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Journeys : April May 2009
Non-star in an new car? Buy with Looking for a confidence at Pickles Auctions Ex-Tasmanian Government vehicles, most about two years old with 40,000km RACT Roadworthy Inspection with each vehicle (includes pre-registration certificate) should apologise to Top Gear for mucking about with their title, but they never apologise to anybody for anything, so… I Every year there is a three-day motor sport event in Tasmania called the Mountain Circuit Challenge. Organised by the Light Car Club of Tasmania, it takes its participants in three loops radiating from Launceston and covering a lot of little-known roads. The first loop takes us to Legerwood, where the main business of the day is a few runs over the hillclimb course. The second goes to Lake Barrington for a number of autotests and several runs up the more challenging hillclimb course there. And the last day takes us to Symmons Plains for a number of activities – some on the circuit and some in the pit area. My wife and I competed in our 1955 Fiat 600 tarmac rally car, which has about 50 hp – much more than it was originally meant to have, but still not a lot. Viewings and fixed price on Saturdays from 10am-1pm or Mondays from 8am Auctions every Tuesday at 11am 56 Sunderland Street, Derwent Park The rest of the field ran the whole gamut of motoring from family cars through to a couple of late-model Porsche GT3s. And it was one of these that gave me my chance to be a non-star…etc. Greg Garwood of Launceston is well known to followers of Targa Tasmania for his storming second outright in the modern competition in 2005 in his Porsche 911 GT3 RS (RennSport – the competition model). And it was this same car that he brought to the Mountain Circuit Challenge, with daughter Jameeka in the navigator’s seat. www.ract.com.au 28 April / May 09 At Lake Barrington I had briefly sat in the driver’s seat while chatting to Jameeka about how she was enjoying her first foray into motor sport. So when Greg came up to me at Symmons Plains and said, ‘Can you reach the pedals in that?’ I thought he was having a go at me. But no. One of the Symmons events is the ‘driver/ navigator challenge’, where the navigator does one flying lap and the driver then has to match it exactly – no faster, no slower. Jameeka was too young to drive, so Greg suggested to the organisers that it would be ‘a bit of fun’ if I set a time for him instead. They said no, and set him a time of I minute ten seconds; but they said I could have an untimed run after everyone else. As Greg helped me into the thing I was slightly put off to find that although I could reach the pedals, I couldn’t see the bonnet. ‘I’ll take it easy,’ I said. ‘No, no, drive it like you stole it’, he said. ‘Don’t brake until the 100-metre mark – and you can go flat in fifth through the sweeper.’ ‘How much horsepower does it have?’ ‘Oh, about 300.’ I suspected Greg was being economical with the truth, so I let that pass. (It’s actually closer to 400.) I was waved out onto the track for my untimed laps, and as soon as I saw clear track I gave it some. If you look up the specifications you’ll see that it goes from 0–100 km/h in 4.4 seconds. What that feels like is unearthly. As soon as you touch the throttle it’s away. There is a howl from out the back, the needle whips round to 8500 rpm, and you snap another gear. Then it’s away again. It just keeps going with bottomless torque and endless power. Heading into the hairpin for the first time I braked at the 150 mark – fairly gently because I knew it would pull up. I was a little clumsy with the steering wheel, and it lurched briefly left and right unreasonably priced car Philip Blake 6357
June July 2009
June July 2008