Targa denied lap of Levels

A restrictive resource consent will stop Targa New Zealand rally competitors from doing a lap of the Timaru International Motor Raceway.

The rally will come to the South Island for the first time with 100 cars entered and 750 people involved in the event, travelling from Christchurch to Invercargill.

During the six-day event, one of the highlights for competitors was to have been a circuit of the South Island's four race tracks at Ruapuna, Levels, Highland Park and Teretonga. Leg one sees competitors stop in Timaru on October 28.

South Canterbury Car Club president Kevin Pateman said it was disappointing not to be able to accommodate the Targa but the club's resource consent did not allow "competitive cars" on the circuit midweek. "Sadly it is a no-go from our perspective."

Targa event director Peter Martin said it was disappointing the resource consent "does not even allow us to do a half-hour demonstration at Levels".

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the bulk of our competitors and as such we were hoping to incorporate stages at all four tracks in the South Island. "Right now Levels is the only one we can't do that at."

By the time entries close there will be over 100 cars, including 10 from overseas, and another 100 cars doing the concurrent Targa Tour, he said.

Pateman said while the club would like to help out, it did not have the time or money to seek a change to the consent.

"Last time we wanted to change a race day from a Saturday to a Sunday, or vice versa, the variation cost us $7000 in council and legal fees, from memory."

Pateman said they were a small club, heavily reliant on volunteers, and had to focus on their own events. "We have five meetings a year and have to work around that."

He believed the Resource Management Act needed to be changed to accommodate small sports clubs, like themselves.

"What I would like to see is a change in the process. The act is designed for big developers, farms - not small clubs with limited budgets."

Pateman said the opposition of a couple of people cost the club big money 15 years ago.

"It was before my time but I remember a figure of $150,000 being bandied about. It almost crippled us." At the time the car club had to sell adjoining land to the complex to pay the legal bills.

Pateman said if there was a simple, cheap fix to allow each competitor to do a lap, they would have jumped at it. The Targa competitors will still call in at Levels for a look.

Local motorsport enthusiasts will have the chance to get up close to the cars and meet drivers with the main midday service held at the western end of Caroline Bay between 12.25 and 1.15pm on October 28.

Targa organisers are also still dealing with four submissions to the Timaru District Council, objecting to the temporary closure of Rosewill Valley, Bassett, Rolling Ridges, Doake, Manse and Smart Munro roads.



Targa NZ is a road race series in which competitors compile points over each race leg, to arrive at a series champion. These legs are held two or three times a year. Each event is usually held within a few hours commute of Auckland but for the first time it has come to the South Island. 

The Timaru Herald