The 11th running of Targa Newfoundland lacked last year's drama of a Ferrari in the ocean, but it did feature a hurricane – and some intense competition in every class.
A mix of rally rookies and seasoned veterans, including two local entries, claimed top honours in the four overall classes. But it was a second-place finish in the highly competitive Open division that clinched the coveted President’s Manufacturers Cup for Fiat.
Swedish driver, Samuel Hubinette, and Targa veteran Jen Horsey, from Toronto, brought their factory-backed Fiat 500 Abarth home behind Newfoundlanders, Paul Dyer – a Targa rookie – and Justin Grant, who dominated the Open Division in their Mitsubishi Lancer.
The Hubinette/Horsey duo edged out the monster Mustang of Ray and Julie Halleran, of Newfoundland, after being separated by seconds throughout their five-day battle. The little Fiat finally prevailed over the tight stages of the final day of competition.
While Hubinette is a professional driver – and two-time Formula DRIFT champion – this was his first rally as well. The veteran team of Adrienne Hugues and Roy Hopkins, who finished fourth in Grand Touring in another Fiat 500 Abarth, formed the other half of the winning Manufacturers Cup team.
Fiat also won the Next Generation Challenge, which recognizes 2009 model year or newer vehicles that equipped with an engine up to 1.6 litres in displacement.
St. John's native Scott Giannou and co-driver Ray Felice of Guelph, Ontario, scored their third-straight win in the Classic Division ahead of the Ford Escort of Brits, Ben Gill and Dave Didcock in their first Targa and only their second rally.
Veteran rally driver, Andrew Comrie-Picard, with co-driver Brian O'Kane of Calgary, controlled the Modern Division from the start in their Mitsubishi Lancer, taking a decisive victory over Targa rookies Bill Caswell and Horst Reinhardt of the U.S. in their BMW M3.
Targa co-founder and veteran Doug Mepham, of Belleville, and co-driver John Solecki of Pickering, both in Ontario, claimed third place with their Mini Cooper S, when the rookie team of Daryl Leiski and Grant Lindsay, of Prince George, B.C., with whom they had been dueling, crashed their Fiat Abarth on the penultimate special stage of the last day.
After bouncing back and forth all week, first place in the Grand Touring division went to John Hume Sr of Toronto, and Craig MacMullen of Centreville, Nova Scotia, in a BMW.
Second was the MINI Cooper Countryman of Jon Riddell and Brian De Lange of Toronto.
Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally-recognized Targa motorsports events in the world. The 2012 competition, which started and ended in St. John’s, covered more than 2,000 kilometres of challenging Newfoundland roads, including approximately 450 kilometres of flat-out closed-road Targa stages.
The rally raised substantial funds for a number of charitable causes, including the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.