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Toyota GR Supra In NZ Targa Tour
Targa has been labelled the ultimate road race here in New Zealand. Every year Targa New Zealand organises multiple rally events across the country, including Hawke’s Bay and Taupō through to Palmerston North. These events are run for both competition and road cars, and are a fundraiser for Race4Life, a charity that focuses on fulfilling wishes of patients in palliative care. Various vehicle classes take part in Targa, from full spec rally cars to the classic, vintage and road cars that take part in the Targa Tour. This year Toyota New Zealand decided to run two 2020 GR Supras in the 25th anniversary year of Targa, in the Targa Tour category.
We took part under TOYOTA GAZOO Racing New Zealand, Toyota’s motorsport, arm that incorporates the Castrol Toyota Racing Series and Best Bars Toyota 86 Championship. The Targa Tour gave our drivers the chance to experience the 2020 GR Supra at speed in a controlled environment, and on some of the best roads in New Zealand. The roads are closed and there is no pressure of a stopwatch or competition when you take part in the Tour. As part of the Tour the drivers can drive the vehicles at up to 130km/h on the closed roads otherwise known as special stages. We drove from Taupō to Otorohonga, New Plymouth, Whangamomona, Stratford, Wanganui, Taihape, Dannevirke and Palmerston North, seeing some of the best parts of New Zealand along the way.
Every day started early with pre-race inspections, getting the car warmed up, taking time to check over the road book, and lining up at the starting line. The day then consisted of multiple special and touring stages, one or two short service stops, lunch, and then more special and touring stages. There was only a brief moment for our drivers to catch their breaths before the start of the next exhilarating stage. Every stage tested the body, mind and car, with an average distance of 25 kilometres per stage. At the heart of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is the belief that competing on every kind of road, no matter what the challenge, inspires us to build ‘ever-better’ cars. This is also apparent in all the groups that race as part of Targa, in both the Rally and the Tour. The amount of work that goes in to each vehicle through the service teams, drivers and sponsors is truly impressive, and shows they have a true passion for what they do.
The community spirit in the Targa event is outstanding. Everyone has lunch together at the local service areas, which is usually supported by a local community group or school as a fundraiser, and when things go wrong on the stages everyone pulls together to help each other out. Along the way, local rural schools are offered the opportunity to fundraise and many of the participants donate money in exchange for food, car washes or coffee.
Even though it is a national event, it has a local community feel about it, and everyone is friendly and welcoming.
It has been a really enjoyable event for everyone involved, and whether you drive a road car or a rally car, it is an event where anyone can participate.