RICHARDS AND OLIVER WIN THE SHANNONS CLASS IN THE 2014 TARGA HIGH COUNTRY EVENT.
11 NOVEMBER 2014
In one of the toughest battles in the 22 years that the team of Jim Richards and Barry Oliver have been competing in tarmac rallies the Shannons duo have taken out the Showroom class of Targa High Country in the Porsche Cayman S.
In what proved to be a David and Goliath fight the team had to hold off the new 640 horsepower supercharged Chevrolet Corvette of Queenslanders Neil Ford and Colin Maher but in the final analysis the Porsche crossed the line with an eleven second gap to win.
The revamped three day event covered 22 stages over 280 competitive kilometres and was run in the Mt Buller ,Mansfield ,Eildon and Whitfield areas in Victoria with over 200 entries participating in the very hot conditions.
The new stages on day one proved to be a challenge for the competitors who found some sections of the roads to be very bumpy and requiring a more conservative approach to minimise the chance of going off.
At the end of the day the gap was just six seconds in favour of the Shannons Porsche but with the eight stage second day consisting of very fast flowing roads it was expected that the left hand drive Corvette would come into its own against the 320 horsepower Cayman.
Not only did they make up the deficit they but opened up a leading gap of ten seconds to throw down the challenge for the tough eight stage third day.
However in all turned sow when the Corvette team made a mistake and spun shortly after starting the first stage on Sunday morning costing them over fourty seconds.
As a measure of how tight the battle was the two dissimilar cars recorded an identical time of 15-36 over the demanding 31 kilometre Big River stage which included some very fast high speed straights.
At lunch with four stages to go the gap was 42 seconds in favour of the Cayman but it was obvious the Queenslanders were going to make a big effort to claw back the time on the return journey of four stages.
They reduced the gap by 28 seconds in the first three stages over 50 kilometres and it all came down to the final 18 kilometre run up to the Mount Buller resort.
Their time of 10-32 was 23 seconds faster than what they did on day one but the Cayman team responded by recording a time of 10-35 to finish with 11 seconds in hand.
Richards and Oliver were delighted with the result following on from their success of winning the Showroom class in Targa West in August.
“It was a great fight with Neil and Colin which we really enjoyed and there is no doubt we will have a tough fight on our hands when we meet again in Targa Tasmania next year”. said Richards.
With new cars mooted for the two wheel drive Showroom class ,which is for cars with very limited modifications permitted, Richards and Oliver are expecting the opposition to only get tougher.
“The car was amazing and I couldn’t be happier with the performance. We are allowed to make changes to the springs and shock absorbers and I can improve the car to ride the bumpy sections better”. said Richards.
The next event on the calendar for Richards will be this weekend at Phillip Island where he will be defending his Touring Car Pro Masters title in the Shannons Falcon Sprint.