2007 - Tony does it again.

Tony Sullens & Julia Barkley, winners 2007Running his MY99 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type "RA" Tony Sullens again beat the Porsches of Targa stalwarts Jim Richards and Tony Quinn. The car built to minimise weight, and maximise performance with incredible brakes, allowed Tony Sullens and Julia Barkley (nee Rabbett) to take control form the outset.

Other Success!

MRT also tuned the 1st Mitsubishi EVO home, driven by Budget rental car owner, Peter Brown. Earlier in the event MRT's other leading EVO of Martin Higgins was up to 8th outright, prior to showing too much enthusiasm over the rail crossing in the town of Ross, he cracked the gear case and DNF'd.

Simon BartterAnother car built totally by MRT, Simon Bartter and Ian Wheeler in their Steggles Chicken's Impreza STI (MY05) over come a 5 minute penalty, to come 24th overall, without this they would have been in the top ten.

Angus Kennard and Simon Officer in their MY02 STi also finished strong, this was after a horrific accident in 2006 where the team had a big accident and almost wrote off the car. MRT fully rebuilt the car and they completed the event with 100% success

Other good results were: Richard Kimber and Brian OKane in their rapid R32 Nissan Skyline, MRT supported and managed their Targa servicing and got them to the finish and Dylan Thomas in their EVO 9 with also a strong result.

EVO 9 of Dylan ThomasFor more info on how MRT can help you be a winner or just have some fun at Targa or the track or more, contact us now.

Success Passes On

Steven RichardsWhen Steven Richards saw his fathers Targa Tasmania winning record fall, he realised that the winning car must be special! So he bought it! 4 weeks after Targa winner Tony Sullens and Juila Rabbett broke the 7 year winning Porsche record in their MRT enhanced Subaru WRX STi Limited edition S202, Steven Richards was the the new owner and arranging for it to freight back to MRT Performance in preparation for his trip to New Zealand.

Steven, well known for his V8 Success www.stevenrichards.com.au chose MRT because of the recommendation of its original owner, and its tuning success. Using products like, Hyperflow intercoolers, EcuTeK ECU tuning software and their own brand of parts, the car was set for for a unique upgrade that would set it in a good position to defend its winning history, yet in another country!

The challenge was set, fit a 34mm restrictor and then re gain the lost power back to the same performance level as it won the Tasmania event (without restrictor) MRT Performance met the challenge with vigor, and actually achieved a higher level of torque! The only "limit" was the same as the previous owner, it must be reliable.

The mods:

  • Targa Tassy spec, limits the car to be 'Showroom Stock" or often referred as Group N (but no restrictor).
  • Targa NZ Spec is more based on Kw/kg, to try to "level" the entrants.
  • A 34 mm restrictor was fitted (as per rules) and this effectively reduced the inlet dia by 30%

To regain the lost power the following was fitted:

November 2004 - Targa New Zealand

"Too say the last couple of weeks has been fraught would be an understatement. From the Gillette V8 Supercars on the Gold Coast one minute, jumping on a plane to get to Sydney then onto an International connection to Auckland NZ for Targa in my Supercheap Auto backed Subaru WRX STI, with regular rally co driver Gerry Bashford. Things have never been busier. But to take it back a further step!

Targa NZ regs work for all cars on a power to weight formula. All cars must have a power to weight ratio between 4.5 kilograms per kilowatt and 5.5 kg/kW. If they don’t, you can apply for a weight reduction to meet the criteria. That is unless you are driving a Subaru WRX or Mitsubishi Evo. So the Rex ended up 6.1 kw/hp. In the lead up, in fact on the Saturday of Indy, the organizers decide in their wisdom, that my Rex must add 40 kg of weight, because they felt it was a potential hotrod. In the end I convinced them that I would run the extra weight, provided they review it after the first day. There seemed to be powers working against us and we had not even driven the car!

So who is the competition I hear you ask. Tony Quinn/Keith Wenn/Porsche Turbo, winner of Targa NZ last year, NZ rally legend, Neil Allport/Mitsubishi EVO 8, and none other than dad Jim/Barry Oliver/Porsche GT3. Of course there are many local contenders driving all sorts of wonderful contraptions. One being an original ex works Peugeot T16 205 Group B Rally car.

Due to obvious Castrol Formula R V8 Supercar commitments on the Gold Coast, we were unable to contest the pre event prologue held on the Sunday. The prologue is a short competitive stage about 3 km in length used to determine starting positions for the 6 days of competitive stages. Cars run from slowest to fastest at 30 second intervals, between 8 – 10 competitive stages per day for 6 days. Total competitive distance is 900 km over 6 days on bitumen.

The Supercheap Auto Rex had a seeding of 196, which meant we were the 196th car to start the day’s events. This is also a blind rally which means you must drive the event with a blind fold! Wrong. It means there are no pace notes allowed. The organizers do not release the route until pre event paperwork takes place. This means you cannot drive the course and get notes on stages that tell you which way the corners go and prepare you for ditches, drops and crests. In other words this event is driven by sight, although some of the stages are in some of the NZ rally championship tarmac rounds, so some local competitors are at a small advantage on their local roads.

So how did we travel? Day one was a long day. After arriving into Auckland at 1 am Monday morning, the alarm was set for 6.30am. There were 9 stages totaling 180 km, starting in Auckland and heading for New Plymouth, about 300 km south of Auckland on the West Coast of the North Island. Most stages on the day were an average of 17 km, except for the mammoth, longest stage of the event which was 53 km in length. The first few were a bit of a warm up, getting to know the roads and the car. This was the first time I had driven the Rex in anger! There were a couple of forgettable moments in the first couple, but mostly it all went to plan, with no near misses.

The biggest event of our day came when, while traveling on the longest stage of the day, a Toyota Lexus that had started directly ahead, crashed. The co driver was badly injured and we stopped to lend assistance. We were 27km into a 53 km stage. This meant we would receive a derived time equal to the pace of cars similar to us in the early stages. The rest of the day went incident free. We were very competitive on the last couple of stages, recording top 5 times. Due to the accident we attended on the long stage, times for us were not available and Gerry and I had no idea of where we were placed at the end of day one.

Day 2 started in New Plymouth and ended in New Plymouth. Most of the stages on day 2 incorporated stages from the local Taranaki tarmac rally, so some of the local contingent had good knowledge of the layout. It was a tough day. Many of the stages had blind crests, which for those that knew, meant big amounts of time to be gained. In the first couple we dropped around 45 seconds to the leaders, but after that we were very competitive, taking some time back off Neil Allport and even matching Dad in the last!

Day 3 got underway from New Plymouth to Palmerston North. Palmerston Nth is also the home to the Manfield Racing circuit which would be used for the last stage of the day on entering Palmerston. Surprisingly for this time of the year, there had not been one drop of rain. Usually it would be easy to assume that in this part of the world, rain would be a given, and for the Supercheap Auto Rex an added advantage. Both Gerry and I realized early, that our choice of tyre could be a problem. The reason was that the local bitumen surface was very abrasive, similar to how the old Barbagallo raceway surface used to be before this year. We had based our decision on the advice of the Dunlop guys in NZ. Of course last years event was not as long in distance. At the moment though tyre wear was not a problem. The day’s stages had been good for the Supercheap Auto crew. The Manfield circuit stage was where we should shine. It meant 3 ½ laps of the circuit. It went great, albeit for the oil on the windscreen from a 1963 Ford Thunderbird, apart from lacking a little vision, we set a very competitive time, but paid a price in tyre wear, particularly the fronts.
Targa NZ allows all competitors 6 tyres for the whole event. As the events major sponsor is Dunlop, everyone must use their product and a great product it is. Tyres must not carry any markings such as “for racing purposes only” so it must be a road going race tyre. Gerry and I were cycling tyres after each day, to keep wear even.

Day 4 was from Palmerston Nth on the West Coast across to Hastings on the east Coast. The Hawke’s Bay area where Hastings is located is renowned as a wine making area. The roads through this area were spectacular taking in some of the areas that suffered bad floods earlier in the year. At this stage we still had no idea of where we were in the results as we had not received our derived time from the downgraded day 1 stage where the accident was and one of our times had been classified incorrectly. We worked out we should have been running around in about 5th place, although the results showed us as 12th. Another interesting occurrence during the day was Angelo who was looking after the service vehicle suffered his own tyre drama in the Holden SS ute. He got a blow out traveling to our lunch stop on the day and was late into service. The last stage of the day was downgraded due to another accident.

Each night after the day’s stages there was an evening function where most competitors would eat and take in the days proceedings. Photos from the events and an up to date video from the day’s action were highlights. Each night was also a sobering reminder as too how, if not taken in the right light, these types of tarmac rallies while lots of fun can be extremely unforgiving. Many competitors take unnecessary risks with disastrous consequences. Still even after their incidents, most still have the composure to raise a smile and tell of their courageous survival tales.

Day 5 was a trek around the Hawke’s Bay area. With snow capped mountains in the background making an incredible setting, time did not allow for admiring the scenery. Finally the results were starting to come through corrected. The day had also seen me compete in my first gravel rally stage! It would seem as though some of the stages had not been course checked immediately prior to the event. As we pulled up for the second stage of the day, the instructions on the stage board from the Clerk of Course read to “obey all speed restrictions”. Interesting. Only 5 km into the 22 km stage we worked out what was going on. Major roadwork’s had commenced and the majority of the stage had been turned into gravel sections of around 3 km all of which were limited to 30 kmph. Yes that’s right 30 kmph! Funnily enough the stage was removed from the results. The rest of the day was terrific, although at the end of the day our tyres were in a bit of a state. Two were starting to fall apart and the other 4 were only just worthy.

We were holding down 5th position, only 12 seconds ahead of 6th position, but a full 3 and a half minutes ahead of 7th place. Up until this point in time the whole event had been dry. Day 6 was forecast to rain, and with the possibility of average conditions I decided to take two extra tyres and the three minute penalty that came along with it. It proved to be a good choice. Day 6 dawned dry, but threatening. Before we entered the first stage the heavens opened. Quite obviously many were in tyre difficulties as could be seen by the amount of cars off the road during the first wet stage. I think I counted 8 cars. The last day was great for the Rex. We placed in the top 7 on all the stages and were fastest on 3 of the 10 for the day. The style of the roads, coupled with the wet conditions really suited the Supercheap Auto Rex. I must admit to expecting that much of the event would be like this!

The event concluded in Wellington on Saturday afternoon. In the end we finished up in 5th position. We were pleased under the circumstances. It had been a long week; the car had been faultless and caused absolutely no problems. The tenth anniversary of Targa NZ had been taken out by none other than Jim and Baz in their Porsche GT3. Second position was Tony Quinn and Keith Wenn and third Anton and Anne Tallot from Auckland in their Mazda RX-7.

On the way back to Auckland we called into the Supercheap Auto store in Paraparaumu, North West of Wellington to sign some posters and chat to the locals. Then it was up to Taupo to take some Supercheap Auto competition winners for a few laps of the Taupo circuit in the Rex, take in some lunch, have a chat and sign some posters. A great afternoon was had by all and some loyal Supercheap Auto store customers were made for life!
So that was Targa NZ 2004. Cars were driven, stages were completed, lots of posters were autographed, tyres were worn and most walked away unscathed. A big thanks to everyone at Supercheap Auto that got behind this little project, both here in Australia and NZ. The comments I received about Supercheap Auto coming and saving the auto parts retailing industry were nothing but complementary. Also special mention must go to Castrol for their continued support and great Formula R product. Dunlop keeping us stuck to the road even on the gravel! Not too mention Brett Middleton and his team at MRT Performance in Sydney for tuning up the car. To Mark Tierney at Race Fuels for organizing our fuel supply and last but not least to our little team, co-driver Gerry Bashford and service crew Angelo Curic could not have done it without you guys."

All the best.
Steve Richards.

3rd May 2004 - Targa Tasmania Rally (7 year Porsche record broken)

TonySullens wins Targa,breaking 7 year Porsche recordDriving a Subaru Impreza STI S202, Sydney rally driver Tony Sullens has beaten Porsche driver Jim Richards to win the 2000 KM event.

The 38-year-old from Gosford began today's final leg from Burnie to Hobart second overall, 18-secs behind Richards, driving through hail, rain and snow he went on to win by 1-min 16-secs. With the exception of a indiscretion with a guide post on the Mt Arrowsmith Stage, Sullens still was fastest and managed to pass over ten cars!

Ambient temperature today was only approximately 1 degree Celsius on most stages, and this worked in favour of the many turbo cars, the added complication of snow even better for 4wd models!
Tasmanians Jason and John White were second in a Nissan Skyline, followed by Queensland's Tony Quinn in a Porsche 911. Richards finished fourth.

Driving on Kuhmo Tyres and tuned with EcuTeK software the limited edition Japanese model set a scorching pace that no one could equal on the final day.

The EcuTeK software interface allows tuners to re map the factory standard Subaru ECU without wire mods, additional chips or any other hardware modifications. "Its like we were at the factory choosing the settings we want" said Sydney businessman Brett Middleton. "We have found no limit of the software yet and Tony's car is testimony to that" he added.
The changes allow owners to benefit by choosing what they want, such as, more power, improved fuel economy, revised rev limit's and better drivability to name a few.

The team are also supported by Global Machinery Company (GMC Tools), Sunoco fuels, Mitre Ten Gosford and Andy Chris Cars Sales, Long Jetty.

More info refer to web site, www.targa.org.au  or reply the sender. +61 (0)2 9809 2110