In a drama-filled final leg, Tony Quinn has scored the outright win at the 2009 Targa Tasmania, driving his R35 Nissan GT-R to victory just under six minutes ahead of his nearest rival.
Quinn managed to quickly outrun previous race leader Kevin Weeks in the first stage. Things then went pear-shaped for Weeks, crashing his Lamborghini Gallardo in the following stage. That left fellow Lamborghini pilot Jason White clutching the silver trophy at the end of the rally, with Tasmania's Jamie Vandenberg taking out third place.
?Our strategy was always to keep up with the others and if we got the wet weather over the last day or two, just to have a lunge for it,? said rally winner Quinn.
?I?ve always been bridesmaid to Jim (Richards) or the Whites or somebody else, and we?re very pleased to finally win it.
"It hasn?t sunk in yet and it feels like it?s been the toughest and most competitive week there?s every been in Targa.
?The top five or six guys have just been going hard at it. The proof in that is that Jimmy (Richards), for the first time ever, had a crash.?
While Quinn was virtually untouchable by the final stages of the day, the margin between White and Vandenberg was much slimmer. The gap between the two was a measly four seconds at the beginning of the last stage, however White managed to widen it to 10 seconds by the finish line.
Vandenberg was still ecstatic to make a podium finish in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX though:
?To get on the podium is fantastic,? Vandenberg said.
?We set our aim to finish in the top five, and we thought that if we have a good run that the top three would be possible if others had problems.
?We were counting on some falling off the road or having mechanical problems. Targa is the event that you aim to do, and do well in, so third is just fantastic.?
In the Classic category Rex Broadbent took top honours, maintaining the substantial lead he got over early leader Ben Wooster when wet conditions favoured Broadbent's Porsche. It was a Porsche 1-2 finish in Classic too, with Bill Pye's 911 crossing the line 18 seconds ahead of Wooster's R32 Nissan Skyline GTS-T.
In the Showroom class Tasmanian local Greg Johnston finished first, ahead of fellow Southerner Tony Warren (both driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IXs). Brendan Reeves came third in his factory-backed Mazda3 MPS, giving the old MPS a fitting 'last hurrah' before the next-gen model arrives.
For full results for the 2009 Targa Tasmania, click here.
[Images: Joel Strickland Photography]