Targa High Country – Tour February 2022
By Cris Johansen.
Having participated in my third TARGA now I can make a number of recommendations, the first is that everyone with a Lotus needs to enter at least one of these to experience driving in our cars on roads they were made for, at speeds that are only limited by the driver’s skill. The second recommendation is not to try and have repairs done on a Honda gearbox beforehand without lots of time to spare!
I’d initially entered the event in my S1 to take part in the TSD class, one that relies on the driver and navigator’s ability to consistently maintain the nominated time for each stage, however, a crack in the gearbox housing of my K20 Honda resulted in a search over all East Coast states for a replacement and ended up with Geoff Noble coming to the rescue with the necessary parts in his garage only 5km from my place. Another big thanks to Geoff!
By the time I managed to provide the parts it was clear that I was not going to get my S1 to Victoria in time, so I called Lotus Australia to enquire as to if I could have my long-awaited Cup 250 Final Edition delivered to Melbourne in lieu of Brisbane. Lotus Melbourne came to my aid and so I then had to call Targa HQ and ask them if I could make a late change from TSD to the Tour. Thanks to assistance on all fronts I flew to Melbourne and collected my new toy on the Thursday morning, picked up my brother/navigator Leigh, and took the Cup 250 on its maiden voyage through the Yarra Valley and up to Mansfield for documentation and scrutineering with the Lotus Australia / SSC team, who had taken over the bus depot for the afternoon.
Once the SSC team had finished, the car was fitted with the Rally Safe and covered with decals making it clear to everyone that the car is, in fact, a Lotus and that it is a participant in the THC.
The actual event started on Friday from the ski village at Mt Buller and, 21 competitive stages and ~1,000km later, finished with a sprint up the mountain once again. The Tour managed by SSC was divided into 3 categories, with Lotus drivers who wanted to drive as close to the 120kmh limit as possible at all times in one group, Lotus drivers who were content to simply enjoy the roads in a second and a mix of other marques in the third.
The roads are simply made for a Lotus, or as Mark O’Connor suggested, the Lotus is made for such roads. Regardless of which is correct, most of the participants had a great few days that they will remember for a long time. This event was my brother’s first entrée into motorsport and after holding his breath for most of the first stage down the mountain he decided that our cars could deal with the roads in ways that he had not previously thought possible and settled into enjoying the weekend.
In addition to the driving, the Tour provides a wonderful opportunity to meet others both inside and beyond the Lotus community as we shared 4 nights accommodation at the ski village and ate most meals together. We had the privilege of meeting quite a few new folk from across the county and the social side of the event is as much an enjoyable part of the great event as is the driving.
There were a couple of unfortunate incidents involving the Lotus group, the most entertaining being that the ‘fast’ group leader, Mark O’Connor, demonstrated the limit to his driving ability in front of the Mansfield onlookers by putting the Exige up on a kerb and being the butt of many comments for the rest of the event.
In summary, a fun event, well organised, in a part of the country that was a privilege to visit, great weather, great friends, loads of memories and great roads to wear out your Lotus on. My new Cup 250 is now run in!
Targa High Country 2022 and a record number of Lotus cars.
By Tony Seymour.
The weather really seems to set things up for Targa High country 2022. With a 2 day trip from Brissie towing the car in a borrowed Great Wall we arrived to stunning weather in Mansfield.
And just in case anyone’s thinking about it, don’t do it. In the Great Wall most things didn’t work, including the cruise control, the lane control and the dash functions like how many k’s you had left in the tank. Nonetheless we soldiered on and come to think of it cruise control wasn’t really needed cause flat out we could only do 115.
Back to the event, and Simply Sports Cars arrived on Wednesday along with 25 odd tour cars and another 11 competition cars. SSC were also running a General Tour and had around 100 people at the nightly dinners. With 15 SSC crew on hand the boys did a fantastic job of looking after us and at the same time exposed
the non-Lotus drivers to the Lotus lifestyle.
Friday Day 1 race day and wow, perfect weather! Made a change from the rain last year and the snow the year before that’s for sure. So with heart in mouth down the mountain we went, and a little tip for first timers. When doing a recce don’t look over the side. It’s a long way down and hitting a tree is probably your best option.
We then headed through Mansfield for another 6 stages before the final run up Mt Buller at days end. Day 1 was pretty good, the roads were reasonably smooth and fun to drive. All eyes were on the speed limited GT Sports Trophy class with 18 competitors and 7 Lotus.
At days end mere seconds separated the field with Lotus filling 7 of the top 8 positions, with a pesky WRX STI spoiling things otherwise. In GT Outright the 4 competitors were in positions 4/5/9/ and 14. A pretty good showing really as you’re up against some pretty expensive machinery and a lot of experience.
Day 2 brought the bumpy roads and save for the GT Sports Trophy guys the rest went backwards including one of the tour cars which actually did go backwards down the mountain. Fortunately those trees I mentioned did come into play and both were ok.
The day then culminated in the Mansfield Town Stage a favourite for Lotus and across all classes we filled 8 of the top 20 places.
Day 3 and with half the rally still to go it was on in GT Sports. Again the roads really suited Lotus and by days end the natural and proper order of things was restored. Lotus filled the first 7 positions! Surely a record at any Targa Event.
So here are the 7 competitors and the 7 placings. Congrats to Matt and Tim on their win and a special well done to Laura and Gavin on their first event in the Lotus.
In Gt Outright Vanderpoel/Hilton had tyre trouble on Day 2 and another mechanical on Day 3 ultimately putting them out and allowing ourselves and the Cuthberts to tie in 5th place. And another special well done to the Ringuet’s on their first time in the open class. It is a little daunting and easing into it is the only way to go. Believe me I found out the hard way.
So in summary a fantastic event well supported by SSC and a very enthusiastic tour class. And my advice remains the same. Just do it.