Targa rally returns

This year’s Targa rally may have a base in Ōtorohanga township as part of the rally organiser’s  plan to regionalise the event.

Ultimate Rally Group managing director Peter Martin said at last week’s Otorohanga District Council meeting they wanted to have a base in town at some stage of the two-day event.

Ōtorohanga crew at the 2019 Targa, Andrew Oakley (left), Steve Hutchins and Adam Martin “terrible hoons when we were kids”.

“We were really wanting to try and engage a bit more with the township, and the wider community around this event,” Martin said, speaking in the public forum.

“This is one of the regions that is very pleased to see us and we would like to continue to build the relationship with you where we could continue to come back more regularly on a basis that could be planned a bit better in terms of your future dates and in terms of your engagement with the wider business community to actually bring activity into town.”

There had been discussions outside the meeting, he said. The rugby club had been secured as a venue if a Turongo Street pit area was not possible.

“If we can’t hold the event in town and disrupt those businesses – the last thing we want to do is disrupt them, then we needed a back-up plan,” Martin said.

The intent was to have a better engagement across the community, Martin said.

“What we have been seeing in the last few years of our events is we are very transient, and we come in and we go. So we are trying to regionalise it.”

This included double running some of the stages, which gave organisers an opportunity to put spectator points in place where the flow of cars could be seen twice instead of just once. And rally organisers were thinking about how to bring the show into town. Affected businesses had not yet been contacted.

“Our programme now is to engage with them and see if there is an appetite. And if this council has an appetite for us to for us to be semi-disruptive, but in a nice way. If that’s too hard then we have alternatives.

“The process doesn’t take long we just need to get onto that once you have told us which direction you would like us to go.”

The Targa rally last passed through Ōtorohanga in October 2019, pausing for lunch at the Ōtorohanga Club, where the carpark became an impromptu pit area as crews took the opportunity to work on vehicles.

Post covid the rally was still getting back on its feet after three years of non-events. More recently the changes to the economy were also affecting the event, Martin said.

“Our customers are generally a centre of influence in business and social circles, reasonably well-heeled and at a stage in life they have time to be able to take away from their business activities.

“So in saying that, we are still seeing good response for Targa.

Traditionally 67 per cent of Targa rallyers were from Auckland, 13 per cent from offshore and 20 per cent from the rest of New Zealand.

The last economic impact survey was carried out in the Tasman District in October 2022, where the two day weekend regional event generated $3.6 million.

“So its big money in terms of spend, the large majority of that goes into accommodation and food providers,” Martin said. “That does not include the direct spend the competitors spend on their rally activity. This is in addition.”

The council approved the list of Targa Rally road closures for public consultation. The event will be advertised with an objection period of 28 days. Once the objection period closes a further report will be presented to Council for final approval, possibly July.

Adjustments, repairs and polishing, the impromptu pit area at the Ōtorohanga Club, October 2019.

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