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Legends return to battle NZ Targa event

 

Three of the world's best touring car race drivers will at last go head to head in cars of similar performance during this year's Dunlop Targa Road Race. They will be met head on by NZ domiciled competitors such as Targa Rotorua winner, Joe McAndrew in his powerful Nissan Skyline GTR.

Three of the world's best touring car race drivers will at last go head to head in cars of similar performance during this year's Dunlop Targa Road Race. They will be met head on by NZ domiciled competitors such as Targa Rotorua winner, Joe McAndrew in his powerful Nissan Skyline GTR.

Australian legend Peter Brock, New Zealand legend Jim Richards, and Californian domiciled ex-pat New Zealand Champion, Steve Millen, headline the already impressive entry already received for this October's Dunlop Targa Road Race. The annual Six day blast through the North Island event which starts in Auckland and finishes in Hastings will finally see these three great drivers competing in cars each of which could win the event.

Between them, Brock( ten wins) and Richards (seven wins) have dominated the annual Bathurst classic mountain race while the Australian Touring Car Championship has been won by Brock three times while Richards has won it four times. Steve Millen made his name racing in the United States after winning national titles in New Zealand. After a successful single seater career in New Zealand, Millen switched to the American IMSA GT series in1990.

The cars they will drive are as mouth watering in prospect for fans as the stars themselves. Brock will drive a 5.7 litre Chevrolet V8 powered Daytona sports car. At only 1150kg this lightweight but immensely powerful car is the brainchild of Motec engine management system chief, Richard Bendell, who had the cars built based on a modern interpretation of the 1965 Shelby Daytona which dominated the World Sports Car Championship that same year.

Brock's return to the event is part of his gradual reappearance back to professional driving following his decision to retire from his long-time profession in late 2004. His co-driver will be Mick Hone, a Melbourne motorcycle dealer who was the Team Manager for the works Suzuki team in 2000.

Winner of the last two Dunlop Targa events as well as seven time winner of Targa Tasmania, Jim Richards will again use his exotic GT3 Porsche, it's speed and German engineering excellence ensuring that "Gentleman Jim" will be still the man to beat.
With such an enviable record of success firstly in New Zealand then In Australia where he has lived now for many years, Jim Richard's Targa crown will not be taken lightly. V8 Supercar race commentator, Barrie Oliver will again navigate.

Steve Millen's race record is formidable. He was the 1990 24 Hours of LeMans Rookie of the Year, won the 1994 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, and was first in class at the 24 Hours of LeMans. In 1995, Millen again won the 12 Hours of Sebring. He was invited to the International Race of Champions (IROC). Millen is the all-time winningest driver in IMSA GTS history with 20 victories. His 23 pole positions are also a series' record.

Hungry for his first Dunlop Targa win outright, Californian based Millen has competed in the previous year's Targa events punching well above his weight in outclassed machinery. This time however, he brings what will probably be the "star" car of the event. It is an ex-Ford Motor Company GT40, the latest re-incarnation of the iconic model which took Ford to the winners circle for the first time at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in France and driven by two New Zealanders, the late great Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.

Although the new GT40 looks very similar to the original cars, in fact it is a completely new design and slightly bigger all round. The new design is 18 inches (450 mm) longer than the original, and all this because extra space is needed to accommodate taller drivers. The original cars were famous for having a cockpit sized for drivers no taller than 5 ft! (Hence the bump in the roof over the drivers head so common in original GT40's) The cars were in fact just 40 inches high.
The vehicle is powered by the new intercooled supercharged, four valve per cylinder, Ford 5.4 MOD V8, delivering over 500 hp and 500 ft/lb of torque, to a 6 speed manual transaxle. Top speed should be around 340 km/hr on 19 inch wheels.

The Millen car is an ex-Ford test car and has been completely stripped and rebuilt in the Stillen workshops in California. Co-driving for Steve this year will be John Lamm who is the Editor the world's largest selling car magazine, Road & Track.

Barring nasty surprises, the winner of the 2006 Dunlop Targa must be one of these three former champions. Let battle commence!


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