It’s Targa time!

Tuesday 14 November 2023

While the curtain has come down on many motorsport championships, this time of year is still providing plenty of opportunities for four-wheeled thrill seekers to delay the onset of less active winter months.

With more venues away from the public highway available in the autumn, an ever-increasing number of affordable Targa Rallies are still going strong and keeping big smiles on competitors’ faces up and down the country as the days draw in. Most already feature full entry lists but there always remains the chance to learn more by volunteering – marshals are always needed.

As part of Motorsport UK’s very inviting StreetCar programme, these automotive escapades are an open goal for all those seeking some truly inspiring, against-the-clock, driving fun.

To get started on smoother Targas, all you need is a standard taxed and insured road car (with a valid MOT) plus a RS Clubman competition licence, which is completely free. You don’t even need a helmet, overalls or costly tyres.

“Over the past decade I’ve seen an amazing growth in Targa Rallies – they have emerged from Gymkhanas, Road Rallies and Endurance Rallies,” explained Alan Wakeman who now runs Targa Championships for both the BTRDA and the Cotswold Motor Sport Group.

“Their big attraction is that you can start in an everyday road car at introductory level. I’ve seen competitors buy a car a week before an event, check it over and compete just a few days later. It really is that simple.”

Wakeman also attributes the escalating appeal of Targas to the fact that two entrants can share the wheel on some single-venue events. What’s more, unlike Autosolos, these Targas are very much a team sport. Drivers and navigators combine their respective skill sets to ensure they stick to the correct, prescribed course thus avoiding any costly penalties.

There are other differences from Autosolos, too. “For starters, you can drive on a variety of different surfaces all the way from clean asphalt at, say, a race circuit right through to events held on forest tracks… and everything in between,” Wakeman revealed. “Autosolos also are limited to a maximum area of 200 square metres, whereas on Targa Rallies, Tests can be any length the organisers wish.” Indeed, many offer more than 40 miles of Tests in a day all timed to the second.

Targa Rallies can provide a great introduction to those wishing to start in rallying to see if they enjoy the discipline. Starting in Stage Rallies is a significant investment in money and time, Targas offer a far lower cost starting point and offer a great ‘community’ vibe, usually everybody helps everybody else. Talent can also shine through quickly, even in standard cars.

A newcomer can start in Targa rallying and progress to wherever they feel is appropriate for them. They can start in local events, taking one event at a time. They can then progress to local championships, such as CMSG which has a class for Novices on smoother Targas.

Progression is available with the National BTRDA Silver Star Targa Championship, which is targeted at those who wish to compete on smoother events. Often competitors also compete in BTRDA Autosolos and BTRDA Allrounders (three disciplines), all in a more standard car. In total, the Targa calendar includes more than 60 events throughout the year, so there’s plenty of choice around. What are you waiting for?

To find out more about Targa Rallies, click here.