”
“Finally, if you have a car and the desire to ‘do a Targa’ but for whatever reason simply do not have the time to commit to the full five-days, we are also this year running a two-day Regional Event starting in Whanganui on Thursday October 31 and joining the fun, if you like, for the final two days in the Manawatu, Central Plateau, Rangitikei and Tararua regions.”
After celebrating the 20th anniversary of Targa NZ with a marathon first foray to the South Island in 2014, then returning again last year, this year’s 25th anniversary event has come back to what Martin describes as its North Island ‘roots.’
“Year-in, year-out councils in regions like the greater Waikato, Taranaki, Rangitikei, Manawatu-Wanganui and Central North Island areas welcome us back so this year we decided to keep our focus on these areas this time around.
“Obviously – when you are bringing a travelling road show of over 100 competing vehicles and probably another 100 associated with them – we bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into these districts at what for most is a shoulder season between winter and summer. But it’s certainly nice when that contribution is acknowledged, not to mention sought out again in subsequent years.”
Targa New Zealand events are organised by the Ultimate Rally Group with the support of sponsors AndrewSimms.co.nz, Chicane Racewear, Global Security, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, Race4Life Trust, Racetech, TrackIt, Vital and Writeraze.
For more information go to targa.nz or check out the Targa NZ page on Facebook.