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Targa Rally

We have made it to New Plymouth and I am writing this update from a Beaurepairs Service Center.  Tonight we went through the car for a mid-week check up, went through the oil change, checked brake wear, tires, etc.  Also the guys are having to fix the front lip after a local at one of the lunch stops guided Steve straight into the curb when he was trying to get into the parking area for lunch.  They had stacked up some blocks of wood to get over the curb and with three guys watching they guided him straight into the curb and pushed the front lip back!  Mark and Joe have had a pretty easy week though compared to Newfoundland so I guess it’s good to keep them up for a night.  All is good on the car and the teams spirits are high.

Steve Millen STILLEN R35 GT-R Targa New Zealand Manfield Race Track

We came to the service center to rotate the tires on the rims.  Today was another hot day and we saw some pretty serious tire wear occurring and we want to stay ahead of it as tire consumption is a big part of the strategy on the Targa rallies.  On the Targa we’re only allowed six tires, including the four we start with.  We figured we would be wearing out fronts more than rears as that was the case in Newfoundland however with the warm weather and lack of rain Steve is able to really toss the car around and because of that, rear tire wear has become the focus.  Fortunately the fronts are wearing perfectly so we’re crossing our fingers that we’ll be able to make it all week on the fronts!

Today was actually a pretty big shake up day.  We learned this morning that Inkster, currently listed in second place, is the champion of the Taranaki tarmac rally series.  Which more than likely played into his favor as the last two days were spent racing in guess where…the Taranaki’s!  Fortunately we drove out of that region today and into a more level playing field and Steve and Phillip were able to steadily chop away at their times and make some serious gains!  Now they’re only one second behind Inkster.

The big shake up came on Stage 2.  Conrad and I were standing on a pretty famous corner where the cars come through a short straight away, come to a hair pin left hand turn and accelerate up a mild incline.  It is very slippery (mossy road surface) in this area and usually catches a few people out.  This year all of the competitor’s went through cleanly however we noticed Proctor’s rear lower valance hanging off and rear fascia about ready to come up off completely.  It was pretty clear that he had an event somewhere along the stage.

Then, as Conrad and I were walking back to the car we saw a huge cloud of smoke coming up the motorway.  It turned out to be Proctor again.  Unfortunately he had blown the engine on that stage and his rally has ended early.  We’re disappointed to report that as he is always a joy to watch and really hangs the car out there.  We’re looking forward to seeing Clark and the Metalman crew back in 2011.

The last stage of the day was run at Manfield Race Rrack.  Steve and Tony Quinn set identical times around the track of 8:18.  It was a struggle for both drivers as they were on the track with slower traffic at times that were absolutely holding them up.  No worries though, we’re looking forward to the next two days and we’re hoping to take some time off Quinn and see how things lie in the end.


I have added some photos of the Delrin skid blocks we use on the bottom of the GT-R.  We design these blocks to be sacrificial pieces that take the abuse rather than damaging the factory under trays or cross members.  Judging by the blocks, you can’t say Steve and Phillip aren’t trying!


I keep thinking the same thing every time I am standing on the rally roads.  This is probably the coolest event in the world.  Every type of car is on display here from Fiat Abarth’s to FOUR GT-R’s, a Ford GT in the Targa tour, old Porsche’s as well as new.  Evo’s and Subaru’s literally flying through the roads and letting loose.  You don’t get anything like this anywhere in the world.  Heck, there is even a Maserati and a Ferrari F430 Challenge!

The Targa New Zealand rally is awesome and needs to be on every car enthusiasts “bucket list”.

Modern Class Results after Day 3 – October 28, 2010

# Driver/Co Driver Vehicle Class Total Event
997 Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett Nissan R35 GT-R 9 03:27:29
945 Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 9 03:31:58
975 Steve Millen/Philip Adamson Nissan Stillen GT-R 9 03:31:59
926 Jason Gill/Jody Somervell Mitsubishi EVO9 GT 9 03:32:56
998 Harry Dodson/Glenn Cupit Nissan GT-R35 9 03:35:23
840 Martin Dippie/Greg Ball Porsche GT3 RS 8 03:38:55
917 Glenn Smith/Andy Lowe Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 9 03:39:56
947 Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS 9 03:43:41
775 Barry Hare/Nigel Parr BMW mini Cooper 7 03:45:08
670 Gary Murphy/Terry Rouse BMW M3 6 03:45:22

 

Follow all of the coverage of the 2010 Dunlop Targa New Zealand Rally

We are in our second night at Palmerston North and have some good news!  Steve is really enjoying the car and having a great time.  He pushed hard today and caught some ground on Proctor in the Metalman car but unfortunately another car caught more ground and squeaked ahead of us by a few seconds.  So, currently we’re running 4th overall but making gains on the competition.

Steve Millen STILLEN R35 GT-R Targa New Zealand Day 3

Something I did not include in yesterdays update is the great sportsmanship on this rally.  People work hard to help each other and teams competing against each other have been known to lend a hand and help their competitors to get them back on the road a little sooner.  Last night both Proctor and Dodson developed leaky CV boots so our teams headed over and gave a few pointers on how to get it done.  You may remember from our Newfoundland recaps, Mark and Joe both have quite a fair amount of experience when dealing with leaky CV boots on a targa rally!

Today was another beautiful day.  Great weather and great stages.  There were only four stages today but they were pretty massive!  One stage was raced on the forgotten highway to Whangamamana (phong a mama nah.)  It is a small little town that has a 40 kilometer highway leading in and only one other small road leading out.  For the targa they shut down the main “forgotten” highway and let the cars have at it.  It is a great stage and one that I remember vividly as it is where I earned my nickname of “Ralph McPukin”.  Phillip appears to have a stomach more suited to navigator duties and was able to keep his breakfast under control.

Before Stages 3 and 4 the guys raced through a pretty famous stage that has a series of three jumps.  Most of the cars take it fairly carefully through here as it the jumps have been known to rip out oil pans, damage suspensions, and unsettle cars enough to launch them into nearby farmers paddocks.  The big surprise of the jumps was the Ferrari F430 challenge car leaping for the sky and getting some good air!  Steve took it easy through this area as he did not want to hurt the car.

Quinn showed why he has won races as he flew his GT-R off the jumps!

Overall, today was a great day and the team is very excited for the rest of the week.  Steve and Phillip are doing a great job maintaining the tires and the Dunlop’s are wearing very well!  We have confirmed that last year Quinn took 8 tires and those final two tires can cost you a lot in time!  So, with that in mind, our goal is to keep to the 6 tire plan and not be forced to take any time penalties with additional tires.

UPDATE:  Video of cars jumping a section and interview with Kyle Millen from Taranaki Daily News

Wish us luck as we push on!  Here’s some additional photos from the day:

Modern Class Results after Day 2 – October 27, 2010

# Driver/Co Driver Vehicle Class Total Event
997 Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett Nissan R35 GT-R 9 02:36:21
957 Clark Proctor/Tony Callaghan Nissan GT-R35 9 02:38:25
945 Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 9 02:39:57
975 Steve Millen/Philip Adamson Nissan Stillen GT-R 9 02:40:11
926 Jason Gill/Jody Somervell Mitsubishi EVO9 GT 9 02:40:49
998 Harry Dodson/Glenn Cupit Nissan GT-R35 9 02:43:18
917 Glenn Smith/Andy Lowe Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 9 02:43:24
944 Rick Giddy/Joel Giddy Subaru WRX STI 9 02:44:55
840 Martin Dippie/Greg Ball Porsche GT3 RS 8 02:45:06
947 Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RS 9 02:48:35

 

Follow all of the coverage of the 2010 Dunlop Targa New Zealand Rally

I am writing this from the hotel in New Plymouth.  The good news is, the STILLEN GT-R is running very well and Steve and Phillip are doing very well and working great together!  Steve took it kind of careful today as he wanted to see how the tires were going to fair.  These Dunlops are looking great and are showing hardly any wear.  We are very excited to see how they work through the week!


(For a larger version, click here)

Today was unusually tough as the weather was uncharacteristically warm..  The roads were hot and we really expected the tires to start wearing heavily.  However, The GT-R is running strong and working very well! We’re getting some great in-car footage that I am very excited to bring home and post up soon!

There have been a few off road excursions made by a few cars today.  Most cars were pulled out of trouble and will be back tomorrow, but we’re not so sure about one competitor in the Mazda 3 MPS.  It had a pretty serious off and rolled.  Fortunately the driver and co-driver made it out without injury.  I have been traveling with Conrad Healy today as we went from stage to stage getting photos and what not.  Here’s just a couple photos from today’s events, and as you see above, including Steve going a little wide through an acute right turn. More photos to come soon..

Modern Class Results for Day 1 – October 26, 2010

# Driver/Co Driver Vehicle Class Total Time
997 Tony Quinn/Naomi Tillett Nissan R35 GT-R 9 01:29:04
957 Clark Proctor/Tony Callaghan Nissan GT-R35 9 01:29:05
975 Steve Millen/Philip Adamson Nissan Stillen GT-R 9 01:31:16
945 Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 9 01:31:17
926 Jason Gill/Jody Somervell Mitsubishi EVO9 GT 9 01:31:47
917 Glenn Smith/Andy Lowe Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 9 01:32:02
998 Harry Dodson/Glenn Cupit Nissan GT-R35 9 01:33:16
716 Mark Whyte/Tracey Lance Toyota Alteza 7 01:33:24
944 Rick Giddy/Joel Giddy Subaru WRX STI 9 01:34:10
840 Martin Dippie/Greg Ball Porsche GT3 RS 8 01:34:18

 

Follow all of the coverage of the 2010 Dunlop Targa New Zealand Rally

Well, I am sitting in the hotel room in Manakau (man-ah-cow) and I’m a bit confused about this week in New Zealand with the STILLEN team competing in the Targa Rally.  In 2006 I packed some board shorts, t-shirts, shorts, a couple pairs of jeans and a light wind breaker.  I immediately went down and bought myself a heavy jacket, jeans, and some rain gear.  In 2008 I was optimistic and brought down a pair of board shorts, couple pair of shorts and some t-shirts along with a heavy jacket and jeans.

Upon my arrival I dumped the T-shirts, shorts, and boardshorts at the house as I realized I wouldn’t need any of it for the week.  Just stuck with the jeans and jackets and was good all week.  This year when I packed I laughed when I saw my clean boardshorts sitting in the closet, grabbed all my jeans, my heavy jackets, and one pair of shorts and a few shirts.  Now I’m convinced that New Zealand is messing with me.  We haven’t had a drop of rain or even a menacing cloud and the weather reports are good for most the week with some rain possible towards the end of the week.  Just my luck!!!

As normal, Prologue day was spent with a couple of shake down stages just to get the cars sorted and the drivers and navigators on the same page.  This year Prologue was held at Hampton Downs, a beautiful new circuit about 30 minutes outside of Manakau.  Just like 2008 we’re keeping the car at the Telstra center.  During the down time we took a look at the competitors GT-R’s and I must say, they are well prepared!

Metalman’s GT-R looks very well prepared and appears to be well sorted.  Also, Clark Proctor seems to have a good handle on the car and was doing a good job pedaling around Hampton Downs.  Harry Dodson in the Dodson Motorsports GT-R arrived with a long list of light weight carbon fiber goodies and power adders.  Harry was quick around the track and put on a good show!  Tony Quinn is never someone to overlook with more GT-R targa experience than any of us and is always competitive!  Overall we’re excited for a fun, competitive week and look forward to seeing it all unfold.

Not much to report today so I just wanted to shoot some pictures over and give you a brief update on how we’re all doing.  Steve is liking the car and Phillip is getting comfortable in the passenger seat.  Joe and Mark didn’t have to do too much today.  We took advantage of the repeatability of the race track and tested out different tire pressures and different suspension settings.  Steve was able to find his sweet spot and preferred specifications and get the car dialed in.

Here’s a Ford GT, which is an great reminder of the bright orange STILLEN Ford GT that we last ran here at previous years of the Targa New Zealand!

What’s that? Never seen a furry Mitsubishi Van?  Now you can check that off your bucket list..

Daily updates to come!

Follow all of the coverage of the 2010 Dunlop Targa New Zealand Rally

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Every year around this time we prepare for Steve Millen to send the race car to some far off country or island where we will race for 5 days straight and cover nearly 2,000 miles.  In 2009 the team took on the challenges of Targa Newfoundland for the first time and brought home a first place finish in the modern division, first place finish for the manufacturers, and put down some new stage records on the public streets of Gander and others.  It was an amazing journey that saw the unveiling of the STILLEN GT-R in Targa rally competition.

If you’ve been following the STILLEN GT-R race-car you’ve seen that upon completion of the Targa Newfoundland rally the car was immediately driven by Steve and his wife Jodi back across the border to Maine, where it was picked up by Fedex vehicle transport and shipped to Texas for the National Z convention.  From there it was sent straight to Nissan headquarters in Tennessee where it sat on display in the lobby and Steve even drove it through the assembly plants in Smyrna!  After a few weeks of traveling around the country the car came back to Costa Mesa where the guys at STILLEN had just enough time to wash it, put it back on a transporter and send it to SEMA show where it was put on display in the BASF booth.  Since then the car has been on display at the Toronto auto show, numerous local car shows, the cover of DSPORT Magazine and the team even had time to test some new parts up at Spring Mountain and the Highway 341 Challenge.

2010 sees the return of Steve Millen to the Targa New Zealand rally.  In years past Steve has driven numerous different cars at the Targa rally including 6 cylinder Ford Falcon’s (basically a Taurus), a wild turbo inline-6 all wheel drive Focus that would have been an awesome car had it been able to complete all of the stages before retiring mid-week with mechanical troubles, and all the way to the Ford GT supercar that we campaigned for two years in 2006 and 2008.  The GT was a blast but it was no match for the all wheel drive Subaru’s, Evo’s, and GT-R’s.  So, Steve fixed that… Now we’re bringing an all wheel drive GT-R of our own.

At the end of June Steve and the crew competed in the Spectre 341 Hillclimb Challenge and just two days after competing loaded the car in a container and sent it on its way to New Zealand.  The car needed to leave a little earlier than normal this year because it was going to be the feature vehicle of the largest automotive show in New Zealand.  With a great showing at Speed Show and a few magazine’s writing stories about the car Steve came home and began the work out routine to keep himself in shape for competition.  He also began working closely with his new navigator and letting him know what he was looking for and what he wanted to hear.  This year Steve is throwing Philip Adamson in the passenger seat of the GT-R for the navigator duties.  Philip has co-driven in Targa events before and has some experience in what the driver needs to hear.  Good luck Philip!

I (Kyle Millen) will be leaving next Wednesday with Mark Ungles and Joe Nagy.  Mark has been a part of the Targa rally team since 2006 and Joe came on board in 2009 for Targa Newfoundland.  You might remember Mark and Joe were the Mcgyver mechanics in Newfoundland when they were able to hold a CV boot together with RTV silicone before a replacement could be sourced!!!  I will be heading down again to follow along the rally and send back nightly updates on our progress.  Check back in a few days as I plan on writing a couple of updates on the car and work we’ve done before competition begins.  We can’t wait to get started and hope you enjoy the action!

Follow all of the coverage of the 2010 Dunlop Targa New Zealand Rally

NZ Autocar magazine is the premier automotive magazine covering all things cool in the automotive world of New Zealand, and this month the STILLEN GT-R graces the cover and a full 8-page feature with performance testing.

With the STILLEN GT-R down in New Zealand for both the Speedshow (NZ’s largest auto show) where it was on display with the matching orange STILLEN Ford GT, and the upcoming Targa New Zealand Rally,  it was the perfect opportunity for Steve Millen to meet with Kyle Cassidy, Editor of NZ Autocar, and get his take after experiencing the STILLEN-built R35 GT-R.

To quote Kyle Cassidy from the September 2010 issue of NZ Autocar:

“For crushing performance, we thought we couldn’t do much better than the Nissan   GT-R – but we were wrong. Strapped into a modified STILLEN version, we recorded our fastest four-wheeled 80-120km/h time ever.”

“…it’s ludicrously loud, and the ride is uncompromising, but the leap in performance of the STILLEN car over the alerady quick stock offering is staggering.”

-Click Here To Download PDF Version of the Article-

Images are smaller for web view – To read the full story click here!

Steve Millen and the STILLEN team have returned home from the Spectre 341 Challenge.  We had a great trip and we are already thinking of ways to improve the car for next year and see what kind of car I (Kyle Millen) can bring up there to compete in!  The team at Spectre did a great job for their first event and we are really looking forward to heading back next year!


Photo courtesy of Larry Chen / Spectre 341

The GT-R finished 2nd overall, missing the top time by 1 second. Next year we’ll be bringing back some Dunlops and should be able to pick up at least 5 or 6 seconds.  Unfortunately the Bridgestone run flats did not offer enough grip for the hill climb.  But, we knew that going into the event as the Dunlop tire is the NISSAN recommended performance tire.  Unfortunately they were out of stock though so we had to run the Bridgestone’s.

Virginia City is an amazing little town and if anyone is ever in search of a fun destination that will take them back to the old western movies, this place will make you feel like John Wayne…It is truly unbelievable!  The town is nearly 300 years old and I’m pretty sure the only modern updates are the paved roads.  The sidewalks are still wood, the buildings are hundreds of years old and they are awesome!  The locals are also extremely nice and friendly.

Steve ran his fast times of the day early in the morning on Saturday morning and around noon made the decision to pack up and head home.  He reported that the road had become too hot and the tires too slick so he felt like he had gone as fast as he could go.  As you know, we had two days to turn the car around and get it into a transporter headed for targa New Zealand on Tuesday so we all decided it was best to just save the car and head home a little early.

Here’s some photos of some of the cars at the event:

Around noon we were on the road home.  I made the 480 mile road trip in about 8.5 hours in our supercharged 370Z.  I was also really impressed that I did it on one tank of gas which means it averaged around 27 MPG!  Not bad!

Unfortunately one of the other competitors Alex (VRAlexander) Djordevic had gone off the road in the fastest section and did not survive. All of us at STILLEN would like send our thoughts and well wishes to Alex’s family and friends.

Photos by Boxtergirlie01 via 6speedonline.com

More Coverage:

The busy schedule for the STILLEN R35 Nissan GT-R has finally finished with the shows and now it’s time to get back to racing!  Team STILLEN will be bringing the orange beast to Virginia City, Nevada for the first annual running of the Spectre 341 Challenge being held June 25-26, 2010.

This event is held on a closed section of Highway 341 that would normally be opened to the public.  Originally started in the early 70’s this event was pioneered by the local Ferrari clubs.  The event ran until 2002 before being shut down.  2010 marks the re-organization of the event and the new promoter Spectre 341’s involvement.  The course is 5.2 miles long with plenty of high speed long turns and narrow switchbacks.  In barely over 5 miles the event travels 1,200+ feet in elevation!!!  The current record up the hill is three minutes and 10 seconds.  Held by the president of Spectre Performance and his highly modified F40 Ferrari.  Steve Millen and Team STILLEN hope to break that record and perhaps dip under the three minute mark!

To prepare for the event the Team headed out to Spring Mountain Raceway to do a little track testing.  Spring Mountain is a good test area for this event because Highway 341 offers pretty flat, high speed turns, and a few tight twisty areas as well, very similar to a track like Spring Mountain.  The main priorities at Spring Mountain were tire testing, suspension development, and increased boost pressure.  Further development back at the shop consisted of installing GReddy Intercoolers, GReddy Hard Pipes, and a GReddy Cold Air Intake.

Never one  to miss an opportunity to challenge themselves, Steve and the Team will tow the car up to Virginia City on Thursday, race on Friday and Saturday.  Then head home Sunday.  That seems pretty simple.  However the added twist, Steve has to have the car in the container headed for New Zealand on the following Tuesday!

That leaves the team just 2 days to take the GT-R from a hillclimb car to rally car.  We’re sending the car down a little early this year as it will be one of the main exhibits in the New Zealand Speed Show event.  The New Zealand Speed Show is the largest automotive show in the country and both STILLEN Targa rally cars will be on display!  The STILLEN Ford GT will be coming back out into the spot light and will be positioned right next to the Nissan GT-R.

There is a lot going on here at STILLEN and we would like to invite you to follow along with us!!!

More Coverage:

Here’s a quick video introduction to the Spectre 341 Challenge

The December 2009 issue of Road & Track is out on the newsstands now, and features the full Targa Newfoundland Rally article written by R&T’s Feature Editor Mike Monticello, the Co-Driver on the rally in the GT-R with Steve Millen.


Check your favorite newsstand and see this issue, it’s a neat story from Mike’s perspective on taking part in this 6-day rally, and what it was like being at the mercy of Steve Millen pushing the STILLEN modified R35 GT-R to it’s limits over city streets and tarmac.

Excerpt from the ‘Tackling Targa’ feature:

“The second to last to start the stage, Millen launched the GT-R with fury into the waning light, carbon rotors a-glowing, belching blue flames from the exhaust and sending onlookers scattering for cover, the GT-R was in its element. And so was Millen, 4-wheel-drifiting through corners with near reckless abandon while I tried to keep up with the pace notes…”
– Mike Monticello, Road & Track

Here’s also a link to a video from Road & Track discussing the stories in this packed issue:  Road & Track December 2009 Video Preview

There are also tons of video and information on the build of the STILLEN GT-R, comparison tests against a stock 2010 Nissan GT-R, and information on the Targa Newfoundland at Road & Track website:  2009 Targa Newfoundland

Sorry for the delay in getting the final day’s wrap-up onto the site, we took some time after the rally and celebrated with the rest of the Targa folks. It was then up first thing to get the car situated, and everything packed up for shipping back to STILLEN HQ, while Steve and Jodi drive the GT-R all the way back to Maine.

STILLEN GT-R at the 2009 Targa Newfoundland Rally

We’re proud to say that we finished up winning our division.  The results speak for themselves in regards to the overall scores.  This rally is without question designed to be won by classic cars.  We knew there would be handicapping, but it would seem there is no way that a modern car can win.  We won the majority if not all of the stages by putting down the fastest times but we still lost.  In one of the stages on Friday, Steve and Mike actually passed three cars, and still missed their goal time and incurred a penalty.

2009 Targa Newfoundland Rally Results

The main reason for Team STILLEN coming to Targa Newfoundland was to race our Nissan GT-R.  We knew that this was the first race for the car and we knew that it would do well but we really had no idea that the car would do so well!  If it weren’t for that CV boot we would have only needed to fill the car with fuel and check tire wear all week long.  We could not be more excited about the fantastic performance of our Nissan GT R as well as our team.

Video: Road & Track Racing Day 5 Recap – Steve Millen & Mike Monticello

We are happy that we came and competed in the event.  We met some great people and saw a beautiful part of Canada that we otherwise would have never visited.  It was a pleasure watching some great drivers artfully handle their cars, especially Sprongl in the Audi.  He was a blast to watch!  I wish I could say that we’re excited to come back next year but I really don’t think we’ll be coming back unless there is a serious overhaul of the timing and scoring.

Also, we had a great time with Seth and Glenn, our sweepstakes winners.  They were a lot of fun and true race/rally enthusiasts.  Seth, let’s get that Z going and ready for the rally bud!

Road & Track also has additional information, interviews with Steve and Mike, and all kinds of content back to the build of the GT-R, and is located here:  http://www.roadandtrack.com/stillen

NOTE: We have tons of video, including in-car camera coverage of virtually every stage of the rally.  Check back next week as we begin to edit and upload this video!

See All of the 2009 Targa Newfoundland Coverage:

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