Stories & photos from Lotus Sports Car Drivers at Targa Tasmania 2016


Lotus at Targa Tasmania 2016  

lotus sports car at targa tasmania

Trackdays are boring in comparison, everyone has to do this at least once in their life.

2016 has seen Lotus deliver another round of stunning results at Targa Tasmania including a great Lotus Tour Event group. The Lotus Exige sports car featured GT2 & GT Sports Trophy competitive classes. Paul Stokell and Jenny Cole secured fourth place in GT2 and fourth outright for the rally in their first competitive outing in an Exige. Using a production based Lotus Exige they finished just behind two purpose built race cars & a Porsche GT3 worth over $500,000.


While in GT Sports Trophy, Lotus finished 1st and 3rd with Jeffrey Morton & Dennis Neagle taking the win by a commanding 11 minutes, with Martin Duursma and Jeff Wodhams in third - both driving Lotus Exige production based sports cars.


Putting that success into perspective, even with a 130km/h speed limit in GT Sports Trophy, Jeffrey managed to finish in the top 35 out of over 100 cars in his brand new Lotus Exige Sport 350, in his first Targa Tasmania. Read about his journey to winning Targa Tasmania

Targa Tasmania Overall finishing times.




Targa Tasmania - written by Martin Duursma

April 2017 found myself and navigator Richard Wodhams experiencing the thrills of another Targa event, Targa Tasmania in my 2013 Lotus Exige S V6. This event was actually my 12th Targa having competed for the last 6 years in both Targa Tasmania and Targa High country and turned out to be both one of the most enjoyable and also one of the most competitive events that I had been in.


At Targa, there are many forms of the event from the “tour” which is basically a spirited drive on the closed roads, speed limited competitions like TSD and GT Sports Trophy as well as the unlimited speed competition.


In my whole 6 years of competition I’ve always competed in the speed limited categories, limited to 130KPH as my view is that if you are racing on country and mountain roads you have a much better chance of recovery if say a kangaroo or other road obstacle suddenly pops up than if you are running at higher speeds. I also think that the skill level required in GT Sports Trophy is quite high as you are basically trying to get to the end of the stage as fast as possible but never exceeding the speed of 130KPH. To achieve a good stage time requires skill from the driver and navigator to ensure you are at the optimal speed for every corner as you cannot make up time on the straights (unlike the cars in the unlimited speed categories). 


This year’s event saw some variable weather over the first days with some light rain on some stages and also stages drying up half way through which would require the driver to adapt driving styles during mid stage from a wet to a dry approach. The competition was tough with 1st , 2nd and 3rd positions in our category pretty far ahead of the rest of the pack, Richard and I were in a tight group of 4th, 5th and 6th on the third day and really needed to put in some great stages to pull ahead, luckily we really hit our straps at the end of day 3 were we were a clear 4th with a nice gap back to 5thand 6th. But you never know what will happen in Targa and Day 5 saw 2nd place runner in a 2004 Subaru WRX suffer engine problems and so we moved up to 3rd place. The final day of competition saw us stay clear of any issues and finished a comfortable 3rd overall for the event.


A key part of our success was the support that we received from Simply Sports Cars who has two crews running who would be at the end of the stages to check on our tyres and help out if there were any issues. 


As a Lotus driver, it was satisfying to see the great representation of the marque, probably one of the best showings in a Targa Tasmania with many Lotus owners participating in the tour as well as competitors in TSD, GT Sports Trophy and also in the GT2 categories. As a Exige S owner it was even more satisfying the see that Paul Stokel achieved a 4th outright against many much more fancied drivers as well as cars that were many times the price of the Lotus, goes to show how good the combination of a light car and great engine performance holds up again the best GT cars that are on offer.



Will I do another Targa? You bet I will! I’ve already registered for Targa High Country and Targa Tasmania 2018!




Targa Tasmania - written by Steve Sher


Targa Tasmania has always been on my bucket list.

The concept of driving some of the best roads in the world, at speed and which are closed off to allow full use of the bitumen, was always a dream. When the opportunity to join the Lotus Tour came up on my Facebook feed, I don't think it took more than 30 seconds for me to reply locking in a spot.

It was irrelevant what was scheduled in my calendar, it was all getting pushed out. I didn't even have a navigator confirmed, these were all details that would be attended to later. It's safe to say the event itself did not disappoint, despite my high expectations.

The roads were sublime, my v6 Exige the perfect car, with my navigator and I having an absolute ball. 6 days, 40 stages,2000km!! The quaint little country towns, the incredible scenery and the amazing friendly people both competing and  assisting with the event as well as those we met along every stage.

Targa Tasmania is a have to do event for anyone who loves driving, and wants to experience one of the greatest motoring events on the calendar.

The Simply Sports cars team once again excelled in all respects including organisation and planning of itinerary for each day, movement of vehicles and support as needed. My only negatives were a slight post Targa depression in the days post the event and the fact that it's a full 12 month wait until I can get back there! 


Targa Tasmania - written by Chris van Wyk


It took me 26 years to finally participate in the Targa Tasmania Rally!


It was always the usual old problem, of not having enough money and not wanting to equip a road car with all the motorsport safety requirements, including a full roll cage. This is where the Lotus Tour made it possible for me to drive the whole Targa route at a brisk pace in a road car.


I was lucky to be able to take a ZAGAME Automotive Lotus Exige Sport 350 Roadster on the event this year. And what an event it was! With nearly 300 cars participating and over 600 people involved with the rally, it is a major Australian motorsport event, of international repute. Whereas for Targa Competitors, it turns into a 10-day event, for us on the Tour, it could all be condensed into one week away from the office. This is because we were not competing against each other or the clock and hence we were not invited to stay-on for the Prize Giving!


In all, there were 15 Lotus cars participating in the various categories and at the completion of the event, Paul Stokell in a Lotus Exige S finished a very competitive 4th overall. To add to Lotus glory on the event, Targa rookie Jeff Morton finished 1st in the speed limited GT Sports Trophy category driving an Exige Sport 350, while Targa veteran Martin Duursma finished 3rd in the same class driving an Exige V6 S. Meanwhile, back in the Lotus Tour, we drove ahead of the competitive field each day, which had the advantage of getting to the pub early. Besides the Lotus Tour, there was also a Ferrari Tour and a Porsche Tour. Plus some independent Tour participants, driving all sorts of cars.


I was lucky to find a Targa Tasmania veteran who had participated in 21 previous Targa Rallies, both as a driver and as a navigator, to navigate for me. His name is Philip Blake and it was really nice to have an experienced navigator who knew all the stages.


On a typical day, we would drive about 7 stages and cover a total distance of around 350 kms. The fabulous thing on the stages was that the roads were closed to other traffic, so we could really enjoy a nice fast drive, using all the road.


The event provided me with my first opportunity to have a proper drive of the new Lotus Exige Sport 350. Wow, what a car!


I had use of a beautiful Exige Orange Roadster (colour exclusive to the Exige range), fitted with automatic transmission. The auto transmission has really been dramatically improved over what was fitted to earlier Exiges, with quick changes, both up and down.


I drove the stages in Sport mode, using the paddles, but when left to its own devices, the gear changes were also well timed and intuitive. Importantly, the paddles are fixed to the steering column, so they are easy to find when steering lock is on.


Besides the effortless performance, the most impressive thing for me was the ‘front-end’. Turning into corners at high speed was a real pleasure, as the car went exactly where you wanted, with no understeer. If the corner tightened, it was no problem to wind on a bit more lock and the Exige responded perfectly.


The ‘back-end’ also behaved really well, staying planted, unless provoked into a touch of oversteer under power. All in all, the Exige is brilliantly balanced. The brakes were also terrific, with a lot of feel and absolutely no fade. As a confirmed ‘stick-shift man, I must say, I took to the automatic version. It made driving the Exige really fast, just so easy, but still totally involving.


Targa Tasmania - written by Scott Robinson


What an amazing driving experience!


I must admit I have been lucky in my career to have driven some incredible cars on some incredible tracks and roads around the world, but nothing compares to Targa Tasmania in a Lotus.

Let me tell you about the format. The Lotus Targa Tour is not a competition as you are not being timed. However, you get to drive the complete Targa event on the same closed roads as the competition cars are being timed, then navigate to the next special stage behind the Tour Leader guiding you at the front of the pack.


Yes, there is a top speed restriction but that does not effect the enjoyment as 90% of the special stage closed roads are on tight twisty roads that when driving a Lotus put a smile on your face and get your Adrenalin pumping in a way no track day can ever deliver.


The Closed Road special stages mean you can use both sides of the road as you blast along these spectacular mountain roads. This takes some getting used to on the first day to tell yourself you can use all the road especially after the apex of a corner on exit as you find yourself not using all the available tarmac.


The best news is you can use your Lotus with no special preparation like Roll Cages or even the need to wear a crash helmet. This is a Spirited drive on some of the best roads in the world that your Lotus was made for.


My Lotus of Choice was a brand new Elise Sport 220.  


The mighty Elise Sport 200 performed faultlessly for the whole event. I knew it was good but was pleasantly surprised at just how good this car was against the gaggle of Exige’s both earlier 4 cylinder (some highly modified tack day specials) and later V6 3.5 litre Exige S and new Sport 350’s that were part of the group.


The Elise could easily keep with all these cars and only on the steep up hill climbs was where the V6 engine cars (including the Evora 400’s) would have an advantage with additional power and torque.  


The Elise Sport 200 was superb in both wet and dry conditions and was punching well above it’s weight on some of the more tricky wet stages. Overall this car took me by surprise as to just how good it is against its big brothers in the range.   My only unanswered question was how Good would the Elise CUP 250 have been? Next Year that question might get answered!