Locals ready to hit the tarmac and burn rubber in the GBR Targa


Victoria Stone-Meadows


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Rhys Bawden, of Salsa Bar & Grill Restaurant, and Trent Eldridge, of RAM Metalworks & Shade Structures NQ, with their racecar for the 2019 GBR Targa. Image: Victoria Stone-Meadows.

Local revheads Rhys Bawden and Trent Eldridge are geared up and ready for the second installment of the Great Barrier Reef Targa Race this weekend.

Targa originated in the 1906 Sicilian Targa Florio, the world’s oldest sports car event.

Nowadays it is Australia’s longest and most difficult tarmac road endurance race, attracting competitors and interest from all over the world.

For the first time last year, the Targa event was held in Far North Queensland and Mr Bawden and Mr Eldridge caught the racing bug after finishing 29th out of 220 cars and took the fifth spot in their class

This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever with hundreds of cars and competitors taking to the roads of Far North Queensland.

“We are a lot more organised this year,” Mr Bawden said.

“Last year we were still doing the breaks on the last day but this year we have been playing with things because we had time.” 

“We’ve installed a new intercooler and had it tested and tweaked for a bit more power,” said Mr Eldridge.

The pair are looking forward to getting stuck into the race circuit which will take in on a course of over 200 competitive kilometres in Cairns and the tablelands.

They said they aren’t looking to break any world records this year but hope they can improve on their race times from last year.

“We don’t care what position we end in, we just want to beat our own times,” Mr Eldridge said.

Mr Bawden said they have been working on the car and their own skills over the last 12 months to be race-ready.

“We were pretty lucky last year but we’ve also made improvements to the car and done a lot of driving in preparation,” he said.

“By now I think we have got used to the car and broken anything we need to break at the right time so we’ve been able to fix it.

“We’ve been pushing harder and pushing harder and I think we can do better than last year.” 

The guys are still hopeful that one day the race circuit will come through the Douglas Shire and showcase the region to the spectators and other competitors.

“There may be some flow-on effect on tourism numbers this year but if the race came through the Douglas Shire it would be great for us,” Mr Bawden said.

“There is a three year initial deal for this region and this is the second year and if tourism and spectator numbers stay up, it’ll be a great reason to keep it going here in years ahead.”

Mr Bawden and Mr Eldridge thanked their sponsors for keeping the car on the tarmac and ready to race.

“Thanks to all of our sponsors especially David Goodman Chartered Accountants, Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, and Portobella,” Mr Bawden said.

“Along with lots of other business who without their support, this race would have left a deeper hole in our pockets”

To catch the guys in action and soak up the excitement of the race, check out the 2019 Great Barrier Reef spectator guide.

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