Girl power for Targa Tasmania

Twenty-year old student, Natalie Horn, will make her Targa Tasmania debut this year, driving a 1973 Ford Escort Mk1.

Horn, from Cliftleigh in New South Wales, has been competing in motorsport events since she was just 12 years old. She is a former winner of the Junior and Ladies championships with the MG Car Club in Newcastle, and enters Targa Tasmania on the back of what is already a relatively long and illustrious motorsport career.

She will be co-driven by her close friend, 27-year-old Melinda Saxby, and will drive a car that has been in her family for 25 years.

“The car was originally built up for Group G rallying, then ran hillclimbs for a while and in 1987-89 won NSW State Hillclimb Series in Sports Sedans,” Natalie explains.

“It then got put into a shed and forgotten about until early last year. It has since been fully pulled apart, resprayed and rebuilt at my request.”

The dependable little Escort has been heavily modified over the years, and will front the Targa start with a seam welded body, fibreglass guards, bonnet and bootlid, and Lexan windows.

Mechanically the car features a worked 2.0 litre engine coupled to a 5-speed Getrag close ratio gearbox. The hand-made, fully adjustable suspension includes a 5-link rear end, a 3.9:1 limited slip differential and four wheel disc brakes.

Predictably, Natalie can’t wait for Targa Tasmania to begin in Georgetown on April 28.

“Both Melinda and I have never done anything like this before, and after going to see last year’s event, there was no question that I had to be competing this year,” she says.

The fact that her father, Phillip Horn, is also competing in the event in a 1979 Mitsubishi Scorpion, also means that she’ll have someone to chase.

“Just to finish the event would be good, but I would love to beat Dad at least once just to rub his face in it.”

Natalie and her co-driver, Melinda Saxby, grew up together and their fathers are both heavily into motorsport.

“There was no way they were entering this year without us!” she adds.

The six days promise to be tough on all competitors, and particularly for a girl who likes her sleep, as Natalie explains.

“Racing is the only thing I don’t mind getting up early for – as long as there is a nice bacon and egg roll to start off with,” she laughs.

Their entry into Targa Tasmania is being supported by GWH Group, Hunter Optical Specialists, Singleton Exhaust Centre, 4WD Solutions, Commercial Windows, Rutherford Mufflers and Suspension, and Brad Lantry Plumbing.