September 18, 2003

Report from Targa Newfoundland

by Paul Williams

Gander, NF – Wednesday’s events at the Targa Newfoundland saw the competitive stages tighten up, with drivers and vehicles working harder for penalty-free runs. At last count, 55 cars were competing after the second day of competition.

Targa Newfoundland
Residents of Leading Tickles, NF, turn out for the Targa

Targa Newfoundland
Signing autographs for residents

Targa Newfoundland
Rugged coastline

Targa Newfoundland
Targa participants at Leading Tickles

Targa Newfoundland
Terry and Wanda daSilva’s surprising 1980 MGB. Click image to enlarge

The 1965 Mustang Fastback, which sustained damage on Monday, was crudely but effectively fixed. Two vintage Mustangs are at the top of the leaderboard after two days of competition, along with the Salter/Harber 1953 Austin Healey Le Mans. However, these are early days in the five-day event, and a pack of Subaru WRXs, along with other modern rally-style cars will surely move up in the standings as the Targa continues. The Kenzie/Gelinas John Cooper Works Mini Cooper S temporarily retired after its front tire lost a battle with a pothole. It will return to competition on Thursday.

In the Touring class, several drivers ran penalty-free stages on Wednesday, including the Williams/Harper Mini Cooper S. CanadianDriver’s Paul Williams and the National Post’s Brian Harper are sharing driving and navigation duties in this car, and are currently placed in the middle of the field, between a Porsche 911 Targa and a (formerly) concours Porsche Speedster.

Today’s events took participants to the coastal town of Leading Tickles, where townfolk supplied a lunch of moose soup, fish and chips, and corned beef with vegetables. The whole town turned out for the impromptu car show during the lunch stop. The rally also passed through Norris Arm, Botwood and North Leamington.

A highlight of the day was a six-kilometre dash through suburban Gander. Here cars flew through the tidy subdivisions, with residents watching from their front balconies and lawns, or crowded at the corners as cars negotiated the sharp turns in front of them. Picture a typical suburban neighbourhood in your city, with the usual crescents and labyrinth of short streets, and you have an idea of this stage in the rally. Hugely entertaining!

No major casualties today, although the Cobra replica joined the Touring class after sustaining damage in the Targa class. The 1980 MGB of Terry and Wanda daSilva continues to run surprisingly well, keeping up with much more sophisticated and modern machinery.

The weather continues to mimic California, with sunny skies, hot temperatures and the occasional ocean breeze. The roads, however, are becoming rougher.

Thursday’s events see the target times becoming much more challenging, with penalty-free finishing windows down to seven seconds in one stage. The race is also becoming faster and the roads rougher. Thursday the rally will move from the Gander area to the coastal communities of Musgrave Harbour, Greenspond and Clarenville. See the complete standings at

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