Between Warwick’s busy days and nights on The Rock and my busy day here in the real world, here is his report from Thursday at Targa Newfoundland. Once again, todays photos are courtesy of Andrew Harvey.
Thursday’s Leg 4 brought competitors to the scenic Heritage Run area on the Burin Penninsula. A new leader has emerged, but only by the smallest of margins.
Taking over the lead on the penultimate day was previous Targa champion, Bill Arnold, with co-driver Alan Ryall. On the notice board at lunch time, Arnold was one second in the lead, and he proceeded to pull a few more seconds on the final in-town stage to take a slim lead of only four seconds at day’s end.
“It’s not enough!” said Arnold about his lead, “If you pooch one corner, that’s it.”
Roy Hopkins and Adrienne Hughes dropped one spot to second overall on Thursday, but effectively it is a fresh start on the final day. Hopkins was in the arena this evening looking relaxed, performing standard service on his BMW 2002. Mistakes will cost dearly for the top five teams on Friday, with just 19 seconds between them. One spin or stall and it could drop them out of contention.
Nova Scotian, Mike Mackenzie, and co-driver Kirk Alexander are currently third in their ground-thumping 1969 Chevy Camaro. Mackenzie was a top finisher last year, but was handed a time penalty after the post-race vehicle scrutineering. He’s on pace for another podium finish if he can hold off a hard-charging Jud Buchanan.
Buchanan and co-driver, Jim Adams, have been battling some gearbox issues which required a gearbox teardown on Wednesday night. The team is looking for an overall win at this event, and will be pushing hard to give themselves that opportunity should anyone make a mistake.
Andrew Comrie-Picard has held onto a top five position through four days of competition, and is less than twenty seconds behind the leader. He is eager to prove that a modern can win overall, however he’ll have his work cut out for him to overtake the four cars ahead of him.
A little further down the order, Targa veteran Glen Clarke was lucky to escape an off-road excursion on the high-speed Frenchman’s Cove stage. The time lost there, compiled with a blown turbo near the end of the day led Clarke to beleive he had dropped “into the 20’s”, but scoring shows he is still in 11th place.
With just one day of competition remaining, the top teams will be under pressure to make as few mistakes as possible, all while racing as fast as possible to beat the increasingly difficult target times. It all comes down to 47km of flat out rallying, and it’s anyone’s game at the top of the leaderboard. The 2008 edition of Targa Newfoundland finishes on the waterfront in St. John’s on Friday evening.