Targa Tasmania 2016
Matt Close wins, Jim Richards third in Targa Tasmania
Porsche Centre Melbourne driver Matt Close and co-driver Cameron Reeves have taken a resounding victory in Australia’s premier tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania, driving a Porsche 911 GT3, while rally veterans Jim Richards and Barry Oliver claimed an impressive third in their Porsche Cayman GT4.
Close and Reeves concluded the tarmac rally six minutes and 41 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals, though the battle at the front of the premier GT2 class was far more intense for the majority of the six-day event.
Close was battling with rival Jason White’s Dodge Viper ACR Extreme across the opening four days, though White’s exit from the rally on the penultimate day handed the Porsche 911 GT3 a nine minute lead entering the final day.
The last day of competition was not without issues for Close, who managed to claim his first Targa Tasmania victory in his 12th attempt.
“I’ve tried for a long time and it’s quite surreal to actually win the event. I’m so proud to win the 25th Targa Tasmania, which had the biggest field ever,” said Close.
“The plan was to keep the pressure on Jason White in the Viper and we were closely matched throughout; before he retired I’d won eight stages and he’d won 10. We just had to keep the pressure on him and, after he retired, we had an unassailable lead. We actually got a puncture on one of the final stages, which was a bit stressful, but we were able to overcome that and take the rally win.
“The car was phenomenal; it never missed a beat. The 911 GT3 was an absolute weapon. A lot of people here couldn’t believe that it had stock suspension, stock tyres, stock everything. It’s an unbelievable car.”
Seven-time Targa Tasmania winner Richards and co-driver Oliver finished in third in the Porsche Cayman GT4; Richards suggesting consistency was the key to his podium result.
“I thought finishing in the top half a dozen would be a great result because our car was pitted against the GT3, which has around 100 horsepower difference, and the Viper, which has about 300 more horsepower, so I didn’t expect to finish were we did, that’s for sure,” said Richards.
“We couldn't have wished for a better result. The car ran faultlessly and we didn’t take the wheels off it; we didn’t even check the oil. We just gave it a wash and went out for dinner. And it’s virtually the same spec as when I picked it up off Porsche out of the showroom.”
Porsche had a significant presence at the Targa Tasmania event, with the Porsche Targa Tour featuring 65 Porsches that allowed customers the chance to tour each stage of the Tasmanian rally ahead of the competition cars.
Not only was this an unforgettable experience for Porsche customers, rally leader Close appreciated the extra support.
“We had the biggest cheer squad from the Porsche Targa Tour. We fronted up in Strahan there were 60-odd Porsches lined up and every other competitor had to drive past my fan club. It was great having the additional support.”
Final results of Targa Tasmania - Wrest Point GT2
1. Matt Close/Cameron Reeves, 2015 Porsche 911 GT3,
2. Michael Pritchard/Gary Mourant, 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, +6m41s
3. Jim Richards/Barry Oliver, 2015 Porsche Cayman GT4, +11m18s