After years of having to travel for at least two days just to get to the start of the annual Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally, 2013 winner Martin Dippie, from Dunedin, has welcomed the decision to hold this year's 20th anniversary event in the South Island.
Dippie and co-driver Jona Grant won the 2013 Targa New Zealand event in the North Island, when their 2007 Porsche GT3 outlasted the Mitsubishi Evos of the Glenn Inkster/Spencer Winn and Jason Gill/Mark Robinson pairings.
And 47-year-old southern man Dippie reckons the six-day Christchurch-to-Queenstown will be the best Targa yet.
''We've got some stunning roads down here so I think it is going to be fantastic. It's also going to be nice to be able to sleep in my own bed for a couple of nights while we're on the event,'' he said.
For the past 19 years the multi-day Targa New Zealand event has started in or near Auckland, and either finished back there or in Tauranga, Wellington or Havelock North.
This year the 20th anniversary event starts in Christchurch, on Labour Day Monday, October 27, and ends in Queenstown, on Saturday, November 1.
Event director Peter Martin says that there has always been keen interest in ''some sort of South Island component on the Targa calendar.''
In fact, when plans were first floated for ''something special to make everyone remember the 20th anniversary event,'' a multi-day Auckland to Queenstown odyssey was on the agenda.
Some event regulars were keen, but the majority preferred separate North and South Island events, so that's what Martin has come up with.
Entries for the South Island event have been open since the beginning of the year and Martin reports an excellent response with over 80 teams already committed to the various competition classes and almost 80 to the non-competitive Targa Tour which runs alongside it
- The Southland Times