The President’s Challenge for Manufacturers, a new competition that pits automakers in a week-long, head-to-head contest for corporate bragging rights in Canada’s longest and toughest motorsport event, will be a feature of the 7th annual Targa Newfoundland, event organizers have announced.

The new competition creates a level playing field so that manufacturers’ entries in both the Grand Touring and Targa competition can compete for the President’s Cup, a prestigious award signifying overall achievement in design, performance, durability and competitive spirit.

The challenge of Targa has drawn some of the world’s great car companies to the annual international rally through central and eastern Newfoundland. Since the event’s inception in 2002, corporate titans like BMW, Chrysler, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche and Subaru have supported entries in the grueling six-day contest.

“We have had outstanding support from the community of car manufacturers in Canada,” says Targa organizer Robert Giannou. “Each has come here for their own reasons, and each has thrilled and entertained the many thousands of fans that follow the event here, across Canada and all over the world. We are indebted to each and every one for their contribution to the event.”

While the carmakers have frequently won class and category honours and filled their trophy cases with awards, there has never been an opportunity to compete directly with each other on a level playing field, Giannou says.

“In their business, auto manufacturers must succeed in the face of ferocious competition unlike nearly any other industry. Indeed, they thrive on competition and they have demonstrated that at Targa in their individual classes. But they have never been able to compete against each other in a meaningful way that acknowledges the differences in their products. The President’s Challenge for Manufacturers creates that opportunity,” Giannou explains.

For 2008, manufacturers entering two or more cars are automatically entered in the President’s Challenge. Manufacturer-entered competitors in Grand Touring Equipped, Grand Touring Unequipped, Modern Standard Specification, Modern Modified Specification, Modern Hybrid and Open are eligible. Both entries do not have to be in the same category: For example, one could be in Modern SS and one in GT Equipped, giving companies the option of picking the challenge that best suits their products and marketing goals.

Entries are scored on their finish within their category at the end of the event, with points allocated on the basis of their finishing position: First in category is one point, second is two points and so on. The combined score of the two entries (or the two best entries in the case of a company with three or more entries) will be compared, with the lowest aggregate score winning. A simple mechanism will be in place to settle a tie.

“We have searched for a way to create a competition that acknowledges and respects the differences in design and sporting character of a wide range of vehicles, and of the marketing efforts of the companies that make them. This competition accepts the legitimate differences between unlimited performance potential of a car in the Open division and the sporting nature of a car best suited to the Grand Touring competition, and puts them in a competition that lets each excel at what they do best,” says Giannou.

The beauty of the formula, Giannou says, is that it doesn’t give an advantage to any one category within the event. “We expect the competition to be very, very close,” he says.

The 7th annual 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 13, and concludes back in the city on Friday, September 19, 2008.

Competitors have come from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Holland, the Bahamas and the U.K. for the first six editions of Targa Newfoundland. Entries continue to arrive daily for the 2008 event. Targa Newfoundland is owned and organized by Newfoundland International Motorsports.

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