By Tony and Sandra Seymour.
In the GTO class we returned to the event with one objective in mind and that was to FINISH.
We were both a little surprised to find our shady parking spot on the Palmerstone stage wasn’t there anymore, and in fact Targa had made this a restricted time zone (as if we weren’t going to go slow there anyway).
Day 1 and as per last year we were in 3rd place with dry conditions and smooth stages suiting the Lotus. By way of example we finished 3rd down Gillies range five seconds behind the Nissan GTR which topped out at 236kmh and I don’t think we reached 180kmh.
On a side note I do feel I need to mention that a Lotus won the first stage by a whopping 1 min 30 sec with Cris Johansen in TSD taking the honours. Very funny at the time with the first stage being a practice stage and penalties applied for going under 3min 30 sec. Cris took the maximum penalty but what the hell he said “still got my name out front and Lotus atop the timesheets!”
Things improved for Cris and John on Day 2 and 3 and were it not for Day 1 they would’ve finished on the podium. Day 2 in GTO saw us go backwards quickly finishing the day in 7th place. After a good first stage on Kuranda Range we moved to the tablelands and with rain and very bumpy roads we were never going to do well.
Day 3 was more of the same and although we pushed a little harder with more rain and bumpy roads you really can’t compete with the 4WD cars in those conditions. We did however manage to sneak into 4th outright and were also the first 2WD car home so that’s a win I reckon.
But more importantly we arrived home with all equipment and attachments in one piece and had a fantastic time with the other Lotus crews and Chris and the gang from Automotion and can’t wait for next year.
1. Anear/Sarandis Subaru STI
2. Quinn/Foster Nissan GTR
3. Van Der Brug/Rankine Subaru STI
4. Seymour/Seymour Lotus Exige
By Jason McGarry/h3>
Welcome to tropical Far North Queensland, after leaving Brisbane and making fun of the Seymour’s and their punctured tyre on the Tourag, Euan and I suffered the same fate just south of Rockhampton with a batten screw going through our tyre as well, there is some tale about throwing rocks in glass houses!
The remainder of the journey from Rocky to Cairns was extremely slow with roadworks and rain and bloody more rain as we got closer to Cairns.
With all the pre-event compliance completed and a couple recce runs done it was time for Euan and I to chill out and work out how we were going to share roles. We both agreed that given that we had 2 stages of going up Gillies Range this would be a good test on who was the better navigator! Given Euan ended 40secs quicker than me I must be a better navigator.
We had entered GT Sports Trophy class and there was only 12 entries due to lockdowns in NSW and Victoria, the selection of cars were the new Toyota Yaris’s and Supra, GT3 Porsche, Nissan 350Z, EVO, Mini, Megane, Jaguar, Focus and our course our 350s Exige. From the outset any AWD was going to have a distinct advantage over the rest of the group given the muddy, wet and rainy conditions.
We ended up being 7th on Day 1, 6th on Day 2 and we finished 6th at the end of the rally which we were both extremely happy and proud given the wet conditions. Euan drove the wheels off the Exige in the wet and was the reason we finished in 6th as I spent most of the time hanging on to my lunch box! I had never really experienced motion sickness before and when it is being caused by your son racing your car in the wet it is 100 times worse!
We had no mechanical issues during the event and Chris and Callum from Automation looked after us extremely well providing the comfort in knowing we had back up if we needed it! (Callum that engine warning light has come back on in the Ram!)
Euan and I now looking forward to getting organised for Tassie in 2022 and I am finding motion sickness tablets! BTW navigating is 100 times harder than steering! Big thank you to the Seymours for looking after Euan and I. (GT Sports 1st Supra, 2nd 350Z and 3rd Megane).
By Cris Johansen
It’s now 20 years since I became a Lotus owner and over that period I’ve made good use of my Series 1 Elise with it being used as a daily driver, wedding car, sprint participant and touring car.
Whilst I did participate in a TARGA Tour event in our Evora a few years back last month’s TARGA GBR was the first time I’ve had the privilege of competing in a real tarmac rally – and I loved it!
Initially my brother was entered as navigator but, given he is in Melbourne and because he’s not an NRL player, he was unable to make it to Cairns, so a late change was necessary. John, a long time friend and resident in Cairns agreed to take his life into his hands and take up the challenge of a first time TSD navigator.
By Drew Dundas/h3>
Armed with our experience gained from Targa GBR 2020, yours truly, my navigator (Mick) and the Elise, embarked on our TARGA GBR 2021 campaign.
New rubber, new digital speedo and a revised race strategy, saw us line up for scrutineering along with the other 14 TSD drivers. It pays to be thorough when preparing for these events as the scrutineering process leaves no compliance issue unturned. We received our ‘Ready to Race’ sticker and had only had one more sleep until race day.
TARGA regards the TGBR event as a team occasion and our 2021 campaign would not have been as much fun or possible without the rest of the team. Our team included the service crew and local sponsors.
Our service crew included sprint car drivers from Walsh Racing, Michael and Brian, who skipped their driving duties for the weekend, to refuel and service the Lotus each day and ensure our daily progress was posted for all to see. The crew met us for our daily early morning and pre-race team meeting at our local sponsor, Cruze coffee (cruzecoffee.com.au), who ensured we were fuelled up with the best caffeine for the day ahead. Excitement was evident with all of the crew anticipating days driving ahead and event in general.
Time Speed Distance (TSD)
The TSD category has a posted average speed to be achieved over a set distance. Penalty points are awarded to a competitor if they drive the stage either too quickly or slowly. Just like golf, lowest score wins.
Day one saw our new race strategy backfire spectacularly with a 136 point penalty for the first stage of Green Hill.
We were running 13th and needed to rethink things. The conversation on the transport stage to the Gillies Range went something like this.
Navigator to Driver: “When I say ‘Slow Up’, that means less accelerator and more brake.”
Driver to Navigator: “Oh – Roger that.”
The Gillies was a wet stage and saw the Lotus soak up the 200 plus bends and come in a face-saving 6th for the stage. We really needed to do better than this though before the end of the day. Malanda saw us with only two penalty points and equal 3rd for the stage. Little Mulgrave 5th and equal 3rd for Lake Morris. If we continued this trend we might very well manage to work our way up the rankings.
Day two saw the team assemble for more coffee and team strategy which included some really bad dad jokes from the service crew before heading up the Kuranda range. This is a fast flowing stage which saw the Lotus avoid some oil on the road and arrive at the end of the stage in 4th.
The TSD category is small enough that a sense of camaraderie and friendship forms amongst the crews to the extent where help is offered when needed and the welfare of crew are checked on. It was with concern we pulled up behind a well know Lotus driver form the SE corner of the state and pointed out to him that his tail lights were no longer in horizontal alignment and we were a little concerned that if they continued dropping any further, they may be mistaken for mudflap reflectors. This was met with an appropriate response and I’m pleased to say that the driver, navigator and car continued the day and completed TARGA. It was noted, Cairns suffered a shortage of tape after the repairs had been made on Saturday. Well done fellas.
The wet stages continued throughout the Saturday and saw some cautious use of the throttle on most stages with a timber bridge on one corner catching a few out on the day.
Day three saw the Gillies range being run for the 3rd time this weekend and a couple of new stages as well. The course had us in Innisfail for lunch and the local community came out in droves to support the event and look at the cars. The proposed stage around Innisfail was instead run as a cavalcade and what a spectacular route. I’m sure most drivers are salivating at the thought of an Innisfail street stage in 2022.
The presentation and staging of cars were held in downtown Cairns and saw all cars parked at Fogarty Park where it seemed most of Cairns came out to have one last look.
We managed to crawl our way from 13th up to 6th over the course of the weekend. The weekend from our perspective was a success. Thanks again to Mick for his good nav work (notwithstanding the driver’s interpretation of ‘slow down’), the service crew and sponsors for being there throughout the event.
Looking forward to TARGA GBR 2022.