|Another Good Targa for the Batten Volvo PV544
A couple of years ago I threatened not to take the Volvo back to Targa Tasmania. At the time my car was being overshadowed by the introduction of the Classic Outright Competition. We had prepared it originally for Targa in 1999 to have a chance of winning the Classic Competition, which was run as a handicap event. I felt the changes were unfair as our 1961 car would be no match for more highly modified cars, some manufactured as recently as 1990. However the lure of the exceptional roads was too much and this year saw the red beast returning for the 11th year in a row.
Last year I shared the driving with my son Paul. However on the first two days we slipped 90 seconds behind the leaders in the Shannons Early Classic Competition, which is run as a handicap event. With Paul driving much faster than I could we finished 2nd in the competition. This year the tactic was for Paul to drive from the start and this was shown to be working when we held a 26 second lead after Day 1.
By Day 2 we held a 43 second lead to last yearís winners John Siddins and Darren Ferguson in a Datsun 240Z. On Day 3 Siddins made a rare driving mistake, maybe due to the pressure and was out of the running. We finished that day with a 3 minute 4 second lead to the Ullrich and Ullrich Jensen.
Wet and slippery roads on Days 4 and 5 lead to many cars crashing.
The Early Classic Competition saw Batten/Batten take the win from Ullrich/Ullrich in their Jensen CV8 and White/Yelds in their Volvo 122S.
The team also managed 5th Classic Outright finishing the non-handicap competition amongst some very fast machinery with 102 cars entered. This competition saw the 1961 Volvo PV544 finishing behind three Porsche 911 Carrera's and a Nissan Skyline GTS-t in a competition which spans the 44 years from 1946 to 1990.
Photo: Paul and Mike Batten PV544 Targa Tasmania 2009
"We had a really enjoyable but challenging event. The Volvo is tricky to drive in the dry so the wet took some getting used to but it was good fun in the end. The plan was to enjoy ourselves and not take any risks, we managed to do both so we are really happy with the result and we met some great people along the way. Thanks to Dad for the opportunity to drive, and for the good job in the navigators seat." said Paul, who drove the entire event.
The Volpro Team service crew did a great job to keep the high maintenance Volvo running at full speed over the event. The distributor, head gasket and front suspension were all fixed after different days and didn't cost the team any time.
Mike commented "Paul said he was only cruising but I believe his drive showed exceptional talent. It felt very fast to me, but as we didn't have any moments it shows how well he handled the conditions. The car was well prepared but still the crew were busy dealing with the problems that came up. Thanks to Kari Dirickx from Seldom Seen Vehicles and Engineering and Gary Comerford our engine builder from Volpro Automotive with his son Ashley who serviced the car. Thanks also to Russell from Stuckey's Tyres for the Dunlop R1ís. I have been bringing the car down for 11 years and this is our first handicap win. I am amazed with our 5th Classic Outright place in a 1961 Limited Modified Volvo. These results definitely exceed my wildest expectations".
EARLY CLASSIC (Provisional)
1. Paul Batten (VIC), Mike Batten (NSW), 1961 Volvo PV544, 16.09
2. Peter Ullrich (NSW), Sari Ullrich (NSW), 1963 Jensen CV8, 25.55
3. Andrew White (NT), Ashley Yelds (USA), 1961 Volvo 122S, 30.03
CLASSIC OUTRIGHT (Provisional)
1. Rex Broadbent, Michael Goedheer, Porsche 911 Carrera RS, 21.20
2. Bill Pye (NSW), Grant Geelan (NSW), Porsche 911 RS, 23.14
3. Ben Wooster (QLD), Tim Kulhanek (QLD), Nissan Skyline GTS-t, 23.32
4. John Ireland, Micheal Ribot, Porsche 911 Carrera 3, 33.14
5. Paul Batten, Mike Batten, 1961 Volvo PV544, 38.19
8th May 2009