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New Targa Newfoundland class draws entry with Latin fire

An experimental new class for the Targa Newfoundland international rally has already drawn its first entry, and with it the promise of some very colourful cars and competitors.

The 2003 edition of the rally will see the introduction of a class for cars built for the Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico, the storied motorsport event that epitomized the glory days of the 1950s. Reincarnated in a modern form and run today as a rally that carves through Mexico from south to north each October, the Carrera Panamericana caters to a galaxy of hybrid cars built to resemble the historic racers of the 1950s but using modern technology.

The first entry in the class suits that description to a 'T'.

The 1953 Studebaker Commander shared by Tom Hayes of Nassau, Bahamas, and American Andy Vann, is hardly your average carefully restored classic. With a snarling V8 engine, competition brakes and a list of hardware more likely found on a NASCAR racer, the classic coupe is a rolling time warp, bringing together the images of the heroic 1950s era of racing and modern technology.

"This is an experiment," explains Targa Newfoundland organizer Robert Giannou. "The idea was to create a class where exciting hybrid cars could compete against each other. Over the years, a lot of hybrid cars have been created for Carrera Panamericana and their owners are out there, looking for a new adventure. We think they would be at home at Targa Newfoundland."

The Panamericana class entries will compete against each other but not be eligible for overall honours.

Hayes and Vann have their own set of colourful credentials. Both have twice run the Carrera Panamericana, as well as the European epic Midnight Sun to Red Sea Rally and have experience in the Peking to Paris Rally, Around the World and other international events.

"On a personal level, I'm really encouraged they're starting a class for these cars," says Hayes. "It's difficult because there are very few events you can enter with these cars. And if they're not used, very quickly - like their drivers - they become museum pieces. I hope other events follow the lead of Targa Newfoundland."

Depending on the success of the class in its first year, organizer Giannou say he will consider making it a permanent fixture of Targa Newfoundland.

The 2003 version of Targa Newfoundland will again be a six-day, 2,000-plus kilometre automobile adventure for the owners of great sporting cars from around the world. This year's event will start and finish in St. John's and run September 13 through September 21.

Patterned after the successful Targa Tasmania (Australia) and Targa New Zealand events, Targa Newfoundland was created to provide the owners of these pedigree machines the opportunity to drive them the way they were intended to be driven, safely and in the spirit of goodwill and good competition.

Targa Newfoundland is owned and organized by Newfoundland International Motorsports and is sanctioned by the Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS). Targa Newfoundland 2003 is listed on the FIA calendar.

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Media: Doug Mepham (613)966-4969 or Ruth Marks (709)753-0794
Sponsors: Scott Giannou (709)576-7537
Competitors: Robert Giannou (709)722-2413
Website: www.targanewfoundland.com
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