targa_logo2.jpgWith the days ticking down to the start of the 6th annual Steelback Targa Newfoundland, picking a winner is harder than ever.

A new cast of characters in the Modern Division, a brace of top-rated contenders returning in Classic and a titanic battle looming in Open make it anyone’s guess who will head the field at the end of five grueling days of Canada’s longest and toughest motorsports event.

The Modern Division will have a number of very competitive cars, but no repeat winners in the field. The most experienced Targa competitors are undoubtedly ex-pat Australians Richard Kimber and Brian O’Kane in their formidable Toyota Supra. Veterans of previous Targa Newfoundland adventures and a number of Targa Tasmania rallies, Kimber, now residing in the U.K., and O’Kane, now in Calgary, know what it takes to win.

Peter Guagenti and Scott Smith, both of California, also have to be considered Modern contenders. In a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX RS, driver Guagenti has lots of Targa experience as both driver and co-driver.

It is a familiar cast of characters at the top of the list of contenders in Classic Division, and one missing ingredient. Returning Classic and Overall winners from 2006, Glen Clarke and Evan Gamblin of Ontario might be capable of a repeat, but their Porsche faces the toughest field in Targa in the Classic ranks. In the past, a remarkable 1967 Acadian Canso has come close to victory only to be denied by mere seconds. Driver Jud Buchanan and co-driver Jim Adams, of Ontario, feel they are overdue for the view from the top step of the podium.

To do that, of course, they will have to overcome the formidable 1965 Mustang of Minnesotans Tom Silver and Dan Fuss, six-time Targa competitors and perennial front-runners who are also overdue for a win. Then there is the quick and consistent 1969 BMW 2002 of Targa veterans Roy Hopkins and Adrienne Hughes of New York. Previous winners in Modern, their Classic entry will certainly be in the hunt. And don’t count out the Targa fan favourite – “Betty”, the highly modified 1959 Austin Mini of Ontario’s Richard Paterson and New Zealand co-driver Tony Mattson.

One competitor they won’t have to worry about is multi-time Division winner Bill Arnold of California, who is taking this year off.

A very different MINI will be seeking a third consecutive Open Division title. A modern version of the classic has been the Open victor for the past two years with Ontario’s Jim Kenzie at the helm and Brian Bourbonniere of Nova Scotia handling the co-driving duties. Out to end that reign is the Subaru squad of driver John and co-driver Clarke Paynter. The team of Nova Scotia-based brothers will be wheeling the potent Subaru Impreza WRX STI that has thrilled fans with every visit to Targa. With both contenders backed by their respective manufacturers, there is a lot of corporate and personal pride on the line.

The Overall winner of the Christos Targa will certainly come from one of the Division contenders, but guessing which one will be nearly impossible when nearly 80 cars arrive for the start of the Prologue stages on Sunday, September 9, 2007.

Steelback Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally recognized Targa motorsports events in the world and is listed on the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) international calendar.

The 6th annual Steelback Targa Newfoundland will start and end in St. John’s and will cover more than 2,000 kilometres of the challenging, twisty roads of the central and eastern portion of the island of Newfoundland over six days, including up to 400 kilometres of closed-road, flat-out Targa Stages. The event starts with registration and technical inspection in St. John’s on Saturday, September 8, and concludes back in the city on Friday, September 14, 2007.

Competitors have come from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Holland, the Bahamas and the U.K. for the first five editions of Targa Newfoundland. Entries continue to arrive daily for the 2007 event. Steelback Targa Newfoundland is owned and organized by Newfoundland International Motorsports.

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