THE RACER'S EDGE
Targa Wrest Point Rally Report
Words Brian Dermott. Pics courtesy perfectprints.com.au
The 2010 HTCAV Rally Championship started early with the second running of Targa Wrest Point on the last days of January, over some very rough and dusty roads in the Huon Valley which provided an intense 210 kilometres sprint rally challenge.
Out of 64 Classic starters, 27 (42%) were pre 1973 touring cars – nearly double the 09 entry – and victory went to experienced Sydney racer and famous Drummoyne seafood entrepreneur George Nittis, navigated by Karl Francis, in the orange Falcon XY GT HO running in modified spec.
Second was Tassie racer and paper plant manager Mick Cross and Leigh Chaplin in what was the drive of the event – Mick brought his unchanged Group N Torana LJ racer complete with drum brakes and 13” wheels and had almost no stoppers left by halfway through the second morning.
Third by only 2 seconds came Tasmanian fuel wizard and proven rally man Scott Kent navigated by brother Wayne in the white Mustang – with a brand new engine blowing astonishing amounts of oil smoke.
In fact, the hot and dry roads favoured Big Power and with five of the top six being Ford V8s – the other two being Toranas – the leading bunch looked very like a Group N race. The racing theme continued with Brendan Diprose (three time state Group N champion) coming 4th and the Dermotts 6th, only 6 seconds behind the Terry Harper / Matt Challis small-engined Falcon. Final Club points getter in 7th were father and son Chas and Luke Latter in the familiar grey Datsun 1600.
And how did the HTCAV rookies fare?
An amazing first time triumph for Andy Clempson and Jervis Ward in Hollywood’s self-built Mustang fastback came so very close. On the last stage, the Mustang rocket ship was leading when a bolt came out of the shifter, taking 13 minutes of frantic spannering to get back in. With its metre of flame and flamboyant noise and extrovert style, this car was a crowd favourite. And experienced competitors marvelled at the strong showing of the two racers in their first tarmac rally.
Various woes bedevilled Chris Ralph and Russell Pilven in Chris’ pretty little 1971 2002 – a spin on unexpected gravel on the Tahune stage followed by ignition woes slowed the under 3 litre track rivals and with only two days of competition, there was no time for a fight back.