The famous drop in the Natone Hills
The Yokohama Advan-shod Evolution VI of Samantha Stevens and codriver husband Daniel Lemish has taken the Australian Targa Championship title in the vast Early Modern category for the second time in three years during a wet and wild Targa Tasmania.Fog and rain clouding Cradle Mountain
Held last month on April 17 – 22, Targa Tasmania’s six-day, five-leg event is renowned for inclement weather and mechanical hardship, and in its 21st year it certainly put man, woman and machine to the test with the longest course ever run in the event’s history: 600 competitive kilometres and 1800km of touring in between, with nearly 60 per cent of the course being either reversed or totally new.
In an amazing display of skill and speed, the Early Modern competitors crept into the top ten and even claimed outright stage wins during the event.The Longford street stage. For the history buffs, this was the home of the 1958 and 1965 Australian Grand Prix
The hotly contested category was taken out by Targa veterans Jeff and Nerida Beable in a Skyline R34 GTR, who overcame a slipping clutch and maintain their lead over the Mitsubishi EVO 6.5 of New Zealand entrants Danny Stutterd and Richard Scoular.
Samantha, who drove with some conservatism in order to claim her second national championship title, was thrilled to finish in third place and 17th outright from 260 entrants - the podium placing proving to be the icing on the cake.
“Targa Tasmania is a tough event to finish, let alone finish well, and particularly in the older cars with such speed and so many kilometres to cover,” she said.“This year I have set a record as the first woman to win a national rally event outright, and to finish off the Targa season with a podium champagne spray and a second Championship title for myself and codrivers Daniel and Claire Ryan (rounds one and two) is simply fantastic; a dream come true.”
Samantha contends that the medium compound Yokohama Advan A050 R-spec tyres
were key to her success in the changing, tricky conditions over the week-long event.
“We were helped in part by new rules allowing eight tyres this year as nearly one hundred more competitive kays were added, but we have come away with almost an entirely new set at the finish. Admittedly, it rained for around two-thirds of the event, but our fastest stage came on the third-last competitive run with week-old rear tyres amid a total deluge. From the first corner, the ADVAN A050s
are there, offering the confidence to hang on and push harder. We came away with first in Early Modern and fourth outright on that stage, sealing the podium and the title.
“When it’s the only thing between you and the 600km of competition, it has to be bloody tough, grippy, and constant. We got that with the A050s.”
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