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Hopper/Quinn Joint Leaders After First Targa Rotorua Stages

Hopper/Quinn Joint Leaders After First Targa Rotorua Stages

Two former event winners, Leigh Hopper and Tony Quinn, are joint overall and Allcomers 4WD class leaders after the first two stages of this year's Targa Rotorua tarmac motor rally today.

2011 winner Hopper, with co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick (Subaru Impreza WRX), was five seconds qucker than 2009 winner Tony Quinn and his co-driver Naomi Tillett (Nissan GTR-35) on the first run through the 24.83km Manawahe/Braemar stage east of the city just after midday.

And though Hopper and Kirkpatrick were beaten by both Quinn and Tillett and Auckland pair Jason Gill and Mark Tapper (Mitsubishi Evo9GT) on the second run through the stage in the afternoon, once the times were tallied up the Subaru of Hopper and Kirkpatrick and the Nissan of Quinn and Tillett were tied for the lead on 22 minutes and 55 seconds, with Gill and former rally champ Tapper third seventeen seconds back.

"So, yeah, a good day," a smiling Hopper said back in Rotorua."The pace was pretty hot but the conditions were good and though it was a little bit damp through the second half of the stage when we went back through it we all went faster. The only difference for us was we had to pass a car which probably cost us a couple of seconds. But overall, good fun!"

Also enjoying his day was Mark Tapper, the former gravel ace this time co-driving for good friend Jason Gill.

"Sure there were a couple of points today where I felt like grabbing the handlebars," Hopper joked, "but hey, I have known Jason for a few years and he has helped me in the past with my career so the idea this weekend was for me to come along and give him a few pointers to get the last little bit out of the car."

Best of the Modern 2WD class runners, meanwhile, were Wellingtonians Richard Krogh and Glenn Sharratt in their Porsche 911. The pair were almost half a minute quicker than Aucklanders Graham Browne and Mark Christensen (2006 Renault Megane R26) when they ran through the Manawahe/Braemar stage for the first time though Richard Scoular and Mike Patching (Mazda RX7) closed the gap to just three seconds to claim second overall place in class second time around.

The big news in the Metalman Classic class was the appearance at the top of the time sheets of Auckland husband and wife pair Tony and Joanne Butler in Butler's New Zealand-built 350 cu. in Chevrolet V8-powered HQ Holden-based two-seater Cheetah convertible.

Traditionally the Metalman Classic 2WD class has been the preserve of the E30 M3 BMWs of the Kirk-Burnnand clan but today the Butlers beat father and daughter Rex and Kate McDonald (BMW E30 325i) and son and father pair Mark and Chris Kirk-Burnnand (BMW M3) through the stage first time round and father/son pair Barry and Steven Kirk-Burnnand (BMW M3) and the McDonalds when they went back through for a second time.

Not bad for someone who finally finished work on his car at 2 am this morning then drove the car to Rotorua from Auckland.

"Yes," said Butler,"we've been close to the Kirk-Burnnands before but never quite been able to beat them. This time we seemed to be quick right out of the box and while I wouldn't say I love driving in the wet it seems to be something I do well so that obviously helped today."

The 2013 Targa Rotorua event continues tomorrow and on Sunday. The event is organised and is being run with the support of sponsors Britz, NZ Classic Car magazine, Ecolight, Federal motorsport tyres, Instra Corporation, Metalman, Mobil1, TeamTalk, Trackit, VTNZ and Woolrest Biomag.

More information including an entry list and stage maps is available in the latest issue of New Zealand Classic Car magazine.


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