Targa Australia has announced that it will cut ties with Motorsport Australia as it cancels Targa Tasmania for 2023.
Targa Australia runs the iconic Apple Isle event, which has claimed four lives in its last two editions, as well as Targa Great Barrier Reef and Targa High Country.
As well as calling off Tasmania for this year, having initially postponed it from April to October, September’s Great Barrier Reef event has also been cancelled, and its other “motorsport-based events” suspended.
In announcing that suspension, in a follow-up statement to that advising of the Tasmania and Great Barrier Reef cancellations, Targa Australia cited a need for “the full ramifications of Motorsport Australia’s review into tarmac rallying can be quantified and assessed.”
It further stated that “TARGA Australia has advised Motorsport Australia that they can no longer align their business with the governing body and will not seek a contract renewal on future events run by TARGA Australia.”
In taking that stance, Targa Australia referred to what it claims is a “record drop” in entry numbers.
The non-competitive Targa Tour section of the event, it says, would be restricted to 110km/h and 80 percent of tour participants have withdrawn, threatening the viability of the event altogether.
Targa Australia CEO Mark Perry said, “Our events can only be run with the support of our loyal participants, and on the whole, they are understandably disenchanted with the current landscape, and we completely understand why.
“We have waited and been incredibly patient with the process put in place, however this process has now taken a year longer than similar reviews in the past.
“Competitors have little certainty with what the future looks like for them and are rightly holding off on entering our events.
“In turn, we have had to make the difficult but necessary decision to cancel our 2023 events and undertake our own review and assessment on the future viability of our iconic rallies.
“While it is another sad day for everyone involved in Targa, we must now explore every conceivable option available to us to ensure the survival of Targa and the return of the ultimate tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania in April 2024.”
In response to the news, Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca expressed his hope that Targa Tasmania will return after this year’s cancellation.
“Motorsport Australia is disappointed to see that TARGA Australia events won’t proceed in 2023,” said Arocca.
“There has already been a significant amount of work undertaken to implement the 94 recommendations from the Targa Review Panel and that work is continuing.
“A new licence structure is now in place and further regulations are about to be released shortly.
“Throughout 2022 and 2023 we remained in close contact with event organisers as the recommendations were implemented and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.
“We are eager to see these events return in a safe and sustainable way.”
An alternative sanctioning body would not be a first in Targa Tasmania’s three-decade history, with the event run under an Australia Auto-sport Alliance (AASA) permit from 2007 to 2011.
However, an informed figure within the Australian rally community has told Speedcafe that AASA may well struggle to obtain the requisite permits to run such an event on public roads this time around.
This year’s cancellation is the second since Targa Tasmania began in 1992, the other occurring in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.