Make Smoking History Targa West – a red hot finish

Today, the Finalé, was the final chance for those within striking distance of a podium to drive ten tenths to make it happen, or for those with a comfortable lead, to preserve position and not make any mistakes. That can be a tough ask when there are thousands of spectators and drivers who love to put on a show.

Today saw six stages with 35.61 competitive kilometres, all of them with kerbs, gutters and tight turns. Reaching a scorching 34 degrees, it was the hottest day on record for Targa West, and some competitors had to watch their tyres and cooling systems.

The short day of street style racing started with three stages in Malaga including crowd-thrilling, smoke-generating, tyre-screeching Drift Car demonstrations by D1WA. The final three sprint-style stages took place along picturesque Riverside Drive, Victoria Ave, Governors ave and the City of Perth Parking Terrace Road carpark.

D1WA Drift Cars in Malaga. Photo: Phil Williams

Thousands turned out to check out 1,000 cars on display in the Shannons Classics on the Swan, a huge collection of stunning classics along Riverside Drive, the Celebration of Motorsport on Langley Park along with the All Ford Day.

In Make Smoking History Targa West 16-year history, only five champions have taken the title in the Competition Modern category and this year there was a sixth.

Competition Modern

Mark Greenham and Steph Esterbauer in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 started the final day with a healthy lead of 3:28 minutes ahead of second place, husband and wife team Jeffery and Catherine Foster in their 2019 Porsche GT3 RS.

For Greenham, preservation today was critical to take the win.

“It feels brilliant and the past five years of competing have definitely been worth it,” said Greenham.

Mark Greenham / Steph Esterbauer. Photo: Phil Williams

“I’m so happy and very relieved – today was so different to yesterday in that we could hear every noise and were thinking ‘is the diff going to go’ and things like that – we started hearing things. But it’s been great, we’re very happy.”

The fight of the day was between Jeffery and Catherine Foster in their 2019 Porsche GT3 RS who started the day 11 seconds ahead of Will White and Matt Thompson in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

White was not going down without a fight. After pushing all day to make up a few seconds, White / Thompson were just 1 second behind Foster / Foster going into the last stage. It was a challenge that went down to the wire. White drove his Evo to the limit to take second place by the narrowest of margins, just 1 second, and 2:22 minutes behind the winner.

White said that it was an epic battle.

“We are absolutely stoked especially with the fuel pump issues we had at the start of the rally and breakdowns on liaisons. Matt has done a fantastic job calling notes and keeping me on track, without him, none of this would happen,” said White, from Dardanup.

“Thanks to the organisers, volunteers and all competitors, especially to Mark [Greenham] on taking the win, we’re all good mates and the comradery between us all is just awesome.”

Jeffrey Foster said it’s been a tough two days, but he finished on the podium without a scratch on his Porsche.

“We’re really happy with our result, it was a ding-dong battle with Will White with just a second separating us. Will did a great job,” Foster said.

“We were starting to get worried about tyres yesterday, and this morning it was all going well but everything has to come together and someone else got it right and we got it a little bit wrong. Still, we’re very happy.”

Fourth went to Brett Morse and Rodney Ng in their 2019 BMW M2 Competition who were sitting in third place earlier in the rally but lost time due to tyre degradation.

Brett Morse / Rodney Ng. Photo: CMR Photographic

After retiring yesterday with overheating issues, Peter Rullo and Jimmy Marquet restarted the rally today, albeit out of contention, and showed just how fast they can go winning two stages in Malaga in their 2019 SSC Lotus Exige Targa GT and finishing equal first in two stages in the City of Perth.

Another duo who seemed to come into their own today showing a blistering pace was John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver, who won the first stage of the day in Malaga and the first City of Perth stage, finishing in seventh place overall in their leased 2004 Porsche 996 Turbo. They had to replace a clutch after Day 2 which incurred a 2.00-minute time penalty, and saw them out of contention.

While not in direct contention, invitational competitors Garry Povah and Steve Armour in their 2011 Holden Colorado restarted the rally today after retiring yesterday with differential issues. While they are Targa West rookies, the team is very experienced and awarded in off road racing.

Povah said he’s been competing in motorsport events for 20 years.

“Targa West is a very well-run event and sets a high benchmark,” Povah said.

“Everything from the organisation, the officials – who were all so professional – to the safety and comradery, all of it has been first class, and I’ve travelled around the world competing in off-road rallies. We’ve had a ball.”

Competition Classic

In the Competition Classic (pre 1986), there was no stopping Simon Gunson and rookie co-driver Peter Morley in their 1971 Ford Capri Perana. Despite starting the day with healthy lead of 4:43 minutes, Gunson / Morley still won four out of six stages to finish 4.55 minutes ahead of Tim Wolfe and Scott Beckwith in their 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS.

Gunson only knows one way to drive his Capri – hard and fast.

“Right from the blocks we went out hard and kept that going all the way through. Actually, we just drive hard all the time because we just love driving this car,” Gunson said.

“We love driving fast, but we conserved a bit today. The car didn’t miss a beat, it’s been a great rally.”
Simon Gunson / Peter Morley. Photo: Muz Armenti

Second-placed Wolfe said it was his second Targa West with co-driver Scott Beckwith in what’s been a great rally.

“We went in with a strategy to finish on the podium, and we’ve done that. We couldn’t get near the Capri, but we stuck to our strategy and we’re very happy with our result,” Wolfe said.

In third place 2:42 minutes behind Wolfe / Beckwith were cousins Nathan Ellement and Keven Ellement in their 1985 Chevrolet Corvette C4.

Nathan Ellement said that they were thrilled.

“To get this car to come third on our second proper attempt at Targa West is absolutely awesome. We are stoked and we’ll be back bigger and better next year,” said Ellement.

Kim Stewart and Frank Zanotti finished fourth in their 1965 Ford Mustang a further 59 seconds behind.

Targa 165 and Targa 130

In Targa 165, rookies Ben Pang and co-driver Brandon Chin wowed the crowds in their 1999 Honda Civic to take a solid win, 17.39 minutes ahead of Nick Rahimtulla and Lisa White in their 1973 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV 105. The Targa 165 category restricts drivers to 165 kilometres per hour.

In his first rally event, Pang was clearly very happy to win his category.

“It’s been a very good rally, a lot of fun and I’m very satisfied with what we’ve done. I’d like to thank my crew, they are all very hard working. Also thanks to the volunteer, it’s so hot and they stand there and smile and wave, at least we get a bit of breeze when we drive fast,” said Pang, who is originally from Borneo.

Ben Pang / Brandon Chin. Photo: Tim Allott 

In the Targa 130 category, husband and wife team Jurgen and Helen Lunssman took a clean sweep of stage wins in their electric Telsa 3 Performance+ car, winning the class by 8.39 minutes ahead of David and Anna Hodges in their 2013 Holden VF SSV. The Targa 130 category restricts drivers to 130 kilometres per hour.

Jurgen Lunssman said he was thrilled and relieved.

“I’m relieved because there have been great expectations on the electric car, we’re representing part of the future and there’s a big community following us, and we’re so happy to take the win for them,” Lunssman said.

Podium Targa 130: Hodges / Hodges, Lunsmann / Lunsmann, Evans / Stutt. Photo: CMR Photographic 

“Last year I shared the podium with the Ford Capri as Simon Gunson’s co-driver, and this year I’m on the podium with my wife in a Tesla. The inclusive nature of Targa West great and the competition is really healthy.”

2 Day Rallye

The 2 Day Rallye is a shortened version of Make Smoking History Targa West for competitors who can only commit to the weekend, and they race the same stages as the other competitors.

Among the four competitors, Paul Pernechele and co-driver Ben Trager were again dominant in their classic V8 1971 Ford Falcon XY finishing the day 5.33 minutes faster than nearest rivals.

Pernechelle / Trager Photo: Turn 7 Media

“It’s been a great rally. Absolutely I’m going to do the full event next year if I can,” Pernechelle said.

Make Smoking History Targa West is owned by Targa West Events and is only possible thanks to a dedicated committee and an army of 500 volunteers.

Event Director Ross Tapper said that he was proud of his team.

“A few months ago, we didn’t even know if we’d be having a rally,” said Tapper, in relation to COVID cancelling all events.

“To be able to come back, organise it and run it in a different time of year to our usual August date has been a feat. I’m very proud of the organising team and all of our officials, and of course to all the West Australian competitors who took part. Without them, and our sponsors, there wouldn’t be a Make Smoking History Targa West.”

Main Photo: 2020 Make Smoking History Targa West Competition Modern Podium. Photo: CMR Photographic

Green with envy at Make Smoking History Targa West

The marathon Day 3 was hot, reaching temperatures of 31 degrees, challenging man and machine at the 16th Make Smoking History Targa West in Toodyay, Chittering and Bullsbrook, north east of Perth.

Today was Leg 2, the longest and toughest day of Make Smoking History Targa West covering 461 kilometres, 14 stages and 129.2 competitive kilometres which includes the two longest stages of the rally, Maryville Downs at 19.68 kilometres, run twice. The final stage of the day, SS30 was cancelled due to running over time.

In its 16-year history, Make Smoking History Targa West has only crowned five champions in the Competition Modern category and this year it’s likely to be someone new.

Competition Modern

The big news of the day was the retirement of Peter Rullo and Jimmy Marquet who had to stop after SS23 when their 2019 SSC Lotus Exige Targa GT overheated.  Some surface gravel on a newly resealed section of road flicked up under the car, tearing the belt attached to the water pump, which cools the car.

They managed to replace the torn belt but didn’t make it to time control within the allocated 30-minutes to continue their rally without penalty. Prior to that, Rullo / Marquet were faultless, winning the day’s first five stages and inching their lead by a few seconds each stage.

Rullo said that the team will assess the car over night before deciding if they will rejoin tomorrow.

The departure of Rullo / Marquet catapults Mark Greenham and Steph Esterbauer in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 to the top of the standings with a healthy lead of 3:28 minutes ahead of second place, husband and wife team Jeffery and Catherine Foster in their 2019 Porsche GT3 RS.

Just 11 seconds behind Foster / Foster is Will White and Matt Thompson in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

Greenham said it was a strange feeling to be in the lead.

“Before it was push, push, push, and now we’re like ‘Oh God, what’s that noise’ – we have the lead to look after now,” said Greenham.

“Going into tomorrow, we’ll be looking after our tyres and the car. We plan to keep a good pace, keep out of people’s way and keep away from any kerbs. There’s still another day to go and anything can happen, but yes, it’s exciting.”

Going into the finalé in second place, Jeffery Foster said he plans to minimise mistakes and push when he can.

“Anything can happen in Malaga, but we’ll drive to our strengths, remain diligent, get the calls right and try to keep mistakes to a minimum. The car has performed as expected, and now it’s a mental game,” Foster said.
Jeffery and Catherine Foster. Photo: CMR Photographic

Foster may need to push more than he plans if he wants to hold second place, Will White is on the hunt.

“Definitely, one hundred per cent I’m going to push and go for second place or crash trying. It wouldn’t be a rally otherwise!” said White.

“We’ve been saving new tyres for Sunday – I’ve got new medium tyres on the front and the best of the tyres will go on the back. In the past, we’ve been the quickest on the city stages, and we’ll be giving it a good crack tomorrow.

“The boys from Tokyo Motorsport have been on the tools ensuring the car is trouble free. Bring it on.”

Dropping down the leaderboard today to fourth place due to tyre degradation was Brett Morse and Rodney Ng in their 2019 BMW M2 Competition.

With a new clutch fitted overnight, John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver were again posting competitive times to finish the day in seventh place in their leased 2004 Porsche 996 Turbo, a car that has previously won Targa West four times. The new clutch incurred a 2.00-minute time penalty for removing the car from Parc Ferme.

Arriving at the second Toodyay service park on a tilt tray was the 2008 Audi R8 of Peter Burgess and Terry Childs.

“We were full power, went hard on the brakes for a virtual chicane, heard a big clunk, kept going and then had no steering. It’s the lower ball joint, we can replace it and carry on,” said Burgess, a Targa West rookie.

“My company Forch, which makes garage consumables, sponsored a few competitors in the past and I thought I should have a go myself. I did one rally sprint in the lead up a few months ago, and here I am, and loving it.”

Invitational competitors and Targa West rookies Garry Povah and Steve Armour were forced to retire with differential issues at the end of SS26. While rookies, the team is very experienced and awarded in off road racing, their 2011 Holden Colorado won the Australasian Safari in 2010 (driven by Craig Lowndes). They may restart tomorrow.

Competition Classic

In the Competition Classic (pre 1986), there’s no stopping Simon Gunson and rookie co-driver Peter Morley who again, for the third straight day, won all stages in their 1971 Ford Capri Perana, to increase their lead to 4:43 minutes. Gunson / Morley have won 29 stages straight.

Gunson was smiling as usual, seemingly non-fazed by his achievements.

“It’s good to be in the lead, but I’m also looking how we compare to Modern category,” Gunson said.

“Everything with the car is great except the speed sensor which isn’t showing up on the dash, I suspect a stone hit it in one of the morning stages, but we have RallySafe, so it’s all fine.”

Simon Gunson / Peter Morley. Photo: CMR Photographic

Finishing the day in second place was Tim Wolfe and Scott Beckwith in a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS about two and half minutes behind them in third today were cousins Nathan Ellement and Keven Ellement in their 1985 Chevrolet Corvette C4.

Nathan Ellement said that they were ticking along nicely in their third attempt at Targa West.

“All eight cylinders are working, we stayed on the black stuff, we’re still going and we’re having a ball,” said Nathan.

“We plan to maintain our position and keep going. Malaga will be interesting, that’s where we hit a water barrier last year – the left-hand-drive can be tricky to judge.”

Kim Stewart and Frank Zanotti in their 1965 Ford Mustang are 35 seconds behind Ellement / Ellement in fourth place.

Greg Freeman and Jeff Sadler arrived in the Toodyay Service Park with their Chevrolet Camaro on tilt tray after overshooting a corner and hitting a tree on the left side on SS20. Both uninjured, they were able to restart the rally albeit with a few new dents.

Not in contention but a crowd favourite, the 1967 Mini of mother and son Cindy and rookie co-driver Ewan Jones is still racing despite a list of issues that include clutch, distributor, suspension and fuel. Cindy said that they are having a ball and her favourite thing was taking a good corner.

Targa 165 and Targa 130

Rookies Ben Pang and co-driver Brandon Chin in their 1999 Honda Civic have increased their lead to 13:45 minutes ahead of Nick Rahimtulla and Lisa White in their 1973 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV 105.

The Targa 165 category restricts drivers to 165 kilometres per hour, but that doesn’t seem to wipe the smile from Pang’s face.

Originally from Borneo, Pang said that while this is his first rally, he’s done a lot of circuit racing.

“Circuit is different, but I prefer the open road now I’ve tried it,” Pang said.

“To drive on the closed streets really fast is a really fun experience. I’m learning to trust the co-driver, I need him and I need to be patient with him too. We are having a lot of fun.”

In fourth place in the Targa 165 is the Mayor for the City of Swan, Kevin Bailey and his co-driver Eric Purvis both rookies to Targa West but they did compete in the one-day Targa South West in August.

“I was an overqualified spectator and I thought what am I waiting for, why not give it a go, and here I am. I would love to see more rallying in the City of Swan, this is just a fantastic event,” Bailey said.

You won’t hear them coming, and if you blink you might miss seeing them. The eerily silent but speedy electric Telsa 3 Performance+ car of Jurgen and Helen Lunssman have increased their overall lead today in the Targa 130 category by 7.04 minutes ahead of David and Anna Hodges in their 2013 Holden VF SSV. The Targa 130 category restricts drivers to 130 kilometres per hour.

The hot weather has the reverse effect on the electric car.

“The battery actually likes the heat, so it works in our favour. The only downside is that it uses slightly more charge keeping the car cool,” Jurgen said.

2 Day Rallye

The 2 Day Rallye is a shortened version of Make Smoking History Targa West for competitors who can only commit to the weekend, and they race the same stages as the other competitors.

Among the four competitors, Paul Pernechele and co-driver Ben Trager were dominant in their classic V8 1971 Ford Falcon XY finishing the day 4:40 minutes faster than nearest rivals.

Tomorrow – Leg 3, Day 4, The Finalé

Tomorrow, the Finalé, is all about taking risks and driving to the limit if an advancement is in reach or preserving position if it isn’t.

There are six stages and 35.61 competitive kilometres for drivers to contest, all of them with kerbs, gutters and tight turns.

The short day of street style racing starts with three stages in Malaga from 8.40am, including jaw-dropping demonstrations of Drift Cars by D1WA. The final three sprint-style stages take place along picturesque Riverside Drive and the Perth Concert Hall carpark from 1pm.

The podium finish and champagne spray will be under the archway on Riverside Drive 3.15pm.

From 10am Sunday, not to be missed is the Shannons Classics on the Swan, a huge collection of stunning classics along Riverside Drive, the Celebration of Motorsport on Langley Park along with the All Ford Day that collectively see more than 1,000 cars, bikes and boats on display.

Remember to be sun smart, the forecast for Sunday is a hot 34 degrees.

Competitors start at 30-second intervals, with the winner being the fastest over all 36 stages, a total of 268 competitive kilometres, across four days.

Download the Make Smoke History Targa West Spectator Guide here, includes more detailed information including times and maps.

For more information, visit www.targawest.com.au and keep up to date on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/targawest

One week to go: Flag drops on Make Smoking History Targa West next week

Will White and Matt Thompson on 2017’s City of Perth Special Stage. Credit: CMR Photographic

The Make Smoking History Targa West gets underway next Thursday, with Perth’s best tarmac rally competitors testing their machines against the clock across four days and 34 heart pumping rally stages.

The entry list features 57 teams in vehicles of all eras, from classic Triumphs, Porches and Mustangs, to modern Lotuses, Mitsubishi Evos, and even an electric powered Tesla Roadster, who will be taking on some of Perth’s most iconic roads such as Kalamunda’s Zig Zag from August 9 – 12.

There will be plenty of opportunity for spectators to witness the action, and see the cars and drivers up close at spectator points and static displays.

Event Director Ross Tapper says the event is a must-see for any motorsport enthusiast. Continue reading “One week to go: Flag drops on Make Smoking History Targa West next week”