They came, they saw and by conquering the six-day Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally for a second year in a row Glenn Inkster and co-driver Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo 8) have successfully ticked off a 2015 trifecta.
The pair arrived at the finish line of this year's event in Palmerston North this afternoon with a nine-and-a-half minute lead over five-time former winner Tony Quinn and his co-driver Naomi Tillett (Nissan GT-R35) and almost 20 minutes ahead of third placed 2013 event winner Martin Dippie and Jona Grant in Dippie's Porsche 911 GT3.
Last year was the first that Inkster and Winn won the main Targa event but it was in the absence of Quinn and Tillett who had crashed out on the second day and re-joined later down the order.
Inkster and Winn had also had problems themselves at one of the two smaller Targa events last year.
Because of that Inkster said that this year he and Winn decided to aim to not only win the main event for a second time in a row but also to be the first pair in a number of years to win it as well as the earlier one-day Metalman Sprint and three-day Targa Bambina events.
"And that's what we’ve done and I couldn’t be happier right now," the Patumahoe driver said as he and Winn celebrated with their crew in front of a large crowd of spectators in The Square late this afternoon.
This year's 21st annual Targa NZ event covered a record 1035.5kms of closed special stages and 1431.7kms of touring stages from Auckland on Monday October 26 via Hamilton, New Plymouth, Havelock North and Palmerston North.
Inkster and Winn were never headed, leading both the Andrew Simms Allcomers 4WD class and overall classification from start to finish.
Having seen Inkster and Winn getting faster each year long-time event pace-setter Tony Quinn said he knew the pair were going to be the ones to watch and that he was genuinely pleased to see them do so well for a second year in a row.
"I'm proud of Glenn that he has got to the point where he is a true challenge. I always knew he would be the one to beat and I didn’t want to go out too early myself because this year it was a 1000 km rally and not only did I think a lot of people would not finish, I thought if I kept enough pressure on him (Inkster) something would happen. But it didn’t."
"So full credit to him."
The final day of the event proved largely incident-free with Friday's leading status quo remaining through the eight stages from Havelock North to Palmerston North.
The only major change came in the Metalman Classic 2WD category where after an impressive drive through to second place Australian husband-and-wife duo Keith and Mary Anne Callinan slipped back down the order when they missed two stages thanks to a bolt coming out of the water pump mount of their classic Ford Escort RS1800.
Chief beneficiaries were Nelson pair Bruce Farley and Glen Warner, and Carl Kirk-Burnnand and co-driver Scott Hay from Auckland, (both BMW 325i) who moved up to second and third places respectively, with another Nelson pair, Ashton Wood and Chris Lancaster fourth in Ashton's Ford Escort RS1800.
There was no way anyone was going to catch popular Metalman Classic 2WD class winners Bevan Claridge and Campbell Tannock in Claridge's distinctive 1992 Holden Commodore V8, though.
The Manawatu pair established an Inkster and Winn-like stranglehold on the class lead after rivals Mark and Chris Kirk-Burnnand blew an engine on the third day in their BMW M3, pulling away to claim class honours by over 13 minutes from a fast-finishing Farley and Warner.
Dunedin pair Martin Dippie and Jona Grant (Porsche 911 GT3) also dominated their class, Instra.com 2WD, after mechanical issues either side-lined or slowed early event competitors like Clark Proctor and Sue O'Neill (out with a broken input shaft in Proctor's hi-tech Nissan V6 turbo-engined Ford Escort) and Ross and Carmel Graham (Holden Torana A9X).
A spectacular drive from Steven Kirk-Burnnand and Mick Hay (BMW 318T1 Compact) saw the Auckland pair claim second place in class and an impressive fourth overall from another BMW pairing, Perth-based Kiwi Robert Darrington and co-driver David Abetz.
Meanwhile, event first-timers Matt Todd and Dan Reichenbach (BMW M3) from Gisborne got better and better as the event went on, timing their run perfectly to take fourth place in class on the final day from mid-event standout pair Grant Aitken and Caroline Cullimore (Toyota 86) from Cromwell.
Targa New Zealand events are organised with the support of sponsors Chicane, Ecolight, Federal tyres, Global Security, Kids In Cars, Metalman, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, Racetech, TeamTalk, TrackIt and VTNZ.
Andrew Simms Allcomers 4WD
1. Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn (2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) 07:27:03
2. Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett) 2008 Nissan GT-R) 07:38:49
3. Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen (2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS) 08:00:26
4. David Rogers/Aidan Kelly (2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS) 08:06:07
5. Graeme Wong/Kim Blatchley (1998 Subaru Impreza Type R) 08:34:40
6. Jeff McCandless/Marcella Mumm (2010 Subaru WRX STi) 08:47:00