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Canadian champs head early Targa Newfoundland entry list

Reigning Canadian rally champion driver Tom McGeer and co-driver Mark Williams are among the early entries in the inaugural Targa Newfoundland international rally for historic, classic and modern sports cars.

The reigning national champs head a list of preliminary and confirmed entries from as far away as Alaska, California and Great Britain. To date, 170 preliminary numbers have been issued for the rally, scheduled for Sept. 13-22, 2002.

McGeer, a five-time Canadian champion, will exchange the powerful all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX that is his regular mount in the championship, for a 38-year-old slice of motorsport history. He will pilot Williams' classic rear-wheel-drive 1964 Ford Falcon in the 2,300 kilometre test in a competition he hopes will be a welcome change from the intensity of the national title chase.

"I'm going because I think its going to be a fun event, a relaxed, fun rally," McGeer explains.

"We want to win, make no mistake," he adds quickly, "but there isn't the same pressure."

A keen competitor, McGeer is also attracted by the format of the week-long event. "I like the format and the restrictions you face," he say's. "It requires a whole different approach. You have to drive strategically over five days. You will have to drive quickly and consistently, but well within the limits of the car if you expect to go the distance."

McGeer, of Georgetown, Ontario, admits the prospect of stepping into 40-year-old technology after commanding some of the best modern automotive hardware available is a little daunting. He last drove a rear-wheel-drive car in competition in 1991, and has never driven one competitively on paved surfaces. (Canadian Rally Championship events are held largely on roads of gravel or snow and ice; the route for Targa Newfoundland is all paved roads.) With a little time in the car before the event, he's confident he will be comfortable by the time the rally starts.

Like driver McGeer, co-driver and car owner Williams is a seasoned competitor. He has an impressive competition resume that includes more than 50 top-3 finishes in 127 events. In addition to two Canadian titles, he has competed extensively in the U.S., South America and Europe, and run the wild Carrera Panamerica road event in Mexico three times, notching up one victory. An American living in Maryland, Williams has been a driving force in the rapidly growing vintage car rally scene there.

Williams built the Falcon because of his interest in historic rally cars, and chose the old Ford because he wanted to capture the American history in a sport dominated by European and Japanese companies. Ford built a number of potent, rally-prepared Falcons to compete in showcase European events in the 1960's; Williams' car is a faithful reproduction of those ground-breaking cars, enhanced with modern safety equipment.

"When I first broached the subject, I was surprised and delighted that Tom was interested in Targa," Williams confesses. "Being part of a proven, winning team in the car will be an advantage," he say's, "but that isn't the most important part. Winning is satisfying," he say's, "but I'm after the adventure."

Targa Newfoundland has an appeal to both men beyond the competition. Both are anxious to learn more about the island and about Newfoundlanders.

McGeer, a commercial pilot, has experience flying into Newfoundland and Labrador. "I've seen Newfoundland a lot from the air," he grins, "when it wasnt covered in fog!" It will be Williams first trip to the Rock. Both men are hoping to take advantage of the event to include some vacation time in Newfoundland.

Targa Newfoundland is a unique sporting event in North America. The first Targa-style rally on the continent, the event will cover 2,300 kilometres of route in eastern and central Newfoundland, and include more than 500 kilometres of flat-out special Targa stages on closed roads. Targa Newfoundland is organized by Newfoundland International Motorsports and sanctioned by the Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS).

-30-

Information:

Photos of Tom McGeer and Mark Williams are available at
http://www.subarurallyteam.com

Competitors: Media:
Bob Giannou Doug Mepham
(709)722-2413 (613)966-4969
[email protected] [email protected]
http://www.targanewfoundland.com
 
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