Havelock North was full of high-performance cars last night with the annual Targa rally coming to town.

Ninety cars arrived in Havelock North yesterday afternoon after the first day of this year's Targa Hawke's Bay which started in Taupo.

Hawke's Bay duo dairy farmer Ivan Knauf and his co-driver Trevor Corbin (driving a Subaru WRX) did well coming sixth overall after the first day.

Event director Peter Martin said the first day went really well with the weather improving as the group arrived in Hawke's Bay.

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"It was pouring with rain in the morning."

Hawke's Bay had about four cars in the rally but the majority of competitors were from around the country and overseas.

About 83 per cent of competitors were from the North Island, he said.

Subaru Impreza WRX pair Nick De Waal and co-driver Shane Reynolds were in the lead yesterday winning four of the six stages between Taupo and Havelock North.

Arriving in Havelock North the pair had a 21.9-second lead over the second-placed Porsche GT3 RS of Martin Dippie and co-driver Jona Grant from Dunedin and a 46.1-second buffer over third-placed Steven Kirk-Burnnand and his co-driver Mike Hay in Kirk-Burnnand's BMW 318ti.

As well as holding the overall lead, Nick De Waal and Shane Reynolds lead the Allcomers class, from the Mitsubishi Evo 9 of Jason Gill and co-driver Duncan McKenzie who are fourth overall.

Second-placed Martin Dippie and Jona Grant lead Class 6, third-placed Steven Kirk-Burnnand and Mike Hay Class 7 and fifth-placed Clark Proctor and co-driver Sue O'Neill lead Class 9 in Proctor's Nissan R35 GT-R.

A little further down the order (14th) Mark and father Chris Kirk-Burnnand from Wellington are the top-placed pair in the Classic 2WD class (Class 2) in their E30 model BMW M3. Other vehicles entered include a much-modified Land Rover-based Bowler Tomcat off-roader and a 1950s Chevrolet Bel Air utility.

This year's expanded, three-day Targa Hawke's Bay event has attracted a 50-strong entry of competing cars and about 40 in the allied but non-competitive Targa Tour.

Last year the first Targa Hawke's Bay two-day event started and finished in Havelock North.

Yesterday morning the 90-strong field of competition and Targa Tour cars headed south from Taupo towards Waiouru for the morning stages with a lunch stop in Taihape then an afternoon crossing of the Gentle Annie road to Hawke's Bay and on to Havelock North.

Today's route is similar to last year's (with three stages northwest of Hastings in the morning and three south of Havelock North in the afternoon) and again incorporates a stand-alone Rally of Hawke's Bay event-within-an-event organised in conjunction with the local car club.

Tomorrow will see competitors head south into the Central Hawke's Bay and Tararua Districts before a ceremonial finish back in Havelock North.

All up there are 19 closed road special stages covering a total 459.95km linked by 730km touring stages.

Spectators will be able to view the vehicles at the parc ferme in Martin Pl before they leave at 8am today, as well as during the lunch break between 11am and 2pm and after the day's driving at 4.15pm. There will be six special stages totally 162.46km.

Tomorrow the vehicles will be able to be viewed at the same place before 8am and after 4.20pm but they will be stopping in Central Hawke's Bay for lunch. There will be seven special stages totalling 178.05km.

A dinner and prizegiving for competitors will be held at Ellwood Convention Centre tomorrow night.

Day 1 results:

1. Nic De Waal/Shane Reynolds (Subaru WRX Sti)1:06:15.4

2. Martin Dippie/Jona Grant (Porsche GT3 RS) 1:06:37.3 (+21.9)

3. Steven Kirk-Burnnand/Mike Hay (BMW 318ti) 1:07:01.5 (+46.1)

4. Jason Gill/Mark Robinson (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 1:08:07.0 (+1:51.6)

5. Clark Proctor/Sue O'Neill (Nissan R35 GT-R) 1:08:36.6 (+2:21.2)

6. Ivan Knauf/Trevor Corbin (Subaru WRX) 1:09:05.6 (+2:50.2)

7. David Rogers/Aidan Kelly (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10) 1:09:10.5 (+2:55.1)

8. Mike Tubbs/Mike Vincent (BMW 325i Coupe) 1:09:20.5 (+3:05.1)

9. Robert Darrington/David Abetz (BMW E36 M3) 1:09:45.1 (+3:29.7)

10. Tom & Ben Grooten (Toyota Startlet KP61) 1:09:45.9 (+3:30.5)