The entry list for September’s TARGA Great Barrier Reef has been locked in with 96 crews from around the country to compete in the 2021/2022 season opener.
Taking place in picturesque North Queensland, crews will contest four days of non-stop action over 19 challenging stages, which features a mixture of fan and competitor favourites and the addition of some new stages.
Some of the returning signature stages include the Kuranda Range and two runs at the popular Gillies Range while the two new additions will act as TARGA Super Stages.
With an extra 60 cars to feature in the Tour sections of the event, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the fourth edition of the sun-soaked tarmac rally.
There are a number of crews who will be confident for some form of success, with 2021 TARGA Tasmania runner-up Angus Kennard one of the favourites heading into the season opener.
Kennard’s biggest threat will come in the form of RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) star Luke Anear and co-driver Andy Sarandis.
The duo have become a permanent fixture in the Motorsport Australia TARGA Championship as of late, having been involved in many long battles for outright wins on multiple occasions.
With the New South Welshman making some key modifications to his popular 2018 Mercedes GTR after this year’s TARGA Tasmania, Anear was looking forward to running an event he was close to winning last year.
“I think TARGA Great Barrier Reef is a great event because the community gets behind it and there is a lot of buzz and positive energy during the event,” Anear said.
“As it’s in North Queensland, there is always good weather and it almost feels a bit like a tropical holiday, where we get to race the cars on some fantastic roads.
“There is such a range of stages there because you have Gilles Range which has these beautiful big wide roads and then almost the opposite across top of tableland where there are single lane roads with beautiful scenery. It’s just great.
“I also really enjoyed the motorcade which I believe we are doing again this year. To have 10,000 locals lining the streets and cheering us on was just a surreal experience. Can’t wait for it again.
“In terms of where I sit for a result, it will of course be a challenging event, but I always believe that I am a chance of winning and this year is no different.
“Angus of course is a tough competitor who is highly consistent with his great car. I definitely don’t expect for us to win straight away but we’ll give it our best go and see what happens.”
Anear will also be keeping an eye on two drivers taking part in the event - Tom Dance and Tony Sandy.
While neither driver is in the running for some silverware, their journey into TARGA is an interesting one with both part of Anear and his AGI Rally Sport team’s loan development program.
Having purchased a 2012 Subaru WRX STi, AGI have loaned out the car to both Dance and Sandy free of charge over the past couple of years for TARGA events, as they look to bring more people in the sport.
Photo: Angryman Photography
After already borrowing the car for previous TARGA events, Dance will once again race in it for North Queensland, while Sandy has since purchased a 2011 Renault Megane RS250 of his own and will run that against Dance in the GTP class.
Other big names to look out for throughout the event include Aaron Dunkerton and Queensland Rally Championship driver Melinda Bergmann in the Early Modern 4 class, 2018 GT Sports Trophy class winner Martin Duursma and TARGA Tasmania Classic GT winner Jon Siddins.
The TARGA Great Barrier Reef takes place on 3-5 September around the North Queensland region.