Day Five: Saturday October 29


Today started with another 06:30 driver's briefing, this time at Hastings (horse) race course. Sarah decided to drive the first stage of the day, which was a fairly long, winding road up and down the Ruakawa Range south-west of Hastings. At the end of that stage we headed into Takapau for an extremely good breakfast prepared by the local school, where Ken caught up with us in the support van. There was more than an hour for breakfast, which gave us time to chat with other Targa Tourists and have a good look around all the cars.



After breakfast Ken rejoined Mark in the MX5 and Sarah took over support van duties. Our next stage took us on a quick blast around Ashley Clinton to Waipukurau, through a mix of tight hill sections and some very fast, sweeping runs down the river valleys. We found time to wave to friends of Ken whose farm we passed on the way; they had been primed to look for a car featuring the Union flag but were nonetheless surprised by our 'Austin Powers' paintwork when we hurtled by.



Sarah next joined us in Waipukurau, where we went hunting for old-fashioned milkshakes and some local souvenirs. We were successful on all counts, and also met a bloke with a rather special Harley. He rode up to the Targa group to have a look at our cars, to which we insisted he show us his bike since it was a new custom-built chrome and leather extravaganza, certainly worth more than many of the cars on the Tour.

The next stage was SS38, a very quick sprint along the Kaokaoroa Range, finishing just out of Havelock North. This was the fastest run of our week, with lots of fast sweeping corners following a river down the valley.

Our final special stage of the day, and indeed of the event, was a fast hill-climb up into the Kaweka Range, stopping at a hospitality area halfway through SS39. The Targa Tour fleet parked up here and enjoyed a barbecue in the sun, then watched the real Targa rally cars screaming by. By this stage the final finishing order was pretty much determined, and drivers were mostly preserving their machines to ensure they made it safely to the finish. Nonetheless they were all a whole lot quicker than our Tour cars, and certainly very entertaining to watch.



Once all the competitive cars had gone by Sarah returned to the driver's seat of the MX5 to drive out the second half of the stage, then we cruised into Hastings town centre for the event finish. We parked all the Targa Tour cars on display and held a brief ceremony to celebrate our successful completion of the event, albeit in a backup car in our case. We weren't the only ones to need a substitute car however, as a couple of others had car swaps including a Mustang crew that used three cars to get to the finish.

Now it was time to relax and enjoy the finish of the full Targa Rally. We found a bar in the sun by the finish line, sampled some local brews, and cheered on the entire Targa fleet as they came into town. There were many very battered cars coming across the line, and quite a lot that didn't make it to the finish at all including our own 356 Targa Twins.