The International motor racing spotlight is shining brightly on the Queensland town of Toowoomba today as tarmac rally specialist Ray Vandersee, campaigning his revolutionary Skelta Sports car, secured a maiden podium finish at Dunlop Targa New Zealand.
Last week it was the Garden City's Will Power blazing a successful trail for Champ Car's Team Australia during the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast and Vandersee's efforts abroad have continued that momentum.
The former Queensland rally champion saved his best for last in the 43-stage, seven-day event, as he snared a record breaking six stage wins of eight contested today, on his way to an overall second placing to overnight leader Joe McAndrew.
The superlative effort of the entire Skelta Sports car team enabled Vandersee to strengthen his position among the leaders and also maintain a buffer of almost five minutes to third placed Emma Gilmour.
The assignment today was simple for Vandersee as he rallied hard to try and make up a 57-second deficit to McAndrew and almost pulled off the impossible.
From go to whoa during today's final 160 kilometres of competitive stages, Vandersee was relentless in his pursuit of the local favourite, moving within 36 seconds with three stages remaining, before eventually falling short by just 35.6 seconds at the close of competition.
"I gave it absolutely everything I had to try and peg back the difference but it just wasn't enough," said Vandersee.
"Taking a look at the results across all five legs we managed more stage wins than the winner so that is extremely satisfying.
"Today's stages were a little bit tighter than I expected and once again we were able to excel in those conditions, but were pulled back a little on the faster, longer areas of the stages.
"All I could do was push deeper and further and take some risks, hoping the leader may make a mistake, but he too was faultless.
"That's a big wrap for the Skelta and Joe (McAndrew) agreed it all made for a great race, contested flat out right to the end."
On the strength of 17 stage wins, eight second placings and eight times third for the stage, spectators and fellow competitors at Targa New Zealand were left in no doubt about the true capabilities of the Skelta G-Force.
It's now hoped the Honda S2000 powered hybrid can further impact on the lucrative Australian sports car market.
Of course tarmac rally competition is also on the radar as the countdown continues towards a greatly anticipated return to the Apple Isle for the 2007 Targa Tasmania on April 17-22.
"We'll travel to Auckland tomorrow and clean up the car so we can put it through quarantine then have it on a plane to arrive in Melbourne on Wednesday, then ready for a start at Mt Buller next weekend.
"From a retail perspective potential sales should be enhanced with this effort.
"This campaign has been a very long and challenging one where we have absolutely thrashed the car and it has well and truly stood the test.
"We've replaced nothing on the car and just continued usual race maintenance so I'm extremely pleased with the outcome.
"We've now done four Targa events with the one engine which is further testament to the durability of the Skelta.
"This is without doubt my best ever result. To secure a podium in an International event is fantastic."
DUNLOP TARGA NEW ZEALAND FINAL PLACINGS