By Tony Seymour.
Both Sandra and I felt very fortunate to be able to attend Targa Great Barrier Reef in 2020.
The field was reduced to around 80 cars, and with no possibility of getting monstered by Vipers and RS Porsches we decided to enter the outright category. A look at the entry list, and with only three entered in our class, a podium (or last place) looked pretty good.
For company we had Tony Quinn in the R35 GTR and Luke Anear in a new AMG SLS GTR Mercedes. Doing my homework on the opposition I quickly worked out I had the oldest car, the slowest car, and the least amount of experience. I was also the poorest guy in this category by around 600 million, just saying…
Our first accident as we left time control, with the breath test guy running into the back of us and badly damaging the rear clam. I did wonder if he had breath tested himself, but fortunately Targa insurance will cover the repairs. Onto the action, and what a blast going up and down Gillies Range and Copperlode Dam. These stages really suited the Lotus, and I finished the day in 2nd place sandwiched between Tony and Luke. An outright stage win coming down Gillies Range was the highlight for me, a feat I may never repeat.
Out we went to the all new stages around Mission Beach. These were fast and flowing stages and with wet roads and some light rain I approached with caution. In GT Sports we were limited to 130kmh, and stepping this up to over 200kmh in many cases required some getting used to. I slipped down to 3rd place, but my times in comparison to the others improved as we got more comfortable with the speed.
Day 3 opened with everyone’s favorite, the iconic Kuranda Range Targa stage. What a fantastic piece of bitumen. From there we headed out to the tablelands for the balance of the day. Luke unfortunately exited on the next stage, seemingly completely missing the 7 right turn and going straight ahead into the paddock just before the finish. We were behind and were flagged by a spectator but kept going with the Merc being so far down the paddock we couldn’t see anything.
This then elevated us to 2nd and we finished the 15 min long Millaa Millaa stage 2 sec behind the GTR. Things were going well, but with the GTR being 2 min in front overall we decided not to push with only 2 stages to go. And I have to say that Targa racing requires your utmost attention all of the time, and triple caution boards are put in place for a reason. I did get the call “huge dip” from the navigator and did brake somewhat, but at 114kmh was probably a little quick. We then hit the culvert slightly off center and this threw the car sideways. We managed to keep it straight and for a moment I thought we may be ok, but a rather deep ditch put an end to that with us eventually ending up buried in the bush. If only we had gone off on the opposite side where it was flat.
We both had to get out the drivers side, and I no longer have to wonder what it’s like standing on the side of the road waving the OK boards as the rest of the field goes by. We have however joined a not so exclusive club of fast targa drivers who haven’t finished. I’m thinking Glenney, Morton, Sher, Meletepoulo, Fengels, Seymour etc. Not bad company really.
And so with all these things there’s always an upside, and with new front and rear clams on the way we will have a change of colour on the car and it’ll feel like a new one. But the big win is the navigator (who did a fantastic job btw) telling me on Monday to “get the car fixed asap” just in case we can do High Country and then adding “we’re not going back to GT Sports, it’s much better in the outright class”. Beauty, I say.