Mossman couple take out Targa division title over the weekend

Targa Rally

Jereme Lane


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Pat and Katie Burnett celebrate their victory
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Mossman locals and owners of JKC Auto, Pat and Katie Barnett, have taken out their division in the Targa Rally’s Great Barrier Reef leg over the weekend.

The pair spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday racing around Cairns and the Tablelands in Pat’s dream rally car, a customised 1979 TE Ford Cortina.

“They’re not really designed as a race car but that’s been part of the challenge, to turn it into one. That Cortina is what got me into being a mechanic in the first place,” Pat said.

With several competitors in the division experiencing mechanical troubles Pat and Katie breezed home in their division, a result of having a reliable vehicle.

“We had plenty of mechanical issues last year, the car just wasn’t up to it. We were learning and didn’t know what to expect. So we’ve spent the last year preparing the car and fixing all the faults. We were just looking to finish the race to be perfectly honest,” Pat laughed.

“You’re only allowed one hour each night to service the car so if the car isn’t spot on you’ll have problems.

While Pat does his job behind the wheel, Katie has the role of navigator which is critical to making sure the car stays on the road.

“It’s important that you get the navigation correct when you’re on the range or on a small country road around Ravenshoe for example. You don’t want to say left when you’re supposed to go right around a hairpin bend on the Gillies,” Katie said.

When asked about competing in other legs of the Targa, the duo explained that the rally is quite a commitment and while they would love to compete in the other legs in Tasmania and the High Country, they’re probably limited to the local competition for the foreseeable future.

“To go further afield would be amazing but to go down to Tassie with a car and crew is a huge commitment financially, let alone the six weeks off work. But if down the track we could get sponsored or something that would be incredible. Just to compete last weekend means a week off work getting the car ready and getting to and from each leg,” Pat said.

They didn’t do it all alone though, and the couple roomed each night with the other local competitors in the comp, Rhys Bawden (owner of Salsa restaurant) and Trent Eldridge (RAM metalworks) in a 2004 Subaru WRX Sti.

They were assisted by a service crew of Grant Pheasant (Pavillions apartments), Shane Feben (Craiglie Automotive) and Dylan Langeluddecke (Cairns Electrical Maintenance).

“We’ve had so much support from the local community, so many people have helped us along the way with all kinds of small tasks that need to be done. It’s great to have so much help from friends in the community,” Katie said.

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