Targa Rally to be based in Otago-Southland

Targa Rally on Highcliff Rd, Otago Peninsiula, in 2014. Photo: John Fridd
Targa Rally on Highcliff Rd, Otago Peninsiula, in 2014. Photo: John Fridd
The wide open and smooth roads of the South are one of the major drawcards in attracting the Targa Rally to Otago and Southland later this year.

It was announced this week the rally, which is in its 24th year, will be based in the South, starting in Invercargill before going through to Dunedin and then finishing in Queenstown and Central Otago. It will run on October 23-27.

The rally, which takes place on tarmac, was last in this neck of the woods in 2014. Targa rally media and marketing communications manager Paul Shanahan said many of the competitors were keen to come south. They liked the wide open roads and the scenery.It had been mainly based in the North Island where many of the competitors were from but the pull of the South was too much to ignore, Shanahan said.

There are three categories in the race. The first is a a competition grade, which is for race-prepared competition rally cars, mostly driven by seasoned race car drivers who have many years of rally and track racing experience. Some are former national champions.

The tour car category is available to unmodified road-registered performance cars. The Targa tour was originally created to allow drivers to drive vehicles through closed roads in a managed environment where there is no opposing traffic at high speed.

They travel along the same route as the competition category vehicles, including the closed road sections at speed on both sides of the road.

For the first time in Targa’s history a vintage car category has been included.

There will be 600km of special stages and 1400km of touring stages. The exact stages are yet to be finalised but many will be spectator friendly.

The event will start at the Bill Richardson Transport World complex in Invercargill and will be raced on roads away from State Highway 1 but still in good condition.

The field is set at 200 cars and Shanahan said they were not far away from that.

Interest came from all over the world. Just this week two drivers from Canada confirmed their entries.

Every one of the 200 rally cars would have two or three vehicles in support so all up there would be 600 people involved.

The race would deliver significant economic benefits right across the region during a period traditionally regarded as a shoulder tourist season, Shanahan said.

The cars will arrive in Dunedin late on October 24 and will race around the Dunedin area the following day before heading inland on October 26. On the final day of the rally, more racing will be carried out in the Queenstown-Lakes area before heading to the Highlands Motorsport Park to finish.

There will be a prize giving in Queenstown on October 28 to finish the event.

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