|May 13, 2010 - The 2010 Targa factors have been released!|
This has been a long wait, and I think it's because the organizers have been making sure their fairly major change is correct. Basically, the event is now split into two.
The classic cars (1981 and older) continue as-is. The Level 3 preparation level is expected to be dramatically faster than Level 1 or Level 2, and I think that's to be expected. Level 3 is aimed at the cars that are taking full advantage of four or more decades of hard-won competition knowledge, and are basically new cars in a vintage shell.
The big change is in Modern: there are no more factors. In other words, Modern is a full-on race. I expect the base times to be fairly aggressive, which means that many penalties will be taken. The fastest car will win. Awards will be given for the five classes, based on age range. There's no mention of any distinction between preparation levels, so basically everyone will build for Level 3 preparation. The Targa Miata is a Level 2 car other than the fact that it runs a 1999 cylinder head. If I installed a 1994-97 head, it would be fully legal in Level 2.
But since there's no handicapping, why not run in Open? Instead of competing for class honors with big-engined Level 3 cars of similar age (1991-97 in my case, which means a whole lot of rally-bred Subarus and Mitsubishis), run for the overall win with the big boys and throw away most of the rulebook.
That's what I would do if I were building from scratch. I'd stuff in that big V8 and proceed to scare myself silly. I might not be competitive at the top level due to my driving ability, but the car would be a real beast to drive and a massive rush.
The smaller cars won't be in the hunt for an overall win and probably not even for a class win. Minis, Civics and Miatas will now be racing for fun. But you know what? These cars wouldn't be racing for an overall win in any other race event either.
The biggest problem I see with the Modern setup has to do with the trophy times. Any novice team sets themselves the target of winning a Targa plate. The trophy times are set based off the target time for the stage - I think it's about 40% slower or so. It's an excellent goal. But without different factors for the different classes, that 40% of the target time is far more difficult to hit with the slower cars. Faster cars will have an easier time. The Targa plate (in my mind) is meant to be a test of consistency and reliability. This change will put a much greater emphasis on speed with the slower cars.
Of course, it's easy to poke holes and not offer a solution. The only alternative that comes to mind is to scale the trophy times off the fastest car in a particular class. For example, the trophy times for Early Modern for each stage will be set at 40% of the fastest Early Modern car to finish the stage. It means they'd have to be calculated after the stage is finished, but that's not a big problem with automated timing.
I'm hoping this change will attract more monster cars to the event, now that they no longer have to worry about explaining how they lost to an old BMW.
Targa factor announcement
entry 756 - tags: factors, 2010