Mike Stevens | Apr 30, 2009

Queensland’s Tony Quinn has established himself at the head of the modern class after day one of Australia’s premier tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania.

Quinn was quickest across the opening day’s nine stages, building a six second lead over Tassie local (and former Targa champ) Jason White, while prologue winner Jim Richards was a further two seconds behind.

Racing a 2008 Nissan GTR, Quinn built his slender lead during the penultimate 11 kilometre stage in Sheffield, finishing four seconds clear of White’s Lamborghini, while Richards was fifth quickest in his Porsche 911 GT2.

2009 Targa Tasmania Porsche 911 GT2 Jim Richards

Quinn was thrilled to end the day on top of the leader board, believing the result leaves him well-placed to challenge for victory should the forecast rain arrive.

“The day has been fantastic,” he said.

“Our strategy was to keep with the leaders until the rain comes, and then to see what we can do. If we are within cooee of the leaders, or about 20-25 seconds behind, we'll be fine, hard to beat.

"If it doesn't rain, we'll just have to press a bit harder.”

In contrast, White had a less straightforward day, losing a GPS signal during the 8th stage which forced him to race without pace notes.

“We had to show a bit of caution a few times today when we weren’t picking up any satellites for the GPS unit which displays our pace notes, so we had to drive through a fair bit of the Sheffield stage blind,” he said.

“Hopefully we don’t have that problem again and we can stay somewhere in the top five."

Meanwhile, Ben Wooster leads the classic section 23 seconds clear of his nearest rival, after dominating in his 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS; while Greg Johnston’s 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 is one minute clear of the pack in the Showroom class.

[Images courtesy of Joel Strickland]

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