Lotus Cars Australia has secured back to back Australian Targa Championships.
Congratulations to talented racer and driving instructor Paul Stokell, for securing his second consecutive CAMS Australia Targa Championship, driving a Lotus Exige Sport 350.
Co-driven by Kate Catford, multiple Australian Driver’s Champion Stokell secured the Outright trophy with a fighting second place at Targa High Country, held in the Victorian ‘High Country’ from November 8 to 11.
This gave the crew an insurmountable 289 points over the four-round CATRC tarmac rally series, edging out the Dodge Viper ACR Extreme of Targa High Country victors Jason and John White on 240 points.
The Targa High Country finale was conducted in unbelievable conditions, with storms and snowfalls on the higher road sections leading to stage cancellations.
“It got hairy there a few times on the final day, but we held it together,” Stokell, who had to finish seventh or better to take the title, said.
“The car was great. I love driving in the wet and given the condition we set up the car well; it was simply awesome on the wet stages,” he added.
On the season, Stokell said: “It feels awesome to win back to back titles. Winning once is something we aimed for, winning a second time proves it was no fluke, and we have the ability and pace to carry it with the rest of them.
“Kate didn’t miss a beat throughout the whole series, and we get along well, which helps a lot. And the Lotus Exige was fantastic; I’ve really loved my association with Lotus over what’s been many years now, since 1998,” he said.
Stokell put an exclamation mark on his 2019 campaign by winning Targa Tasmania for the first time, the legendary island event offering 100 victory points while the other three rounds awarded 70 points for a win.
Pointing to the significance of Targa Tasmania, Stokell said: “Winning Targa Tasmania was the goal and managing to achieve the national Champion title was the icing on the cake.”
As well as taking the Outright title, Stokell and Catford also won the prestigious GT2 category, for two-wheel drive machines.
Lotus teams also took further 2019 Targa titles: In the GT Sports Trophy category, where cars are limited to 130km/h (81mph), Mitchell and Darryl Ringuet took the title with 289 points aboard their Lotus Exige Sport 350. The son and father team edged out fellow Lotus competitors Antony and Sandra Seymour’s Exige Sport 350 by a mere eight points.
“I had an amazing year of tarmac rallying with my dad. I’m hoping that one day, I too can nervously call notes for my kid from the passenger seat of a Lotus,” said Mitchell Ringuet.
“The Exige is the perfect car for Targa. In almost every condition it outshines the competition, and this is evident in the results from Targa events throughout the year,” he said.
Another Lotus championship was confirmed in the ‘Time Speed Distance’ (TSD) Sports Trophy. TSD requires an average speed per stage and a top speed of 130km/h (81mph); similar to a regularity trial.
Peter and Tristan Taylor (Lotus Elise S) won the category with 300 points, edging Robert Bryden (who used two co-drivers: Ian Bryden and Doc Lang) in a Lotus Exige Cup 380 on 261 points, giving Lotus the first two seats on the championship table.
“Rob and Doc were following us all the way,” said Peter Taylor.
“We had zero penalties on the last day and that is probably the first time anyone has zeroed the day in this class. We do a lot of reconnaissance, which is the way you have to prepare for this category… it is the secret to TSD.
“We get the results but it really is hard work!” he said.
The 2020 CAMS Australian Targa Championship commences with Targa North West from 15 to 16th February 2020.