Targa Newfoundland competitors will shift into high gear today

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With the formalities of opening ceremonies, practice sessions and car shows out of the way, 40 cars will tear away from the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay this morning as the 12th annual Targa Newfoundland gets underway.

Five-year-old Michael Chambers leans on a 1965 Ford Mustang GT during a Targa Newfoundland car show at the Jack Byrne Arena Sunday evening. His mom said Mustangs are Michael’s favourite car. Many of the cars being used in the Targa Newfoundland were on display for the general public.

The five-leg rally, one of just three internationally recognized Targa motorsports events in the world, will cover 2,000-plus kilometres of roads — including up to 450km of closed-road stages — in the eastern and central portions of the province over the next five days.

After leaving the metro region, the first stage runs out of Conception Harbour/Colliers and continues with stages in Marysvale, Sunnyside, North West Brook, Gooseberry Cove, and Port Blandford before finishing the day in Gander.

Racers will spend Tuesday navigating their way around Central Newfoundland in Leg 2, with Wednesday’s Leg 3 featuring Targa’s first ever run up the Bonavista Peninsula. Thursday, the event returns to the Burin Peninsula for Leg 4, with Leg 5 starting in from Marystown and ending on the St. John’s waterfront on Friday evening.

Numbers might be down slightly from years past — 43 cars raced last year, following a 53-competitor field in for the 10th annual race in 2011 — but there’s still a strong field of racers, including a number of past winners.

The modern division features St. John’s racers Matthew and Brian Oldford in their 2008 Subaru Legacy, back-to-back champs with category wins in 2010 and 2011. They’ll be challenged by the likes of American team Dan and Tina Aweida in their 2008 Ford Mustang FR500S, and Stan Hartling of the Turks and Caicos in his 2006 Lotus Exige with Andry Proudfoot of Gander in the co-driver seat.

Jim Kenzie, from the TSN automotive show “Motoring” and one of Canada’s most respected automotive journalist, returns with Brian Bourbonnierre from Nova Scotia to compete in a Kia Optima. The Quebec team of Jacques Dehaies and Guy McKenzie is also expected to be in the mix in their Kia Forte Koup.

A small classic division field, for cars up to model year 1981, features the experienced Targa team of Chip Brunner and Mark Laitenberger in a 1965 Ford Mustang GT and the United Kingdom team of Ben Gill and Dave Didcock in a 1978 Ford Escort. There’s also the Canadian team of Edison and Margo Wiltshire in their 1979 Porsche 911.

The Grand Touring competition is set to be a rematch between three of the top teams from last year’s race. John Hume returns to defend his title, but this year will race in a new MINI GP with Justin Crant of Paradise, who won the open division as a co-driver for Bauline’s Paul Dyer last year. They’ll be challenged by the Ontario team of Jon Riddell and Briar DeLange in their 2008 BMW 135i and Craig MacMullen of Nova Scotia and Justin Russell, a Mount Pearl native who won the class in 2011 with Crant.

For information about the race — including road closures, safety precautions, spectator information and stage-by-stage results — visit targanewfoundland.com.

Organizations: Burin Peninsula for Leg 4

Geographic location: Marysvale, Sunnyside, North West Port Blandford Newfoundland Nova Scotia Marystown Canada Quebec United Kingdom Ontario Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • starr
    September 16, 2013 - 12:21

    Targa is a ridiculous event - roads through communities closed, children having to come home early from school, people having to change medical appointments, not to mention having the road closed in the event of an emergency. An immediate stop should be put to it.

    • Tismeby
      September 16, 2013 - 14:38

      While we are at it lets stop Christmas parades, Rememberence Day parades, road construction, Telly 10, etc. which also impose on road access!! Just because you obviouly do not appreciate motorsports, that does not mean everyone dislikes it!!

    • sunny
      September 19, 2013 - 16:19

      Wow! The Grinch Who Stole Christmas! This is an awesome event bringing people and communities together, enjoying the company of friends old and new. This event brings much revenue to Newfoundland as well. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the residents of these communities given lots of forewarning regarding road closures? Maybe you should step out and meet some of the people enjoying this event. It might lighten your mood a little!