Tony O'Kane | May 2, 2009

Targa king Jim Richards has retired from the Targa Tasmania for the first time in his 16 years of contesting the event after hitting an embankment yesterday, damaging his suspension and holing the radiator.

With Richards out of the picture, the battle at the pointy end of the Modern class is now a three-way duel between the Lamborghinis of Kevin Weeks and Jason White and the Nissan GT-R of Tony Quinn.

2009 Targa Tasmania

At the end of day four, only eight seconds separates current leader Weeks from Quinn, while White lags behind by 1:44 thanks to mechanical issues.

Rain later in the day had most pundits predicting the rear-wheel-drive Gallardo Superleggera of Weeks would slow down and the AWD R35 GT-R of Quinn would push to the head of the pack, but brake issues with the heavy Nissan meant Quinn couldn't sustain his previous pace.

"I drove the last three kilometres of one stage using just the gears and the handbrake, it was incredible,” Quinn said.

“The boys reckon the brake fluid probably boiled. This car is 400kg heavier than anything else, so it's an area that we're obviously going to have to do some development in.”

2009 Targa Tasmania

Quinn wasn't the only one to suffer misfortune with his brakes: the ABS system of Jason White's Gallardo caused mischief throughout leg four, which was then capped off by a windscreen wiper failure later in the day.

"The ABS problem that we knew we had coming into the event was accentuated by the wet conditions, and to make things worse the new front brake pads we put in last night went really soggy,” White said.

“We're doing what we can in the wet, but then the wipers seized three kilometers into the last stage and we virtually had to come to a stop because the rain was so heavy. Hopefully we can fix that tonight.”

2009 Targa Tasmania

Dean Herridge crossed the line fourth, but dropped to seventh after a penalty was incurred when he had to change a pair of tyres after the Cethana stage.

2009 Targa Tasmania

Victorian Rex Broadbent currently leads the Classic category in his Porsche 911, with previous class leader Ben Wooster falling down the ladder when wet conditions forced him to take it slow in his Nissan Skyline GTS.

2009 Targa Tasmania

Greg Johnston now holds a comfortable three minute lead over Tony Warren in the Showroom class, meaning victory for him and his Lancer Evolution is all but secured.

The Targa Tasmania concludes tomorrow at 2pm AEST, and with the conditions expected to be mostly dry it's unlikely we'll see too much position-swapping. Stay tuned for our Targa wrap-up tomorrow afternoon.

[Images: Joel Strickland Photography]

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