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My Road to Targa Tasmania

We are very excited to announce that we are supporting Jeff Morton – Autopia’s founder and Non-Executive Director- in his dream of becoming a race car driver.

Jeff Morton will be racing at the upcoming Targa Tasmania 2017, a tarmac-based rally, which will take place between the 24-29 of April.

We are  happy to have Jeff as one our guest bloggers this week, and we hope you enjoy his retrospective on his love of cars and how he got into racing.

You can follow Jeff’s journey to Tasmania, and his progress on the race through our Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Good luck Jeff!

My love of cars
I can still remember in high school, writing in my diary and counting down the days until I could get my driver’s licence. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about cars, and when I founded Autopia in 2004, it was a dream come true to be able to help others get the car they wanted, at a price they could afford.

I’ve always been involved in motor sports. From saving up to buy my own kart in high school, to have taken every car I’ve owned to the race track. Over the years as many of the race tracks around Sydney closed, I’ve had fewer choices to get my fix, so the idea of being able to drive on closed public roads without having to worry about oncoming cars was very appealing.

My first tarmac rally
With that in mind, I thought I would try a tarmac rally and went to Targa High Country with a group of friends from Club Lotus Australia. I enjoyed the event immensely and managed to get on the podium and spray some passion pop (it was fun but pretty sticky and gross!).

 

After this taste, I was hooked and decided to set my sights on competing at Targa Tasmania in 2017.

I wanted to step up a category, which meant I would need a car with a roll cage. This step up in category also means I’ll need to learn a new skill – hearing the corner calls from my co-driver (navigator). This is a crucial skill that once you master, enables you to go faster around corners as the corner calls paint a picture of the road ahead. It really is the combination of driver and co-driver that makes for a successful team; it is imperative that both have absolute trust in each other. I have a very experienced co-driver for Targa Tasmania, but as a pairing, this will be our first rally together.

New car build
For me, there was no other choice for the new car than a Lotus, so I had the crew at SSC Lotus start with the preparations on a new Exige Sport 350. It was super exciting to see the car being stripped back and rebuilt as a race car, all ready to compete.
I even had a seat mould made to get me as low in the car as possible, so that my helmet would clear the roll cage – just like a real F1 driver!

Once the car build had been completed, it was time for a shakedown to make sure all the systems worked, and we headed out to Sydney Motor Sports Park. We put a heat cycle into the tyres for Targa Tasmania and then swapped over to the street wheels for the rest of the testing.

Making it look like a race car

The final part of the prep work was getting the car looking like a race car, which meant it was time to install the livery. I put all the stickers on the car over a period of a couple of days; it was a great way to bond with my new car… Even had some assistance from a little helper…

The end-product after a few days’ work…

Road trip of a lifetime

We decided to spend the Easter school holidays driving down to Tasmania and enjoy some time with friends before Targa Tasmania starts on the 24th of April. My wife helped load the car up onto the trailer before we set off for a road trip of a lifetime.

Stay tuned for live updates on Autopia’s social media channels as the event progresses.

About Targa Tasmania

Targa Tasmania is a gruelling 6-day event known as the Ultimate Tarmac Rally. With over 40 competitive stages and covering a distance of over 2,000km, the 2017 event runs from Monday 24 April to Saturday 29 April. For more information see the Targa website.

 

Posted by Jeff Morton

Founder and Non-Executive Director of Autopia.

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