It was a rollercoaster of a day for the Quit Targa West tarmac rally field, with the Toodyay and Chittering stages serving up plenty of highs and lows.
Day 3 of the event featured fourteen stages with a combined total of 118 kilometres, but after a serious incident where Car 54, a Mitsubishi Evo driven by Kerry Wade and Mike Kennedy, rolled early on in the Marysville stage the event was shortened.
Wade and Kennedy were transported to hospital immediately following the accident where they are currently being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
It helped to have grunt on today’s course, with many of the higher horsepower vehicles excelling on the Toodyay and Bullsbrook stages. It was exactly the type of environment that Peter Major’s Porsche 996 Turbo was built for, and he and co-driver Greg Flood finally took the lead off Dean Herridge and William Hayes (Subaru WRX STI). Major says the team are in a good position to take home back-to-back wins tomorrow.
“The car has been good,” said Major. “We’ve had a few minor issues such as the brakes getting too hot, but we’re just managing it. Considering we built the car in seven weeks and turned up to the rally with it untested, so far we’ve been pleased with its performance.”
“We’ve just got to stay on the road, and if we don’t have any mechanical issues we should be right to get another win. We will be a little conservative, and hopefully get to the finish line.”
Will White and Matt Thompson (Mitsubishi Evo 9) have worked their way up the leaderboard the past three days and now hold onto second place, 49 seconds behind Major and Flood. White says he’ll be pushing for the top podium spot.
“We have had a good day,” said White. “We like the stages and we just wanted to press on.”
“We had some mechanical difficulty on the first day of the event, which may have been down to driver induced psychosis. The rain brought on some nerves and jitters, so I banged on the car’s snow setting and just launched it – as a result tore three diff bolts out. But it was an easy fix because I brought with me every Evo part known to man! That was our bad luck over with, I hope.”
“We’re prepared to push tomorrow – I’ve got a brand new pair of tyres, and we’re putting some new brakes pads in now. We want to put the pressure on Pete a little bit in the hope he makes a mistake.
“The carpark in the city is quite tight, and the Evo will be the nimbler car out of the two – so we’re going to give it our all in the morning and see where we end up.”
It could be de ja vu on the podium if last year’s third place winner Stewart Liddle retains his current position tomorrow. The Mitsubishi Evo 10 driver and his co-driver Michael Lloyd sit 1 minute 16 behind the leaders.
The stars of Leg 2 were Peter Rullo and Jimmy Marquet, setting the fastest time in their Nissan R35 GTR Skyline on eight of the thirteen stages. It was a better day for the team, who experienced electrical issues on Day One which put them out of contention.
While 13 may be an unlucky number for some, it certainly wasn’t for Simon Gunson and Murray Armenti who set the fastest time on all 13 stages. The team extended their lead over Mark Dobson and Nigel Jones (Triumph TR7 V8) to 2 minutes 21 seconds.
“We’ve got a comfortable lead going into tomorrow and the plan is just to manage it,” said Gunson.
“Hopefully the car goes alright – as long as she doesn’t break down we’ll be good.
“Car went well today, but we’re starting to hear all the vibrations and noise. So here’s hoping that it all stays together for tomorrow!”
Graham Romyn and Neville Wilkinson had spent much of the event in third place, but that came to an end on today’s fifth stage when the team left the track and ended up in a ditch.
“We were going a bit too quick and one of the wheels locked up,” said Romyn. “At first I thought I could recover it but I couldn’t, and we ended up in a ditch.
“There’s a little bit of damage. We need to the fix the radiator, and hopefully once that’s done we can get it back on the road.
“This is the first crash I have had in 10 years of doing Targa.”
Romyn and Wilkinson were able to have the damage quickly repaired and re-joined the field later in the afternoon. The incident moved Simon Lingford and Avril Curtis (Datsun 240Z) up into third, 5 minutes 37 off the pace.
The competitive spirit is alive and well in the Modern Challenge category, with husband and wife pair George and Kerry Watts saying they’ve changed their strategy to all or nothing.
“This is our second full Targa West and we’ve also competed in the Rookie category one year,” said Kerry. “We came in with the aim to improve on last year, which we’ve done. So we’ve achieved our objective and anything in addition to that is a bonus.”
“We’ve done a turbo seal and we are losing lots of oil – half a litre per service,” said George. “So as long as we can keep it in oil, we’ll be right. We’ll run it to destruction and go home with smiles on our faces. If we don’t go home with anything else – we can say we broke something!”
For the majority of the event it has been Watts in a Mitsubishi Evo 10 and the team of Sharon Gunson and Alexandra Wilde in a Mitsubishi Evo 7 consistently setting the top two times. However, on Leg 3 the Evo’s were no match for the horsepower of Todd Zani and Jon Mortimer’s Holden HSV.
Zani and Mortimer won seven of the day’s stages – a result that propelled them into second, 46 seconds behind Gunson and Wilde. Watts and Watts step down to third, with 1 minute 15 to catch the leaders.
Phil Peak and Sam Hackett (BMW M3) are still holding off Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann (Ford Capri Perana). The Lunsmanns did manage to narrow the gap throughout the day from 2 minutes 13, to just 57 seconds. Peak says he is surprised at their position.
“We went into today with a little bit of a buffer, we expected Jurgen to come back because this car isn’t as well suited to these stages,” said Peak.
“The event is going better than we planned. Honestly, we just wanted to compete and finish it.
“The car is holding up well, this is the first service we’ve done. All we have to do now is give it a checkover – the service crew isn’t allowed to do anything, which is how it should be.
“Tomorrow I’ll be there to compete and have fun. We’ll be going out there with exactly the same strategy as what we’ve had the entire event – to put some good times down!
“Our car is suited to the city type stages like Malaga, so hopefully we can hold it together.”
Paul Thompson and Vanessa Saunderson occupy third in the Porsche 911 RS, 4 minutes 35 seconds behind Peak and Hackett.
Sunday is the final chance competitors have to secure a place on the 2016 Quit Targa West podium. In the morning, competitors return to Malaga to compete in three tight technical stages totalling just over 28 competitive kilometres, before they head to the Perth CBD to blast along Riverside Drive for the final three stages. The 2016 Quit Targa West winners will then take to the podium in Langley Park at 3.30pm.
The 2016 Quit Targa West runs from August 11 to 14. The 124 competitors will complete in 32 stages and 242 competitive kilometres through Wanneroo, Malaga, Whiteman Park, Kalamunda, Toodyay, Lower Chittering, Bullsbrook, and Perth City.
For more information on Quit Targa West entries, road closures, event program and spectator locations please refer to www.targawest.com.au.
The 2016 Quit Targa West is proudly` sponsored by Healthway and the Quit message.
8.45am to 11.15am Special Stages in Malaga, always awesome action
9.30am to 12:30pm Targa City Sprint – Exotic, Historic and Classic race car sprints.
9:30am to 3.30pm Shannons Classics on the Park display at Langley Park
1.00pm to 3.30pm Grand Finale City of Perth Super Special Stage on Riverside Drive & Governors Ave.
3.30pm to 4.00pm Podium Finish under the Arch at Langley Park
Main Photo: Tim Allott