JIM AND BARRY FINISH 8TH IN ULTRA COMPETITIVE TARGA HIGH COUNTRY
8 NOVEMBER 2016
Last weekend’s three day 18 stage Targa High Country event covering 280 competitive kilometres proved to be a tough assignment for Jim and co-driver Barry Oliver with the Shannons Porsche Cayman GT4 finishing 8th against crews that had the advantage of big horsepower.
Targa Tasmania winners Matt Close and Cameron Reeves fought off early challenges in their Porsche GT3 to win their second Targa High Country GT2 title and with a new GT3 RS due to be introduced for Targa Tasmania next year will be hoping to keep their winning streak going.
Second place went to Michael Pritchard and Nathan Walker in the Dodge Viper ACR with Craig Dean and Cate Catford third in the supercharged Shelby Mustang.
Day one consisted of six stages from Mt Buller to Euroa and back with four of the stages proving to be very fast but narrow and bumpy in places which favoured cars that were able to ride the bumps.
The Shannons Porsche finished the day in 8th position just 15 seconds behind the Lotus Exige 350 of Grant Denyer and Dale Moscatt but already the pace of the front runners had become obvious with Close/Reeves and Pritchard/Walker opening up a gap on the field.
Day two included more very fast stages at the end of which the Shannons Porsche was still in 8th but well clear of 9th placed Kim Burke and Neil Botha in the new Porsche GT3.
Up front the gap between the GT3 and the Viper was just one second but on day three Close/Reeves drew away to comfortably win by 59 seconds to the Viper.
The day included a run in each direction over a 40 kilometre course which teams agreed was by far the toughest on crew and car in all of the tarmac rallies contested.
“Co-drivers agreed that these two stages were the most physically and mentally demanding and required intense concentration to stay on the notes. There were countless turns and there was no respite for the crews as they tried to be fast but at the same time manage the tyres on the abrasive surface”. said Barry.
On the return run the tyres lost grip on the Shannons Porsche particularly on the front and Jim found it extremely difficult to get the car turned into the slower corners of which there were plenty.
“Because of the generation of heat the tyres also over inflated which made the problem worse and the only thing I could do was slow the car down going into the corners but then you lose corner and exit speed so it was very frustrating”. said Jim.
Overall the team was happy with the result bearing in mind that other teams are no doubt more committed to their notes and it shows in the times they were recording.
“After 24 years and 74 tarmac rallies together we have nothing to prove and so we drive at a pace that ensures our safety while still having a great time in a brilliant car”. said Jim.
On the Sunday morning the team emerged from the Hotel on top of the mountain to find the car completely covered with snow and roadway down to the village covered in icy slush.
Fortunately the Merimbah stage down the mountain was free of snow but still very wet and slippery and the team were very pleased to record the third fastest time over the eight kilometres. The rest of the day was fine.
Next tarmac event will be Targa Tasmania next April and the Shannons team will have a new Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Apart from Shannons the team is proudly supported by Adrenalin ,Leatherman Tools, Porsche and Dunlop.
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