Firiends, the Weekend Australia Rally Team (WART) is competing in this year’s Targa Tasmania. This is basically the Shitbox Rally Team in a better car.
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What is Targa Tasmania?
Targa Tasmania is a world class international motorsport event. This is a tarmac rally that travels over 2000kms with almost 40 competitive stages on closed roads for the true motoring enthusiast, catering for up to 300 selected cars approved by invitation. Not many people die.
Probably two of the greatest rally drivers in the long history of the sport, famous poly math and renaissance man, part time neurosurgeon, nude faith healer, BMW materials scientist specialising in nanoparticles, Rake centrefold and Coopers taster specialising in Coopers Session Ale, Michael McMichael and I left the Launceston Silverdome (guess why it’s called the Silverdome?) at 940am this morning to head to the official start at the Lonnie Country Club & Casino.
Friends if you haven’t been to Lonnie (the Paris of the north…of Tasmania) then you haven’t been anywhere. Set on the banks of where the north esk and south esk rivers collide at the James Boag Brewery (can I beg you to take the experience tour…no thongs and kiddies under 11 will not be allowed any samples) Conde Nast Traveller Magazine says “Move over Mustique, here comes Lonnie. The Old Umbrella Shop, The Town Clock and the Lonnie Lanes Bowling and Curling Centre make this northern Tasmanian city the must do place this year”.
Anyway as you know on the eve of the rally, we received some unexpected bad news. Hidden in the beginner’s guide to competing, is the sentence ‘a navigator has to be immune from motion sickness and be able to issue clear instructions under pressure’. Why didn’t they tell us before? Michael McMichael and I both talk to Bill and Bert on the big white phone whenever we look down in a car. Even if it’s stopped.
Then even before bad news, a breath test every morning before you start. Luckily we found a way around that: we paid two local punters to say they were us.
As one who always puts duty in front of discomfort I said I would navigate the first two sections as long as I could use the airsick bags from the Spirit of Tasmania car ferry and night club. My stint in the passengers chair did not start well. We had been driving towards the Casino for 90 minutes. Michael subtly pointed out that it was meant to take five minutes. I held up the race notes to show him how meticulously I was following them when he subtly pointed out (again) I was using the race notes for tomorrow.
After this slight slip up we did officially start. As we crossed the start line a local Lonnie character, know quaintly as SK or Serial Killer, rushed up to car yelling obscenities that roughly translated as “hullo good fellows do you have on your persons one of those free Australian biros that doesn’t work?” Michael replied “ Yes SK if you drop the chainsaw my navigator will willingly give you a free Australian biro that doesn’t work”.
Then it was off to the first stage. A mere 340km (at least by my navigating) stretch up what passes for a road in these parts. Now officials told us the roads would be closed so you can use the whole thing they didn’t mention four trailer logging trucks were exempted from the ban. Thus when Michael skilfully executed a hair pin bend at 120kmh on the wrong side of the road it came as somewhat of surprise to both the massive Mack Truck driver and to us.
OK then it was the race through George Town where the special section took us through the council car park where Mick got through the bollards at 140 mph. Friends trust in us: at the end of the first day we were 250th of 128 cars.