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Mazda Tightens Grip On Targa Title

April 21st, 2008


The penultimate day of competition saw Team Mazda Motorsport move further up the leaderboard of the 2008 Targa Tasmania, and continue its dominance of the 2WD Showroom Competition.

Targa Tasmania lived up to its reputation as one of the world’s most challenging tarmac rallies, with 25 cars failing to finish today’s competition leg.

The leading Mazda3 MPS entry, driven by Rick Bates, dodged the carnage and gained two places to move into 18th outright with a penalty time of 15min 08sec. His team-mate Alister McRae jumped an impressive five positions to finish the day in 21st outright on 15min 58sec.

Mazda tightened its grip on the 2WD Showroom Competition even further, Bates and McRae adding an incredible four minutes to the gap to third-placed Simon Evans in his supercharged Toyota TRD Aurion. The Mazda duo starts the final day with a nine minute buffer over Evans (24min 03sec).

The second Toyota Aurion of Neal Bates - competing in the modified Modern category - fared little better. The overnight gap from McRae to Bates was just 8 seconds. After Day Four's 135km of high-speed competition, Bates now languishes 49 seconds behind McRae.

And as for the intra-team competition between Mazda's two star drivers, the day's honours went to Alister McRae, who took seven seconds out of Rick Bates' overnight lead of 57 seconds.

If McRae had not suffered the water hose problem on Day Two, he would now be within seven seconds of his team-mate. McRae says the Day Two issue is probably a blessing in disguise.

"It's good that we're not going into the last day too close together, because now we're not racing each other and we can concentrate on picking up as many places as possible.

Bates said Day Four's stages presented some unique challenges as the competition wound into the wild west of Tasmania.

"The long and hilly Cethana was particularly tough on the production car brakes, but we got through alright. It's more slippery on this side of the island, I think it's because the temperatures are lower and the roads are cooler."

Tomorrow’s final day of the 2008 Targa Tasmania comprises six stages over 108 competitive kilometres. The field starts in the iconic fishing village of Strahan and finishes later tomorrow afternoon in the capital city Hobart.

Visit www.mazda.com.au/targa to read the latest news, watch video highlights and hear the driver’s reports.

*At the time of publishing outright results were classed as preliminary and may be subject to change. Check the Targa Tasmania website for validated results each evening.

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