We have all sat and watched the Targa on Sunday Motorsport and thought “one day I would like to do that”. Unfortunately most of us will never achieve this goal. We thought we’d take five minutes to catch up with Matt Gaskin and see what it takes to reach the realisation of a childhood dream.
So you have just competed in your first Targa with your Nissan Skyline, what inspired you to enter the event?
It was a goal I always wanted to achieve at some point. I remember watching it on TV years ago with the old man thinking, I bet that’s a hell of a lot of fun. I’d really love to give that a crack one day. I went and watched it when it used to come down to Wellington also. I guess one of the biggest motivators though was being told “I was dreaming” and “Do you know how much it costs to do a Targa”. This pushed me even harder to ask for some help and achieve my goal. Without the assistance from all my sponsors I would not have been able to enter and compete in the event.
What was the best thing about Targa? What was the worst?
The best thing by far is the roads you get to race on. Until you’ve done it, it’s hard to believe you’d be racing over such amazing roads. SH25 from Coromandel to Whitianga is a prime example. Just a magic piece of road, like the rimutakas on steroids.
Personally the worst thing is the control tyre situation. Having to use over-priced Taiwanese made tyres that you would never buy normally. There’s one place to buy them from so the price is inflated which defeats the purpose of having a control tyre to keep costs down. It annoys you most of the “top guys” run whatever tyres they like. Doesn’t seem fair to me….
What was the biggest lesson you learnt about competing in a multi day Targa Rally?
To ease your way into the stages. Especially seeing it was our first Targa. I was pretty cautious at the beginning of each day. There were a lot of crashes and most were very experienced teams. I guess when you’ve done it a few times you push harder each event. I was just happy to complete the days and ignore the time sheets. We had a lot more fun as a team this way too.
What preparation did you and your co driver do before the event?
The most important thing was making sure we were comfortable in the car and felt safe. As we are both quite tall it is always hard to fit easily in a Japanese car. Head clearance with the roll cage was the biggest issue. The seats were mounted as low as possible to achieve this. Other than that Andrew came for a few rides at events etc. We would pick everything else up as we went along.
What preparation did you do to the car? Was there anything you missed or needed as spare parts that you did not have? What do you need to do for next time?
My Uncle always told me when I was racing speedway that “90% of races are won in the garage” so I have always been a bit OCD about prepping any race car I’ve had. Everything that could be checked was. Speedtech Motorsport had it on the dyno to check the tune and they also made sure everything under the bonnet was tight and doing what it is supposed to. The car was shipped off to Macbilt too for some pre Targa modifications. A sump guard was made and fitted. Wheel alignment, corner weighting and some brake ducting was fabricated up which goes all the way to the hubs.
I made sure the crew had spares of most things without going over the top. You can only fit so much in the back of a Ute. I can’t recall thinking afterwards; next time I will make sure we have one of those. If I’m honest maybe just some bigger testicles…..
How many people were involved in your team?
There were four of us that went away. Myself, Andrew Thomas (co-driver), Jared Rush and Matt Rule ( service crew). All Hutt Valley Motorsport Club members. Can’t thank them enough. They did a spectacular job with any task they were given. I’m hoping they are all keen to do it again next year.
Better not forget the wives and families that were left at home too. My wife has been particularly supportive and I wouldn’t be doing it without her help.
For anyone wanting to do Targa what would be the advice you would like to give them?
You can do it on a budget so to speak. Of course it isn’t cheap but I think it’s affordable if you do your homework. Best thing I did was draw up a sponsorship proposal and approach people/businesses to help you out. Whether it was financially or products/services, every bit counts.
Other advice would be to have fun and try not to take it too seriously. Yes it is a competition but unless you have a massive budget and a weapon of a car you’ll find it tough to be in the top 10.
Finally what was your result? Overall and class.
We finished 4th in our division. Division 7.
14th in modern 2wd (30 competitors).
29th overall (70 competitors).
We also won the ‘Ross Jensen memorial jealous pride award’ for best presented finisher.
If I could thank these people and businesses for allowing me to achieve my goal too.
PPG NZ, Rolrich Panel and Spray, Wellington Tyre Disposal, Premier Roofing, Gaskin Ford and Mazda, Bryan Comerford, STM, Wellington Toyota Dismantlers, Projex Electrical, Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park, Sharps Autoglass, LT McGuinness, Signworks Petone and NAC Insurance.
Not possible without the support from them.
All of the team at STM wish Matt the best of luck with future events and we feel honoured to be able to help him chase the dream!
For anyone out there wanting to keep up to date with Matt’s progress or just to show him support check out his Facebook page.