The original drive day

This post is a copy of a post I did a few years (2010) before I became an owner. If I’m honest, it was kind of a dry run to see what driving an actual Ferrari was like. I thought that I’d move it here into a new home so other may enjoy.

Power up the flux capacitor………………


My time had arrived to go on the Ferrari drive day provided by Prancing Horse.

The starting point is the Prancing Horse base in Marrickville Sydney. When you arrive you are greeted by the following site:

Our mounts for the day (from R to L, 328, 355, 360, 430)

Four shiny Ferrari’s (328GTS, 355, 360 and a 430). Best of all they seem to be in need of some drivers!

I think I’ll take the one on the left first  (from R to L, 360, 430)

After overcoming my shyness I whip out my camera and start taking shots. Soon the other drivers for the day also rock up and we all introduce ourselves. The guys from Prancing Horse now shepherd us inside and read the riot act. No not really, but they do make sure we understand the value of these machines and that we are responsible for them. Most importantly we are cautioned against doing anything stupid while driving as these cars are like nothing else most people have even driven!

We sign a few documents, take a breath analyser and then get take back outside for a briefing on each car. That over we now draw lots for our vehicles and co-drivers. With 4 cars and 8 drivers we will each take turns at driving and being a passenger in each car.

I draw the most powerful car of the lot, the 430, to start with. I slide behind the drivers wheel and listen intently to the instructions on how to make the car go vrooom. Before we head off for our trip we take a bit of a drive up the street and back to get a ‘feel’ for our rides. I can feel how powerful the 430 is but it is surprisingly easy to drive.

We head off through the Sydney morning heading south. As we start clearing the city I start to give the 430 a bit of boot and am blown away with how quick it is (not to mention the noise from the engine). I get the opportunity to test the 430’s acceleration by dashing away from the lights but ensure that I reign it in before reaching the speed limit as nothing says you are going quick than a red Ferrari.

We head south and turn off towards the Royal National Park and our first stop Audley Weir. I reluctantly dismount the vehicle and part take in some morning tea. Every is almost babbling with excitement now.

The smoking 328GTS

The big boy of the bunch. The 430

Looks good from any angle

Push the red button on the left of the steering wheel to make it start.

An experience inside or outside.

It’s soon time to head off and no one is complaining as we once again slide into the cockpit (it’s my turn to ride shotgun in the 430). However, as we go to head off the 328GTS decides to blow off some smoke from somewhere under the dashboard and won’t start. Oh no, does this mean our day is over before it has really started? Luckily not. Fortunately one of the principals of Prancing Horse has his own Ferrari 328GTS that he can lend us. What a nice man. Problem is that it’ll take him a little while to arrive but everyone agrees that we should continue.

We spend a pleasant morning further ogling the cars and smiling at other people’s reactions when they see four bright red Ferrari’s in one car park.

The replacement 328GTS arrived and we were off again, this time with me as a passenger in the 430. Now being a passenger is whole different ballgame, especially in a car like this. It did however give me the opportunity to take a number of short videos.

At the next changeover point over looking the ocean, I took control of the 328 GTS. This is a completely different beast to the 430 I had driven earlier. The first thing was that it was manual and secondly the hand brake is on the right hand side near the drivers door. The other thing about the hand brake was that it was the type that you pull up, press and release. Now, no matter what the state of the actual brake, on or off, the handle returns to the floor. Very deceptive as I was about to find out.

After only a very short distance I knew there was something wrong with the car. It took me a little while to actually discover that the hand brake was still engaged. Worse still I couldn’t get it come off. We had to therefore radio for help from the boys from Prancing Horse in the lead car to circle back and assist.

Turns out that the hand brake on this vehicle ‘tends’ to get stuck (no kidding!) but after a quick jerk up and press in it was released.

The 328GTS being a much older car is completely different to drive from all the cars. It is much heavier and you need a significant amount of strength to even depress the clutch, yet alone shift gears. It does take some getting used to. Having the hand brake on the opposite side also proved a little challenging when it came to hill starts. I again managed to get the hand break stuck on but luckily now I had seen the ‘magic touch’ I could get it off after a few tries.

We now hit the freeway heading south towards Kiama where we could open the taps a little and enjoy the ‘symphony of horse power’.

All in a line

We pulled over at the end of the freeway to swap drivers again. It was now turn to ride shotgun for the trip around the back, through the hills and to downtown Kiama for our lunch break.

We all take a pit stop for lunch

We dawdled through town to our lunchtime stop, pulling up a ‘U’ shaped driveway in full view all the patrons. What a way to make an entrance. We then summarily enjoyed a fantastic lunch over looking the ocean.

As good as it was to take a break everybody couldn’t wait to return to our steeds. I was really looking forward to this stint, as I would be behind the wheel of the 355. Although a more modern car than the 328GTS it still retains a lot of the its distinctive looks.

We headed back the way we came, through town, looping back around through the hill towards the freeway north. It was glorious to drive in the rural setting into the hills and be able to feel the power of the 355.

All too soon it was time to pull over again and change drivers. I reluctantly handed over control of the 355 and took my place in the passenger seat for the ride back up the freeway.

After the freeway run it was time for the final vehicle change and my final stint behind the wheel. My co-driver and I moved to the 360 for the return leg to Marrickville.

Annual service time

It is the time of the year when the F355 needs to go off to Sal at Racing Red for its annual service and registration check.

Luckily there wasn’t a huge amount that I could think of that needed attention. However, as always there were a few things.

The first issue was the oil pressure readings. A while back they had started to bounce around, sometimes getting up to the maximum of 10 which is always cause for concern. Normally, this is an indication that the actual connection to the gauge is loose. However, after checking no fault was found.

Next up was the decision to change the battery. Having owned the F355 now going on six and half years it was probably a good opportunity to get a new battery. Even though the current battery had never failed to do it’s job, generally best practice is to change the battery every three years. So, now the F355 has a new battery and wow! Does it start quickly now.

There is still an issue with the ride height on the right side. It is more evident on the front drivers side than at the rear. The car still drives fine but it is definitely lower on that side of the car. This is more than likely because I’m the only one riding in it! The sagging issue can only really be fixed by getting the suspension springs ‘re-conditioned’. The best time to address that is probably at the next engine out.

During the last engine out, last year, it was noted that the catalytic converter linings are cracking and will start to dislodge. This will cause the exhaust to ‘rattle’ and indicate that new converters will be required. Having not happened as yet, that will be left until the ‘rattling’ starts to occur.

The most annoying thing that wasn’t working was the intermittent windscreen wiper. I honestly, thought that it was something that I was not doing but as it turned out Part #153095 Windshield wiper motor intermitter had failed. It happens on a 20+ year old car.





This part is located on a panel, right in front drivers nose of the car. A bit of a pain to get to. A brand new version of this would cost around $600 but I got a re-conditioned module for significantly less.

So that was everything I wanted looked at it, however while the car was on the hoist the following was discovered:


Basically, the left hand front sway drop link had come loose from the suspension fork. You can see it here:


The fitting just screws into the lower fork and now a spring washer was also fitted to prevent the same thing happening again in the future. Having this loose affected the ride of the car, with it tending to roll in corners more than it should. Can’t say that I really noticed it but now that I think about it didn’t seem quite as flat during some recent runs.

To fix all of that only took Sal just over a day and I was able to pick the car up with the complete cost being around $1,600 for the lot. A bargain!

As always, there will be things that needs doing down the track but they are not urgent. The most noticeable change now means that the car starts in a blink of an eye now it has a new battery and new starter motor after a previous replacement.

Once again, big thanks to Sal from Racing Red for keeping the car in such good nick. It is very comforting to have such an experience hand to look after stuff that I can’t do.

Looking forward to another year of driving.

The six year anniversary


Another year of ownership of the F355 has come and gone. It’s therefore time to do an update on what happened in this past year. But before we do that here’s all the previous updates for context:

One Year Anniversary

Two Year Anniversary

Three Year Anniversary

Four Year Anniversary

Five Year Anniversary

The sixth year they say is sugar.

So when we left last year’s update the F355 had decided that it no longer wanted to start. Basically, I’d turn they key, the dashboard would light up but no crank. Thought that it was either the alarm playing up or the starter motor.

As per usual, I contacted al DiMauro from Racing Red to get this thoughts and he suggested that it was most likely the starter motor. Now because the car was beached where it was he paid me a visit and removed the starter motor, took that away and had it reconditioned. Thoughts were that after all these years, a good clean up is what it really needed.

After a week or two Sal was back with the reconditioned unit and I was away again. Unfortunately, a few weeks later the same problem began to emerge. Not quite as major, but starting the car was still not as reliable as it could be. By then the car’s annual service wasn’t far away so I delivered it to Sal for him to work his magic.


It was also time for my second major service where the belts have to be changed. This process requires the engine to be dropped out of the car to allow access.


One of the things that Sal noted was that the existing ceramic catalytic converters were beginning to crack and would need replacing soon.


This is simply because of their age (going on 22 years now). It wasn’t something that required immediate attention but would do somewhere down the track. I might look at doing the replacement of these at next year’s service. The cost for two new converters is going to be around the $3,000 mark.

The one thing that I decided to have done during this service was to get the rear bumper fixed. A few years ago I carelessly reversed into a street sign. I then tried to repair the damage myself and I thought I did a fair job, but what started happening over time was the paint I applied started to age and change colour and the repairs became quite noticeable. It eventually annoyed me enough that I polished it back and simply left it until the next major service to repair. The repaired result was immaculate, you can’t even notice it!

Sal couldn’t fault the starter motor and with the service complete and two new rear tyres, I was back on the road again.

All proceeded well for another three months or so and the starter motor began to play up again. I’d turn the key and again I’d get no crank. My biggest concern was stopping the car out somewhere, say getting fuel, and then it wouldn’t start. This didn’t seem too likely as the issues seemed to only appear on a cold start, but you never know.

After another month or two of this happening off and I on I decided that changing the starter motor was the next step in trying to resolve the issue. I therefore took the car over to Sal (luckily it started) and he changed out the starter motor there and then with a new unit.

Since then, the F355 has had an issues. So it turns out that it was the starter motor (most likely the solenoid) that was my problem.

Thanks to Sal DiMauro from Racing Red again for this assistance with resolving the issue and servicing the car again and keeping it such great shape for me to enjoy.


This year was always going to be more expensive because of the belt change service, two new rear tyres plus rear bumper repairs. Additional costs were also incurred by the initial attempt at refurbishing the starter motor and then replacing it entirely. This meant that repair costs were twice what the annual average would normally be but most of that was expected in necessary repairs. If I look back to year three of the car’s history when I had the last major service, the annual costs are about the same.

Total costs for the car including fuel, repairs, maintenance, rego, insurance came to about $14,500 for the year. As I said, if you take out the major service then it is about average. Outside the major service, the majority of the cost for the year is comprehensive insurance coming in at around $3,000.


Interestingly, even with the time the car spent off the road due to start motor issues I have travelled more distance than ever before, over 10,000 kms this year in fact! That is about a 40% increase in travel distance from the previous year. The car is fast approaching the 78,000 kilometre total distance travelled representing about 45,000 of distance that I have put on the car in the six years now that I have had it.

I went to the Bathurst 12 Hours this year and drove to and from the track a few times and I have been on a number of nice long runs as well which explains the additional distance.

This year’s learnings

1. As always, a good mechanic is worth their weight in gold. Sal DiMauro from Racing Red has always solved any issue that has cropped up with the car, and how well it is running is testament to his professionalism. I couldn’t enjoy the car as much as I do without his help.

2. Life is so much better when you get the ding fixed that you put in the car.

Low points

Obviously the issues with the starter motor not allowing the car to start. The initial issues were worse because the car failed to even crank but once the problem became obvious it was just a matter of eliminating the issues. IN the end, as typically it does, it took a few goes to isolate the problems but now with a new starter motor everything is back to normal.

High points

The car has run remarkably well. This year I’ve really felt that it is purring along when I drive it. That probably explains all those kilometres that I have put on it this year.

Apart from driving the car the highlight this year for me was being part of Targa Tasmania. I details my experiences here:

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Arrival

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 1

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 2

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 3

Targa Tasmania 2018 – Day 4

During this time I was lucky enough to be co-pilot on a 458 Italia and came away thinking that I should probably get one to add to the stable. Thus, the search is on.


I’ve given up closely watching prices on cars but it is remarkable to see that F355’s are now selling for the $300,000 mark. I saw one go for $360,000 a while back. It is also remarkable that these prices are currently being maintained. Of course, there is plenty of variation in the asking price of cars but the current value is more than doubt what I paid for my car back six years ago!

I’m not worried that my car has probably more kilometres on it than most F355’s. I know that what really matters is the service history, which is good. However, there is bias here in Australia for low kilometre cars and that may affect the value but a real enthusiast I figure will appreciate that a car driven regularly is worth more and is unlikely to have as many problems as a ‘garage queen’.

I’m not interesting in selling the F355 and I also believe that in the long run the asking price for these cars will continue to climb. Let’s see what another 12 months brings on this front.


Another great year with the F355. Once the starter motor issue was sorted things have been grand. I am also happy that the rear bumper is now repaired and I don’t to look at it every time I get into the car. I can’t tell you how annoying that blemish was and how often it reminded me of my stupidity. Now, no more.

I’m also happy that the value of the car continues top rise, which confirms my initial belief that this was the car to buy.

I enjoyed some great events like the F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne as well as Targa Tasmania, which has convinced me that I need to get a 458 Italia. Now that’s a project I can sink my teeth into for the coming year.

Targa Tasmania–Day 4

The last day of our Targa adventure started even earlier than before. We needed to be up super early to pack, checkout, have breakfast and then head to the first stage of the day which was about 40 minutes away.

I gotta say, that by this stage I was beginning to run out of steam. A full day’s driving, followed by dinner and early morning starts where not really providing the ability to be as fresh as these Tasmanian mornings.

None the less, with our luggage stashed in the support van, we completed our final briefing and breathalyser before heading onto the suburban streets for the drive to the first stage, Cethana.



During our trek we were greeted with some early morning fog that made the experience somewhat eerie as you can see from the above shots. Ferrari’s in the mist if you like.

Cethana, is quite a long stage by Targa standards at 40kms.

Our next stage, Castra, about 20 minutes away but would start off quite differently than all our other stages. Why? Well, we were greeted by about 5 kilometres of loose gravel as we climbed up the mountain.

There is nothing worse than the sound of stones constantly peppering a Ferrari as you will see when you watch the above video. Cringe-worthy to say the least.

At one point a stone appears to have gotten lodged in the brake calliper, so that during braking there was an awful grinding sound, which we didn’t appreciate exactly what it was at first. Luckily, the stone came loose not long after and there was no damage to the car and especially not to the carbon ceramic disks!

We continued along and completed the stage without further incident.

Gunns Plains was our next stage about 10 minutes away. This was a stage of about 15 kilometres.


From there it was only 5 minutes to probably the best stage of the day, Riana.


Riana is quite long at 36 kilometres and allows you to really get up some speed.


It has some long straights, sweeping bends and some tight turns that were all filled with spectators.

The above video gives you an idea of what being in the passenger’s seat was like. I gotta admit that I really like the sound track that accompanies these videos. Nothing beats the sound of a screaming 458 powerplant.

Riana was to be our last Targa stage. We headed to Burnie to regroup and grab some refreshments. Unfortunately, we also probably over whelmed the local coffee shop with a sudden rush of orders from a caravan of cars and caffeine deprived occupants.

We headed off to our next stop which was to be the car collection of Chas Kelly.


We parked up in the entrance way and had a tour of the cars he has on display there including an Ferrari F40 that Chas actually complete in Targa with (and crashed! Ouch).


Chas then took us to his ‘shed’ to see the remainder of his collection.


As you can see from the pictures, the collection in here is AMAZING! This is what I call a REAL man cave.


It was clear that it was going to be tough to drag everyone away from the collection but the time did eventually come that we needed to head off to our afternoon stop.

Not far away was a local winery where we spent the rest of the afternoon sharing all the experiences we’d enjoyed over the last few days. Many were already starting to plan their return next year. Here I managed to score the prized ‘chunder’ award for being the closest to actually throwing up (I will however point that I didn’t actually, but I did go close). My prize? A set of plastic raincoats ready for the next time on Targa. Other prizes were also awarded to worthy participants.

As the sun began to set, we headed back to the Devonport ferry terminal for the return trip to the mainland. As we were ending our journey before the end of the Targa proper, the ferry was much less crowded and luckily the weather was much friendly. This meant, that we could at least get some sleep without the massive swells we experienced on the journey over.

We sat around the upper deck and enjoyed some finger food and drinks before calling it a night and heading back to the cabins.

Before we knew it, were had arrived back in Melbourne and rolled onto the mainland to commence our journey home. We rendezvoused for the last time before going our own ways back home. Some headed to the airport, others the open road. I returned with the land convoy back up the Hume Highway for the long drive back, which was completed without incident.

We were all tired and keen to get home but glad we had come to Targa Tasmania.


So now it’s all done and dusted, and I’ve had a while to reflect, what are my thoughts? It was an amazing experience on the road as much as with a group of fellow car enthusiasts. Our accommodation was brilliant, the roads and scenery were amazing and the laughs we had were priceless.

Although I didn’t bring a car I did get to drive a number of Ferrari’s during the trip, which is always special. I will readily admit that I don’t like being a passenger in a car at any time but probably more so at speed. There was never any doubt about my driver’s or the car’s ability but I’d rather be behind the wheel rather than in the passenger’s seat I will happily admit.

Would I come back? If I did, I certainly wouldn’t bring the F355. Why? Being a manual car, without lots of driver aids (like say traction control), it would certainly be hard work driving and I am the first to admit that I don’t have the ability or experience to drive the roads we were on at the speed we were going in my car. However, if I was driving a 458, it would be a different story.

Probably the biggest takeaway for me was simply the added respect I gained for the 458. It eat up every stage with ease and never missed a beat. It is amazingly quick but it’s control, poise and braking ability is something you simply don’t appreciate until you experience it for yourself.

As much fun as the driving was I feel that the real highlight of the event was simply being part of a group of enthusiastic car owners who were part of the special experience that is Targa Tasmania. This is such a unique event, so well supported by the locals and enjoyed by everyone I hope it continues well into the future.

There we go, Targa Tasmania done and dusted in a Ferrari.

Targa Tasmania–Day 3


Another crisp but clear Tasmanian morning greeted us on day 3 of Targa. We were up even earlier today for another full day of stages. Although everyone was keen for the off again, these early starts were not what many had in mind when they signed up, was a common conversation point as people shivered in the early dawn. However, everyone was keen for another full day of driving as we received our daily briefing and mounted up for the day.


Our first stage, The Sideling was about a 40 minute drive from the Country Club. The Sideling is a 14 km stage.


We then headed to Moorina about 50 minutes away. Moorina is stage that is all up hill. It was hill climb time and the 458 didn’t disappoint.

Only 3 minutes away was the Wedlborough Pass a 14 km stage which included a long descent down the mountain, which was not something we had really seen as yet. This did take some adjustment and braking as we wound down the mountain.


Next up, Pyengana, only a few minutes away.


From here we headed to St Helens for the lunch break. We parked up on a local football field and headed off to enjoy some refreshments.


As I have said previously, it is truly amazing the support this event enjoys with locals, none more so than here at St Helens. While waiting for the group in front of us to leave we were blown away with the number of locals who had come to look at the cars. They were all really keen to learn more about us and the cars. It was truly gratifying to see how enthusiastic they were about Targa going through their neck of the woods and the support they give competitors like us.

We then had about a 45 minute drive to the next stage, Elephant Pass.


This is the most famous East Coast pass of Targa. It is about 11 km long with plenty of challenging driving conditions starting with a hill climb and finishing with a hill descent.


We had an usually long wait before we commenced the stage. This was great as it again allowed us to take in the fantastic scenery and catch up with others.

Elephant Pass was probably the most enjoyable stage I found in that it included both a hill climb and descent, while also having a combination of twists and straights all combined with some spectacular scenery.

With Elephant Pass complete we now headed along normal roads for 50 minutes to the Rossarden stage.

Once again this stage was through the mountains both up, but mainly down a mountain. It was a real rare treat to be able to drive these mountain roads at speed.

At the end of the stage we were greeted with with about 5kms of unsealed gravel road, which had a different effect on different drivers. Some, tried to ‘tip toe’ through the never ending ‘crunching’ gravel in the vain hope of limiting the damage to their car. Others, like my driver, took it as an opportunity for a ‘real’ rally stage by doing fishtails, slides, launches, emergency stops and more. For a few, like my driver, it was a prefect way to finish the day and you couldn’t wipe the grin off their faces.

I once again was given the controls of the 458 and we headed back to the Country Club. The return trip was over 90 minutes so it was great to get an extend time behind the wheel of the 458 which had seen quite a bit of action on day 3. Many a time the car had bottomed or ‘nosed out’ when travelling a speed down the mountain, but once again it had performed flawlessly. It truly is an amazing piece of machinery.

Today we’d done over 380 kms through Tasmania and was unfortunately our last full day on Targa a fact we lamented on over dinner at Cataract on Paterson in Launceston after freshening up before heading out. Tomorrow would again be an early and we’d also need to check out as well so we chose to make an early evening of it and get a back to our accommodation early.

Today, for me, was probably the best day on tour. We completed stages that really had everything and were truly characteristic of this wonderful place. The car and my driver performed flawlessly and we had some great times between stages. I don’t think it could get much better than this!

Targa Tasmania–Day 2

Today was to be our first complete day of stages, morning and afternoon, so we needed our energy and as such, most people were at breakfast early, with many still babbling about the prior day’s experiences.


We excitedly headed down to the car park where we were again greeted by a clear but extremely crisp morning. We completed our last minute briefing for the day, grabbed our radios, got our stage notes out, passed the breathalyser and once again headed off across Tasmania to our first Targa stage.

High Plains was our first challenge, about a 40 minute road trip from the Country Club. This stage is about 6 kms in length.

After High Plains we needed to travel about 50 minutes to the next stage, Sheffield.


As you can see, there is no shortage of scenery to look at while driving in Tasmania. Once again, the weather was magic, fine and clear.

I had also made a bit a discovery for myself while navigating during the rip roaring tour stages. I found that if I pushed my head firmly into the head rest I could read the notes and see the trip counter without becoming as motion sick. I think if I looked forward during the stages I would have been fine, but looking down, trying to read stage notes and then looking back up does not do one’s stomach well. Seems to me that you either look down at the course notes for the entirety of the stage or you look forward.


Sheffield is about 15 kms in length and starts with an uphill run. When we arrived the group in front of us were yet to start so we parked alongside and as usual, drivers and passengers, made a beeline for the bushed to help irrigate the local fauna.

As we stood around shivering and stamping our feet to ward away the cold of mid-morning Tasmania we were joined by a few locals, who were keen to check out the cars.


Another amazing sight we became accustom to down here is that fact that while we felt it was freezing and surely about to snow, the locals were getting around in shorts, thongs and T-shirts! They’re a hearty bunch down here.

Soon the group in front of us mounted up and rolled towards the start. As they took off from the start and headed up the mountain we could hear the roar of their engines and that made us all even more excited.


Soon, it was our turn to tackle the uphill climb which was very different from most of the previous stages.

It was at about this point during the tour that I confirmed my growing admiration for the ol’ 458. It is an absolutely AMAZING car. Not only is it quick, it accelerates, brakes and handles beautifully. In short, I want one!

The above video will give you some idea of what it was like during the climb. Don’t forget, that Targa is conducted on closed roads so you don’t have to worry about traffic (read logging trucks) coming the other way. Travelling at speed across double lines, around blind corners, what can I say? Gold bless Tasmania!

From Sheffield we had a short drive of only about 15 minutes to the next stage, Nook.

Nook is about 6.5 kms long.

We now headed for lunch at Latrobe.


Moriarty was the next stage after lunch, about a 15 minute drive from lunch. There was no time to ‘dilly-dally’ we had to be off at an exact time, directly behind the group in front. Stragglers would be left behind.

Moriarty is about 5.6 kms long.

Next up was Paloona, about 25 minutes away which was a 17 kms stage with plenty of twisty bits and tight corners.


Mt Roland was next up, about 30 minutes away. This was one of the longer stages at 27 kms and basically starts with a hill climb, goes across a plateau and then down the other side.


Mt Roland was our sixth and final Targa stage for the day. With the trip back to the Country Club, that would make fourteen driving stages in all up, over 350 kms for the day.

We regrouped at the end of the stage and confirmed plans for dinner tonight in Launceston at the Mud Bar Restaurant.

My driver and I swapped seats and I sedately headed back to the Country Club to rest and refresh before dinner.

Day 2 had been bigger, better and longer than day 1 and everyone was much more exhausted once the adrenaline had subsided. Today we’d taken on our first real mountain stage, both up and down, which was really special. We’d also had challenging twists and turns as well as flying straights. Everyone was really grateful that they’d made the time to come and looked forward to an even earlier start tomorrow for another full day of Targa Tasmania.

Targa Tasmania 2018–Day 1

After a restful night on stable dry land, our first full day in Tasmania dawned clear and crisp.

There was an air of excitement as participants shared breakfast in the Country Club before heading down to the car park to prepare for the first day of Targa.

In the car park we met our ‘guides’ for Targa who would be leading our group in their Golf R. The idea was to firstly have someone to follow and secondly keep the stages safe by limiting the maximum speed to around 120 kmph (yeah, right). These guys had been doing Targa for years and knew every stage like the back of their hand and were a great source of information and history of the event. Bringing up the rear would be the ‘sweeper’ in VW Amork, being the tour support vehicle that had followed us from Melbourne.

With last minute checks done, briefings complete and radios allocated we ran the gauntlet of the daily morning breathalyser and lined our cars up ready for the road train through suburban streets to the first stage.


It took about 45 minutes for us to drive from the Country Club to the beginning of the first stage known as Holwell. As our group was the always going to be the second on stage we needed to wait for the larger first group to clear the start. As such, we all pulled over to wait our turn.


This initiated a sequence that was to be repeated prior to each stage. Upon stopping, all the doors would fly open and both passenger and driver would make a b-line for the bushes on the road to relive themselves. Every wondered why roadside Tasmanian blackberries taste so good? Now you know!

Once the call of nature had been answered, people grouped together to share their anticipation for the coming day. There were a few experienced hands who could lend some experience of what to expect. Many of course complained about how cold it was as well. Whingers!

The other commonality with these short breaks before each stage was simply the stunning scenery, because remember, Targa is typically not held on main roads!

We soon received word to start getting ready for the stage. We jumped back in cars and trickled up to the stage start lead by our guides in their Golf R. I had my stage notes book ready to assist as best I could.

Holwell is a stage of about 8.5kms. It was short but challenging with a number of locations to watch for. Our 458 rolled up to the stage start and we watched the car in front disappear in a cloud of acceleration and moments later we were off in hot pursuit.

It wouldn’t have been 200 metres before our car windscreen intersected with a large rock thrown up by the car in front. Luckily, this 458 had a protective coating applied to the windscreen for exactly this reason and no damage was sustained. However, both the driver and I used the first of what would be many choice words you don’t use in polite conversation in response to the shock.

We backed off a little, giving the car in front some room, with the aim of avoiding any more rocks being thrown our way. As we sped along I did my best to read from the stage notes and let my drive know what was coming but all the motion and rapid speed as well as perhaps the fact I had not fully recovered from my sea journey, were making me feel quite ill.

We continued to barrel along at great speed. I will also admit that I don’t make a great passenger (I’m a control freak I know) so being thrown left and right as well as not exactly knowing when the car would be breaking and accelerating, was not doing my constitution much good.

The first stage was now complete but I was certainly worse for wear. As we travelled at road speeds to the next stage, Kayena, I could feel my breakfast wanting to come up for a look at the scenery. I quickly urged my driver to pull over just in case. Nothing came up but I did have to endure the scorn of the other drivers as they drove past. Nice to know who your friends are right?

After some fresh air, I felt much better and so we continued our journey. Turns out that my so called driver buddy had the seat heaters on full as well as the cabin temperature set a ‘toasty’ because HE felt cold. REALLY? I quickly pointed out that there would be two people in the car most of the time and if he didn’t want to see what I had for breakfast he really should ensure I am also comfortable with the environmental conditions in the cockpit.

With the cabin environment now sorted, we continued to the start of Kayena.


Upon arrival at the stage we once again lined up to wait. The familiar exodus of drivers and passengers to the bushes on the sides of the road repeated itself.


Kayena is a 7.4kms stage and was now starting to get into more populated areas.

I survived the stage but was still getting pretty motion sick with all the bouncing around, trying to read the notes, look out the window, worry about what my driver was doing and so on. It was there and then that I decided that if I was going to return to Targa it wouldn’t be as a navigator. Stuff that!


We now headed to the George Town stage that is actually run through the city centre! You have to be kidding me I though. No way. But, yes way, it is.


This was to be our last stage for today. After this we’d have lunch and watch other competitors tear through the town.

There was a fair backlog of cars waiting to do the stage so we stood around for a good 30 minutes waiting for our turn but when it came it didn’t disappoint.

There is something quite surreal about screaming through a pretty sea side resort town in Italian supercars at speeds of well over 180 kmph with nothing but a few pieces of tape to guide you the way to go. One good thing is that it is all flat but it is certainly tight. The 458 and driver, as usual, handled it with ease.

Although I was still feeling somewhat under the weather I did enjoy the stage. It is pretty unique and I don’t think I’ll get another experience like it.


All competitors parked up in park behind the main street and then headed off to the hospitality tents for lunch. I restricted my intake as I didn’t want it coming back up on me. It was however very enjoyable for everyone to get together share experiences of this first day while watching the really serious competitors blast past. There were of course a few spectacular looses but nothing major.

It was dawning on us how special Targa is and we all remarked at how unique this event was. There is little doubt that something like this would not be held anywhere else. The really amazing thing was just how much support the locals gave the events. Every time we parked the cars up in a town to have lunch, locals descended from everywhere to have a look and ask questions. I started coming to the understanding of how special this event really is and why so many people want to get involved.

After lunch, it was time to swap roles and I could now drive the 458. My driver had offered to let me do a stage but I didn’t want to ruin his fun and especially I didn’t want to ruin his car, so I opted to take the 458 home most nights as well as too and from the evening meal so my driver could enjoy a find beverage or two.


On the way back to the Country Club we stopped off to look at a private car collection as well as a look through the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania. Even during Targa, a fleet of Ferrari’s makes a scene.

We returned to the Country Club for some rest and to get ready for dinner at Pierre’s Brasserie in Launceston. On our return trip afterwards, through the deserted streets, we pulled over to refuel for the following day which would start earlier and go longer. Not something you see every day (or night) in Tasmania now is it? All bowsers occupied by Ferraris!

Our first day of Targa was done and dusted. I had almost been sick. I had decided never to be a navigator again (reading those stage notes is what did it to me) but it had been a truly amazing day. The weather had been brilliant, the scenery magnificent and company was awesome. Best of all, we get to do it all all again, bigger and better tomorrow.

Bring on day 2.

Targa Tasmania 2018 Arrival

Our starting point was Zagame in Richmond, Melbourne on Saturday afternoon after travelling down from Sydney. During the afternoon, we all made each other’s acquaintance and shared the excitement of participating in Targa Tasmania 2018. We received our final briefing from Renato of Motokenetic before heading off in convoy to board the Spirit of Tasmania ferry at Port Melbourne across to Tasmania. In all there were about a dozen cars ranging from the latest 488 to more ‘classic’ 355 and 360s. Both V12 and V8 models were represented.

It had been cold and wet all afternoon in Melbourne and that continued as we parked up in Port Melbourne and found somewhere to eat before boarding the dedicated Spirit of Tasmania ferry to the apple isle along with all the other Targa participants. Our embarkation had been delayed due to the late arrival of the ferry from Davenport. This was due to the rough seas in the Tasman. Little did we know then how rough the voyage was going to be that night.


After dinner we joined the long queue of cars boarding the ferry. At the boarding checkpoint we received our tickets as well as room allocations for the journey. A short distance later we were on the ferry amongst all the cars bound for Targa. The holds where full of all makes and models of vehicles and space was tight but everyone was very excited.



After grabbing our things from the cars, as these decks would be locked during the voyage, we headed upstairs to locate our cabin and drop off our luggage. Most people then headed to the lounge where many had already congregated. There we settled in for departure from Melbourne and commencement our of Targa Tasmania adventure proper.


The sea remained relatively calm until we cleared Port Phillip Bay at about 1 am, after which point the ferry was battered by the five to six metre swell and squalls all the way across the Tasman sea. Most remained in their cabins trying to get some sleep amongst the pitching. The more ‘salty’ types didn’t have much trouble sleeping but the vast majority of ‘land-lubbers’ spent a restless night awaiting arrival in Tasmania in the morning wondering about their own and their car’s safety in the swell.

I found myself unable to sleep in large swells, feeling the constant pitching in unfamiliar and somewhat claustrophobic surrounds was unsettling. I therefore spent the duration of the night out in the deserted lounge watching endless AFL reruns and occasionally making a dash to the bathroom for a bit of a personal heave ho.

At dawn we were greeted by the announcement that we had arrived in Davenport and would soon be disembarking. Everyone once again assembled in the lounge area awaiting the go ahead to access the vehicles below decks. Many were bleary eyed from lack of sleep and tended to sway, not receiving comfort from the large swells during the night. A small percentage were fresh and unable to understand what the problem was.

Whatever the state of being, everyone headed below decks to pack their cars and head off the ferry and onto Tasmanian soil proper full of anticipation. After a brief regroup in the car park we headed off to breakfast at Raspberry Farm Cafe about 30 minutes away were a hearty breakfast and catch up was enjoyed by all. Many were still swaying from the night before on the boat but everyone was in good spirits and full of expectation as we finished breakfast and headed to the Country Club Tasmania just outside Launceston, which would be our home for our time on Targa.



After checking in and freshening up we headed off to the drivers briefing where the officials gave us an overview of what to expect and what was required of us and what we could expect over the coming days. Our next stop was to assemble and get actually checked into event. This meant both driver and navigator details were verified, after which we received our ‘official’ Targa participants pack. This contained two number plates (back and front), a bag each, stickers for the car and basic stage notes.

It was at this point that it finally dawned on most of the navigators that they were not going to be merely ballast. There would be an obligation to provide directions for the drivers, both on and off stages. The note book contain a vast array of routes, directions and information that as it turned out would be required to navigate all stages safely and on time. With excitement building we headed off to the car park to adorn our cars with their new plates and event decals.

Attaching the decals to the vehicles proved challenging but nothing like trying to get the new plates attached to the cars. Number plates on a Ferrari are very much an after thought and typical that are installed an never changed for the life of the car. We now had to work out a way to attach both plates to the without damaging it.

Some attachment processes proved more successful than others but eventually all the plates were attached without too much impairment to the cars. The important thing was that these plates now covered or replaced the existing plates and would remain in place for the duration of our time in Tasmania.

With the excitement of the first full stage tomorrow our group headed off to dinner at Bluestone Bar and Kitchen in Launceston for a wonderful dinner and then back to the Country Club for the night.

Let’s try this

It’s been a while between updates unfortunately. However, the news is that the issues I have been having with the F355 failing to start have continued to reoccur somewhat intermittently.

Basically what happens is that I turn the key and the lights on dash display but the car does not crank. Since the starter motor has been reconditioned, I can eventually get the car to start by turning the car off and on a couple of times. Sometimes, if I hold the key in the starting position for a few seconds the car does crank.

Having a car that is unreliable at starting is not something that I’m comfortable with, so the best recommendation was the change the whole starter motor for a new unit. The thinking is that the fault lies with the solenoid and unfortunately, there is no way to change just that.

So, the car now has a new starter motor and we’ll have to see if that does fix the issues. stay tuned for more updates.

2018 Australian F1 GP

Well, I headed down to Melbourne again for the Australian F1 GP. Unlike last year, I was already in Melbourne for work so I just came along to the track rather than driving down in convoy like last year.


The stand was in the same location as last year, right over pit exit as you can see above.

Managed to also do a pit walk in the heat and capture some video of the experience that it is for you so you get an idea of what a scrum it is.

Friday was bright and very, very hot, much of which I copped walking back to my accommodation at the end of the day, which was about a 30 minute walk from the track. By the time I got back, and after a hard week of work, I was pretty knackered, so I decided to go to bed early and give the planned cocktail party a miss.

I awoke on Saturday to a very different Melbourne, overcast and windy. I again headed off to the track and about 15 minutes away the heavens opened and it bucketed down. Not having any rain protection I didn’t have much choice but continue my journey to the suite to dry off there after having been thoroughly rinsed.



The heavy rain continued for most of the day but started to clear by the afternoon, to once hot and sunny skies. Typical Melbourne as they say.


The suite this year was much large and was really a combination of two suites. There was much more space to view the racing and best spot was again on the chairs at the back on the elevated platform. Food and drink was regularly forthcoming so there was no real need to move.

Those that had brought their cars for the vent also got some track time but it was in very, very wet conditions so speeds had to be kept well down. Still, when else do you get the opportunity to drive around an F1 track in your own car? Even in the rain, it is something special.


That night I headed over with a few others to Lorbek Luxury Cars for a meet up with YouTuber Shmee150. Of course, there were also plenty of night cars to look at.

We finished the night with a nice Italian dinner, ready for race day.

Still overcast, race day was full of the usual excitement and enjoyment. Unfortunately I had to leave early to fly home but we got the right result at the end.

I’ll be back down south next month for Targa Tasmania, which is going to be a week of driving through some magic scenery along some amazing roads. Can’t wait.