04 November 2003
MURRAY WALKER COMPLETES THE TARGA DOUBLE
The legendary Voice of Formula One, Murray Walker, has completed a rare double by completing both the Targa Tasmania and Targa New Zealand road races in a standard Toyota Camry Sportivo V6.
The 80 year-old former TV commentator finished the grueling six-day Targa New Zealand on Saturday (November 1) as co-driver with 60 year-old former F1 star and local hero Chris Amon.
Walker had already completed Targa Tasmania in May with former Bathurst winner Colin Bond in the same Camry Sportivo V6 prepared by Toyota Australia.
Amon had not competed in any form of motor sport since retiring from Formula 1 after a 14-year career driving mainly for Ferrari, March and Matra.
Walker/Amon finished 114th out of 192 finishers and eighth in class in the standard Camry Sportivo V6 against a field of exotics.
“The car was quite incredible really,” said Walker at the finish in Wellington, “because Colin hammered it around Tasmania for six days and now Chris has hammered it around here for another six days, and it is still immaculate.
“We almost felt guilty because, while other competitors were changing engines and electrics and all sorts of things, we never had a second’s trouble with the Camry.”
Incredibly, Walker and Amon had never met prior to pairing up in New Zealand, as the commentator was mainly calling motorcycle Grands Prix and rallycross events when the New Zealander was tearing up the tracks of Europe.
Walker, however, said they gelled immediately and spent many happy hours swapping motor racing yarns.
“We clicked straight away and he drove really well, especially considering he hasn’t competed at all since he retired from F1 in 1976.
“He had a reputation in F1 for being smooth and effortless, and I must say he lived up to that reputation. He has certainly grown in stature as a rally driver.
“Many of the roads over here were really narrow - barely wide enough for the Camry - but I can honestly say that Chris never caused me a moment of concern.
“It was strange getting back into the Camry because there were still felt-tip pen marks on the upholstery from when I did Targa Tasmania. It was the perfect vehicle for me because it has such a great ride and yet it handles extremely well and goes quite quickly.
“The event itself was very similar to Targa Tasmania; the people were very friendly, the scenery was absolutely superb and I have enjoyed it all immensely.”
Chris Amon (right) and Murray Walker with their Targa New Zealand Toyota Camry Sportivo.