Richards and co-driver Barry Oliver, together winners of the 2007 Quit Targa West and seven Targa Tasmania events, took three of today’s eight stage tests over 59 kilometres in the Kalamunda Shire.
Behind the duo’s 630-horsepower Porsche GT2 RS in the Competition-Modern category were two local Mitsubishi Lancer Evos. Jamie and Mandy Lister were 11 seconds ahead of third-placed Ben Searcy and James Marquet.
Richards lost one of his main rivals when Peter Rullo and Simon Iseppi were forced to retire their Nissan GT-R with gearbox failure after stage five.
It was a blow for Rullo, whose run at victory last year was stopped by a similar problem.
“It’s disappointing, but these things happen. We’ll put in a new gearbox and rejoin the rally tomorrow, but any chance of winning is gone,” he said.
With six of the day’s stages ranging in length between just 2.79 kms and 6.42 kms, there was no margin for error and close and even tied times among the leaders resulted in see-sawing battles in every category.
Tolley Challis and Greg Flood finished first in Competition-Challenge in their 1974 Porsche, at times defending a gap of just four seconds before ending the day 21 sec. ahead of Simon Gunson/Jurgen Lunsman (Ford Capri Perana). David and Vicki Moir (Datsun 240Z) were third.
”We had a bit of a problem in Kalamunda 1 (stage 6), but the rest of the time we were going as hard as we could,” said Challis, the defending category winner.
“The car’s good and tomorrow we’ll just push on and try to stay in front.”
No crew fought harder than Robert Buys and Sanja Aksamija in the 130 kmh-limited Challenge-Classic category.
After leading overnight, the Porsche pair’s margin was cut to one second but they eked out six stage wins to finish 1 min. 35 sec. ahead of Paul and Mitchell Thompson in another Porsche, from Martin and Sharon Eyer in a Triumph TR8.
Australian two-wheel drive rally champion Razvan Vlad, co-driven by Ioana Vlad, led the Challenge-Modern field from the second stage of the day.
It was a giant-killing performance, their little Ford Fiesta hatchback more often than not beating a Chev Corvette and several Mitsubishi Lancer Evos.
Quit Targa West continues tomorrow with Shannons Leg 2, comprising 14 mostly short stages around Toodyay and Bullsbrook.
The finish will be in Perth on Sunday afternoon.
Check the highlights from the day
RESULTS : Day 2
|1||Richards/Oliver||Porsche GT2 RS||35:13|
|=2||Lister/Lister||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6||35:42|
|=2||Searcy/Marquet||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9||35:53|
|1||Challis/Flood||Porsche 911 RS||36:11|
|2||Gunson/Lunsman||Ford Capri Perana Replica||36:32|
|1||Vlad/Vlad||Ford Fiesta ST||39:37|
|2||Wilkinson/Edgar||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7||40:42|
|3=||Hawley/Hawley||Chevrolet Corvette Z06||41:03|
|3=||Payne/Lunsmann||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7||41:03|
|2||Thompson/Thompson||Porsche 911 RS||42:46|
|3||Eyer/Eyer||Triumph TR8 RS||44:01|