In one of the many discussions that take place during the month in RMS Motoring Towers, resident snapper Graham Curry revealed he was off to a Targa Rally. Blank faces all round. What exactly is a Targa Rally? Head honcho Andy Cooper developed visions of semi-convertible Nissan 300zxs dicing with old skool Porsche 911s, gumball-style. The reality is somewhat different. Targa rallies are a very low cost entry into a proper regulated motorsport. However, roofless is always an option.
Imagine navigational rallying crossed with elements of autotesting. Competitors complete on special tests, which are held on private land and the crew with the lowest time and least penalties wins. Classes can be devised around the competitor’s ability and the age of the vehicle.
The regulations are designed to encourage all comers, all types of vehicles with the emphasis on cheap competition. It really is an anything goes type of sport. But inevitably, the nature of the tests favours light, agile cars which can change directly very quickly. No surprise then that the Mazda MX-5 is ubiquitous with the sport. The lightweight rear-drive platform provides the dinky little Mazda with the grin factor and a bit of an edge when it comes to pirouetting round cones.
The emphasis is on achieving rhythm and having fun, rather than outright flashes of speed. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a sedate sport by any fashion. Multiple surface changes, crafty routes combined with whatever the weather decides to do, mean car control is always pushed to the limits. Big spins, ditchslapping snakes and overshoots are the order of the day!
Targa rallies are organised all over the UK by local motorclubs and Northern Ireland is no exception. Events take place right throughout the year, attracting strong fields and tight competition. Fancy a tilt at Targa, or need to satisfy your curiosity? You can find out more information on the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs website: www.anicc.org.uk
Pictures by Graham Curry Photography