Australia’s most successful tarmac rally combination, Jim Richards and Barry Oliver, were back on the podium to claim their second Quit Targa West victory in Perth.
The Porsche GT2 pair finished with a minute in hand after dominating the event and their Competition-Modern category over four days, 29 stages and 212 kilometres of competition on closed public roads around the West Australian capital.
Including their first win in the west in 2007, Richards and his co-driver have now taken 21victories in 20 seasons of tarmac rallying.
“We haven’t had a win for a while, so it’s good to get one here. We went as fast as we could go and if other cars won stages too I’m sure (it was because) they were trying hard to beat us,” said Richards.
“The car was great. We didn’t even open the bonnet or changes the tyres.”
Quit Targa West finished with its regular sprint beside the Swan River with the highlight of the final day was the new Complete Portables Malaga 12 km street stage around a light industrial estate.
The route was packed with thousands of spectators, many of them employees and guests of businesses that opened their premises for parties.
“The atmosphere was just electric. There wasn’t a street without someone watching from behind the barriers,” Event director Bob Schrader said.
“It took eight or nine months to get this stage in place with the cooperation of everyone in the City of Swan from the CEO and the local ward councillor down. It was a huge undertaking and it worked extremely well.”
Richards stroked his Porsche through Malaga out of the stage placings while his rivals piled on last-minute pressure.
Ben Searcy and James Marquet won the first two stages, but their strong run throughout the rally ended in heartbreak when their Mitsubishi’s engine failed on the third Malaga pass, barely 10 kms from the event finish.
Jamie and Mandy Lister, also Mitsubishi-mounted, were then able to consolidate their second place and lead home the Nissan GT-R of Franz Esterbauer and Ivan Tan by 34 sec.
Tolley Challis and Greg Flood claimed their second straight win in the Competition-Classic category for their 1974 Porsche 911 RS.
Main rivals Paul Moltoni/Ian de Boer pushed hard. They won the last four stages of the event, but Challis already had 19 stage wins to his credit and could not be beaten.
“You never do it easy. Paul drove very well this weekend,” Challis said.
“The pace was pretty hectic early in the event, but the Friday stages suited us better so we pushed hard and put our head down again on Saturday to build the gap further. I’ve been rallying for 30 years and I guess I know how fast I can go.”
In contrast to Challis, the winners of the speed-restricted Challenge-Modern category overcame a complete lack of rally experience.
“I’d never done a tarmac rally before or owned a race car before,” said driver Brett Wilkinson, who shared the win with Matthew Edgar..
“I bought the car (Mitsubishi Lancer) two-and-a-half weeks ago and said ‘let’s do it’. We threw on a few suspension bits and here we are. I was a State champion but hadn’t driven a race car for five years.
“Malaga was where we shone. I drove a lot harder because I could see the kerbs and corners and felt less daunted than I had in the open-road stages.”
Father and son team Bruce and Max Lake won Challenge-Classic for the second year in their 1973 Datsun 240Z.
“This was our second Targa West and our second win – we’re slowly learning,” Bruce Lake said.
“The competition was a lot closer. We had to drive a lot harder to get where he did.”
The Lakes won by 44 seconds from the Porsche pairing of Robert Buys and Sanja Aksamija, who had earned a time penalty in leg 2 for exceeding the 130 kmh category limit.
Check out the highlights from the final day
|1||Richards/Oliver||Porsche GT2 RS||1:46:49|
|2||Lister/Lister||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6||1:47:49|
|3||Esterbaur/Tan||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10||1:48:23|
|1||Challis/Flood||Porsche 911 RS||1:49:15|
|2||Moltono/de Boer||Porsche 911||1:50:28|
|1||Wilkinson/Edgar||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7||2:00:21|
|2||Vlad/Vlad||Ford Fiesta ST||2:02:01|
|3||Payne/Lunsmann||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7||2:02:41|
|3||Thompson/Thompson||Porsche 911 RS||2:06:00|