Targa Tasmania officials take action after fourth death in two years

·4-min read
The Targa Tasmania race has been rocked by a fourth death in two years. Image: Monte Bovill/Twitter
The Targa Tasmania race has been rocked by a fourth death in two years. Image: Monte Bovill/Twitter

Targa Tasmania officials have defended the event's safety after the death of a fourth competitor in the last two years, insisting the rally car race does have a future.

A 59-year-old Brisbane man died on Wednesday when the car he was driving crashed 20 metres down a steep embankment at Mount Roland in the state's north-west.

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His wife, who was his passenger and navigator in the car, walked away from the crash and was taken to hospital for observation.

The tragic crash was the fourth death in the annual event in the last two years after three competitors were killed in 2021.

On Thursday, officials downgraded the six-day race to a non-competitive event - meaning drivers are bound to follow marked speed limits.

The race is due to finish in Hobart on Sunday.

Motorsport Australia director Michael Smith told reporters on Thursday that the race might become non-competitive in future years too.

"I think it's too early to say that there's no future for Targa. It might look different," Smith said.

"That's certainly part of the thinking. That's a discussion we'll have. Again, I just think it's too early.

"Not knowing the circumstances of the incident, it's probably too early for us to comment with any certainty on that at the moment."

Shane Navin, Leigh Mundy and Dennis Neagle, pictured here before Targa Tasmania in 2021.
Shane Navin, Leigh Mundy and Dennis Neagle were killed during Targa Tasmania in 2021. Image: Facebook

Targa Australia boss Mark Perry said the decision to put a line through the competitive part of the event was a difficult one, but necessary so the crash could be fully investigated.

He described the man's death during the 30th running of the rally as "shattering".

Perry said the man, whose name has not been released by police, was a regular competitor.

The man and his wife were in the final stage of the event's second day and were one of the last few cars on course.

"It's a long-term stage for us, not new, it's not unfamiliar to any of the competitors, particularly this crew. They've done many events with us before," Perry said.

Targa Tasmania rocked by fourth death in two years

Tasmania Police crash investigators will obtain more information from the scene on Thursday.

Inspector Darren Hopkins said the road was wet but it wasn't raining at the time of the crash, adding a medical condition couldn't be ruled out as the cause.

A rally safe device, which contains intel about the car's speed, has yet to be recovered from the vehicle.

Shane Navin, Leigh Mundy and Dennis Neagle lost their lives in crashes during last year's Targa Tasmania, prompting an investigatory tribunal to be established.

It made 23 recommendations for future tarmac rallies, including speed limits, altering stages year-by-year to avoid complacency and a tiered licensing system.

Seventeen of those recommendations have been adopted by rally organisers, with six the responsibility of Motorsport Australia to implement.

There have now been six deaths in the 30-year history of the Tasmanian event.

with AAP

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