Rhys Llewellyn and Colin O'Brien (left) stand triumphant after finishing in second place in Early Modern Rookie class at Targa Tasmania.
Rhys Llewellyn and Colin O'Brien (left) stand triumphant after finishing in second place in Early Modern Rookie class at Targa Tasmania. Angryman Photography

Warwick rally lover lives his Targa dream

AFTER six days and 33 stages totalling over 400km of racing, Warwick rally driving enthusiast Colin O'Brien fulfilled a lifelong dream and conquered Targa Tasmania at his first attempt, finished second by just one second in the early modern rookie class.

O'Brien along with parents Phil and Marilyn are motorsport mad, with the family celebrating 50 years involvement with motor racing this year.

O'Brien said entering Targa Tasmania was the perfect way to celebrate.

"Entering one of the biggest and most famous tarmac car rallies in the world just does not happen easily,” he said.

"We started planning, booking and training 10 months ago and I started saving almost two years ago as it is also a very expensive event due to the logistics of living so far away.

"In the current economic climate it is near impossible to find major sponsors locally or at a national level, so we thought let's use our journey to raise funds for a charity close to our families heart.

"The response from family and some friends was overwhelming and assisted both Beyond Blue and our journey.”

Colin O'Brien's Mitsubishi EVO8 rally car find some clean air during Targa Tasmania.
TOP GEAR: Colin O'Brien's Mitsubishi EVO8 rally car finds some clean air during Targa Tasmania. Angryman Photography

The winner of the "Targa Dream” raffle including Morgan Park hot laps, was announced on the eve of Targa Tasmania on April 15 and was won by Warwick sporting and business identity Greg Newey.

The O'Briens left Warwick on April 6 for the long drive to Tasmania and on arrival O'Brien and navigator Rhys Llewellyn spent four days checking the event pace notes.

The event began on Monday, April 16, with 150 entrants taking to a couple of warm ups.

"Unfortunately 40 teams were caught out on stage one with a 30 second penalty for being too quick and yes we were one of those,” O'Brien said.

"Stage three was the famous Georgetown street stage which we cleared in a reasonable time for rookies.”

At the end of day two the pair had moved up almost 30 places during the day to be 74th overall and fourth in the early modern rookie class.

Day four saw O'Brien's Mitsubishi EVO8 rally car in perfect condition.

"First stage of day four is Cethana at over 38kms around Mt Roland so it's important to get off to a quick start,” O'Brien said.

"Again we thought we were going well until caught by a faster competitor but it did give us a chance to follow and see what needed to be done to go to the next level.”

After the longest day of the event O'Brien and Llewelyn moved up to 55th outright and third in their class.

Day five saw fresh tyres on front of the car and O'Brien said he had pencilled in the day as a 'moving day', which they achieved moving into second in their class.

"Day six was the last day of racing of the marathon Targa event and I was starting to feel the effects of sitting and concentrating for long periods,” O'Brien said.

"But rather than having to chase down to move up a spot we had to push to defend our spot as the crew behind us had a car that also suited these last 60km of stages and they had the benefit of being local.

"We had a red hot go and left nothing in the tank and ended finishing second in the class by only one second.

"The feeling as we drove the last 12km transport into Hobart was a mixture of relief and joy but only once we made the formal finish line on the wharf and got out of the car and saw our team waiting could I truly relax and appreciate the enormity of what we had just accomplished. To stand on a podium in front of a big crowd and spray champagne is every rally drivers dream and it came true for me.”