A First for Targa Newfoundland

September 17, 2008 (Clarenville, NL) – Second time competitors Pete Lazier and Sharon Middler of British Columbia told organizers in 2007 that they would return to Targa Newfoundland 2008 if they could be married at the Barbour Historic Site in Newtown. Their wish came true today as they were married by event chaplain and fellow competitor, the “Fastor Pastor”, Edison Wiltshire of Clarenville. “We didn’t want anything traditional or fancy, but Targa organizers did arrange a few extras to ensure the event was memorable,” said the bride as their Targa family and friends looked on.

The Fastor Pastor keeps an active schedule with Targa beyond the actual event dates; last year he was flown to Ontario to perform the wedding ceremony for veteran competitor Rick McLeod. Now Rick and his wife Ashleigh plan to have him christen their newest addition, Braydon, this Saturday in Flatrock.

Family is the backbone of Targa Newfoundland, now in its seventh year. Father and son team, Robert and Scott Giannou, organize what has become known as the ironman of motorsport. Robert oversees the course and coordinates the efforts of some 2200 volunteers in 72 communities. Scott typically coordinates the sponsor activities and oversees the marketing of the event but he is also a passionate competitor. Scott has had to trade in his racing gear for an officials badge today as his engine blew on the final stage in Gander yesterday.

Of the 64 competition crews remaining in Targa Newfoundland, 5 of them are manufacturers competing for the first ever Sirius Satellite Radio President’s Cup. This is the first year the manufacturer entries will have the opportunity to compete against one another and have their efforts recognized with a specific award. Audi, Chrysler, Lexus, Mitsubishi and Subaru are all showing well in the standings – a testimony to the fierce competition among these professional teams. The sixth manufacturer team, Mini/BMW, driven by Jim Kenzie and Brian Bourbonniere, won’t be returning to the competition. The crew are both fine, however the car didn’t fare so well. Kenzie, a renowned North American automotive journalist, is staying and will host the VIP Tour on Friday.

Now in the third day of the event, the crews and their cars are starting to feel the pressure of increased competition. The morning was riddled with mechanical issues but the stop in Newtown allowed service crews to get everyone back on the road. The afternoon stages in North West Brook and Gooseberry Cove resulted in two competition incidents, the competitors fared much better than their cars.

With two days remaining in Targa Newfoundland 2008 and the Heritage Leg being one of the favorites for the veteran competitors, the game is on.

Experience Dominates Targa Newfoundland

September 18, 2008 (Marystown, NL) – It is the second last day of the week-long Targa Newfoundland and it is not surprising to see that a large majority of the leaders are returning Targa competitors. Eight of the top 10 have several years of Targa experience under their hoods. In fact, two of the top 10 are previous winners.

Newfoundland’s Tom Collingwood Jr. and his cousin and navigator, Chris Collingwood Jr., started the day in 10th position overall, their best showing ever. However, a mechanical issue just before lunch will have their service crew working through the night.

Although Andrew Comrie-Picard is no stranger to Targa Newfoundland, as you’ve likely seen him as host of the event’s TV productions, this is his first competition effort. Driving a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR, along with navigator Jen Horsey, Andrew Comrie-Picard is relying on his experience as a top North American rally driver. He finished the day 5th overall.

Frank Sprongl and Rick Hendricksen, driving a 1983 Audi Quattro Coupe AWD, are Targa Newfoundland rookies, however, they bring numerous North American rally victories. Sprongl is regarded as one of the top drivers in North America in the last two decades. The team are currently 10th going into the last day of competition.

While the Targa division sees a high percentage of returning teams, the Grand Touring division is usually a completely new field each year. Grand Touring is about precision driving and allows competitors to gain an understanding of the overall event. These competitors usually return to participate in the Targa division in the future. John Vandemierden and Stu Lehmann from Ontario, driving a 2008 Lotus, have been leading Grand Touring the last two days.

Targa Newfoundland organizer, Robert Giannou, said “Every year we see attrition in the event and 2008 is no exception. At this point seven competition crews will not complete the event and receive their finisher medallion at the Keg on Friday.”

Harold Seagle, a fourth-time competitor, says, “This is an endurance event. The main goal is to finish and anything else is a bonus.”

Owned and operated by Newfoundland International Motorsports Limited, Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally recognized Targa motorsports events in the world. 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. 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 and international interest continues to build with competitors registering daily from places such as Germany and the Turks & Caicos.

Please visit the Targa Website for daily photos: (http://www.targanewfoundland.com/multimedia/photos).

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