Following the successful one-day Targa Sprint event in Auckland earlier this year, the three-day Targa Bambina event just wound up in Rotorua on Sunday, May 17. Taking top honours were Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn in the Ecolight Mitsubishi Evo VIII — their second win of the year, after winning the earlier Targa Sprint event.
So far, all is going to plan for the pair, who are determined to both finish and win all three Targa events this year.
“Winning the 20th anniversary event [last year] was obviously our main goal. But having to pull out of the North Island one [with engine problems] last year was like unfinished business,” Inkster said.
The Targa Bambina left Auckland on Friday, May 15, finishing in Rotorua on the Sunday. Over that distance, the pair won 18 of the 21 stages, finishing four and three-quarter minutes ahead of fellow Instra.com Allcomers 4WD class member Nic de Waal, and his new co-driver Tom Grooten, in their Subaru Impreza WRX.
In the Metalman Classic 2WD class, Foxton-based driver Bevan Claridge and co-driver Campbell Tannock took the victory, and fourth place overall, despite needing to do an emergency diff change on the side of the road.
The class was hard-fought between Claridge and Tannock, event stalwart Barry Kirk-Burnnand and co-driver Dave O’Carroll, Mark and Chris Kirk-Burnnand, and Jason Easton and Campbell Ward. Easton and Ward crashed near Matamata on Saturday, followed by Mark and Chris Kirk-Burnnand pulling out with a broken suspension bolt.
Adding to the hot competition in the Metalman Classic 2WD class was class sponsor Clark Proctor, and co-driver Sue O’Neill, in the rapid Nissan–powered Ford Escort. Unfortunately, a crankshaft issue forced them out on the Friday.
Just as fierce was the competition in the Instra.com Modern 2WD class — finally won by Simon Clark and Richard Somerville in the BMW M3. Ross and Carmel Graham’s Holden Torana A9X kept the class honest early on in the event, but were unfortunately finished on Saturday morning with clutch problems. In their absence, ex-pat Kiwi Robert Darrington and David Abetz pushed their BMW M3 to the lead and held it until Sunday morning, where they went off-road, handing pole to Clark and Somerville.
With 50 starters, plus another 30 in the allied (but non-competitive) Targa Tour, the vehicle line-up was suitably large to provide a full three days’ racing.