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All eyes on Inkster and Proctor in Targa NZ rally

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
All eyes on Inkster and Proctor in Targa NZ rally

Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett (Nissan GT-R35) continue to set the pace in this year's Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally but all eyes as the event entered its third day today were on the Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo 6) and Clark Proctor/Tony Callaghan (Nissan GT-R35) combinations.

Queensland-based Scot Quinn and Australian co-driver Tillett won the first two stages in the northern Waikato but Inkster and Winn won the third - which skirted the Kawhia Harbour - and Proctor and Callaghan won the fourth and the fifth on the way back east.

Inkster was lucky to get away with a high-speed 'wall-of-death' ride up and along a bank in the fifth stage - explaining why he could only manage the seventh quickest time through it - but after replacing a damaged radiator he bounced back to win the sixth stage and finish second to Quinn in the seventh.

The result was that Quinn and Tillett's names remained on the top of the leaderboard with Inkster and Winn 26 seconds back and a much happier Proctor and co-driver Callaghan back up to third, just over two minutes behind.

Though he still has a big job ahead of him to pull back the two minutes he lost on Quinn and Inkster as he struggled with a combination of mechanical and engine management software issues on the first two days of competition in Northland, Proctor was all smiles as he and Callaghan pulled into the service park in Taupo at the end of the day.

"I can't fault it today," he said of his distinctive red and yellow GT-R. "It just ran as it probably should have all along and because of that I think I've been able to settle into driving it. As I built up confidence in the car I got a little bit braver and the times reflected it."

Inkster was a little more circumspect as he helped members of his crew repair the bumper he damaged in his off on Stage 19.

"We were pretty good through Kawhia Harbour (his first stage win of the day) considering the state of the tyres and we were always going to change them, but because the service at Waitomo was cut short we decided to leave them on for the short stage (Waitomo) after lunch.

"The tyres we had on the back were OK but the ones on the front weren't. I knew that, so I'm not blaming them (for the off-road excursion), it was my fault. To be fair though it (the corner he went off on) was pretty dodgy. It tightened up and I just didn't have enough grip at the front to keep me on the road."

As it turned out Inkster was not the only entrant to be caught out by it either.

Not long after, the father/daughter combination of Rick and Monroe Martin ended up in a fence only metres down the road from where Inkster and Winn performed their 'wall-of-death' act on the bank.

Behind the top three, the top six as this year's five-day Targa New Zealand event heads from Taupo to Palmerston North tomorrow is completed by Glenn Smith/Andy Lowe (Mitsubishi Evo 10), Steve Millen/Jen Horsey (Nissan GT-R35 and Rick and Joel Giddy (Subaru WRX).

Notable by his absence is Targa Rotorua winner Leigh Hopper and his co-driver Shaun Bawden in their Subaru WRX. The pair were in the hunt in Northland but crashed out of the event in spectacular style near the end of the Oparure stage late this afternoon.

In the Metal Man Classic standings, meanwhile, Mark Kirk-Burnnand and his co-driver Dave O'Carroll (BMW M3) were back on top after making up the time on Day 2 winner Barry Kirk-Burnnand and his his co-driver Ron Wylie that he and O'Carroll lost on the second day when they were penalised for arriving late to the start of a stage.

Today's wet and dry conditions proved the undoing of a number of drivers, but played into the hands of the Mark Kirk-Burnnand/Dave O'Carroll combination.

"To be honest, " said Mark, "a lot of today's choices were a gamble, but in saying that the difference was that I decided to go with the new wet tyre option whereas Barry stayed with the old wet/dry one. I did that because I thought that, bar the first or second stage or so, it was going to be wet today. It wasn't but we ran our wets anyway and I was definitely impressed with him in both wet and dry conditions."

After splitting the Kirk-Burnnand BMWs at the end of the second day Allan Lewis and Clive Cole (Datsun 240Z V8) have slipped back to third today and they and fourth placed Toyota Levin pairing Geoff and James Harriman are now in the sights of hard-charging Brit Vincent Bristow and co-driver Jeff Ashfield in their RS1800 Escort.

Bristow was at his flamboyant best again today, he and Ashfield topping their class in the first four stages in a row and claiming two seconds and a third in three of the other four. In fact, had the pair not lost time on the first day replacing a clutch they could easily have been leading the Metal Man Classic category by now.

After an overnight stop in Taupo tonight the Targa New Zealand event heads south to Waiouru, Taihape, Marton and eventually Palmerston North tomorrow before finishing with a day in the Hawke's Bay on Saturday.

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