Start your engines and keep your cool

Make Smoking History Targa West starts tomorrow

WA’s borders might be shut but that won’t stop 54 West Australian tarmac rally drivers from racing along the closed streets of Perth and surrounds for the 16thMake Smoking History Targa West tarmac rally from 22 to 25 October.

Starting tomorrow (Thursday 22 October), competitors and their rally cars will assemble in Forrest Place in the CBD from 10am for the Ceremonial start and ‘flagging off’ by newly sworn in Rt Hon the Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas at 11.45am.

The strong field consists of 54 modern and classic rally cars with 108 competitors, of which 19 are rookies.

Conditions are set to be hot with the forecast for the next four days predicted to be 25, 26, 29 and 34 degrees on Sunday – it’ll be the first time that Make Smoking History Targa West has been run in temperatures over 30 degrees, which could pose new challenges for competitors.

The competitors to watch in the Competition Modern Category are Peter Rullo, John O’Dowd, Mark Cates and Will White.

Peter Rullo and regular co-driver James Marquet will be in Rullo’s modified 2019 SSC Lotus Exige Targa GT. Rullo and Marquet won the rally in 2018 and have finished on the podium eight times between them. This will be Rullo’s 12thTarga West.

Rullo said that he was looking forward to some new and some newly configured stages.

“It’s good that the organisers are mixing it up with some new stages and running others in reverse, it means no one can’t use notes,” he said.

“We did our final test in the car last week and our preparation has gone well, we’re feeling pretty confident, but you never know how the warm weather will affect things,” Rullo said.

John O’Dowd and regular co-driver Toni Feaver have parked up the Skoda R5 rally car that took him to win the 2019 State Rally Championship (gravel) and have leased Peter Major’s 2004 Porsche 996 that won Targa West last year.

O’Dowd, competing in his 15th Targa West rally, said that he hasn’t had a chance to test the Porsche, which is less than ideal ahead of tomorrow’s start.

“The Skoda doesn’t have the legs for the long stages, although it was great fun to drive it last year,” said O’Dowd.

“Over the years I’ve driven lots of different cars in Targa West including Holden, Subaru, Lamborghini, Skoda and this year it’s a Porsche and I’m looking forward to driving it.

“The plan of attack is to enjoy the rally and have some fun and give the car back in one piece of course,” O’Dowd said.

In the Competition Classic Category, last year’s winner Simon Gunson is with a rookie co-driver, his long-time friend Peter Morley in Gunson’s 1971 Ford Capri Perana.

Gunson, a three-time winner of Targa West, said that Morley has been a part of his service crew for long time.

“It’s all about having a good time. We have a great crew of guys and we get together on Wednesday nights to build rally cars, break them, and repeat – it’s about the camaraderie and friendship,” said Gunson.


Photo: Jason Matz

“I’ve been on Peter’s crew when he races, and we’re good friends. Hopefully we’ll still be friends afterwards!” quipped Gunson.

For Morley, co-driving in Targa West has been on his bucket list.

“I race a single seater and I’m usually a one-man-show, so I’m really looking forward to co-driving for Simon. It’s not just about having a good time, it’s about winning!”

Other competitors to watch in the Competition Classic Category are Mark Dobson, Tim Wolfe and Bruce Lake.

Make Smoking History Targa West has four categories:

  • Competition (Modern / Classic): Motorsport Australia compliant vehicles & crews, vehicles have high level of safety requirements
  • Targa 165 (Modern / Classic): Motorsport Australia compliant vehicles & crews, vehicles have high level safety requirements but speed limited to 165km/h
  • Targa 130 (Modern / Classic): showroom style or non-roll caged vehicles, compete in all stages but speed limited to 130km/h
  • Targa 2Day: For competitors taking part only in the weekend stages.

Modern vehicles are manufactured between 1986 and 2020, and classic are manufactured pre-1986.

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.

It’s completely free to get involved and watch Western Australia’s premier tarmac rally, and there are plenty of spectator points to catch the fast-paced action.

Competitors will compete on closed road special stages in and around Perth, Whiteman Park, Muchea, Ellenbrook street stages, Kalamunda (including the infamous Zig Zag), Toodyay, Chittering and Bullsbrook, along with Malaga Sunday morning prior to the finalé at the City of Perth Special Stage along Riverside Drive next to the spectacular Swan River from 1.00pm.

On Sunday 25th October in the city is the Shannons Classic on the Park, a showcase of beautiful cars from yesteryear and the Celebration of Motorsport on Langley Park with over 600 cars, bikes and boats on display as well as free activities for the kids.

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


Main Photo: CMR Photographic