The 2017 Targa New Zealand event’s traditionally tough third day brought drama from one end of the field to the other today. Runaway leader Glenn Inkster and co-driver Spencer Winn had an early scare when a turbo manifold broke in the 44.7km Otewa stage in the morning, handing the win (in that stage) to arch-rivals Chris West and his co-driver Chris Cobham (Mitsubishi Evo 10).
Inkster’s crew was able to replace the manifold at the lunch time service at Te Kuiti but in doing so ran over time with Inkster and Winn copping a further 40 second penalty for arriving four minutes late at the start of the next stage, the marathon 47.53km Kawhia Harbour one.
Being nine minutes late to the start of Stage 13 also cost Global Security Allcomers 2WD class standout Robert Darrington and David Abetz (BMW M3) dearly, their minute-and-a-half penalty dropping them to seventh overall.
Further down the field Mike Lowe and co-driver were also slowed by turbo issues in event stalwart Lowe’s Fiat Abarth.
With the day’s other marquee stage, the 35.98km Awakino following immediately on from Kawhia Harbour the day was always going to be about consistency. And speed.
A determined Glen Inkster showed both, rebuilding the advantage he had (overall and in the AndrewSimms.co.nz Allcomers 4WD class) over West and Cobham, Nic De Waal and Shane Reynolds (Subaru Impreza WRX) and the Jason Gill/Mark Robinson Mitsubishi to a minute 45 by day’s end in New Plymouth.
Steve Kirk-Burnnand and co-driver Mike Hay from Auckland continued to set the pace for 2WD cars in Kirk-Burnnand’s BMW 318ti Compact and head into tomorrow’s stages form New Plymouth to Palmerston North leading the Global Security Allcomers 2WD class and in fifth place overall.
Dunedin pair Martin Dippie and Jona Grant are sixth overall and lead the Global Security Production 2WD class.
It remains incredibly close, meanwhile, in Metalman Classic, with Mark Kirk-Burnnand and his co-driving father Chris (BMW M3) from Wellington wresting the lead back off Toyota Corolla AE86 pair Rob Ryan and Paul Burborough, though at day’s end – and after 164km of closed special stage racing – the margin was just eight seconds!
Leg four tomorrow promises another 168kms of special stages including a run into then back out from Whangamomona before the final overnight stop of this year’s event at Palmerston North.
Targa New Zealand events are organised by the Ultimate Rally Group with the support of sponsors AndrewSimms.co.nz, Chicane Racewear, Ecolight, Global Security, Kids In Cars, Metalman.co.nz, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, Racetech, TeamTalk, TrackIt, VTNZ and Writeraze.
For more information go to www.targa.co.nz or check out the Targa NZ ‘the Ultimate Road Race’ page on Facebook.