What the competitors had to say…

Now that the Quit Targa West hangover is starting to subside and we reflect back to another successful event, we asked competitors the same three questions to get their thoughts:


          1. What was your most challenging moment at Quit Targa West this year?

          2. What was your favourite moment?

          3. What is it about Quit Targa West that you love?


Here’s what they had to say:



PETER MAJOR – 1st Outright Competition Modern, 2004 Porsche 996 Turbo


Arguably Quit Targa West’s most successful competitor, Peter Major has won five Targa Wests, this year his third in a row. Major announced his Targa West retirement and competed in his final event with long-time friend and new co-driver Ben Searcy.


1. Challenging: Not having ABS in the rain since Kalamunda. And that run off we had at 130kph in Kalamunda where we lost the passenger mirror.


2. Favourite: The whole event – working through the issues we had with the car, holding my nerve despite it all.


3. Love: I love that it’s my home event, that I get to sleep in my own bed at night and that you get to race along on some awesome roads close to the city. Also the general event atmosphere – there are so many passionate officials who always make you feel welcome, saying ‘Hi’ or giving you a wave at every stop. It’s great to have the support from home also.


PM Day 3 707pxPhoto: CMR Photographic



PETER RULLO – 2nd Outright, Competition Modern, 2012 Nissan R35 GTR


Peter Rullo has been plagued with mechanic issues since 2011, unable to compete on every Targa West stage. This year some changes to his support crew saw him victorious and taking the second step on the podium with co-driver James Marquet, their best finish to date. Rullo’s son Alex, Australia’s youngest ever V8 Supercar driver, was there to support his dad.  


1. Challenging: I’d have to say the Maryville Downs stages because they were very wet and there was so much water running across the road and standing water in other patches. We aquaplaned quite a bit – it was like driving on ice. We had a couple of big moments – it was a real balancing act to find grip. Having said that, they were two of our most successful stages where we shaved time off our deficit to Peter Major.


2. Favourite: Tough one but it would have to be stepping up on the podium finishing second. And also doing the Maryville Downs stages.


3. Love: The camaraderie between the drivers is good fun. I also love that it’s a team sport that depends on everyone – mechanics prepping the car, the work to calculate who has to be where and when, and the relationship between the driver and co-driver. Both of you have to have full trust in each other – I’m driving faster than my brain can see so I rely on the calls. I’d like to thank the organisers, the officials, the shire councils and landowners and everyone involved in making Targa West happen. It’s a great event.


PR Day 3 707pxPhoto: CMR Photographic



WILL WHITE – 3rd Outright, Competition Modern , 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9


If there was an award for Targa West prankster, it’d do to the jovial Will White. Third at Targa West saw White take out the coveted Targa Cup, awarded to the top placed rally driver who has competed in the new tarmac series that includes in its portfolio Targa Sprints and Targa South West.


1. Challenge: It would have to be trying to get out onto Marshal Road with no clutch at 5pm peak hour traffic on a Friday night.


2. Favourite: Giving my service crew a hug on Saturday morning because we made it to the city with five minutes to spare and were still in the rally. Phew.


3. Love: The mateship between all the competitors . The crap we spin about how cool and fast we were on certain stages and stirring people up – I was teasing Peter Major about what he’s going to miss, and telling him to retire early and get some sleep, poor thing must be tired haha. We all get in each other’s heads just for fun. But what I do love about Targa is that how you drive doesn’t affect anyone else. But stirring up the other competitors and having a laugh is what I love the most – it’s all good fun.


WW Day 3 707pxPhoto: CMR Photographic


SIMON GUNSON – 2nd Place, Competition Classic, 1971 Ford Capri Perana


Simon Gunson and Murray Armenti were fighting it out in what was dubbed the ‘Classic Ford vs Holden battle’. Gunson finished this year a very close second.


1. Challenging: Maryville Downs was a challenge, keeping speed up and dealing with the standing water on the road that puts car all over the place.


2. Favourite: Finishing! I really just enjoy the whole event, the rain was a bit of a dampener, but that was the same for everyone. I really like the longer stages in Kalamunda and Toodyay.


3. Love: We’re like one big family with MTA and I love the camaraderie, it’s a good fun event for every body. Two times per year we call together at Targa West and Targa South West – we usually look after about four cars and have a service crew of about 30 people. It’s great fun.


SG Day 3 707pxPhoto: CMR Photographic


SHARON GUNSON – 1st Place, Challenge Modern, 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7


This is Sharon Gunson’s fourth Targa West win and third in a row, taking out a hat trick. Nick-named Queen of the Challenge, Sharon and her co-driver Helen Lunsmann have dominated category that’s for non-roll caged vehicles that are akin to their showroom counterparts.


1. Challenging: Most challenging moment was my first Malaga run on Sunday when I realised I had absolutely no brakes, so that was a bit scary given how fast I do that stage and the rain.


2. Favourite: I really enjoyed Toodyay this year. My focus was to drive through the 6/7s at full speed, which we did and we loved it.


3. Love: We keep coming back for the great roads, we really love the atmosphere the MTA/GTI crew create as well as the camaraderie with the other participants, it’s priceless.


ShG Day 3 707pxPhoto: CMR Photographic



JOHN O’DOWD – 7th Outright, Competition Modern, 2008 Subaru WRX STI


John O’Dowd is a rally veteran, although his speciality is gravel rather than tarmac. John is contesting the CAMS Australian Rally Championship and the Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship.


1. Challenging: the most challenging part was working out if the stages were wet or dry. It’s fine when it’s raining, and it’s fine when it’s dry, it’s when the roads are drying with wet patches that make it tricky.


2. Favourite: It’s always good to get seat time in a rally car, especially when the rally is on your doorstep. My favourite part was getting to the end. We gave it a nudge, at one point were sitting in fifth outright. To finish the event unscathed in those conditions was a good accomplishment.


3. Love: I’ve done 12 Targa West events and enjoy the camaraderie of the group, the friendliness of all the competitors. We look after Jim Richard and Barry Oliver when they come over for Targa and it’s great to have them around, they are both good company.


JO QA 707x320pxPhoto: Artline Media




JIM RICHARDS – 9th Outright Competition Modern / 1st Modern 2WD, 2017 Porsche 911 GT3RS


Jim Richards is a motorsport legend winning Bathurst seven times and crowned Australian Touring Car Champion four times. His co-driver is another motorsport legend, Barry Oliver.


1. Challenging: The changing conditions with the wet roads made it quite challenging.


2. Favourite: We enjoy Targa West and come here for Shannons. I like the shorter stages and the fact they are run multiple times – you improve with each run. It’s a well-organised event, the locals are friendly and Barry and I always have a good time here.


3. Love: All of it really – the friendly atmosphere and the good stages.

JR QA 707x320px 2Photo: Tim Allott



CHRIS CARUSO – 19th Outright Competition Modern & Crowd Favourite, 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06


If there was an award for car with the best sounding engine, we reckon Chris Caruso’s 7-litre V8 Corvette would take the honours.


1. Challenging: It was really good to see if it was possible to drift around the famous Bullsbrook Roundabout successfully, and also to see if the Corvette could be rotated in time to get around the hairpin at the spectator point in Malaga in the wet. It was also a bit of a challenge to put the car sideways off Riverside Drive to line it up with the car park entry, which is pretty tight. Generally speaking the biggest challenge was successfully executing a manoeuvre at each spectator point and to generate as much noise as possible from a 7-litre V8. I found this also made me feel better than trying to avoid trees in the driving rain with reject tyres.


2. Favourite: I think simply being back out there after a four year absence, and finishing, although seeing the spectators braving the conditions would be right up there. They deserved some reward from us.


3. Love: What is it about Quit Targa West you love: I have always said that Quit Targa West is as much about the all people that give it life as it is about the competitors themselves. To me it is like a second family that you don’t see often enough to get tired of, but seldom enough to miss.


CC QA 707x320pxPhoto: Artline Media




DENNIS HELLER – 10th Outright Competition Modern / 1st Rookie Driver, 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9


This was Dennis Heller and co-driver Keian Guy’s first Quit Targa West and they were impressive finishing in the top ten and taking out the Rookie awards.


1. Challenging: Driving in the wet, I didn’t have a lot of wet experience before the event. Adjusting to driving 200kph rather than a lot slower than that. And learning pace notes, we are quite new to it and have only competed in Targa South West before this one.


2. Favourite: Maryville Downs – really good fast flowing stage, really good fun. Those sort of stages suit our car.


3. Love: Really well organised event and I love that we get to drive fast on closed roads. For sure, 100 per cent I’ll back.


DH QA 707x320pxPhoto: Artline Media




DEAN HERRIDGE – Maximum Targa Tour Leader


The Targa Tour was a new category introduced to this year’s Targa West. It’s a spirited drive behind a lead car along the same stages the competitors race, albeit not timed. All that’s required to participate is a road car and a helmet. It’s designed to give those interested in tarmac rallying a taste of the sport.


1. Challenging: The weather was a challenge, but I acknowledge that its worse for officials and crews dealing with rain, but changing conditions made it a little tricky for us. The other challenge was not getting lost – after all, we were the lead car!


2. Favourite: Seeing people enjoying Targa and motorsport for the first time. Of the Targa Tour participants, many are on the edge of motorsport but not competed in anything yet. To use a quote I’ve heard before, being in the Targa Tour is being in the ‘smiley business’, because participants get out the car and they’re smiling, having a great time. It was great to be a part of that – and also for my wife Nat, it was her first time sitting next to me and we had a ball.


3. Love: Like all rallying, it’s the camaraderie. With regards to the Targa Tour, it’s giving people a way to enjoy their cars. We’re governed by so much stuff particularly on the roads and the Targa Tour is an excellent way for people to put their car through its paces so to speak in a nice controlled environment. As a rally driver myself, I don’t take risks during my daily drives on the roads because I have an outlet for it. There are so many people with cool cars who don’t, and the Targa Tour is perfect for them. The event is well organised, close to the city, uses best roads available near by and gives enthusiasts a way to enjoy their cars in a controlled manner.


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Photo: Artline Media



About Quit Targa West


The 13th Quit Targa West attracted 64 rally teams in a mix of performance, classic and exotic vehicles.


Competitors raced the clock on 34 stages over 242 kilometres in Malaga, Wanneroo, Whiteman Park, Kalamunda, Toodyay, Chittering and Bullsbrook before the finale on Sunday 13th August at the City of Perth Super Stage and Shannons Classics car display adjacent to Langley Park on the Terrace Road car park.


Spectating was free and all 34 stages feature a number of dedicated spectator points to watch all the rally action.


For more information visit www.targawest.com.au and www.facebook.com/targawest