St. John’s, Newfoundland – Five automakers — Mini, Subaru, Audi, Nissan and Smart — will run entries in the 2009 Targa Newfoundland road rally, including two new to the event. No manufacturer-supported entry has ever won the overall Targa competition, but they have taken division, class and category wins in past events.

Mini will compete for its seventh year in a row, with a 2009 Mini John Cooper Works Challenge car with driver Jim Kenzie of Milton, Ontario, and co-driver Brian Bourbonniere of Halifax. The car is entirely new, following a crash in last year’s race that destroyed the vehicle that twice won the Open Division and had entered each year since 2004. A second factory Mini Cooper S Clubman entry, driven by Tom Thornton and Ron Bartleet of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, will compete in Grand Touring under the banner of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada.

Subaru, which has also entered for seven years, returns with an Impreza WRX STI in the Modern Division of the Targa competition, driven by Marc Lachapelle of Montreal and Keith Townsend of Toronto.

Returning under the Audi Canada banner is an Audi from the 1980s Group B rally cars, driven by Frank Sprongl of Georgetown, Ontario and Rod Hendricksen of New Jersey. It will make its second appearance at Targa as part of Audi’s 100-year celebration. The team took the Open Division last year.

A new entry is a Nissan GT-R, supported by Nissan North America, from California motorsports specialists Stillen in cooperation with Road & Track magazine. The car weighs about 100 kilograms less than stock, uses carbon ceramic brakes, and makes over 600 horsepower. Driven Steve Millen  and Road & Track editor and co-driver Mike Monticello, both from California, will chronicle the event for the magazine’s readers.

Mercedes-Benz Canada will enter a 2009 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet in the Grand Touring competition, with its roster of drivers to be revealed prior to the start of the event.

In addition to their division and class entries, all of the manufacturer-sponsored cars will compete for the Sirius Satellite Radio President’s Cup, an award for overall results covering all vehicle classes. The competition was first sponsored by Sirius Satellite Radio in 2008, when Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada won the inaugural prize.

The eighth annual Targa Newfoundland runs September 12 to 19, starting and finishing in St. John’s.

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