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Aus Grand Prix - Targa Florio Aus

Targa Florio Australia | Review 2022

By Drivers, News, Victoria
Aus Grand Prix - Targa Florio Aus

The Targa Florio Australian Tribute has been run and done for 2022. It was the best event so far in the history of this event in Australia. Here is a summary of the 70+ drivers who got a taste of La Dolce Vita in the the Targa Florio Australia 2022 edition.


Mon 4 April – Day 1:

Event start at lunch at the beautiful Point Leo Estate. Competitors will arrive and complete documentation with plenty of time to enjoy the sculpture park and lunch before the official start to the 2022 event. Day 1 will be a half day driving the sweeping curves to Arthurs Seat and winding the roads down into Flinders where the main street will be closed for the community to come out and enjoy watching us compete down Cook St. We look forward to a lively Monday afternoon fun followed by dinner and accommodation at the renowned Flinders Hotel.

Tue 5 April – Day 2:

Competitors enjoyed the roads of the Mornington Peninsula with a stop at the Tyabb airport, historic planes flanked the competition as the crowd was out to enjoy the cars competing before a fun filled drive around Westernport Bay into west Gippsland. A stop for lunch at the Korumburra Showgrounds with the School children cheering each of the cars through the competition and then off to Inverloch for a competition stage at the Marina, a recap of the day at the Inlet Hotel and a special night at award winning RACV Inverloch.

Wed 6 April – Day 3:

Leaving Inverloch the competition then drove to Stony Creek track, it was a joy seeing cars of every shape, size and length navigate the tight corners of the Go cart Track! The competition loved the Italian community and screaming school children (rev it! rev it!) in Mirboo North with special hand made gifts from the children treasured by all and a spirited drive up and around the Haunted Hills track. Then taking in some of Victoria’s great driving roads up into the mountains, Blue Rock dam, through Noojee and back down to the RACV Healesville where 4 Pillars Gin set the tone for a great night.

Thurs 7 April – Day 4:

From Healesville, the cars roared through Yarra Glen up to a lovely community event in Seymour, more treasured gifts from the community there, then from Romsey to Albert Park for an unforgettable Finale driving the grand prix track and awards night at the Torque bar at the GP.

Thurs 7 April – 10 April: Australian Grand Prix

The event enjoyed 8 of Victoria’s Tourism regions and was planned to combine community involvement and provide a link between Victoria’s regions and the Australian Grand Prix. A full week of motoring starting at Point Leo Estate and finishing at the Grand Prix on Thursday. The fun continued each day with the Targa Florio cars driving the track each day, enjoying the best seat on the track! There were no words as competitors hopped out of their cars after each track time… just smiles and pure joy!!

AXA Sydney Harbour Conours D’Elegance 2022

By Classica, News
AXA Sydney Harbour Conours D'Elegance 2022

The third time is a charm – having established a tradition with James we look forward to everything that is the Sydney Harbour Concours each year with great excitement.  Each year James and his team have delivered a great event – one filled with cars, colour, charm and champagne!  Pommery flowed from start to finish – Inge promised me that you can’t get a hangover from fine French Champagne – we certainly put the theory to the test.


How has James managed to run a world class event year in year out and continue to make it better.  In 2020, No GP / No Targa Florio – March came around and up we drove to Sydney for the SHC.  2021 the same again.  In 2022 March again and in a backdrop of flooding waters surrounding Sydney and a late change of venue due to the local council at Swifts deciding the events were off until parking can be sorted out, James moved the whole event into the centre of Sydney – the Hyde Park Barracks the perfect setting for 2 great days.

How has James managed to run a world class event year in year out and continue to make it better?

Andrew LawsonTarga Florio Aus
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Girls posing in front of Historic cars

For the first time and facing flooding roads and no hood Paul and Linda decided to put the Alfa on the trailer for the drive to Sydney.  With more than 120,000km under our care it was the first event in Australia that the car had been on a trailer for – whilst Nuvolari would have driven his Alfa in 1938, the Lawson’s are getting soft and opted for the comfort of a 4-wheel drive for the trip north.

It was the right decision as the trip ended in sheeting rain and flooded roads – walls of water crossing median strips deluged the Nissan Patrol as the car pulled to a stop in Waverton.

The rain would come and go for the next few days but happily Saturday afternoon saw the sun come through for an enjoyable afternoon at the Barracks.

Thanks as always to James Nicholls and the Distinguished Gentleman’s Club for a fantastic event – as we drove south from Sydney the sheeting rain did not dampen our enthusiasm, we were very happy to have enjoyed great times with family, friends and all that is the magic of the Sydney Harbour Concours D’Elegance!

Duck and Whale Article

By Drivers, News, Victoria

The “Duck and Whale” June 2020 edition included a great interview with Rene Aalhuizen, who competed in the 2019 event with his fantastic 1955 speedster.

As owner of Prestige Auto Traders Rene has some amazing cars – the Speedster remains a favourite for Rene and everyone as it purred through Victoria’s winding backroads.  Thanks, Rene, for a great description of the Australian Targa Florio event.


Like every other driver I accept that things break down, if that happens then im happy to just peel off onto the shoulder be a spectator for a while,  That same scenario, but this time with a front end problem on the Targa Florio roads in Italy somewhere, the end result could likely be much different.  Ill be gone or full of regret if there was something mechanical that I could have done to prevent it.

I have to say the Targa Florio Australian Tribute was absolutely fantastic, the husband and wife who run it are the loveliest people.  I’ve never met a bunch of like minded people who were there just for the love of cars, who l;iked to have a beer at the end of the day, who enjoyed taking the piss out of each other’… laugh their heads off, and then start the whole process again in the morning. It really didn’t matter what you drove or where you were in the results, you just knew that you were part of something.

As society standards change, it sometimes seems like there isn’t an experience in Australia which does not end up stifled, with its energy removed.  But, here there were father and son teams, mixed in with people who took it more seriously and everyone was really enjoying themselves.  One bloke in an old mash hat was looking at my ‘derelict’ and telling me I’d be lucky to make it.  By the last day he and I both had smiles on our faces and everybody was sitting around in groups, with people they didn’t know a few days before, and everyone knows who everyone else is.  It was perfect!

We would do point to point stages, hill climbs etc and we would go to wineries during the day for lunch.

The organisers had everything setup.  Then it would be pouring with rain and we would be driving through forests or set up speed trials.  One thing with these events is that you can’t fake the culture in the event, and this culture was fantastic!

When I crossed the line in Carlton, I actually ran out of fuel as I drove in.  There were 20000 people there and, rather than it being embarrassment, I had people pushing the car in to make sure I made it and everyone was cheering.  It was a very memorable, even emotional, moment.

The Targa Florio guy from Sicily came over and won.  Seems that he has done twenty of them and he also does the modern version of the Mille Miglia, mirroring as close as possible the original run 24 times between 1927 and 1957.

There we were giving him a bit of stick, having some fun with him and so he says “So I will see you in Sicily in 2020, no?” and I reply “Sure no problem!” So just like that, now I’m entered into the famous Italian event.  How could one refuse?

Roo Spotting on the Targa Florio – James Nicholls

By Drivers, News, Victoria

It wasnt just kangaroos, but wombats, exotic coloured parrots, wallabies, cockatoos and a host of unusual flora and fauna not seen in Sicily. And the reason, this was not the Targa Florio, first run in 1906, but the Targa Florio Australian Tribute, an officially sanctioned event honouring the legendary Targa Florio, vision of Vincenzo Florio, and the first ever car race in the world. This was the third running of the Tributo, and it certainly embodied the spirit of the Sicilian classic. Whilst there are no medieval villages around the next bend in Australia there were plenty of opportunities to experience the Italianicity of a country where half a million Italians live and work. 150,000 of these are Sicilian, and as we drove the 1,200 kms around the State of Victoria over four days, it seemed like every one of those car-crazy Sicilians, reared on over 100 years of the most famous car race in the world, had turned out to meet and greet us. On the same weekend that much of the Eastern part of Australia seemed to be burning due to the terrible bushfires, so much so that the final round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship due to be held at Coffs Harbour in Northern New South Wales had to be cancelled, the entrants of this Regularity Race enjoyed weather of a much different kind. It is oft said that Melbourne, the State Capital, can experience four seasons in one day and so it proved to be for the competitors in the Targa Florio Australian Tribute. For a competition it certainly is. Showing how serious this is Angelo Pizzuto, President of the Automobile Club Palermo (which runs the real thing) was on the start line with his navigator Caterina Vagliani in a sprightly MGA. Yes, it was serious, but at the same time great fun as we drove an incredible variety of wonderful roads through an array of topography: rain forest; rolling pastures; mountains; farmland; craggy cliffs; vineyards; through small country towns and along country tracks; twisting hill climbs; empty beaches; ocean roads. It was on the most famous ocean road of all, the Great Ocean Road, celebrating its centenary, that the event began at Point Danger in Torquay. The Great Ocean Road is on the Australian National Heritage List and credited with being the world’s largest war memorial, its 243 kms dedicated to those who fell in the Great War and built by those lucky enough to return home. What a road, hugging the rugged coastline, it is an idyllic sweep and curve of non-stop vistas and panoramic views, hardly surprising that so many wish to visit it. With my co-driver, both of us rally virgins, I was hoping to be cruising along in my 1975 Citroën DS, a hugely comfortable design icon and successful machine at the Monte Carlo, Liège-Sofia-Liège, East African Safari, and Rallye du Maroc et al back in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it was still in the shop, so a kind friend lent me his 1982 Mercedes-Benz 380SL which meant that we were now in the Legends rather than the Classica class. This was not a problem though as we all, ran together around the route through the Mornington Peninsular, Phillip Island, and the Yarra Valley. Being from Sydney we trucked our car to Melbourne with eight or nine others. Included amongst these were father and son team, Carlos and Filipe Piteira, originally from Portugal and seemingly with rallying blood in their veins driving an Alfa 105 GTV 1750 (car #29) – speed seemed of the essence for this pair, so many points were accumulated over the timed sections, average speed tests (PM), and regularity stages (time trials or PC). Disappointingly for them, the idea however, is not to score penalty points!
Taking it slightly steadier but still racking up the penalties were Glen Drysdale and Jeremy Best. Glen, a collector of fine automobiles in pristine condition, had been persuaded to bring along his rare Australian delivered, factory right hand drive, manual transmission, 1972 Maserati Indy America 4700 before it undergoes a full restoration in Jeremy’s hands back to pristine condition. Glen now has the rallying bug though whether in the future this will be as a navigator or driver remains to be seen. For me, my future, if any, is as a navigator, as Sascha is a much, much better (and faster) driver and he also gets travel sickness reading the detailed Road Book provided to us at scrutineering. At scrutineering we were also given our car number. Number 101, made me slightly apprehensive. Were we to experience some form of Orwellian torture facing our worst fears in the Mercedes-Benz metal room that was to be our home for the next four days? Any qualms were quickly allayed through the wonderful organisation of the event, and the sheer unadulterated pleasure of the ever changing scenery and the magnificent driving roads that had been set out for us: a veritable movable automotive feast – driving, eating well, and exchanging stories and anecdotes of daring do at the end of each day. Everywhere we went local communities were out to watch us drive by, school children stood in the rain waving flags as though we were Vincenzo Lancia or Felice Nazzaro early pioneers of the Targa Florio from before the First World War, Achille Varzi or Giovanni ‘Ernesto’ Ceirano, or legendary runners from the 1960s such Arturo Merzario or Nino Vaccarella, or Jacky Ickx from 1973. Another of the Sydney contingent which certainly tried to live up to the legend were Rene Aalhuizen and navigator James Andrea in a 1955 Porsche Speedster. Dressed like Biggles and Snoopy to protect themselves from the very cold, often wet, sometimes sunny, and occasionally foggy weather, they cut a swathe though the field in their fast, open car. One or two had turned up their noses at the bodywork of the gallant Porsche little realising that underneath its battered, unrestored bodywork, this wolf in sheep’s clothing could fly like the proverbial off a shiny new shovel. The gregarious, likeable, Rene is nothing if not competitive, and despite this being his first outing at this type of event, car number 9 finished a very creditable third in class and fourth overall. If his navigator had been able to read as fast as Rene could drive and not directed his pilot into so many wrong turns, then a maiden victory could possibly have been on the cards. Ultimately though it was the experts who took the prize, Pizzuto and Vagliani wearing the laurel wreath of outright victory in front of thousands, and I mean thousands, of excited spectators basking in the warm Spring sun as the cars arrived at the finish on Lygon Street in Carlton for the annual Melbourne Italian Festa. Special mention should go to organisers Linda and Andrew Lawson who did a sterling job throughout and competed in their beautiful 1951 Lancia Aurelia B20 Coupé, finishing two spots in front of car number 101, which somehow finished a hard fought fourth in class and 17th overall. My personal favourite bit was covering the 10.6km road course of the old 1928–1935 Australian Grand Prix circuit located 2km south of the town of Cowes on an island near the Australian south coast. Next year the aim is to be on the podium on an island near the Italian south coast – this sport is contagious!

1937 MG in Targa Florio Sicily

Targa Florio Sicily Classic insights

By Italy

The Targa Florio Sicily was a great opportunity to participate in one of the great classic car events. It was too good to pass on for Australian Husband and Wife combination Paul and Nikki Lawson. As one of the organising committee for the Australian Edition of this great motorsport event, it was a great way to see how the Italians did it.

The following is an account of Paul Lawson’s time during the Sicilian event this year in October.


A dream come true

Visiting Sicily for the first time was a dream come true, competing in the Targa Florio a truly wonderful experience.

We met Angelo Pizzuto, ACI Palermo President on Wednesday to attend the opening press conference. We then headed back to pick up the beautiful MG we had been assigned to drive. It was time to take the plunge into the chaotic Palermo traffic. We made it through the traffic to the document check and pre-race scrutineering.

The following day was spent preparing for the prologue through the streets of Palermo. That night the route took us past the many highlights of this beautiful city. We often went down one-way streets the wrong way and finished with the welcome dinner at the spectacular Royal Palace.

The Main Event

Thursday finally arrived. We were into the main event with an 11 hour day ahead. The first day included 60 PC trails and 6 PM trials. A baptism of fire for my navigator who took it all in her stride.

Highlights of the day included the mountainous countryside. An amazing lunch venue and a trip to the valley of the temples outside of Agrigento.

The next day was big! We would get to experience the original loop of the Targa Florio course. It started at the grandstand and pits in Floriopoli which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

A baptism of fire for my navigator who took it all in her stride.

Car trouble

As we pulled up someone noticed that we where leaking fuel from the tank. After getting some assistance it appeared we had reached a premature end. The car was being loaded on the truck to be taken away for repair. The main mechanic suggested putting a piece of Wood between the chassis and the offending hole and tightening it up. To everyone’s amazement, it worked! While the whole field had departed, we were back in the event just before they shut the road.

The bonus was we had the road to ourselves and could really enjoy the mountainous roads, some were pretty rough but we had a great time.

We made up time and passed a few of the field and managed to arrive without losing any penalties at the lunch break in beautiful Cefalù. We stuffed in some lunch and continued for the final section back toward Palermo and another extremely large mountain stage. The downhill intervals really tested the MG’s brakes.

We pulled into Palermo feeling very happy to make it to the end as the tank had started to leak a lot.

Speaking to the owners mechanic, he confirmed that we had a hole in the tank that would need welding so we would need to skip the Sunday drive to the piccolo circuit that was a separate event.

We pulled into Palermo feeling very happy to make it to the end as the tank had started to leak a lot.

Zero Timing Device

We were pleasantly surprised that we had moved up from 30th overnight to a pretty credible 23rd overall after 100PC and 10 PM trials. The Zero timing equipment we were utilising for the event made a big difference.

We then headed to the Gala dinner in a very happy mood to celebrate with our fellow Australian competitors who had performed well and loved the event and all the Italian and European competitors we meet along the way.

Angelo insisted the car was safe and would not get worse so we managed to also do the Sunday drive to the piccolo circuit which was a real high light before the drive back to a finish at Teatro Massimo in Palermo where we enjoyed the final lunch and the presentation for the Targa Florio Sicily.

Wow-what an event, truly amazing both for the driving, great competition and countryside.

1937 MG in Targa Florio Sicily

2019 Event Highlights

By News

DAY 1:

Event Start – Point Danger, Torquay
We are excited to announce the Start at Point Danger Torquay, with a spectacular backdrop of the ocean, the cars will line up in all their pristine glory before being waved off on their 4 day adventure. After which, they will still be glorious, but may not be as pristine!

Cars will then enjoy the sweeping curves of the Great Ocean Road before looping back to Queenscliff for a well-earned lunch and rest stop in Queenscliff. They will share the stop with the lovely Q Train recently featured on Master Chef, before heading across the bay on the Searoad ferry.

DAY 2:

The beautiful Flinders Village will rise early to watch the cars depart for Hastings then onto Gippsland for lunch, a crowd to cheer us through Korumburra before driving into Phillip Island.  Following a competition stage cars will return to Cowes where the main street will be ready to enjoy the cars and competitors with a street party.

DAY 3:

Leaving from the San Remo Foreshore, the cars head through the Italian community of Mirboo North and to the Haunted Hills track for a fun drive around and lunch. Then taking in some of Victoria’s great driving roads up into the mountains, through Noojee and a competition stage at the Heritage Centre, then back down to the Healesville Festa di Via Verde.  The Healesville event has grown to become a celebration of cars and Italy with 500 cars on display the competition will run in River Street with the whole Yarra Valley celebrating with local produce and wines. What a day this will be!

DAY 4:

The final day sees us dropping past the famous Tooby Pub in Tooborac, lovely driving roads to Mt Macedon, crowds and lunch in Woodend and a drive via Williamstown to a finish at Lygon Street. The Gran Finale will see competitors cheered over the finish line by thousands of people and will be an exciting end to the Melbourne Italian Festa and a great Targa Florio Australian Tribute.

Time to ‘Zero In’ on the Targa Florio Australian Tribute

By merchandise, Training

When it comes to Classic Car Rallies just the appreciation of great cars, local food and wine and camraderie of others is enough. However, the competition element of Regularity Motorsport can further deepen your enjoyment of this enjoyable past time.


Veteran of overseas European Classic Car Rallies and Director of the Targa Florio Australian Tribute, Andrew Lawson explains a little more about the timing equipment required for these great events.


Timing Equipment, Practice

Its up to each team to work out how hard you want to compete in the Targa Florio Australian Tribute. This article has been written to explain some of the choices and to highlight the Zero device as a unit that in our experience provides a tool which we hope will improve teams ability and enjoyment as they get closer and closer to the nominated PC times.

As ever practice makes a big difference – there is no substitute from having experienced driving and practicing the same routine as you drive through the PC trials.

Below is a summary of the timing equipment that can help you become more skilled and accurate:

Getting Started:

If you want to get more accurate there are a wide range of equipment that have been created to help you.

These include ‘rally’ style odometer (Zero, Terratrip, Monit etc.) which are mounted in the car. This can also be achieved with an App such as ‘Rallytripmeter’. There are a number available.

Time Controls are simple. Check your clock, be on time, and add the time allowed to your time out and make sure you arrive at the destination on time! As long as there are no issues with the car and you follow the route you should not loose time making these within the allotted minute.

Regularity Stages and Average Speed tests are a little more involved. It’s a team effort and you need to work together. For our first go at the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio events we used an Ipad’ Regularity Test App. called (Lite is free, Klassik costs $99 but will allow you to enter the entire rally before you start the event where as the lite version requires you to enter the tests in groups).

The following are some of the equipment available.

On the navigation side we have used terratrip that accurately provides distance and time information.  These combine well with the roadbook as they allow you to have accurate distance calculation between each direction or feature highlighted in the roadbook.  They also provide accurate average speed feedback for the PM trials where you are set an average speed to maintain typically run over 5 – 10 km’s.

Competition – tools that help :

Generally, after you have completed a number of these rally’s and your competitive nature takes over there is no end of preparations you can take and equipment you can add to the car to give you the best chance.

To make the timing even more accurate hand-held triggers, countdown audio and very accurate equipment all enable the competitors to be very accurate.

Examples of the top end equipment include the Zero, Digitec Ecco, Bora and Bora S systems that have been developed in Italy for these races.

ZERO – V5.2

Having watched and spoken to a wide range of teams that compete in the European events there is wide range of equipment and techniques used to be as accurate as possible.  In deciding on a system our main criteria were:

  • East of use
  • They include a handheld trigger
  • They have a simple menu system
  • They are easy to set up and use in the event.
  • Cost, systems can cost from $750 – $2,500

The Zero units ticked all the boxes, they come programmed in Italian or English, have a simple menu system and have been developed for the European regularity events.

The units are provided with the following:

  • Zero Unit
  • Robust case
  • Dash mount, including a trigger mount
  • Trigger
  • Charge cable

The only thing we needed to add was a set of headphones.

The unit has a training and event modes.

Race Mode

For the event the rally time is accurately recorded and the PC’s. PM are added together with transit stages.

Typically there are between 3 and 6 PC’s run concurrently (you are asked in the setup whether they are concurrent (linked)or not).

There are 4 different events

CO:        time control (the time allocated for the car to start the race),

PC          Precision trial, measured between 2 tubes on the road, cars are given an exact time to complete each PC.

The key to success in PC trials is hitting the exact time over each line.

A big help is establishing a consistent time and technique for the last 10 metre zone.

These stages are all about hitting the exact time for each trial.

  • There are more than 70 of these on the rally and they are timed within 1/100 of a second.
  • This is where the regularity rally is won and lost.
  • The key is to accurately drive these short sections, between 40 and 400 meters long in exactly the correct time.
  • Typically you are required to travel approx. 10-30km/h.
  • There are typically 2 – 4 of these in a row and they are positioned in car parks, ovals and where roads can be closed to ensure public traffic do not drive through them and affect the timing.

Generally, there will be marshals to direct you into the time trials.

The penalty for not being exactly on time is 1 point per 1/100th of a second

PF           Phantom Trial (a time set for travelling between sets of PC’s

CC          Time control – accurate to the 1/100 of a second.

You can then add the entire event into the ZERO and you are ready to go.  An added feature to the Zero’s is that if one of the other competitors has loaded to event in a ZERO the units can be connected by a cable and share the event data.

We have purchased a ZERO and will make sure we have them at training.

A training guide was prepared for the first training – if you would like a copy of it or any further information on the ZERO devices or training please contact Linda on


Teams spend weekends and spare time training to time the last 10 meters into controls to get as close to exact as possible.  To win one of these events competitors must accurately complete 70 – 120 PC’s with the minimum time losses.  The winners typically do this with only a few seconds lost over the entire event.

Feedback from experts is that they use a foot on the brake and a foot on the accelerator to get the time as close as possible.  Winning these events takes practice to be as consistent as you can be over the line.  A lot of practice and repetitively mastering the PC stages is key to winning the event.