In a third and final day of high drama Auckland pair Steve Kirk-Burnnand and co-driver Mike Hay (BMW 318ti) were gifted the win in the Targa Hawke’s Bay tarmac motor rally which finished in Havelock North on Sunday afternoon.
Heading into the final 37.34km Argyle Rd/Raukawa Rd stage on the way back to Havelock North former Targa New Zealand event winners Martin Dippie and co-driver Jona Grant (Porsche 991 GT3 RS) from Dunedin enjoyed a 3 min 20.7 lead over Kirk-Burnnand and Hay.
Earlier in the event Nic De Waal and Shane Reynolds had set the pace in De Waal’s Subaru Impreza WRX though at the start of the final day their margin over Dippie and Grant Porsche was just 17.5 seconds.
That was halved after today’s first stage, and reduced again as the De Waal Subaru’s engine went off song, and Dippie and Grant assumed a lead it looked like they would never lose in the third stage.
For their part Steven Kirk-Burnnand and Mike Hay brought both speed and consistency to the event and though they only won one stage outright they were in the right place at the right time when Dippie ran off the road in the final stage.
To their credit Dippie and Grant still had enough of a time buffer to end up second overall and retain their Class 6 (2WD) lead despite earning a maximum stage time for the final ill-fated run through Argyll and Raukawa Rds
Dippie and Grant were not the only high profile pair to end their event off the road either. Earlier in the day top local pair Ivan Knauf and Trevor Corbin (Subaru Impreza WRX) crashed out of fourth place on the very first stage from Waimarama back to Havelock North, while later on Tauranga pair Simon and Sita Clark (BMW M3) lost what looked like a sure spot in the top six with a similar car-bending off in the fourth stage.
One of the pre-event favourites, Mitsubishi Evo 9 pair Jason Gill and Duncan Robinson from Auckland didn’t even make it that far, their event ending with a roll on Saturday.
In fact the make-up of the final top ten bore little resemblance to that at the end of the first and second days.
Though he was out of overall contention after various mechanical issues on the first and second days of the event, Targa event stalwart Clark Proctor and co-driver Sue O’Neill ended up winning most of today’s stages in Proctor’s Nissan R35 GT-R.
Because they had lost so much time on the first two days they were never in overall contention (eventually finishing 37th outright) but Proctor was the quickest through the last five stages to tie with Dippie and Grant for the second highest number of stage wins behind De Waal.
Third overall after one of their best – and definitely most consistently quick – Targa events were Perth-based expat Robert Darrington and his co-driver David Abetz in Darrington’s supercharged BMW M3. Fourth was Targa event returnee Mike Tubbs and co-driver Mike Vincent, both from Hamilton, the pair enjoying an almost perfect debut run in Tubbs’ new BMW M2.
With the demise of the Gill/Robinson Mitsubishi Evo 9 on Saturday, and both the De Waal/Reynolds and Knauf/Corbin Subarus today, Auckland pair David Rogers and Aidan Kelly were first 4WD entrants home (and Class 10 winners) in fifth place in Rogers’ Mitsubishi Evo 10, two-and-a-half minutes ahead of the Class 9 (Production 4WD) winning Subaru Impreza WRX of Christchurch ace Rory Callaway who had his Dad Stewart reading the notes.
Arguably the best drive from a Targa event rookie came from Auckland Toyota dealer Haydn McKenzie who with mate Matthew Sayers on co-driver duty finished seventh overall and won Class 4 on debut in McKenzie’s Toyota 86.
Finally, in true Targa spirit Classic class stalwarts Mark and his father Chris Kirk-Burnnand from Wellington didn’t let a broken throttle cable slow their BMW ME30 M3 down for long today.
Class rivals Mark McCaughan and Lindsay Lyons (Mercedes 190e 2.3-16) were able to catch and briefly take the class lead while Mark and Chris used a jury-rigged cable until they could replace it at the lunchtime service at Waipukurau.
Once the throttle cable was re-fixed though normal service resumed with the Kirk-Burnnands re-taking the class lead and ending up tenth overall.
Targa New Zealand events are organised by the Ultimate Rally Group with the support of sponsors AndrewSimms.co.nz, Chicane Racewear, Global Security, HW Richardson Group, Invercargill Licensing Trust, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, Race4Life Trust, Racetech, TeamTalk, TrackIt, and Writeraze.
For more information go to www.targa.co.nz or check out the Targa NZ page on Facebook.
2018 Targa Hawke’s Bay Taupo-Havelock North Fri-Sun May 18-20 2018
Overall Top 10
1. Steven Kirk-Burnnand/Mike Hay (BMW 318ti) 3:32:07.0
2. Martin Dippie/Jona Grant (Porsche 991 GT3 RS) :33:40.2 (+1:33.2)
3. Robert Darrington/David Abetz (BMW M3) 3:36:00.8 (+3:53.8)
4. Mike Tubbs/Mike Vincent (BMW 325i Coupe) 3:37:40.0 (+5:33.0) +1:39.2
5. David Rogers/Aidan Kelly (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10) 3:38:35. (+6:28.0) +0:55.0
6. Rory & Stewart Callaway (Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) 3:41:18.7 (+9:11.7) +2:43.7
7. Hayden McKenzie/Matthew Sayers (Toyota 86) 3:43:32.8 (+11:25.8) +2:14.1
8. Graeme Wong/Kim Blatchley (Subaru Impreza Sti) 3:43:59.3 (+11:52.3) +0:26.5
9. Jeremy Friar Nick Chibnall-West (BMW E46 Compact) 3:44:47.4 (+12:40.4) +0:48.1
10. Mark & Chris Kirk-Burnnand (BMW M3) 3:45:11.1 (+13:04.1) +0:23.7
11. Mark McCaughan/Lindsay Lyons (Mercedes 190e 2.3-16) 3:45:32.3 +13:25.3 +0:21.2
To talk to Targa Event Director Peter Martin tel 0-9-298 8322 or 0274 525 643.
To get in touch with event media man Ross MacKay from Fast Company tel 021 677 919 or e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org