With a strong field, challenging weather, and a major repair for one of the cars just three weeks out from the main event, Team DNG Automotive came out the pointy end to prove a lethal offering at Targa New Zealand 2019 with first-, third-, and fifth-place finishes across the three-car team.
With the car of David Rogers and co-driver Aidan Kelly getting stuck in the wall at Highlands Motorsport Park three weeks prior to Targa, the rush was on to get half the car rebuilt at Mills Collision Repair Centre while Dustin Ng and the team at DNG were busy rebuilding the mechanicals. With it finished five days before the start date, they were luckily able to get a test day in before starting the 2000km haul that is the main race.
Kicking off in Taupo, Targa headed over to New Plymouth for a few days before going south to Whanganui then over to Waiouru followed by the Manawatu region before wrapping up in Palmerston North.
Dustin tells us that the boys drove a long game, aiming to slowly make their way up the ladder, although they managed to post strong results across the board throughout. Heading into day five, Haydn Mackenzie and co-driver Matthew Sayers held first with a solid lead, so the team opted to back off the power, turning boost down in the name of longevity.
Rogers took on a new co-driver in Daniel Claughton for the last day, due to Kelly attending to other commitments, and the pair needed to find 12 seconds to secure second place. Unfortunately, 70km from the finish, the engine broke a tappet, which Dustin explains is a failure that has never been seen before — a testament to how hard the race can be on the gear.
The failure pushed the Evo-powered VW Polo of Jason Gill and Mark Robinson into third place overall, impressive for the pair’s first full event, and put Rogers into fifth, even after time penalties were applied.
Across the line, DNG held a 12-minute lead between first and second place, while also scooping up first, second, and third place in Class 10 Open 4WD with a field of nearly 60 cars.