The Motorsport Australia Targa Championship returns this weekend with the long awaited Targa High Country to run up, down and around Victoria’s famous Mount Buller.
Just shy of 90 crews will be battling it out across 16 scheduled stages over the three days with another 60 cars to be following the competitors closely as part of the special tour classes.
Starting on Friday afternoon, the crews will complete more than 30 competitive kilometres going up and down the mountain over two stages. On Saturday morning, they go back down the mountain and complete a further six stages before returning with the day’s eighth stage.
Unlike 2019’s edition, Sunday will see crews head down Mount Buller for the final time as they complete the event’s remaining six stages and finish in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Mansfield.
One of those drivers who is itching to get back behind the wheel and race at High Country this weekend is one of the class winners from September’s Targa Great Barrier Reef in Peter Gluskie.
Having won the Shannons Classic Handicap alongside Samantha Winter, one of the only Victorians in 2020’s sole Targa event for the year was very excited to race on home soil.
“It’s certainly been a while since we have been able to go out racing. Everyone is really keen,” Gluskie said.
“High Country has some great bits of road with lots of challenging stages and I think everyone loves the challenge of the hill climb up Mount Buller.
“The Eildon Jamieson road stage in both directions is definitely my favourite. It is relentless. They have so many corners over such a long distance. There are a couple of long fast straight sections in the middle but the rest of it is a winding road on good asphalt going up and down decent hills.
“I don’t think you can ever get it right because every trip is different. It’s one of those stages where you have to have maximum commitment and even when you stuff up, you can’t dwell on it for long.”
The event’s penultimate stage isn’t the only major challenge for crews with the mountain roads also a crew favourite. This year, event organisers have opted to extend the three stages going down Mount Buller, starting them from the highest possible point to add a few extra kilometres.
And while the event as a whole will be exciting for crews, Gluskie believes the combination of a lack of snow, the Mansfield stage and the multiple contenders will certainly make it an event to remember.
“We’re expecting no snow which is a bonus as it means we can see this time. That said, there aren’t any huge changes in terms of our strategy and preparation,” Gluskie added.
“For us, it’s just a matter of having high concentration and subtly adjusting tyre pressure and suspension based on temperatures.
“It’s a great event and the Mansfield region gives great support to the event – especially opening up for the street stages and the parade where they welcome the cars. Definitely one of the major highlights is just the general population of the town having a high level of interest in our cars.
“As for the competition itself, I think there are four or five quick teams that should definitely be in contention, so I am expecting the event will be quite entertaining.”
Targa High Country takes place in Mount Buller, Mansfield and its surrounding regions on 5-7 February.