Well, we’re back in New Zealand for the Targa Rally. Today was the first official day of the event and it started with scrutineering in the viaduct in Auckland Harbor. Last night was pretty exciting as the All Blacks (New Zealand rugby team) won the world cup! Today was a bit busy in Auckland as they shut down the main streets and had a ticker tape parade for the team. GO ALL BLACKS!!!!!
Once we got down to the scrutineering location we let Steve and Jen (more on Jen later in this post) do their thing with the organizers of the event. Mark and Joe (you know them from years past) have to follow up with their crew meeting. Conrad and I cruised through the park ferme (parking area) to check out some of the competitors cars. The BS has already started as some of the other GT-R teams are telling us they aren’t running as much power as we know they are….That’s OK…we’re not going to tell them everything we’ve done either!!!
Every year towards the end of October, teams from around the world gather together in Auckland, New Zealand to start the 5 day Dunlop Targa Rally. The Targa Rally is a grueling test of man and machine that takes place over closed country roads that would normally be open to the public. The roads get closed down for just a few hours, just long enough to funnel 100+ “rally” cars through. Competitors arrive in all types of vehicles, from a Ferrari F430 World Challenge race car, a Maserati and a few Porsche GT3 super cars to WRC-prepared Subaru and Mitsubishi rally cars, and even the older classic cars come out in force, like the old Mark 1 Escort’s and even a Datsun 240Z with a supercharged LS2 engine and sequential gearbox. 2010 however was the year of Godzilla.
In the 2010 running of the New Zealand Dunlop Targa Rally there were four Nissan R35 GT-R’s competing in the actual race, and one GT-R competing in the Targa “Tour”, an event which takes place on the same closed roads and along the exact same route as the actual rally, the only difference being the Tour drivers are limited to a much lower top speed and do not compete for any sort of winner’s prize. The four GT-R’s this year were piloted by some of the most experienced Targa Rally competitors, including Tony Quinn. Tony has won 3 Targa’s now and competes in Australia and New Zealand with his GT-R in numerous different Targa’s each year. Steve Millen took the STILLEN-prepared GT-R to the event
Racing Day 5 Wrap Up!
I am in my hotel room writing this before Steve and Phillip get into the wharf for the final destination. They have both done an amazing job and the entire team is very proud of the effort and hard work put in by all! Steve pulled out some pretty miraculous skills this week and showed that he hasn’t lost his edge. Steve competes in very few of these rallies and really doesn’t get much time to get back into the racing lifestyle anymore, so it took a day or two for him to feel fully comfortable with the car, but I’ll tell you once he was in the zone he was a machine! The in-car video footage and the photos tell the story better than I ever could!
The car has performed flawlessly all week and Mark and Joe have done a great job maintaining the car and making sure Steve and Phillip have exactly what they needed all week. Jodi and Vivian (Phillip’s wife) have been great team moms and looked after the service crew and the drivers better than anyone could have asked for. We are all very happy to come home with the drivers and car all together in one piece and with a very
Wellington is a lot like it normally is…Cold…Windy…and a high probability of rain! Not a huge surprise yet very welcomed! We are holding strong in third place and Steve drove hard today and won a couple stages chipping away time at Quinn and Inkster. Inkster fought hard and also had a great showing and we are expecting tomorrow to bring an awesome battle! All three vehicles are running strong and working hard!
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Last night I was walking through the parking lot and noticed a car on a trailer covered by a tarp
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.
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.
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.
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