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Ford GT

Well after long last, here is the in-car footage of a couple of stages from the 2008 Dunlop Targa Rally in New Zealand.  Special thanks to Streetfire.net for providing the camera equipment.

STILLEN Ford GT Targa Rally New Zealand 2008

These videos are both from Day 1 (of 6 days) of the rally, and are full stages, giving you some of what it’s like to be part of such a neat event such as this.

Kyle Millen’s Introductions

“This was one of the longest stages of the rally.  It offered very diverse conditions.  Some spots were tight and twisty, others were wide open and fast, and a few spots were like hill climbs.  We caught four cars in this stage and we ended up beating the eventual race winner by over 30 seconds through this stage.”

“This stage was pretty tricky.  It was mostly wet and pretty treacherous.  You can see where a few cars went off.  It wouldn’t have been to go off the road in these stages as some of the drop offs were pretty tall.  This stage was run through mainly mountain roads….It was a BLAST!!!”

Streetfire.net also came down to the STILLEN compound and got a chance to sit down with Steve and Kyle after the event to discuss the rally and plans for the 2009 Targa Rally.

Subscribe to the blog as we prepare our Nissan GT-R for Targa Newfoundland this year.  A complete build is in order, and AWD on tap.. look for even more excitement.  We encourage you to follow along through this build and Targa event.

Other 2008 Targa New Zealand Coverage, Pictures, Daily Posts – Click Here

Well, the rally has been over for about a week and a half now.  I have returned home from the 2008 SEMA show and I have finally been able to sit down and breathe a little bit.  I’ve watched the videos that you will soon be seeing.  I have sorted through all of the pictures which will be making their way on to the blogs soon.  And, most importantly, I have thought about the week’s event.

Targa New Zealand 2008 Ford GT STILLEN

As I reminisce about my time on the rally a few thoughts cross my mind. First, New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world. With everything from crystal clear ocean waters, to clouds lazily floating through the sky above lush green hill sides and farmlands. There is no place in the world like it. You could fill thousands of rolls of film, hundreds of memory cards, and dozens of photo albums and you will never be able to capture the true beauty of the country.


Another fond memory that comes to mind is the people. During the rally we meet a lot of people. From young kids who can’t stop smiling when they see the GT to the good ole boys sitting on their porches as they smile and wave like school children when we rumble by, and especially the competitors. I have been to many different forms of motor racing in my life and I have never seen such a friendly environment. One of my favorite aspects of the rally has to be talking with other drivers. Many times we found that the stages were a little delayed and the teams of volunteers (great groups of people in their own right) haven’t been able to funnel all of the cars through yet. So, we jump out of the car, have a little chat, talk a little B.S. and meet new people. Prior to one stage the owner of a 3 rotor RX7 actually took the time to open the hood on his car and tell me all about his race car. New Zealand is home to the most car crazy people in the world, and some of the most friendly and hospitable people I have ever met.

As much as I love the country, the people, and the overall atmosphere, at the end of the day/week we were in a rally and nothing can beat that.  No experience in life can compare to flying through closed roads with a fire breathing 700 horsepower engine screaming right behind you, propelling you into the unknown.  One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know these roads that we race on.  Sure, some of the roads are repeats from previous years but good luck trying to remember every part of it.  All you can do is put your faith in your driver and do your best to provide him or her with the information they need to get you both home safely, while still pushing hard for the win.  Then of course there is always the unknown.  What lies behind this left hand turn?  A cliff?  A car?  Maybe the roads have washed out?  Or worse yet, maybe there’s gravel strewn across the road?  The unknown is one of the most exhilarating aspects of the rally.

Steve Millen Kyle Millen Targa Rally

 

I am extremely fortunate.  This year, I was able to do the rally with a man that is not only one of the greatest race car drivers… A man that has won numerous championships all around the world in many different forms of motorsport.  I was able to do the rally with my Dad.  Every son looks at their Dad as the “benchmark.”  How can you be better, faster, stronger, bigger… Whether it be a game of basketball, golf, hockey, or racing, every son thinks “I can’t wait til I can beat the old man!”  Well, after spending some time with my Dad in his element, I am pretty comfortable just learning, and seeing what I can pick up from him.  The videos you will soon see are very exciting, but they don’t show the whole story.  When we prepared the GT for the 2008 Targa we added an AP Racing rear big brake kit that moved the braking bias 2% to the rear of the car from the factory settings.  2% is pretty small and easily controllable and under normal even extreme conditions would not cause the car to spin or lose control.  Well, Steve Millen is a little different than most people.

About half way through the second day I started noticing that we were pushing harder, we were coming into corners a lot harder and faster and if the corner tightened up, the back end of the car seemed to quickly and abruptly turn in.  I started thinking about how or why that would happen.  Then I remembered the rear brakes were so much bigger.  In the middle of the stage I asked “Are you using the brakes to turn the back of the car?  Are you coming into these corners so hot that we’re just pushing through, then you brake a little harder to use the back brakes to turn the back of the car?”  In the most matter of fact way you could imagine I heard “Yep, these rear brakes and tires are really helping the back end.”  I was blown away.  In the few split seconds that we have in these corners he was actually able to figure out how to use the rear brakes to turn the back of the car without using too much pressure and spinning the car.  Rear braking is pretty common in forms of motorsport like rally racing or drifting but the main difference is that most of those cars are equipped to use the handbrake for the rear brakes… He never touched the handbrake!  All of his pressure application was done through the factory pedals that come in the car.

I know this blog post was extremely long and wordy but I can never fully explain the week I had in New Zealand.  The only way I can think to share my experience is to invite you down and live it for yourself.  The New Zealand Targa Rally is an unbelievable, unforgettable experience that every car guy should experience.  I can’t wait to see what Targa Newfoundland has in store for us.

The original posts from New Zealand as the event was taking place can be found here:

 

Well, the rally is over and I’m exhausted…It has been a VERY long week. We are extremely excited with how the week went. The car performed relatively flawlessly. If it weren’t for the rear suspension issues the only service performed to the car would have been fuel, brake pads, oil change, a new set of spark plugs, and two new rear tires. Even then the only reason we put the tires on was because of the rain.

STILLEN Ford GT Targa Rally

Otherwise we could have left the Michelins on for the entire week and they would have been fine. They are an incredible tire.

We are proud to announce that we won many awards. Even though I had to hand over my seat as co-driver I was able to complete over 50% of the stages before getting out of the car. Which earned Dad and I the first father and son team. We also won first V8, and first Ford. Dad is pretty sure that we came in first in our class and we know that we came 8th overall.

If a few little things hadn’t happened we are confident that we would have had a top 5 finish. But, that’s racing and you just have to roll with it. At the end of the week we are very proud of our results and our entire team’s performance.

I am really tired so I’m going to keep this entry short but I will be writing a complete wrap-up of the week’s events soon.

Thanks!

Kyle

 

Other Targa Posts:

Well, there have been a lot of changes and shake ups today. In one of the stages 7 cars went off! It was a very tricky stage and caught a lot of people out. Many of them will come back tomorrow but some have ended their week a day early.

STILLEN Ford GT Targa Rally Day 4

I have relinquished my navigator duties to Conrad Healey. He has been involved in every Targa rally that my Dad has competed in since 2001 and is a great guy. Unfortunately my nerves/stomach couldn’t handle being a passenger on the rocket ship that is the NADA Guides Ford GT. It is truly incredible to ride in the car and the video’s speak for themselves. I can’t wait to get the cameras home so we can post them up for everyone to enjoy.

I made it through two stages in the morning but I just can’t do anymore…Last year the car had good brakes, good power, and decent acceleration but it had NO grip. This year it has AMAZING brakes, AWESOME power, UNBELIEVABLE acceleration and FANTASTIC grip. The two year preparation that went into the car is fantastic for the driver but absolute hell for the person hanging on in the passenger seat.

Many of the leaders have been experiencing troubles today. Joe McAndrew in the R34 Skyline went off and lost two minutes today. Richard Mason (current New Zealand World Rally Champion) also experienced a few hurdles which set him back. Some of the Subaru’s are starting to think they can fly, before realizing gravity always wins. A couple of the Porsche’s have been seen trying to turn themselves into tractors as they make their way through the paddocks. All in all it’s been a great day and the weather is still holding. However, tomorrow is expected to be rainy and cold…It wouldn’t be Targa without rain.

Final update and wrap up to come tomorrow!!!

Kyle Millen

Other Targa Posts:

 

Well, this is going to be a short one. I just got into the hotel and it’s 11:00 P.M. and I am absolutely BEAT. Today was a looooong day!

Steve Millen Kyle Millen Strategizing at the Ford GT Targa Rally

Steve Millen Kyle Millen Strategizing at the Ford GT Targa Rally

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was the violence I experienced in the navigator seat.

I actually got physically ill on 2 stages and earned a new nick name…Ralph McPukin’…Courtesy of Mark Ungles…Thanks Mark! That little story actually made it into the “Targa Tales” that are handed out each morning. It was a good laugh.

The first stage was canceled because one of the rally cars went off-road and took out a power pole. Both the driver and co-driver were alright but they needed to close the roads to fix the power lines. From there we went to the second stage of the day and had a blast! These roads were the epitome of GT country! On the rally we have to deal with a 200 KPH (124.27 MPH) speed limit and we were constantly up against it. And guess what…WE GET TO USE 4TH GEAR NOW!!!! With the 3.9 gear ratio we are able to launch out of corners and accelerate to top speed, lightning quick. I constantly find myself telling Dad to watch his speed.

During the third stage of the day we experienced a few HARD hits…We bottomed out really hard twice and felt something give out in the right rear suspension. Unfortunately that was half way through the stage. So, Dad pulled over and we jumped out of the car to assess the situation, we saw that all 4 tires still had air so we jumped back in and took off. We limped out of the stage and back to service. Mark and Wayne quickly jumped under the car to find that the upper control arm had come loose. Fortunately the nut had stayed on so they fixed it up and the car was good again. Unfortunately…I wasn’t. Conrad Healey (our local guide/man in the know/team manager/you name it…) had to jump in the navigator seat for me to finish out the day.

No worries though, after today’s rest I’ll be good to go for the rest of the week. Conrad did great on the last few stages of the day but I can’t wait to get back in my seat. Dad and Conrad held on to our top ten results and we hope to move forward tomorrow!

Check back tomorrow for more photos and results. I’m going to bed as we need to wake up EARLY tomorrow. Tomorrow is a loooooong day.

Kyle Millen

 

Other Targa Posts:

WOOOO HOOOO!!!! We’re doin’ great!!!! Dad and I have been getting comfortable with each other’s styles and we are starting to lay down some great times through these stages. The GT is absolutely incredible. The upgrades that we did over the past two years have made a world of difference. With the 3.9 gear ratio this car pulls HARD in ANY gear. It is simply amazing. The Michelin tires are handling the abuse and weather much better than expected and offer a surprising amount of traction.

Kyle Millen & Steve Millen with the STILLEN Ford GT at the Targa Rally

Kyle Millen & Steve Millen with the STILLEN Ford GT at the Targa Rally

Today was one of the toughest days of the rally. Each stage was extremely long and grueling. But, we worked hard and we put up some great times. We are still holding strong in the top ten and we’re not far off the leaders. So far we’ve been extremely lucky and there hasn’t been any rain holding us back.

We have been getting some great footage and I can’t wait to put it up on the blog when I get home. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to send over any of the videos yet. But, I promise they will be worth the wait.

Check back tomorrow!!!

Kyle Millen

Other Targa Posts:

 

Well, today was an awesome day. Absolutely incredible. We ran the first eight stages of the event. Well, seven stages at least. One was canceled due to a bad accident/car fire. One of the Ford Escorts tumbled, rolled, flipped and crashed for about 100 feet before landing on its roof and bursting into flames. Fortunately both the driver and co-driver were able to escape with no injuries. However, stage 7 was closed and we continued on to the final stage.

STILLEN Targa Rally Day 1

Stage 1 was going really well until I messed up and made a navigational error. As Steve immediately informed me, it will be my first and last for the whole week. Steve and I figured that the mistake probably cost us about 10 seconds. Which doesn’t seem like a lot but that can become an eternity towards the end of the week.

Stage 3 was a bit more exciting as we were able to blast through the pack. We caught 5 cars and we were able to successfully pass 4 of them. We caught up with the final car right before the finish and just ran out of time to get by. This particular stage was 53 kilometers (32.9 miles) long!!! That is an incredibly long distance for these rallies.

STILLEN Ford GT Targa Rally Dirty

Unfortunately the weather caught up with us a little bit today but we pushed hard and did our best to bring home a good result. According to my calculations which are most probably wrong, we currently stand in 8th place overall. If that is correct, then we’re all happy with that.

I will try to send some video and photos tonight as our internet connection is quite a bit better tonight. [EDIT: Pictures are now live, see below]

Thanks,

Kyle Millen

 

Other Targa Posts:

 

Targa Rally Prologue

Well, today was the first day of the rally. Even though we weren’t actually “racing” we were able to put the car through its paces a little bit. None of today’s times or results will count towards the finish of the rally. It’s really seen as a P.R. stage designed to please the spectators and cause some excitement. In that regard it was a complete success. I was in the car for the first pass through the stage. Then Dad’s friend from the Ford New Zealand Motorsport division went for a ride.

One of the most fun things about prologue day is catching up with friends/competitors and getting to see all of the neat cars. Sometimes it’s the second or third time we’ve seen the cars, however this year there are quite a lot of new teams competing. It is very exciting to see all the different cars. There are 2 Ferraris this year, three Porsche GT3 RS’s. A LOT of Subarus and Evos. Even a new Nissan R35 GT-R. Of course it wouldn’t be right to ignore the numerous R34 Skylines in the event also.

One of the most exciting bits of information that came out of today’s events was the weather report…NO RAIN!!! For the past 3 days we’ve only seen moments of dry weather. But, we woke up this morning and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. However, there are mixed forecasts coming out of the news. Some news stations say that there won’t be any rain, while others say we should be expecting some by Wednesday…All we can do is hope that it won’t come. If it stays dry the NADA Guides Ford GT will be a hard car to beat.

Our internet connection is fairly spotty at this first hotel but I am trying to send out some pictures along with this post. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any video today. I remembered to turn the camera on; I just forgot to press record…DOH!!! I’ll do my best to get some footage tomorrow.

Well, it’s time for me to get to my route books and begin studying them for tomorrow’s stages.

Wish us luck!

Kyle Millen

Other Targa Posts:

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Intro

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Prologue Day [Current Selection]

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 1(a)

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 1(b)

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 2

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 3

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 4

Every automotive enthusiast has their favorite stretch of road. Whether is a series of tight corners surrounded by trees and blind turns or a long straight road with no end in sight. The dreams is always the same. “Man, I wish I could run this road without the fear of oncoming traffic, police patrol, or any other hindrance.” Well, for those thrill seekers looking for a great time, the Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand is the perfect place to go.

STILLEN Ford GT

Each year New Zealand officials work closely with the organizers of the Targa Rally to close down 38 special roads. These roads will see everything from 1956 Ford Thunderbirds, to Subaru WRX rally cars and one very special Ford GT supercar. One of the great parts of the Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand is the wide assortment of cars and people. Sometimes the cars are the incredibly extreme while the driver’s are pretty subdued. In some cases the driver is the crazy one while the car is pretty “normal.” In either case you can guarantee that the car will be driven to its max and the drivers and spectators will all have a great time!

Please join us on our 6 day trip around the Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand. Starting from Auckland and finishing in Wellington we will be covering over 1200 miles in our specially prepared Ford GT. With help from the great companies that support our venture such as NADA Guides, Ford, Yamaha, Reid Construction, Michelin Tires, Total Oil, Streetfire.net, and many more we hope to bring home a great finish and even greater stories. Check back as I’ll keep you up to date our our daily activities and results throughout the coming week.

Hope you enjoy!

Kyle Millen

Other Targa Posts:

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Intro [Current Selection]

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Prologue Day

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 1(a)

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 1(b)

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 2

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 3

2008 Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand – Update Day 4

Steve Millen and the STILLEN crew are very excited to once again be participating in the Dunlop Targa Rally held in New Zealand with the STILLEN Ford GT. This is an annual road rally held on 38 stages run over closed public roads, with a variety of vehicles, from classics to Porsche’s, EVO’s, STi’s, Skyline’s and everything in between.

STILLEN Ford GT Prepped for Dunlop Targa Rally New Zealand

The competition stages are public roads which have been closed by the police and driven flat out. The goal is simple, the car that covers the distance in the shortest time wins.

EDIT: Here’s some additional coverage, photos, and previous stories from our friends at Autoblog.com

Videos of the 2006 Targa Rally, including in-car are available at the STILLEN GT Project Vehicle page

Last year we were unable to make the event due to medical issues of one of the major team members but this year we are heading back and plan to be better than ever.

In 2006 we competed with our 2005 Ford GT Supercar. In just a few months we took the car from a bone stock black GT and built ourselves a bright orange race car, including development of a performance exhaust, cat delete pipes, chromoly roll cage, AP Racing Front Big Brakes, and installation of other top quality products like Penske Racing Shocks, MOMO Racing Seats and Restraints, and some aerodynamic and body protection urethane pieces.

This year we will be returning with the same car however it has been MAJORLY improved. In the past year and a half we have continued developing parts such as:

  • Increased Horsepower from the Supercharged 5.4L Motor
  • Additional Suspension Upgrades
  • Larger Front and Rear AP Racing Big Brake Kit
  • New and improved AP Racing Clutch
  • Lower Final Drive Ratio (3.90:1) – By Ricardo
  • Michelin Performance Tires
  • CNC-Machined Teflon Skid Pucks
  • Functional brake ducts, and more
  • Nordskog Gauges & GPS Speedo

With these improvements we hope to be a strong competitor in this year’s rally. I will be returning this year as Team Navigator, riding with Steve and calling the turns, and will be posting daily updates from the hotel rooms. I invite you to follow along for this exciting event.

The team will be starting from Auckland on the North Island and over 6 days will travel south covering over 2,200 kilometers (1,350 miles).

Here are a few shots of the car prior to loading it into the shipping container headed for New Zealand!

Special thanks to the following sponsors:

EDIT 9/15: Container is loaded and on it’s way!

STILLEN Ford GT in Container

STILLEN Ford GT Headed to New Zealand

Update 10/27 – Here are the blog posts from this year’s event:

 

 

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