Jim Richards is on track for victory in the Quit Targa West tarmac rally after dominating the third day staged in the Perth region.
With a 54 second lead, the 2007 Targa West winner and co-driver Barry Oliver have only to complete six stages without incident on the final day to secure their win.
They have led since the event started on Thursday. Although they won only two stages of the 13 run in the Toodyay and Bullsbrook areas – one scheduled stage, Bullsbrook Short 1, was cancelled – consistent driving saw their margin increase from 29 seconds overnight.
The big performers in the Competition-Modern category were Ben Searcy/James Marquet, Franz Esterbauer/Ivan Tan, Jamie and Mandy Lister – all in Mitsubishi Lancer Evos – and Jon-Paul Loenhout/Lisa White in a Nissan GT-R.
Searcy held second outright for most of the morning before being overtaken by Lister and then Esterbauer, who were second and third.
Peter Rullo and Simon Iseppi took the most stage wins – seven – but were not in outright contention after losing time yesterday with gearbox failure. They retired again on the final stage with further mechanical problems in their Nissan GT-R coupe.
Tolley Challis/Greg Flood cruised through the day with 11 wins in Competition-Classic, conceding only one stage each to fellow Porsche crew Paul Moltoni/Ian de Boer and Paul Crute/Paul Gusterson in a Ford Mustang.
Moltoni was Challis’s most persisent challenger, but finished 86 sec. behind. Another strong crew, Simon Gunson/Jurgen Lunsman, retired their spectacular Ford Capri Perana with mechanical problems three stages from home after scoring a string of second and third stage placings.
Razvan and Ioana Vlad, giant-killers again in their little Ford Fiesta hatchback, shared wins with Keith and Russell Hawley, Brett Wilkinson/Matthew Edgar and Daryl Sosa/Stirling Hamersley – all in more powerful all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Lancers – but retained their overall lead in the speed-restricted Challenge-Modern category.
In Challenge-Classic, Robert Buys/Sanja Aksamija finally lost the lead they had held since Thursday, finishing today 85 sec. behind new leaders Bruce and Max Lake. Paul and Mitchell Thompson were in third place, all three crews in Porsches.
Seventy-four cars started today’s competition and 63 finished. Most retirements were caused by mechanical problems, but David Heaton/David Bobowski exited in spectacular fashion by rolling their Mitsubishi Lancer after the finish line on the Coondle Highlands 1 stage. They were not hurt.
The last day’s competitive distance amounts to just more than 45 kms.
The finale will be three passes of the Kilarnee City of Perth, a 3.07 km sprint along the Perth waterfront before the podium presentation in East Perth at 4pm.
Here are the highlights from the day
RESULTS : Day 3
|1||Richards/Oliver||Porsche GT2 RS||1:17:44|
|=2||Lister/Lister||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6||1:18:38|
|=2||Esterbaur/Tan||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10||1:19:22|
|1||Challis/Flood||Porsche 911 RS||1:19:33|
|2||Moltono/de Boer||Porsche 911||1:20:59|
|1||Vlad/Vlad||Ford Fiesta ST||1:29:20|
|2||Wilkinson/Edgar||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7||1:29:47|
|3||Payne/Lunsmann||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7||1:31:06|
|3||Thompson/Thompson||Porsche 911 RS||1:34:16|