Wednesday, 26 September 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

The Targa Rally coming to Mercury Bay this weekend

The Targa Rally coming to Mercury Bay this weekend

Two-time Targa Rotorua event winner Leigh Hopper and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick head a diverse 100-strong line-up of competitors and cars for the new three-day Targa North Island tarmac motor rally this weekend. The Auckland-Whitianga-Rotorua event starts at in the Bombay Hills at 8.35am on Friday and ends in Rotorua on Sunday 18 May at 4.10pm. In-between, the 74 competition and 26 associated Targa Tour cars will cover 457kms of closed special stages and 840 kms of touring kilometres.

Having enjoyed the extra stage time and challenge of last year's two-and-a-half-day Targa Rotorua event, Hopper said he thinks a three-day event is the perfect build-up for the six-day “main event” in the South Island later this year. "With three days you've got the intensity of the shorter sprint events, but the strategy in terms of having to pace yourself and keep on top of the car is important when you are racing over five or six days."

Without the detailed corner-to-corner pace notes of a typical gravel event, a Targa rally places a far greater onus on the driver to be able to “read” the road, a skill Hopper prides himself in and believes is one of the cornerstones of the on-going appeal of local Targa events.

The weekend’s rally will also see the motorsport event debut of TV sports show The Crowd Goes Wild reporter/presenters Hayley Holt and Chris Key who will join the concurrent, but non-competitive, Targa Tour in their show's promo vehicle, an Isuzu D-Max double-cab ute. "This is one of the most exciting things I have done in a long time," said confirmed petrolhead Holt. "I've always wanted to do a Targa and though I'd love to do it in a competition car, the Tour is probably the best place for Chris and I to start."

Set to again provide a different perspective on the event's tight and twisty hill stages is top New Zealand drifter Cam Vernon who impressed competitors and spectators alike with his extreme sideways skills on the last Targa Bambina event. This time Vernon will drift his newly acquired 6.7 litre V8-engined Nissan S15 through four stages, the Coromandel one from just outside Coromandel township to Te Rerenga on Friday, the Pumpkin Hill and Whiritoa stages south of Whitianga on Saturday morning and the Hamurana stage which skirts the northern side of Lake Rotorua on Sunday.

The rally has been organised with the support of sponsors Ecolight, Federal motorsport tyres, Global Security, Gull, Instra Corporation, Kids In Cars, Metalman, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, TeamTalk, TrackIt, VTNZ and Woolrest Biomag.

The rally will arrive in Whitianga on Friday afternoon where the vehicles will be serviced at the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park in Moewai Park. The Lee Street car park will be the overnight Parc Ferme where the rally vehicles will arrive from 5:00pm. The Targa Tour vehicles will arrive in Lee Street from 4:30pm for a charity car wash until 6:00pm.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.