In a marathon fourth day of Targa New Zealand, one in which competitors covered almost 600km of rain-lashed closed special and open touring stages through Taranaki, the King Country and the Manawatu, Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn (Mitsubishi Evo 8) continued to stamp their dominance on the field.
From New Plymouth to Ohura and back via Whangamomona, the defending series champs eased even further away from Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillett (Nissan GT-R35) to end the day just shy of eight minutes ahead, with a further eight minute buffer on third placed 2013 event winners Martin Dippie and Jona Grant (Porsche 911 GT3).
Latest front-runners to retire are Mark and Chris Kirk-Burnnand in their BMW M3. Picture/ Fast Company/ProShotz.
Class-wise the big news today was the retirement of Metalman Classic 2WD front-runners Mark and Chris Kirk-Burnnand (BMW M3). The former class winners from Wellington were locked in a battle for the class lead with Targa Bambina event Classic class winners Bevan Claridge and Campbell Tannock (Holden Commodore V8) but ended up sitting at the side of the road half way through the Ohura stage this morning.
"About 15ks in the engine just went bang," said Mark.
"There's now a hole you could put your foot through in the (engine) block) so we borrowed a trailer off Glenn Inkster and towed the car out. There's no way we can find and fit another engine in the time we have left so we'll spend the rest of the event supporting the other Kirk-Burnnand cars and come back ourselves next year."
Now with a healthy lead in the Metalman Classic are Bevan Claridge and Campbell Tannock in their Holden Commodore V8. Picture/Fast Company/ProShotz.
With the Kirk-Burnnand son-and-father duo out, Bevan Claridge and Campbell Tannock now have a Metalman Classic 2WD class lead of just over 10 minutes over Far North Queensland husband-and-wife pair Keith and Mary-Anne Callinan with a further six minutes over the similar Mark 11 Ford Escort RS1800 of Nelson all-rounder Ashton Wood and Chris Lancaster.
Up to second place in the Metalman Classic 2WD is the Australian husband-and-wife par of Keith and Mary Anne Callinan in their Ford Escort RS1800. Picture/Fast Company/ProShotz.
With Wellingtonians Mark and Chris out of the event, the best performing Kirk-Burnnand is now Steven from Auckland who with co-driver Mick Hay is second in Instra.com Modern 2WD and fourth overall in his BMW 318T1 Compact.
The 21st annual Targa NZ event now heads east to Havelock North via Taihape and the Gentle Annie road on Friday before returning west for the finish at Palmerston North (at the city's Square) on Saturday October 31.
Friday also sees the start of the two-day Targa Regional Rally event-within-an-event.
Information on both is available on the event website www.targa.co.nz or in the latest copy of NZ Classic Car magazine.
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 Allcomer 4WD
1. Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn (2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) 04:24:08
2. Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett (2008 Nissan GTR) 04:32:04
3. Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen (2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS) 04:47:35
4. David Rogers/Aidan Kelly (2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS) 04:50:18
5. Graeme Wong/Kim Blatchley (1998 Subaru Impreza Type R) 05:07:38
6. Jeff McCandless/Marcella Mumm (2010 Subaru WRX ST1) 05:14:10