Team Mini Came In 24th, 25th & 48th In Targa
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2nd May, 2006
Team Mini has burst onto the Australian motor sport scene securing a finish for all three cars at Targa Tasmania, 40 years after Morris Mini Coopers filled the top nine places at Bathurst.
The combination of Lowndes/Denyer/Randell finished in 24th position overall, heading the Leahey/Flintoft car in 25th place by just 11 seconds, while the novice Targa pairing of Sinclair/Hunt finished 48th outright.
After consistently posting good times in the early stages of the rally, the Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works racers came into their own on the last day where they relished the downhill sprints and fast flowing roads.
The highlight of Leg Five was Spencer Lowndes and navigator Chris Randell posting 15th outright on the notorious Mt Arrowsmith stage – well ahead of some of Targa’s fiercest competitors and previous winners in powerful 4WDs and performance cars including the White brothers’ Lamborghini Gallardo.
Team manager David Vervaart was delighted with the team’s results, particularly given the limited preparation time available. “This was our first event with cars that were untried and untested, but true to form the Minis have been unbelievably reliable and shown fantastic durability and pace out there on the unforgiving roads of Targa,” said Vervaart.
Spencer Lowndes is now a Mini convert after he and navigator Chris Randell finished fastest of the three Team Mini chargers, despite being more at home on the unsealed roads of the Australian Rally Championship rounds.
“Coming into Targa I wasn’t sure how well our Mini would cope on the challenging roads in one of the world’s toughest tarmac rallies, but I was blown away by its balance, handling and power,” said Lowndes. “The fast, flowing roads really suit the car. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a vehicle that can make the transition from road car to rally car with such minimal effort – it’s just sensational.”
Grant Denyer was ecstatic after his drive with Chris Randell in the highest placed Mini on Saturday.
“That Mini is awesome! I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun I was having out there. I’ve wanted to do Targa for at least 10 years, so I’m thrilled to have finally been given the opportunity to have a go,” said Denyer.
“The Mini has got so much grip and it just loves it out there on the tight, twisty roads. You can quite confidently throw it around and it’s happy as Larry!“ he said.
Tim Leahey, who along with co-driver Paul Flintoft were just seconds behind the Lowndes/Denyer/Randell combination said “Targa Tasmania is a fantastic event and proved the perfect proving ground for Team Mini. Our corner speed and exceptional braking power, even in the wet, left the competition scratching their heads. I don’t think the 16 or so cars I overtook during the course of the rally knew what to think when they saw us powering past!”
Mike Sinclair, a first-time Targa rally competitor was expertly guided by navigator Justin Hunt and secured 48th place.
“Targa is a unique event with fantastic roads - a genuine challenge. I couldn’t have picked a better car for my first Targa rally,” said Sinclair. “After more than 2,000 km of hard work, the Mini just smiles at you, begging you to give it more of the same punishing treatment. I’m already counting down to next year’s race!”
Summing up Team Mini’s performance, Vervaart concluded: “The drivers and navigators have done a great job and we look forward to bigger and better things for Mini as we continue to roll out our motor sport programme in 2006. Watch this space.”
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