Local competitors in position to become first ever Targa Grand Master in 15th annual Targa Newfoundland
ST. JOHN’S (April 18, 2016) – With the 15th annual Targa Newfoundland quickly approaching, local competitors are moving their preparation into high gear. Several Newfoundland competitors are eyeing the ultimate prize in Targa, earning the distinction of being the first Targa Grand Master, which will be awarded at the conclusion of the tarmac rally this September.
A new twist in the 2016 Targa is the birth of the Targa Masters Challenge. Created by Targa President and co-creator Robert Giannou, the Challenge provides all previous winners in either the Targa or Grand Touring divisions a chance to compete head to head for the distinction of being the first Targa Grand Master.
Besides potentially winning their respective divisions, the previous winners will also have their penalty times used to determine a winner amongst each returning group, past Targa and Grand Touring winners. The past team or individual winner with the least penalty time who is entered in this year’s Targa will then be known as the Targa Grand Master for their division, a champion of champions that covers 15 years of competitors from all over the world.
Giannou believes this is a great way to celebrate the 15th anniversary Targa while promoting the individual achievement of those who would be crown Targa Grand Master, especially if it happens to be a Newfoundlander.
“Winning in Targa is special. Being able to beat other winners, the best of the best, is something not to be taken lightly,” Giannou says. “The potential of a Newfoundlander to keep the Targa Grand Master crown here at home, it should be something that is celebrated and should cause great pride for those who are involved in the provincial motorsports scene, no matter the event or series they participate in.”
The potential for local individuals or teams to take home the inaugural Targa Grand Master crown is available to several from the Avalon Peninsula. The team of Billy Anderson of Upper Gullies and Max Cline Abrahams of St. John’s, Mike Mercer of St. John’s and Corey Prosser of Paradise, and individuals Scott Giannou of St. John’s and Justin Crant of Paradise, all could be Targa Grand Master’s at the conclusion of the Targa, which is scheduled to be held in the historic town of Brigus.
Crant is the only Newfoundlander who can claim to have won both in Grand Touring and Targa divisions, an accomplishment in itself. Being named Targa Grand Master would be a very proud moment for him should he and his driver, John Hume Jr., of Ontario, win Targa this year.
“I learned a lot about crew communication while in the car during my first Targa,” he explained. “Competing in Grand Touring really helped me master the skills needed to be a good navigator. Moving up into Targa division and winning there showed that I was ready to navigate with the higher speeds, increased pressure and I was quite comfortable being in the car. Being back in the navigator seat with Jr. driving, I really like my chance of keeping the Targa Grand Master title here in Newfoundland.”
Mike Mercer and Corey Prosser are the defending Classic division champions within Targa. The rookies won in their first Targa last year and are hoping to repeat while winning the Challenge.
“After a few years of being volunteers (with the event) we decided to actually compete,” stated Mercer. “Winning our division in 2015 was something we didn’t expect in our first year competing! To come back this year, the 15th anniversary event, and have the opportunity to compete for the Targa Grand Master is something Corey and I can’t wait for. Already proud to call Newfoundland our home, winning this event with our local team would be an unforgettable experience.”
Teams will continue to have the opportunity to enter over the coming months. Some of those teams potentially could qualify for the Challenge and be from Newfoundland, increasing the chance of keeping the crown from the prestigious motorsports event here in the province.
Owned and operated by Newfoundland International Motorsports Limited, Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally recognized Targa motorsports events in the world. The 2016 competition will start in St. John’s on September 12th and concludes back in the capital on September 16th. The annual rally will cover more than 1,600 kilometers of the challenging, twisty roads of the central and eastern portion of Newfoundland, including over 440 kilometers of closed-road, flat-out Targa stages.