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7 May 2008

Targa Rally


Three, two, one, go.

Mark Perry: Targa Tasmania is designed for a whole cavalcade of motoring history. Its main aim is to bring cars from all over the world to Tasmania and drive on our great roads. Targa's Italian for 'plate' and the event was designed on the back of Targa Florio which was started in Italy over 100 years ago, where the participants of that event received a plate - a porcelain plate - for finishing the event. And, in essence, that's what competitors get when they come here. When they finish they get a Targa plate. The whole idea of Targa is to bring cars and people from all over the world and bring them to Tasmania and show a whole cavalcade of motoring history to the local people.

It is a State-wide event - it's one of the few events in Tasmania that covers the entire island, all the small communities. We have lunchbreaks on the east coast and west coast. So it does cover the entire State, which does set it apart from anything else that comes here.

It's six days in total. There's a day in George Town with a prologue which is basically just to sort the nerves out for everyone. And then there's five full days of competition. It's 2,000 kilometres in total distance. It's the best of its kind in the world. It's one of the few places still in the world where you can do this. Modern days determine that road racing is frowned upon in a lot of countries. Tasmania's unique now. These events have been going for 100 years but Targa's one of the last left to run in its traditional format - where the roads are closed and the cars can drive at whatever speed they like. We introduced a Rookie. Like all motor sport these days, it's not cheap and our demographic was getting older every year. So we came up with a shortened event, just the first couple of days, aimed at younger guys that built their cars in their garages and so forth, really to bring them into the event. It was very successful, and this year we've got another 35 rookies coming in. But 15 of the rookies from the first time we ran it have now entered the full field. And it's easing people in and changing the guard and making sure that Targa's still here for another 15 or 20 years.

Adrian Morrisby: We were entering the inaugural Rookie Rally last year which, then, we were lucky enough to win. And now we've got full entry to the whole event, the whole five days of rallying coming up this year in 2008. It really is a dream come true.

For many years we went out on the side of the road and waved to Jim Richards and all the famous guys. Now we've actually been able to build a car and enter the event. And we're lucky enough to do the full event this year so it's a dream come true for myself and the team. The best thing about the Targa event itself is the camaraderie you build up amongst the teams and the people that come from overseas and mainland Australia and we have a ball for the week. All the guys get together and we go out to meals and it really is a great social event. And then during the day you have a good old time and race and get the adrenaline going.

It's one of those things you've really got to do if you live in the State. It's over those roads you drove around as a kid going away on family holidays, all those areas you know a little bit about. So we love it, yeah. It's the biggest and best thing that ever happened to Tasmania.

We've got a Holden Gemini. It's a replica of a 1976 historic rally car that was once driven by the famous Peter Brock and a few others. We replicated the old car as a classic, a unit...1976 Holden Gemini.

What we have here in the office of the Gemini is a full comprehensive roll cage as well as our race harnesses, race seats and a few other safety bits you can't quite see here. As well, we run a full race suit - a fireproof race suit - and helmet and gloves. It runs about 3.5 times more power than a standard Gemini of its age, by the internals of the engine and the induction which we run. So around about 150 horsepower. Top speed's about 185 in this particular car.

Mark Perry: It's great for the economy and it's great for the locals. In a lot of small towns we go to that's all they have all year. Obviously, with a small population, you do have a lot of community support. The Government like it. It brings in 6,000 to 7,000 people every year. From competitors to service crews to families, supporters and people who travel from all over the world to come and watch it. So it is a huge event. It's the biggest event on the island. It is huge for Tasmania.