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Volvo 142 GT in Targa Newfoundland

Photo  Ralph and Alisha Grant in the 2005 Targa Newfoundland

2005 - GIT-R- DONE

The latest American motorsports catch phrase has made it’s way to Newfoundland and was the cry from the fans for all the competitors in this years TARGA NEWFOUNDLAND, “ the ultimate North American tarmac rally”.

Not to be out done, former Cairns local, Ralph Grant, together with his daughter Alisha, in their trusty old 1970 Volvo 142GT worked their way through the field to finish 4th in the Classic division, for cars older than 1982, 6th outright against all Targa competitors including the latest Japanese built all wheel drive rocket’s and to again win their category. 

“We had our share of problems and a couple of Porsches were always there waiting for us to make a mistake”, Ralph said after the event .”we only backed off a bit to make the finish and they were on us”

This was the second time Alisha has worked with her father in the event and resulted in another 1st place but this years effort was made all the more difficult with the mighty Volvo suffering from a major engine problem after the 3rd day of competition. “We were blowing all the oil out the breather and had to keep refilling the sump” Ralph stated,” the thickest engine additives available just kept running through the motor with us emptying the sump every 100k’s or so”

The plan for the last day was just to get to the finish to get a finishers medallion and to try to make all the Targa times in order to get the coveted Targa plate.

Just before lunch on the last day the alternator gave up charging, probably through the soaking in oil it was getting under the bonnet, but another regulator fitted during the lunch break seemed to fix the problem. For a short time all went well and then that regulator also failed. After stopping at the start for the very last stage into St Johns to once again replenish the oil, the Volvo motor refused to start right at the beginning of the timed area.

“There were 3 or 4 guys standing in a factory right beside me and I yelled out for them to push me, and, talk about luck, with only a metre to go before hitting another car the Volvo burst into life and we were able to drive through the last stage within our allowable time to the finish, wow what a relief” Ralph said after finishing joining Alisha with all the other competitors to celebrate another fantastic event.

Git-R-Done was the cry from everyone gathered at the finishing celebrations on world famous George St in beautiful St Johns Newfoundland. 

Leaving St Johns airport, Ralph was asked about other cars from Australia coming to Newfoundland for the event?

“Amazingly” he answered, “back in the late ‘90’s there were more cars competing in Targa events from Cairns than any other country town in Australia, I’m not sure what we have to do to get some of them over here for TARGA NEWFOUNDLAND 2006 though” 

2004 - By Bob English 

“What does ‘Exposure left’ mean?”
“That means cliff, darling. Make sure dad goes down through all the gears.”

As mother/daughter questions and advice go, this exchange was far from the ordinary, but then again, so were the circumstances. Twenty-six-year-old Alisha Grant was hours away from climbing into the co-driver’s seat of her father Ralph’s 1970 Volvo 142 GT rally car to compete in the five-day Targa Newfoundland rally this past September. They were the first father/daughter team in the now three-year-old event.

On the eight closed-road special stages that make up the Targa competition each day, her instructions to Ralph would make her responsible, quite literally, for both their lives. Although Alisha was a go-kart racer as a teen, she’d never strapped into a rally car, used a rally computer or seen a route book with its columns of accumulated, incremental and declining distances, marked off in 100 metre segments. Equally as alien were the squiggly arrow “Tulip” diagrams, depicting corners and cryptic notes like “Narrow at Crest into Danger” or “Over Crest-long Right,” and even “Caution Don’t Cut.”

Her mom Dianne, however, had some navigating experience. She’d been aboard the veteran Volvo when it had taken out trees and rolled over in rallies “Down Under.” The Grants and their Volvo are recent newcomers from Australia and now live near Montreal. All of them had a lot on their minds as they waited for the event to begin.

I did as well, with my 25-year-old son Jonathan joining me, also as a first time co-driver. He and I were about to run the event in Kia’s new Spectra5.

For Jonathan and Alisha there was no time for a learning curve. The trajectory for coming to terms with all they needed to know was essentially straight up. But their main concern was performing well. For Ralph and I, it was a little more visceral. While we’d both supported our kids’ motorsport activities in the past, we were now involving them in an intense competitive experience with us, at a later stage in all our lives. In doing so we’d be exposing them to the not inconsiderable dangers of rallying on The Rock.

I questioned Ralph about this: “Did you have any, you know, fears?” He answered, “Everyday, mate. You too?” Oh yeah. Mine were brought into sharp focus by mental instant replays of a narrowly avoided utility pole. And for Ralph, “Everytime you’re flat out beside the water you think, one little mistake and ….”

Ralph and Dianne had agreed prior to the event that he wouldn’t “try that hard.” Well, both should have known that just wasn’t going to happen, given the personality of self-confessed “rev-head” Alisha and ex-stock car racer dad, Ralph. And I knew that anything other than an all-out effort wouldn’t be acceptable to Jonathan. I’d seen him hurl his motorcycle, full throttle and fully committed, off near vertical, six-metre rock faces during his trials riding days. I’d have to pedal as hard as I dared all week.

For Alisha and Ralph, the week proved fantastic — they finished first in their class. Her best memory is of flying. “The car went silent, and I’m sure we were in the air for about three seconds. It landed with a thud and I let out a whooooo! It was cool.”

Jonathan and I also had a super week, bringing the Spectra5 home with a class win, sharing some dramas and some laughs. His best lines: “Way to miss that pole, guy,” and “You’ve got another gear you know.” The latter was one of a number of motivational verbal raps on the helmet I received. It was delivered in the middle of some small town after I’d emerged, a little wide-eyed, from a series of 130-140 km/h bends and was still droning along flat out in third.

Targa Newfoundland, as it always does, had delivered a truly unique motoring experience.

Webmaster's Notes:
Grant competed in the Targa Newfoundland rally for the third time this year. He also competed in the Targa Tasmania event four times and plans to compete in the Targa New Zealand event this year (2005)

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One of the organisers and competitors of the Targa Newfoundland, Canadian Doug Mepham, took also part in the Targa Tasmania 2002 and Targa New Zealand 2002 in his Volvo 142S

Targa Newfoundland
Targa Tasmania

Targa New Zealand

 Some other interesting 142 Volvos - click to enlarge

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142TargaTas.jpg (40222 bytes)

142 auto

2003 Monte Carlo Rally

2004 Targa Tasmania

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