The Motorsport Australia Targa Championship will have a different look in 2020 with Targa North West no longer part of the calendar and the iconic Targa Tasmania extending its course.
There will also be a number of changes in the competitor field, most notably being with 2019 GT4 champion Luke Anear who is confirmed to compete in a new Mercedes AMG GTR.
While a driver’s vehicle change isn’t necessarily unusual, Anear’s choice of vehicle has certainly sparked interest as the Queenslander will be the first to race a car of this nature in the championship.
Replacing his Subaru WRX, the Mercedes GT R will give Anear another push in the right direction as he looks to continue his impressive progress in the championship, which included the class title last year.
And it was an easy decision to make according to the Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) regular.
“We just felt the Subaru was lacking power against the Vipers and in order to stay competitive, we needed to switch – especially with the new Targa regulations,” Anear said.
“We first had to see what could compete with the Viper. I suppose we could have bought a new Viper, but the Mercedes AMG GTR was built with that Viper in mind as it’s a similar shape and it’s just as beautiful.
“It’s doesn’t have as much rubber on the back, it’s slightly longer and doesn’t have as much aero to make it stick to the road but overall it’s a pretty good package.
“It’s being built by Jason White and will be prepared by Peter Nunn. Whitey will spend an estimated 450 hours building the beautiful roll cage which will also improve the handling of the car.
"Originally, I was looking at a car from Germany but opted locally instead. It should meet all Targa requirements.
“I think the fact it hasn’t been raced in Targa before also played a part in the decision to get it.”
Despite Anear raring to get behind the wheel of the new car on one of the world’s biggest closed-road tarmac rallies in Targa Tasmania, he admits it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Launceston based Buckby Motors.
“Ben Newman and Buckby Motors were instrumental in securing the GT R through the Mercedes Benz network,” Anear added.
“They were very keen to see a vehicle like this in Targa and if it wasn’t for their support, we wouldn’t have got it. They really were pivotal in getting the deal to happen.
“It’s great to see manufactures and dealerships supporting as well because it demonstrates what these cars can really do. It’s a testament to the technical capabilities of the cars and the craftsmanship and engineering that has gone into it.”
As for Anear himself, he finds himself completely in love with the championship.
“Targa has such a diverse range of cars with a lot of the newer cars now competing. You look back 10 years ago and Targa had so many classic cars. Now we have seen a new generation of cars come in and it’s great to be a part of it,” Anear explained.
“There is a pretty broad selection of vehicles and people get to see what these cars can do around these closed roads. It’s a pretty unique opportunity
“I think there is a lot of positive things about Targa including the social side of it for motorsport people. It’s a privilege to get out on these roads and race with Targa.”
With duties in both Targa and the ARC this year, Anear’s first line of duty will be the ARC’s Netier National Capital Rally on 21-22 March.