2016Competition Reports

Tales from Targa Tasmania 2016

Report by Christine Freestone. Pics by Angryman Photography

Christine Freestone recounts a rollercoaster ride to their podium finish from the navigator’s seat Prior to Christmas we asked CAMS to help us decide which classic car we should rally in Targa 2016 in SS (standard specification class). It was between our 1958 Austin Healey (it has competed in 10 Targas) or our 1960 Aston Martin DB4. The Aston has a good history having been owned by Paul Sabine, Scott Sherman and even rallied by Sir Jack Brabham. Unfortunately, more often than not it DNF.

It was decided the Aston Martin would be the easiest car to comply. Changing the flexi glass to glass was the main issue, luckily we found a full set locally for $600. Because Aston Martins were hand built the glass was custom cut to suit each car – thus when fitted we found gaps in the windows.

We discovered that 2nd gear was damaged along with diff parts, but we were amazed to find new parts in England still in their 1960 packaging. All major components were crack tested, a crack in the fuel tank was even discovered, carbies were tuned by guru Frank Lowndes.

Due to the delay in parts arriving from OS, testing was late at Symmons Plains, we found no issues thanks to the professional prep by Danny Koehane.

Unfortunately, someone lodged an official protest that our car was not standard. For the next two days during the event we had to provide documentation from the 60s proving that it was 1/1000 build and that the carbies were an original option. Thanks to Paul Sabine’s documentation (he also had similar issues in the past) we were able to prove all specifications and options were original. All this drama took our focus off driving to our best ability. Targa even required a bore and stroke test proving that the car complied to a standard engine spec.

With all that behind us Day 3 was joyful, focused and peddling the little car as David Brown intended – maybe even a little more spirited than he intended! The car is very physical to drive at high speed, touring a delight. Paul likened it to the old NASCAR days.

The car hits hard, sparks fly- good thing we fitted a sump guard! End of Day 3 the exhaust was dragging, the Aston bottoms out that hard on rough Tassie roads it throws the car out of gear! Day 4 saw some new stages around Burnie, another great day.

Queuing up to start at Day 5 in Strahan, smoke fills the cabin accompanied by a loud squealing sound. Power immediately turned off, Paul checked under the bonnet -nothing obvious. Car restarted with no issues – what was that about? Maybe cold weather, the starter motor not happy? Hmm.

Unbeknown to me Danny Koehane had spent a sleepless night worrying about two cracks in a rear brake disc. We were able to locate two new discs in Hobart, so at 6am Danny was on his way to collect the brakes. The plan was to apply more brake to the front taking some of the pressure off the rear. Checking the car at lunch the plan was working, phew, the disc will survive the day…

The Ulrichs in the Jensen broke a center-bolt in a rear spring at Mt Arrowsmith enabling us to take P2 in the Classic Comp; the car behind us was an XF Falcon with a 25 second gap.

Overnight Urlichs were able to obtain derived times for the day and managed to retain P2. At the end of Day 6 we were extremely proud of our car’s finish considering the disappointing start to the event and the fact that P1 was a 944 Porsche, P2 Ulrich’s V8 Jensen, P3 a 1960 Aston Martin, followed in P4 by an 1980s XF Falcon.

The finish in Hobart was spectacular on the water front, some competitors dreams were shattered, walking over the line holding their Targa number plates or a damaged panel from their Targa car… After the event we drove the car back to Devonport for the ferry trip home.

As this year was our 21st Targa, we received a complimentary entry, a reward for completing 20 consecutive years. After this years outing I think the Aston has deserved a long rest!