CALLAWAY/GRAY CLAIM KEY TARGA STAGE WIN BUT RIVAL SUBARU PAIR RETAIN EVENT LEAD FOR A SECOND DAY
Impressive young Christchurch driver Rory Callaway and co-driver Samantha Gray (Subaru Impreza St1) claimed a confidence- boosting debut event stage win on the second day of competition on the long postponed five-day ‘2021’ Targa New Zealad tarmac motor rally in Taranaki yesterday.
The win came in the third of a planned five closed road special stages on the day’s schedule, Callaway and Gray cutting out the marathon 39.98km run to Whangamomona in just 20 minutes and 17.4 seconds, 6.2 seconds quicker than arch-rivals and Day 1 leader Cameron Ross and co-driver Matthew Buer (Auckland) in their virtually identical late model Subaru Impreza hatchback.
Third quickest car through was the purpose-built VW Polo R of Auckland’s Jason Gill and his Christchurch-based co-driver Nicole Summerfield, 10.7 seconds back.
Event veteran Leigh Hopper from Whitianga and his North Shore, Auckland-based co-driver Michael Goudie beat both the Callaway/Gray and Ross/Buer combinations on the first two stages of the day to make it a total of 5 out of 8 wins.
However, the engine in Hopper’s earlier model four-dour saloon-bodied Subaru Impreza WRX was already on life support after overheating in only the third stage of the event on Wednesday and when Hopper and Goudie were forced to again abandon their charge just a few kms into the Whangamomona stage yesterday, it paved the way for Callaway and Gray to claim their first ‘Main Targa’ stage win.
Despite that Day 1 leaders Ross and Buer continued to hold onto their overall event lead, building it up, in fact, from the barely conceivable 0:00.5 of a second over Callaway and Gray after the first day to 10.6 seconds after the first stage yesterday morning.
Callaway and Gray were able to reduce that to single figures – 3.6 seconds – after their win in the third stage of the day yesterday,
However, any chance that they might have had to take any more time out of their rivals and – perhaps – even take over the event lead, were dashed when failing light forced organisers to suspend competition and give everyone the same assessed time through the final special stage of the day, the roller-coaster 39.09km run back down the road from Whangamomona.
The upshot being that Cameron Ross and Matthew Buer continued to lead the 2001 Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally, albeit still by the narrowest of margins, just 3.9 seconds, over fellow Subaru Impreza pair, Rory Callaway, and Samantha Gray.
The big mover on the second day of competition, meanwhile was event veteran Jason Gill and co-driver Nicole Summerfield, up from P6 at the end of the first day of competition on Wednesday to P3 at end of the second last night.
Another event veteran to make up three places (form P7 to P4) on the second day was Auckland Mitsubishi Evo 10 ace David Rogers and his co-driver Shane Reynolds.
In terms of the overall event standings after the first two days however, the first of the 2WD cars in the field, the Porsche 991GT3RS of 2013 Targa NZ event winner Martin Dippie and co-driver Jona Grant from Dunedin, remained in 3rd place, albeit now 2 mins & 25 seconds behind the two 4WD Subarus in front,
Today (Friday May 27) the field heads south for a single night’s stopover in Whanganui then east to Hawke’s Bay where the event will be based for the final two nights – via Saturday stages using Fields Track in the morning and the Gentle Annie Rd in the afternoon.
All-up, entrants face a mix of 760km of closed road special stages and 1240km of touring stages for an event total of 2000 km.
Incorporated into and set to run concurrently over the final two days with the full five-day ‘2021’ Targa New Zealand event is a separately entered and scored – two-day – ‘2021’ Targa NZ Regional tarmac motor rally.
Both the five-day and the two-day regional events will also incorporate their own concurrently run but independently organised and scored VCC Time Trials run in conjunction with the Vintage Car Club of NZ, as well as concurrent but non-competitive Targa Tours.
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 www.targa.co.nz or check out the Targa NZ page on Facebook.
Media release by Fast Company