CLARENVILLE (September 15, 2016) – Mother Nature decided to finally make her presence known during the fourth day of competition at the 15th annual Targa Newfoundland tarmac rally.
Wet and windy conditions played havoc with course set-up and made for difficult driving conditions on all completed stages today. The Melrose stage was run as a quick transit due to the late start of the stage caused by inclement weather and a local medical issue. The first stage of Trinity Bay North was cancelled due to scheduling issues, while both of Little Catalina’s stages were cancelled because of safety concerns due to the weather.
Several competitors had incidents throughout the day. Defending Targa Classic division winners from Newfoundland, Mike Mercer and Corey Prosser, had a mechanical failure on the very first stage of the day, which has caused them to withdrawal from that division. They will return tomorrow in another vehicle in the Fast Tour division, the non-competitive division of the event. One of the leaders of Targa Classic at the time of their incident, Bert Howerton and Newfoundlander Sean English, went off course narrowly missing stacked crab and lobster pots of local fishermen in the process. The vehicle is too badly damage to continue, but the team has no medical issues resulting from the mishap. They are extremely disappointed to not be able to complete the Targa.
The standings were thrown a huge curve mid-morning with the release of updated scoring from the night before. In the release, penalties were issued to over 20 competitors due to cutting corners, or having two wheels off while attempting to navigate around a turn. This causes gravel to be kicked up onto the tarmac, making it increasingly difficult for competitors who follow to safely navigate the corner, as well as leaving rubbish on the roads of communities involved with the event. Penalties were issued in an attempt to correct this issue.
Due to these penalties, the Targa Classic division is now lead by the all-Newfoundland team of Richard Atkinson and Jonathan Cole, who have a large lead over second place Texan Bryan Bursey and Albertan Don Kjorven. In Targa Modern division, John Hume Jr. of Ontario and Newfoundlander Justin Crant are well in the lead over the surprising second place team from Alberta of Harold and Denise Vanderschee, who ran in Fast Tour last year. In Targa Open division, multi-time winner of Targa Mike Davenport and Brad Benson are safely in the lead heading into tomorrow’s final day of competition. The brother/sister team of Ludovic and Lauriane Lognay attempting to hold onto second, but are certainly hoping for Davenport to fall back during tomorrow’s stages. And in the Grand Touring division, the only team in the entire event yet to have any penalties issued to them, Marinus and Renee Damm from Oregon, are leading the rookie team from Ontario of Adam Ruppel and Robert Launder.
Tomorrow’s final stages will occur through North West Brook, Hodges Cove, North Harbour, and then the double stages of Cupids and Brigus, where the crowning of Targa winners will occur outside of the Brigus Town Hall. The celebrations are open to the public at the conclusion of the stage.
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 conclude back in the capital on September 16th. The rally will cover more than 1,600 kilometers of challenging roads in the central and eastern portions of Newfoundland. It includes over 440 kilometers of closed-road, flat-out Targa stages.
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