Explained - What is the best car for a Targa Rally


What is the best car for
a Targa Rally in Australia?



Lotus sports cars have been competing in Targa Rally's in Australia for many years. The Simply Sports Cars vehicle dealership in Sydney and Melbourne can help a Lotus owner take their car to participate in Targa Tasmania, Targa High Country at Mount Buller or Targa Great Barrier Reef in Cairns. You don't need any experience to try one and there are different classes to suit beginners or for those looking to try the competitive levels.


What is a Targa rally?

Australia is home to the world’s’ longest tarmac rally called Targa Tasmania. Targa Australia also runs events at Mount Buller in Victoria called Targa High Country & another rally event in Cairns called Targa Great Barrier Reef. This type of drovomg event takes its name from the Targa Florio, a former motoring event held on the island of Sicily.


Targa Tasmania is the most famous out of these events and it takes place over six days with teams travelling more than 2,000 kilometres around the island. It has been operating since 1992 & for more than 25 years it has been a unique mix of professional race drivers, celebrities, first time drivers plus the more casual Targa Tour. 


For driving enthusiasts it is one of those events that would be on the consideration list similar to doing a track day, going for hot laps in a race car or attending famous places like the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, Daytona or Le Mans 24 Hours.


Each Targa Rally has different classes or categories that people can choose to participate in. A Lotus is considered one of the best cars for a Targa Rally in Australia having won back to back Australian Targa Championships as well as many class podiums and winning places. There are various groups that compete in a Targa Rally, many with road registered vehicles;


  • TARGA TOUR - this is non-competitive but you drive on the same closed roads as the competition does. Perfect for the first timer.

  • TSD - this is a competitive, speed limited, group where you have to complete each stage based on a pre determined average speed. Great taste for open competitive classes.

  • GT SPORTS TROPHY - is where competition gets a little more serious. It is speed limited but it is a race against the clock and other competitors similar to the open competition classes.

  • GT2 / OPEN - these are the fully competitive rally classes just like you would see on TV with mainly professional drivers competing for outright honours. 



What is Targa racing?

Targa racing often refers to the competitive classes of a Targa Rally. As explained above there are different classes that compete at Targa to ensure there is something suitable for each driver to feel comfortable driving in. Targa racing is very inclusive and across all the categories you will see best friends, husband and wife or even father and son combinations participating in the Rally Events in Australia.


Targa racing at the more serious end is split into two main categories; GT2 for two-wheel drive vehicles and GT4 for four-wheel drive vehicles. The requirements to enter are pretty straight forward for most classes and many allow road registered sports cars to be used. Lotus vehicles has won many stages & events over the years, including back to back championships with Paul Stokell driving an Exige thus making it one of the best cars for a Targa Rally in Australia.


Not all Targa Rally classes are for racing, the Tour Group is not competitive and is like having a spirited drive on a closed road. In the TSD & GT Sports Trophy Classes there is a speed limit that has to be adhered to.


Do you have to be a racing
driver to do a Targa Rally?

No - you don't need to have any prior racing, track day or Targa Rally driving experience to be able to participate in your first rally. That is what makes doing a Targa Rally so unique, the barriers to entry are very minimal and we have lots of our Lotus owners not only doing an event for the first time but winning their respective classes.


The Lotus Tour is the ideal way to experience your first Targa Rally without the pressure of competing, it is like going for a spirited drive for three days with your mates enjoying great country roads, food & company. All the roads are closed and you drive the same competition states as the professional drivers do.


5 reasons to not do a Targa Rally


There are some reasons you may not want to do a Targa Rally and these are explained in great detail by Lotus Elise Sport 220 owner Paul who participated with his partner Lyn at Targa High Country in 2018, read their story about how doing a Targa Rally can be a lot of fun and very addictive here

They claim that you will smile too much, the roads are too twisty, that there is too much socialising & how incredible it is to drive in a spirited manner on closed public roads.


Who won Targa 2019?

Lotus won all the major class honours for Targa in 2019 with Exige & Elise sports car models dominating the podium.


Professional driver - Paul Stokell and co-driver Kate Catford won the Australian Targa Championship in 2019 driving a Lotus Exige sports car including their maiden win at Targa Tasmania. Paul Stokell is a highly successful open-wheel and sports car circuit racer who has previously won the Australian Driver’s Champion award three times. Paul Stokell and Kate Catford also won the GT2 class.


Father and son duo - Mitchell and Darryl Ringuet drove their Lotus Exige Sport 350 to beat the husband and wife partnership of Tony and Sandra Seymour in their Lotus Exige Sport 350 in the GT Sports Trophy class. 


Father and son duo - Peter and Tristan Taylor won the TSD Trophy class in their Lotus Elise S convertible sports car beating best mates Robert Bryden and Ian Noble in their Lotus Exige Cup 380.



Who won Targa Cairns?

There is a new rally held every year in Cairns called Targa Great Barrier Reef. This Rally is based in Cairns with competitors heading out to stages that are located in the hinterland and coastal roads around the city. At the end of each day each competitor returns to Cairns making it logistically easier to manage compared to Targa Tasmania.

  • - In 2019 Mitchell and Darryl Ringuet drove their Lotus Exige Sport 350 to win Targa Great Barrier Reef in Cairns. They beat the husband and wife partnership of Tony and Sandra Seymour in their Lotus Exige Sport 350 in the GT Sports Trophy class.
  • - Peter and Tristan Taylor won the TSD Trophy class in their Lotus Elise S convertible sports car.
  • - Paul Stokell and co-driver Kate Catford in their Lotus Exige Sport 350 came 2nd in the GT2 Class & 2nd Outright for the event, beating more than 50 other vehicles.  



What is a good rally
car for beginners?

A good rally car for beginners could be a basic sedan, although whether you will have the right support during the event or if the car can handle the punishment will be another story. A Lotus Elise sports car is an ideal choice for beginners who are interested in doing their first rally event. Recent models are powered by a reliable Toyota sourced engine and drivetrain which is also easy to modify and upgrade.

The Elise is a two door, two seater coupe that weighs less than 1,000kgs meaning it is fuel efficient, easy on tyres, brakes, suspension and other driving components, compare this to most vehicles that weigh 1,500kg's or more and you can start to imagine all the compromises a basic sedan will create.

The Lotus Elise is also one of the best handling sports cars in the world which makes it the perfect car for a Targa Rally in Australia where it can handle the tight, twisty road rally stages. As a driving enthusiast you will feel everything through the steering wheel to place the vehicle precisely on each corner or bend.

The other thing to consider when trying to decide what is a good rally car is what support you will get at the actual rally event. many people underestimate the level of logistics and mechanical support required. For Targa Rally's in Australia, Simply Sports Cars takes care of this for you.


We can do full targa rally car builds or even modify your existing car, learn more here


What Targa Rally
is the easiest to do?

Targa High Country at Mount Buller in Victoria is the easiest Targa Rally for anyone to do in Australia. The event is held over 3 days using the incredible roads around Mount Buller Mountain where every day starts and ends on top of the mountain. This makes it easy to deal with logistically and being a short three day event it gives anyone participating a great taste of what a Targa Rally is all about.


Simply Sports Cars normally has a group of 25 cars or more that attend Targa High Country every year, proof that it is one of the easiest and most enjoyable Rally's to do. We take care of everything for you including the group dinners every night to make sure you never feel on your own during the event.



How much does it cost
to enter Targa Tasmania?

The cost to enter Targa Tasmania will depend on what category you decide to particpate in, the level of support needed & the type of vehicle you have. You can join the Lotus Tour with your road registered Lotus Elise, Exige or Evora sports car and drive on the same closed roads as the competition cars, without even needing to wear a helmet or a race suit.


The Lotus Tour for Targa Tasmania costs around $9,900 inc gst for 6 days including event entry, meals, accomodation, logistics etc. Targa High Country in comparison costs around $5,500 inc gst for 3 days.


What many people underestimate is the support needed to participate in a Targa Rally and Simply Sports Cars makes that easy by hosting Lotus sports car owners with our team on hand during the event to handle all the logistics as well as any mechanical requirements that might be needed. It is like having your own personal pit crew.


Simply Sports Cars also have experience preparing Targa Rally Cars that can be used in outright competition like the Lotus Exige Sport 410 Targa Edition that has everything you need to participate in a Targa event.



What is included for
a Targa Rally Entry?

Each year we release new Targa Rally entry packages which will have various inclusions depending on what might change from the event organisers.Essentially you get to the rally and start driving, all the hard work is taken care of for you. In general though this is what is included for every Targa Rally Entry;

  • - MEALS (Lunch/Breakfast/Dinner varies per event)
  • - TRANSFERS (varies per event)



What Targa Rally
Cars Are For Sale?

  • Targa Rally Car Preparation & Servicing
  • Upgrades & performance modifications
  • Safety equipment installation
  • Road car to race car conversions for Targa Rally or Track Days
  • New and used sports car vehicles for sale


As explained above, you don't need to search for a Targa rally car for sale because it is quite possible to use a road registered sports car like a Lotus Exige or Lotus Elise. A Lotus sports car has all the fundamental requirements that are needed for it to be used as a rally car, with the added benefit of being able to be used for daily driving, track days or even advanced driver training.


When you buy a Lotus sports car you get access to lots of driving events that are hosted during the year at racing circuits like Mount Panorama Bathurst, Eastern Creek Sydney Motorsport Park, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and other locations.


Simply Sports Cars is a vehicle dealership in Sydney and Melbourne that is run by a team of people who are race engineers, motorsport professionals and car enthusiasts. So we actively encourage owners of their cars to use them all year round and help them to do so.



Is there a Lotus
Targa Rally Car?

Lotus Cars Australia has introduced the Lotus Exige Sport 410 Targa Limited Edition sports car coupe. It is an Australian-only vehicle that has been specified especially for Targa Rally use. 

“The catalyst for this car was the success the Lotus Exige has enjoyed in Targa competition. Having won the Australian Targa Championship back to back in 2018 and 2019, it seemed fitting to pay tribute with a specially built Targa Rally car”

“2019 was an extremely successful year, with Lotus owners winning the TARGA championship in all four classes that our cars were eligible (TSD, GT Sports, GT2 and Outright)”.

"Targa is an important part of the comprehensive event calendar that Lotus Cars Australia delivers to customers through its national dealer network. Some of our customers have been doing Targa for a long time, but our relationship with Targa at a manufacturer level really started in 2015 when we supported four cars competing in Targa High Country."

"Since then, our involvement has expanded to include an official Lotus Tour group, and we regularly have over 25 cars in the field at each event." said Lotus Cars Australia CEO, Lee Knappett. 


The Exige Sport 410 TARGA Limited Edition has;

  • - Carbon fibre Exige Cup style side air intakes and rear wing.
  • - Carbon fibre race seats.
  • - Harness bar with 4 point driver harness and fire extinguisher
  • - Carbon fibre front splitter, front access panel and rear boot lid.
  • - Ultra lightweight forged alloy rims.
  • - Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres.
  • - 3 way adjustable Nitron dampers, Eibach springs and 3 way adjustable anti roll bars front and rear.
  • - Baffled sump to prevent oil starvation during high speed, high load corners.
  • - 6 speed H-pattern gearbox running sports ratios.
  • - AP Racing forged, four-piston calipers and high performance two-piece J-hook brake discs. 
  • - 3.5L V6 which is forced inducted by a charge cooled twin scroll style supercharger to generate 410bhp and 420Nm in a chassis that weights just 1,108kgs which is 200kgs+ lighter than other two door coupes available.


An optional dealer fit Australian Motorsport compliant roll cage is available and the Exige also has a 3 year, unlimited km warrany with 3 years roadside assistance as part of the Lotus Assist programme. It is available for $174,990 RRP which is $5K more than a standard 410 but it has over $12,500 in extra equipment fitted.



Watch the video to see what people said about doing Targa High Country