Targa Tasmania 2017

Team Monaro GTS

Pics by angrymanphotography.com.au and Neil Gibson

This year the thought was that we could be more competitive in class – more power from a new motor after Woody grenaded the old one. The car was left in Victoria for 9 months so it would be easily ready for Targa…

Week 1. Tuesday – We arrive to collect the car, nowhere close to being ready: no engine, drive-train or fuel tank fitted. Engine completed/dynoed in the morning while Woody and Brian (service crew), fitted a new fuel cell/ran around for fittings. Once back together it wouldn’t start, leads were on incorrectly. Worked on car until 11pm.

Wednesday – Lots of electrical issues, fans not working, horn not working or constantly on, dodgy kill switch, broken oil sender switch shorted out when the air-filter went on. Then a new exhaust system was needed, new drop tank had gone in but no-one allowed for the exhaust going back on! Exhaust shop found, problem solved – twin side exit pipes. I was still waiting at the ferry going nowhere. Ended the day in a Vic motel, had my worst Chinese meal ever. (He’s a Pom, has to have a whinge…Ed)

Thursday – Up early and back working on the electrical issues; thankfully now with an auto electrician working his butt off. Quick trip to Revolution Racegear for a new kill switch and some heat wrap, returned with those and then back again again – kill switches break easily. Meanwhile Woody was trying to get us and the cars over to Tasmania, a day late. Finally managed to get the cars and us booked with Toll Shipping for that evening.

Friday – We docked in Burnie, our main mechanic/service guy ‘Spud’ lives in Wynyard, just 18kms away, so headed straight there once off the ferry. Gave him a quick rundown of ongoing issues then Woody and I went off to recce some stages to get back in to rally mode; we managed a grand total of seven stages for the whole event. Another auto sparky called in to solve ongoing horn/fan issues.

Saturday – A few final ‘race prep’ jobs, stickers applied, final test drive, seemed all good but after setting off the side window popped out – this car just didn’t want to go racing… Finally, we get to Launceston.

Sunday – Documentation, scrutineering, apparel check – Woody finds out his Peltor helmet was non-conforming so ouch, more dollars spent, but eventually we’re in officially IN Targa Tasmania 2017 – phew!

Monday: Race Day 1 – Out to the East Coast today. Due to Anzac Day this year’s event did not start with the usual thrash around Georgetown, instead it was a full day with seven stages to get through, though the first was a ‘warm-up’ stage. This meant the first stage proper was a wet and slippery ‘Sideling’ – a mega stage first up! The weather improved through a relatively drama-free day – except for a waft of oil smoke in the cabin, diagnosed as a weeping front gearbox seal at service. Finished the day in 3rd place Classic 8 secs off the Ferrari 308 in 2nd.

Tuesday: Race Day 2 – One stage today, Georgetown. Due to it being Anzac Day we got a sleep in as we were not starting until midday. So cruised out there, had lunch, sat around a bit then did our three minutes work blasting around town. All good, clutch was biting a bit low and still a bit of an oil smell though. Finished the day in 2nd, 1 second up on the 308.

Wednesday: Race Day 3 – Another seven stages today around Launceston, including the greats of ‘Cethana’ and ‘Riana’. Set some great times, our worst result being a 4th in Cethana, but in most stages we were coming in second to Peter Ullrich in his Jensen CV8 that he punts along so well. Finished the day still in 2nd, 56 secs ahead of the 308.

That night, as we were staying in Wynyard at ‘Spud’s’ place we took the car out of the security park after ‘Targafest’ for him to check the gearbox seal. Upon removal a Welsh plug fell on the floor, that was the oil leak problem! Whilst the gearbox was off the slave cylinder was also found to be loose – that fixed the clutch biting at the floor issue. Everything was checked, adjusted etc and we called it a night at 11.30pm.

Thursday: Race Day 4 – Seven stages ending at the West Coast/Strahan. All good today, worst stage was a 4th, we even won a stage! Lunch was at Stanley, very scenic around there. Still 2nd, 53 secs up on the 308.

Friday: Race Day 5 – Wet with six stages today, including Queenstown and Mount Arrowsmith. The day got off to a bad start when the car failed to turn over on the key when trying to leave the security park in Strahan. Luckily some fellow competitors gave us a push start to get us going but things were not looking good – we could see that we were dropping voltage and not charging. Got to the first stage, went to the front of the queue and hoped. As we sat waiting to go, Woody mentioned that at 6 volt the car would stop, the needle dropped to seven volts and the Terratrip went a bit mental and started displaying Klingon or something! We thought we were done for but got the green light and headed in to stage expecting to stop anytime. Somehow we got through, monitoring the voltage gauge, and pulled in to a servo for a new battery thinking that’s the likely problem. As it turned out it wasn’t, the alternator was not working. On this new battery we made it to lunch where Brian was waiting with another new battery to get us through the afternoon stages. Stage wise we had an up and down day, equal first in a couple but with a worst of 7th. Finished the day back in 3rd, 8 secs off the Ferrari that had retaken 2nd – but after the day we’d had, that was okay! That night we headed in to Hobart to an auto-electrical place and had a new alternator fitted.

Saturday: Race Day 6 (the last) – Shorter day today, six stages around Hobart. We knew that unless we did something really silly we had 3rd spot at worst, (with 4th place 3+ minutes behind), but 2nd was not too far away. We had a good day, won three stages, with 3rd being our worst: at one point we got back to within 1 sec of 2nd place but in the end it was not to be. David and Nigel in the Ferrari 308 drove like men possessed and ended up beating us by 15 seconds. Peter won in the CV8.

So third it was, Woody’s first Targa podium in 15 or so attempts, meaning we got to spray the ‘champagne’ around – that stuff really stings when it gets in your eyes!

Afterthought: The old Monaro is definitely faster now than previously, that new engine certainly performs, (550bhp will probably do that!). Also, by going to a ‘flat’ plastic fuel cell this seems to have helped somewhat with the handling characteristics due to lowering the roll centre of the car.

I did mention to Woody that I might call it quits after this Targa, but that’s not going to happen – why give up a seat in what should now be a regular front running car! (Well, until Targa change their rules again…)

That’s it until 2018.