Targa Newfoundland returns to full throttle in Leg 3

Kenn Oliver
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All 10 stages of Targa Newfoundland’s third leg went off without a hitch on Wednesday.

Driver Dave Pledger of British Columbia, with co-driver Robin Willett of Nevada, works the corner hard, but keeps their 1971 Ford Escort Mark V1 between the fenceposts Wednesday in Trinity during the third leg of Targa Newfoundland.


The same couldn’t be said for an abbreviated second leg on Tuesday. After a brief meet-and-greet session in Appleton, the drivers made their way back to Gander for the final two stages of the day,  which where to start at 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., respectively.

Targa organizers initially thought they would have close to 90 volunteers, the majority of whom would serve as course marshals. However, only about 60  were available at the start time for the second-last stage.

After a 6:15 p.m. deadline to muster up additional volunteers had passed, Targa made the decision to cancel both evening stages due to safety concerns.

“Driving at dusk with fans on both sides, especially in Gander, is a major safety issue,” explained Targa media spokesperson Darren Sheppard.

“If we don’t have enough people to make sure people are behind the lines or not on the corners, it becomes a double issue.”

Fans who lined Gander streets were instead treated to a parade of vehicles as they made their way back to the Gander Community Centre for a car show.

To ensure the same issue didn’t  occur during the evening stage of Wednesday’s Leg 3, Sheppard said Targa was able to re-use volunteer marshals.

“We had enough of our own volunteers pooled from other communities,” he said. “Once they did one community stage, they went to the next.”

Sheppard added volunteer shortages are not expected to be an issue for the rest of the event.

Debut on the Bonavista Peninsula

Wednesday’s leg marked the first time Targa made its way on to the Bonavista Peninsula, with stages run out of communities such as Brooklyn, Trinity, Goose Cove, New Bonaventure, Port Rexton and Lethbridge.

“The welcome was ecstatic,” Sheppard said. “The crowds were big, the competition was great, the scenery was breathtaking and the competitors just loved it.

“Next year, hopefully, we’ll go out towards Bonavista fully, but this was a good test run and we couldn’t be happier.”

Sheppard did agree that racing on unfamiliar roads offered a new challenge to some of the seasoned racers, especially in Trinity, with its  “houses almost right on the street with picket fences” and in New Bonaventure, with its “winding turns, hills, dips in the road.”

“On a new road, even for the competitors who have done it a few times, you have to rely on your co-driver. You’ve got to have great communication and today, that was evident as pretty well every competitor had a really good run on those stages.”

Sheppard was also able to release the identity of the drivers who flipped their car in Monday’s first leg as the American father-daughter team of Don and Skye Sawyer. Don Sawyer, who was the driver, was removed from the 2006 Mini Cooper S wreck with the Jaws of Life. Both were sent to hospital for observation and were later released.

With the Mini Cooper a write-off, the team used the family Volkswagen to get back in the race in the Grand Touring division, although officially, they will still be listed among the modern division competitors.

“They can drive without pressure and just have fun,” Sheppard said.

Leg 4 begins in Clarenville this morning, with the cars bound for the Burin Peninsula, where there will be  stages in Boat Harbour, Burin, Frenchman’s Cove and Marystown. The race concludes Friday evening in downtown St. John’s.





Targa Newfoundland standings after Leg 3

Modern division

Pos.    Car No.    Driver/Co-Driver    Vehicle

1    17    Aweida/Aweida    Ford Mustang FR500S    0:00:19    0:00:19

2    9    Hume/Bartlett    BMW M3    0:01:14    0:00:56

3    803    Mephem/Solecki    Mini Cooper S JCW    0:01:33    0:01:26

4    515    Melendy/Lorenzen    Chevrolet Camaro    0:03:28    0:02:11

5    888    Hartling/Proudfoot    Lotus Exige    0:06:58    0:06:54

6    886    Robbins/Tymchuk    Ford Sierra Cosworth    0:07:27    0:03:42

7    99    Kenzie/Bourbonniere    Kia Optima EX Turbo    0:08:44    0:02:55

8    715    Oldford/Oldford    Subaru WRX STI    0:10:13    0:10:13

9    233    Rittenhouse/Semrad    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo    0:10:33    0:10:31

10    21    Deshaies/McKenzie    Kia Forte Koup SX    0:13:09    0:02:44

11    373    Sawyer/Sawyer    Volkswagen Golf    0:24:24    0:10:31

Classic division

Driver/Co-Driver    Vehicle    Leg 1    Overall

1    54    Gill/Didcock    Ford RS1800 Escor    0:00:03    0:00:03

2    369    Rogers/Strupp    Ford Mustang    0:05:52    0:05:42

3    324    Brunner/Laitenberg    Ford Mustang GT    0:10:15    0:03:12

4    411    Wiltshire/Wiltshitre    Porsche 911    0:13:20    0:08:12

Open division

Driver/Co-Driver    Vehicle    Leg 1    Overall

1    555    Davenport/Benson    Subaru WRX    0:00:16    0:00:15

2    815    Atkinson/Tarrant    Acusubishi ra Integra    0:01:25    0:01:07

3    80    Hiscott/Cline Abrahams    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo    0:01:29    0:01:13

4    709    Howard/Kelland    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo    0:03:50    0:01:56

5    13    Georgiadis/Georgiadis    Subaru STI    0:07:15    0:04:30

6    902    Waterman/Waterman    Subaru WRX    0:08:49    0:01:20

7    11    Bergeron/Kirby    Subaru STI    0:15:31    0:09:47

8    302    Pledger/Willett    Ford Escort Mark IV    0:19:01    0:03:53

Grand Touring division

Driver/Co-Driver    Vehicle    Leg 1    Overall

1    1042    McDonald/Fuller    Audi A6    0:00:22    0:00:22

1    1333    MacMullen/Russell    Mini Countryman JCW    0:00:37    0:00:37

1    1135    Riddell/DeLange    BMW 135i    0:00:42    0:00:42

1    1984    Bartlett/Picco    Porsche 944 Turbo    0:00:49    0:00:49

1    1706    Trickett/Trickett    Audi S4    0:00:56    0:00:56

1    1002    DaSilva/Austin    MG B    0:09:43    0:05:55

6    1888    Hume/Crant    BMW 335is    0:25:16    0:11:28

Organizations: Gander Community Centre, Volkswagen, Grand Touring division

Geographic location: Gander, Bonavista, New Bonaventure Brooklyn Goose Cove Port Rexton Lethbridge Clarenville Boat Harbour Marystown

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