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Subaru sends Atlantic rally team to test Targa Newfoundland waters

Subaru Canada Inc. has chosen a pair of "homeboys" to test the waters at the Targa Newfoundland international rally.

Driver John Paynter and his co-driver/brother E. Clarke Paynter, both of Halifax, N.S., will carry the banner for the Subaru factory when the second annual Targa Newfoundland rally for historic, classic and modern sporting cars begins its week-long adventure on September 13, 2003. The pair will pilot a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX wagon in the Modern category.

For the Paynters, it's coming home.

"Our family spent two years living in St. John's in the late 1960s," says John. "For us, it's coming home to The Rock."

The brothers have been regular competitors in the national rally championship for the past seven years and are a part of the three-car Subaru Canada Rally Team that cris-crosses the country every year in pursuit of the national title. This year, the Paynter brothers are running a reduced schedule, leaving them more time to be Subaru's ambassadors in eastern Canada and take part in events like Targa.

Subaru is a global powerhouse in rally competition and the Impreza is considered the most highly evolved off-the-shelf competition car available in Canada. But Canadian rally events are held on frozen winter roads or over gravel and dirt forestry trails; Targa Newfoundland is entirely on paved roads.

That suits the Paynters just fine.

"We've both been involved in motorsports forever," explains John, age 47. Both he and his brother began competing in navigational rallying in their teens. Clarke, now 50, excelled at organizing and John successfully road raced before returning to rallying. "The pavement is what attracted us back. It's a chance to bring back my road racing experience and marry it with our rally experience, and put that combination together for Targa," he says.

The team will adapt their regular 'gravel' rally car for pavement use by making suspension and other changes. "The car is built for rough, rough roads so we'll actually soften it up a little," says John.

But the pair also hope to enjoy their return to the province as tourists as well as rally competitors. "Last year, my son and I drove across Newfoundland. It was the same sort of 'right-of-passage' trip I made when I was his age. It was neat to see Newfoundland through his eyes." While John gets to the province frequently in his role as district manager for Subaru for Atlantic Canada, Clarke has not been back for a long time.

Officially, the Paynters aren't the first Subaru factory team to compete in Targa Newfoundland. Ontario's Tom McGeer and Maryland's Mark Williams, then reigning Canadian rally champions, stepped out of their exotic Subaru and into Williams' vintage Ford Falcon for the 2002 Targa. The pair finished third overall in a battle that went down to the last stage of the last day of competition.

Last year, three automobile manufacturers entered cars in Targa Newfoundland. The Subaru entry is the first official factory entry for 2003, but organizers expect at least five manufacturer entries will roll to the start.

The 2003 version of Targa Newfoundland will again be a 6-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 historic, classic and modern sporting cars 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.



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

Subaru Rally Team Canada: Trish McGeer (905)873-1530 www.subarurallyteam.com
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