From the Targa Tasmania Tribunal Investigatory Report and Findings:
“On Friday, April 23 at 10.02am Shane Nevin age 68 was fatally injured while competing in the fifth day of the event at Targa stage 26 – a long, well-known stage named ‘Mount Arrowsmith’ east of Strahan. He was driving car number 602, a 1979 Mazda RX7, which left the wet road to the inside of a right-hand bend where the vehicle rolled over, coming to rest upside down into a running creek. His co-driver aged 60 survived the incident with only minor injuries.
“On the following day, April 24, at approximately 11.40am driver Lee Mundy aged 68 and co-driver Dennis Nagle, 59, were in car number 902, a Porsche 911 GT3RS, which lost control on Targa stage 33, Cygnet, south of Hobart, after negotiating a jump on what was a dry Targa stage and crashed into large trees on the right hand side of the road. Both passed away at the scene.”
The 60-page report into the three deaths in the 2021 Targa Tasmania is a devastating read about an event that is to tarmac rallying what the Bathurst 1000 is to motor racing. When most people think about rallying, which most people in Australia don’t, they think of little cars going sideways on gravel roads. Tarmac rallying is on public roads that have been closed off to the public. Unlike track racing, there are lots of things to hit and not much to stop you hitting them.
The mixture of some very fast cars (over 300km/h), the opportunity to drive at over 200km/h in cold, wet and foggy conditions, long, tiring distances between stages, drivers with varying experience and skills means, as one international safety expert told the inquiry: “The consequence of loss of control in this event is more severe than other events around the world. If you combine this with a high probability of loss of control, the result is fatal or serious injury.”
Adding to the problem is that many of Australia’s rallies have become bucket list events with increasingly larger fields attracting less experienced drivers, some in more powerful cars than could be conceived when the rallies began. The report also demonstrates that the technology now used to try to keep competitors safe is not up to the job.
The tribunal, chaired by international safety guru and F1 steward and adviser Gary Connelly, included rally and Targa winner Neal Bates, and high-profile corporate lawyer and motorsport court member and rally driver Matthew Selley. The trio’s report is now the gold standard not just for tarmac rallying but any form of competitive motoring.
Distressingly, the tribunal was told that the Mazda rolled into Double Barrel Creek, landing with the driver’s side fully submerged at 10.02am but it wasn’t until more than 30 minutes later that help arrived.
“This raises the important question of why it was that almost 60 competing cars went past the location of the crash yet none of their crews were able to be utilised in any rescue attempt.
“It is highly likely that at least four cars would have driven past the location within the two minutes following the incident.”
The tribunal applauds “the valiant efforts of co-driver Glenn Evans in trying multiple times to rescue his fellow crew member”.
Twenty-three recommendations come out of the report. All of them make absolute sense. None really detract from the privilege of driving fast on public roads. Lower the maximum speed, make drivers drive the route before the rally, make sure the cars are set up for the conditions of a tarmac rally, allow wet weather tyres, make the urgent help signal simpler and find a way to find missing cars.
None of this will bring back three well liked and respected members of our motorsport family. It does put on the record the heroic efforts of Evans. Hopefully it will make an important event in a wonderful sport much safer.
Take a look at the photo of the French Blu 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial by Scaglietti and tell me some cars aren’t Art with a capital A. When you walk down the street in a city you look up at buildings designed by artistic architects like Pelli, Pei, Childs and Gehry, and then see others that are examples of the edifice complex that would win Britain’s Carbuncle Cup – an honour bestowed upon the worst building of the year.
When you look down and around you, the streets are dominated by cars. There is not enough Prozac in the world to make you feel better about many of them. But occasionally your heart lifts because you see an old classic or new soon-to-be classic that really has come from a sculptor’s work in clay rather than a CAD machine driven by a lack of intelligence.
A Porker 911 bridges 57 years. The Alpine A110, the Feezer Dino and 458, the Ford GT, the Jaguar E-Type and the McLaren all play with your emotions. But this second-series 500 Mondial, bodied by Scaglietti and fitted with a Tipo 111 engine, was built for French gentleperson racer Yves Dupont and “sits with the quiet dignity of a slightly faded da Vinci in an original timeworn frame”. While it looks like your normal big hairy powerful Feezer, the Mondials had only four cylinders, which was quicker on tight circuits.
Yves had a race prang and sent it back to Ferrari for repairs.
As Drive writer Dale Marran Drinnon tells the story: “Dupont then fell out with Enzo Ferrari and refused to pay the bill. In Dupont’s defence, he definitely wasn’t the only customer ever to express displeasure with Enzo’s service policies, but Ferrari nonetheless seized the car, later spraying a coat of Italian red atop the French blue and loaning it to the Autodromo Monza museum for display. It stayed there for 20 years, until purchased by French collector Jean-Francois du Montant, who paid Ferrari not only the original repair amount but also a whacking great two-decade storage charge.”
England’s super/hypercar legend Tom Hartley Jr has just sold Yves’ old car, which I think is the second he has moved. He wouldn’t tell me the price but RM Sotheby’s were looking for about $10m for it six years ago.