There was a battle royal at the top of the leader board on Targa Hawke’s Bay’s second day today as early event pace-setter Nick De Waal and co-driver Shane Reynolds (Subaru Impreza WX STi) traded stage wins with Martin Dippie and his co-driver Jona Grant in Dippie’s late model Porsche GT3 RS.
There were never more than a few seconds between the two very different cars (De Waal’s Subaru a four-wheel-drive four-cylinder four-door sedan, Dippie’s Porsche a two-wheel-drive six-cylinder two-door coupe) and after six stage comprising just over 157kms today Dippie was just 17.5 seconds behind when the field arrived back at Havelock North for a second night.
Auckland pair Steve Kirk-Burnnand and co-driver Mike Hay continued to punch well above their weight in Kirk-Burnnand’s BMW 318ti in third place overall, however they were just over two minutes behind the flying De Waal.
“It’s a big dice, that’s for sure,” said De Waal at the lunch break. “It started yesterday and it is still going on today, and – you know – there is really nothing in it, a second or two here and a second or two there, so it is definitely still full on.”
De Waal was again quickest through the first stage today, the 35.95km Crownthorpe one west of Napier, with Dippie just four seconds back in second and Jason Gill and co-driver Mark Robinson in Gill’s Mitsubishi Evo 9 third.
It was Dippie who won the second stage though, his margin through the shorter, 31km Glengarry six seconds – this time over Gill and Robinson with top local pairing Ivan Knauf and Trevor Corbin third quickest in their Subaru Impreza WRX third, and De Waal and Reynolds fifth.
The event leaders were back on top as the field repeated the 35km Crownthorpe stage though this time Dippie was just 3.3 seconds back in second with Steven Kirk-Burnnand and Mike Hay pipping Knauf and Corbin for third.
Gill and Robinson were in the mix early on until an event-ending rollover. This was also the stage that saw Targa regular Clark Proctor and co-driver Sue O’Neill exit the event with gear selection issues with Proctor’s Nissan R35 GT-R.
The cat-and-mouse battle up front continued into the afternoon, Dippie this time winning the ultra-short (8.32 km) Tuki Tuki stage east of Havelock North by just 1.3 seconds from De Waal and Reynolds with Steven Kirk-Burnnand and Mike Hay again third just six seconds back.
De Waal and Dippie then each won one more stage apiece before the final run into Havelock North for the night, with De Waal and Reynolds retaining their overall and class 10 lead with a 17.5 second buffer on second placed Dippie and Grant (who lead class 6) and a two minute lead over third placed class 7 leaders Steven Kirk-Burnnand and Mike Hay.
Fourth overall, and leading class 9 are the first of the local pairings, Hawke’s Bay dairy farmer Ivan Knauf and co-driver Trevor Corbin.
After another productive day two of the three other members of the extended Kirk-Burnnand family competing in the event, Mark and father Chris Kirk-Burnnand from Wellington, not only retained their lead in the popular Classic class (class 2) they moved up to 11th place in the overall event standings, their E30 model BMW M3 now just 10 seconds away from a spot in the top ten.
There were no shortage of takers, in fact, for the spots at the pointy end of the field vacated by Gill and Proctor.
Looking very impressive in their quick but very different BMW M-series cars were New Zealand Targa event regulars Rob Darrington and David Abetz from Perth, Tauranga pair Simon and Sita Clark in Clark’s latest M3 and Targa event returnee Mike Tubbs and co-driver Mike Vincent from Hamilton in Tubbs’ new M2 model.
The trio ended up fifth, sixth and seventh respectively in the overall standings ahead of the giant-killing Mazda-engined Toyota Starlet of Orewa brothers Tom and Ben Grooten, and the production-spec Subaru Impreza WRX of Rory and father Stewart Callaway.
Rounding out the top ten after the first two days of three, meanwhile, was the Mitsubishi Evo 10 of Auckland pair David Rogers and Aidan Kelly.
Tomorrow (Sunday’s) route sees competitors head south into the Central Hawkes Bay and Tararua Districts before a ceremonial finish back in Havelock North.
All-up there are 19 closed road special stages covering a total 459.95 km linked by 730km touring stages
Targa New Zealand events are organised by the Ultimate Rally Group with the support of sponsors AndrewSimms.co.nz, Chicane Racewear, Global Security, HW Richardson Group, Invercargill Licensing Trust, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, Race4Life Trust, Racetech, TeamTalk, TrackIt, and Writeraze.
For more information go to www.targa.co.nz or check out the Targa NZ page on Facebook.
Overall after Leg 2 of 3
1. Nic De Waal/Shane Reynolds (Subaru WRX Sti) 2:16:23.2
2. Martin Dippie/Jona Grant (Porsche 991 GT3 RS) 2:16:40.7 +0:17.5
3. Steven Kirk-Burnnand/Mike Hay (BMW 318ti) 2:18:29.1 +2:05.9
4. Ivan Knauf/Trevor Corbin (Subaru Impreza WRX) 2:20:46.9 +4:23.7
5. Robert Darrington/David Abetz (BMW E36 M3) 2:21:58.7 +5:35.5
6. Simon & Sita Clark (BMW M3) 2:22:02.3 +5:39.1 (+0:03.6)
7. Mike Tubbs/Mike Vincent (BMW 325i) 2:22:20.5 +5:57.3 (+0:18.2)
8. Tom & Grooten (Toyota Starlet KP61 2:22:42.0 +6:18.8 (+0:21.5)
9. Rory & Stewart Callaway (Subaru Impreza WRX Sti) 2:23:34.9 +7:11.7 (+0:52.9)
10. David Rogers/Aidan Kelly (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10) 2:24:03.4 +7:40.2 (+0:28.5)
11. Mark & Chris Kirk-Burnnand (BMW M30 2:24:13.8 +7:50.6 (+0:10).