Skip to Navigation

Quinn and Tillet – with a little help from Billy Joel – take Targa New Zealand No.3!

2011 Targa New Zealand winners Tony Quinn and Naomi Tillet salute the Havelock North crowd at the finish.

Tony Quinn has won Targa New Zealand – with a little help from Billy Joel along the way!

While the Queensland pet food magnate was charging along the closed North Island public roads at 200km/h in his 350kW Nissan supercar, his South Australian navigator Naomi Tillet slipped a Billy Joel CD into the sound system and cranked up the volume.

"Sometimes there were three or four kilometres between route instructions, so we had fun rocking along to Billy all day!" she said.

It was Quinn's and Tillet's third straight victory in the five-day, 650km tarmac rally, and Quinn's fourth all-up (the other was in 2003).

They won by by one minute 11 seconds after an event-long battle with Kiwi rally ace Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.

The result was in doubt right up to the finish, as Inkster staged a late-rally charge to reduce the lead margin relentlessly throughout the final day.

His superior pace came courtesy of two new tyres he'd fitted the previous day, but the one-minute penalty he incurred as a result was too much to overcome.

Quinn, who resisted the temptation to follow Inkster's tyre strategy, held his nerve as his rival edged closer.

"What a fantastic event! That was my toughest Targa ever," he said at the finish in Havelock North, Hastings.

"Glenn didn't let up the pressure for a single stage, but I kept my head – which wasn't easy for me!"

Tillet echoed her driver's sentiments, adding that the V.I.P. Petfoods pair won because they stuck to their original game plan.

"It was definitely the hardest rally we’ve ever done – every stage needed 110 percent concentration," she said.

"Tony and I were fairly sure that Glenn would have to fit new tyres at some point, because he’s a gravel rally driver and he drives the same way – very hard – on bitumen. He did really well to get as close to us as he did, but on the other hand he wouldn’t have been able to go as fast if he hadn’t put on those new tyres."

Quinn's and Tillet's Targa New Zealand win gives them the trans-Tasman double, having won Australia's premier tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania, last April.

Their next event is Targa High Country, in Victoria, from November 4-6.

1. Tony Quinn-Naomi Tillet (V.I.P. Petfoods / Nissan GTR 35) 5hr 22min. 47sec.
2. Glenn Inkster-Spencer Winn (Transnet / Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) 5hr 23min. 58sec.
3. Glenn Smith-Andy Lowe (Taranaki By Products / Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) 5hr 29min. 00sec.