Battens WIN Targa
In another astonishing display of ability, forest rally expert 27 year old Paul Batten and 3 time NSW rally champ dad Mike were by far the fastest HTCAV Championship car over the 5 days of Targa Tasmania 2010 today. In the Outright Classic Competition the red Volvo was beaten only by Rex Broadbent and Chris Randell in the 74 Carrera.
The relentless, persistent pressure – the Battens don't have poor stages – finally got to Peter Eames and his Carrera who was ahead at the start of the final day. In wet, cold and foggy conditions on Tasmania's west coast, the Volvo won the first three stages outright, including defeating both Porsches on the 56 kilometre Mt Arrowsmith by nearly a minute and Peter Eames crashed out on the very next stage.
The measure of the car control required to be competitive is that Rex Broadbent reported to the media that Mt Arrowsmith was so slippery he thought there was ice on the road. Realising that with only three short stages left, unless Rex broke he could not be caught, Mike Batten got his wish and managed to turn down the speed control on Paul and they cruised home from then on. Mike also says they have never had a 'moment' and the Modified Specification they ran with this year (bored motor, Proflex shocks) and soft tyre strategy worked well. 15 minutes further back, another tense battle was raging between Pete and Sari Ullrich in the Jensen and Richard Woodward and Dave McCrowe in the famous 69 Monaro GTS.
After tying Leg 3, the Jensen started Leg 5 33 secs ahead. But the Monaro was not to be denied and Richard and Dave started to put in the most incredible times – 5th on Strahan and already a few seconds up, then gaining more time with sixth on the Corkscrew and Arrowsmith.
By the end, the Monaro had turned a 33 secs deficit into a 23 second advantage. It is a tribute to these two great crews that they made it through, driving fully committed on legendary difficult stages in atrocious conditions when many crashed out. Fourth was local Drew Kent and good mate Paul Krawczyk in the Falcon GT who only just managed to keep 9 seconds ahead of rampaging Len and Gayle Cattlin, who have clearly built a great new MS Boss; completely untried, untested and still being finished at the start, this car has grown stronger every day.
Just behind by a mere 3 seconds were Scott and Wayne Kent – so only 12 seconds apart from brother Drew, a closeness which lasted the whole event. Well back from the V8's came Chas and Luke Latter in the silver Datsun 1600, who recovered from their damaging fence diversion to take 7th. Next in line was the gigantic Ford Galaxie driven by Mike Moylan and navigated by Kim Chance, whose reputation was certainly enhanced when no less than 6 more timid modern rally cars (and whose drivers all reported the event wide eyed to the media) were passed by the storming Galaxie on Arrowsmith in the treacherous weather, trailing a vast plume of spray and turbulence in its enormous slipstream. 8th was the other Falcon GT crewed by Ray Large and Rob Woodcock and the 10 was rounded out by the bright yellow Torana 'XU4' four door driven with passion and enthusiasm by Queensland panel shop owner Wayne Pfingst navigated by John Loth – both relived to have not finished upside down with sheared steering this year..
So what happened to the high tech early model Holden – the 'Moment of Madness' ?
Well, the Freestones have had wins and losses in their 15 year Targa career and this was not a win – they finally came 11th in our standings. The car had come to Tas with only the briefest of testing and paid the price – engine, gearbox, dash, electrics were all rebuilt over three nights and there were inevitably some slip ups by the completely exhausted service crew. Then the clutch hydraulics packed it in just in time for Arrowsmith.
But Paul is a very determined character and was going to get the thing to the end even if he had to push it all the way – the potential of this combination and the commitment of Paul and Christine (and the well known race car builders who created it ) to get the early model right should not be underestimated. Everyone in the HTCAV can be proud of the Targa 10 effort by the pre 73 touring cars. In one of the toughest events on record, 28% of the 78 classic pre 81 cars entered DNF'd. But only 13% of the 23 pre 73 touring cars DNF'd and provided four of the outright top ten and one of the cars on the podium.
Targa Tasmania in the wet is the greatest challenge in modern amateur motor sport and 20 cars with 40 crew are tonight celebrating their triumph of achieving a finish in Hobart well satisfied with their week's work. We salute them !