September 22, 2003
Brian Harper (left) and Paul Williams with 1017 Mini Cooper S, placed fifth
Targa Newfoundland – Final report
By Paul Williams
St. John’s, NF – The five-day, 2003 Targa Newfoundland road rally concluded on September 20 (Saturday) with a challenging sprint through Maddox Cove, just outside of St. John’s. There are 9 Targa classes and one Touring class in the Targa Newfoundland, and class winners included a 1953 Austin Healey 100, a 1965 Ford Mustang, a 1996 Lancia HX Integrale and a 2002 Subaru WRX. Outright Targa winner was the 1972 BMW Bavaria driven by Californians Bill Arnold and Peter Guagenti, just ahead (by five seconds) of Ontario’s Jeremy Hill and British Columbia’s Lennox McNeely driving their 1965 Ford Mustang. Both competed in the Classic class.
In the 15-car Touring class, former Quebec rally champion Jean-Francois Drolet came first in a 2003 Nissan G35 Coupe.
Also in the Touring class, CanadianDriver’s Paul Williams and the National Post’s Brian Harper shared driving and navigation duties in a stock 2003 Mini Cooper S, and came fifth, behind the winning G35, a private entry 2002 Mini Cooper S, a 1999 Miata and a Porsche 911.
Full results are available at the Targa Newfoundland site.
The 2200-km event, now in its second year, featured a variety of classic, sports and modern vehicles, and ran through an equally diverse range of road surfaces. Long stretches of remote roads were interspersed with short, challenging stages through towns, villages and suburban neighbourhoods. Sometimes roads narrowed to little more than lanes or paths as competitors flung their cars up and down hills, between houses and through back alleys. These town stages were not for the faint of heart!
On other stages, and depending on the vehicles’ class, speeds were capped at 130-200 km/h.
The final day saw vehicles leave Marystown after, for many, a long night of repairs. The Brokovitch/Crammond Honda Civic CRX received a new engine (sourced from a local wrecker) in the arena parking lot. Other vehicles were patched up, welded, bent back into shape and otherwise massaged into condition (hopefully) for the day’s stages. The hard-luck MacDonnell/Rasmussen 1976 Datsun 280Z never did make it to the end, its engine expiring in the final stage.
Some traded their deceased vehicles for anything available to get them over the finish line. Alan Ryall and Glenn Hamilton, for example, ended up in an Aerostar van, formerly the support vehicle for their Subaru Impreza that rolled in Greenspond. BMW Canada graciously lent father and son team Brian and Ken Jarvis its X5 support vehicle (for the MINI team) after their pristine BMW 2002 tii crashed and bent, also at Greenspond. This permitted the Jarvis’s to complete the required minimum stages and receive their Targa medals.
Out of 60 entries, 53 vehicles competed the event.
The Targa Newfoundland is based on the Targa Tasmania and Targa New Zealand, both of which were inspired by the original Targa Florio held on the island of Sicily from 1906-1974. The Targa Tasmania began in the late 1980s, and now attracts 300 cars each year. The cars compete against time, rather than against each other, with the fastest or most accurate times winning. The event was supported by 2000 volunteers and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Targa Newfoundland is sanctioned by the Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS), is listed on the FIA calendar, and is the only event of its kind in North America.