Targa tragedy at km

Targa tragedy at 200km

EYEWITNESSES to yesterday fatal Targa Tasmania crash near Deloraine say the Porsche was doing 200km/h and was airborne for about 50m before it hit a tree.

Newscastle driver John Mansell was killed 4km into the first stage of the opening day of Targa Tasmania.

The car burst into flames and the driver is believed to have been killed on impact, despite the Cayman airbags deploying and the car rallystyle safety roll cage remaining intact.

Mr Mansell 26yearold navigator Tristan Catford was rushed to Launceston General with severe neck injuries and a suspected broken pelvis.

Tasmania Police described his condition as serious and poor.

It is the second death in the event 22year history.

Melbourne navigator Ian Johnson was killed when his car hit a power pole at Riana in the state NorthWest in 1996.

Bystanders yesterday said the Porsche came over a highspeed crest and became airborne.

It landed nosefirst on the bitumen and immediately speared to its right and left the road, knocking down small trees before slamming into the eucalypt and bursting into flames.

The next Targa team arrived on the scene 30 seconds later.

They jumped from their car and emptied their fire extinguisher on to the badly damaged Porsche.

A second team behind joined them before a Targa paramedic arrived at the crash scene soon after.

The stage was then stopped.

The opening stage was abandoned, but the event moved on to the next stage and the competition resumed.

Octagon, which runs Targa, and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport released a joint statement, expressing deep sadness over the fatality.