Day 1 – Off and racing, great start to Make Smoking History Targa West

Prepared and raring to go, this morning 64 of Western Australia’s best tarmac rally drivers were flagged off from the Hyatt Regency Hotel for the 17th Make Smoking History Targa West which concludes on Sunday 19thSeptember.

A cold and wet spring day provided mixed conditions for Day 1 of the rally that comprised of seven timed stages; three at Whiteman Park, two at Wanneroo Raceway (one stage was cancelled due to running late) and two street stages at Ellenbrook after dark that attracted about 6,000 spectators and included a smoking Drift Car demonstration by D1WA.

The four-day rally is the only event in Perth that uses closed public roads for racing.

The first stage of the day was not timed and does not count towards results.

Competition Modern

Day 1 was full of action from the get-go with reigning champion Mark Greenham (Forrestfield) forced to retire on SS2 with a mechanical issue in his 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 ending his rally.

2018 Targa West winner, Peter Rullo (Gooseberry Hill), had much to celebrate today, besides turning 50, he finished fastest on four of the seven stages in his 2020 SSC Lotus Exige GT with co-driver Jimmy Marquet (Riverton).

“This is a pretty good way to spend a birthday!” said Rullo. “We’re having fun and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Rullo / Marquet finished the day on top with a 5-second lead ahead of Steve Jones and co-driver Caleb Ash in their 2008 Nissan R35 GTR and a 22-second lead over Brett Morse and Rodney Ng in their 2019 BMW M2 Competition.


Peter Rullo / Jimmy Marquet leading after Day 1. Photo: CMR Photographic

Four-time rally winner Steve Jones hasn’t competed in Make Smoking History Targa West since 2018 and has returned this year with all cylinders firing, winning three stages.

“I’ve missed it and I’m really happy to be back – I saw some rookies earlier and had a chat with them, gave them some tips, and I like being able to help and give a little back,” said Jones.

“The goal is firstly to have fun next to my co-driver and long-time friend Caleb Ash, he’s the calming influence and helps me keep my cool in the car, I’m the energetic one.

“Secondly, I’m competitive, so we’ll be aiming for a good finish for sure, but also to finish every stage – these street stages are hard to drive with this big car, it’s like driving a Landcruiser,” said Attadale resident Jones.

Jones’ car has some panel damage on the left hand side where he hit a tyre barrier after exiting a stage at Wanneroo.

Winning SS2, equal fastest with Rullo / Marquet, was husband and wife Bill and Glenys Stagoll (Gelorup) in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

“We started the day well, so we’re enjoying that while we can,” said Bill Stagoll. “We had a braking issue on one of the stages, I hit the brakes too late!”

The Stagolls finished the day in fourth place in the Competition Modern category.

The wet weather today and the tight stages didn’t suit all competitors, so we can expect to see some more exciting action tomorrow.

Brett Morse / Rodney Ng. Photo: CMR Photographic
Event Director Ross Tapper flags off Bill and Glenys Stagoll. Photo: Dianne Bortoletto

Competition Classic

Finishing on top was last year’s winner, Simon Gunson (Bibra Lake) in his 1971 Ford Capri Perana with co-driver Nigel Jones (San Remo), who incidentally is the only competitor to have competed in all 17 Targa West events.

Gunson / Jones won four stages which includes an equal first with Tim Wolfe and Scott Beckwith in their 1974 Porsche 911, to end the day 12 seconds ahead of Nathan Ellement (Oakford) and Keven Ellement (Golden Bay) in their 1985 Chevrolet Corvette C4. The Ellement cousins won both Ellenbrook stages.

Rounding out the top three was Wolfe / Beckwith who took two stage wins to end end 14 seconds behind the leader.

“So far so good. Tomorrow is a big day and I’m looking forward to the open stages, and hopefully building a bigger buffer,” said Gunson, referring to the rally lead.

Paul Pernechele (Gidgegannup) had an unfortunate start the day with a mechanical issue in his 1971 Ford Falcon XY but he was able to rejoin the rally to the delight of cheering fans in Ellenbrook.

Simon Gunson / Nigel Jones. Photo: Graeme Howie
Nathan Ellement and Kevin Ellement. Photo: image1265
Tim Wolfe and Scott Beckwith. Photo: image1265

Targa 165 and Targa 130

The eerily silent but speedy electric Telsa 3 Performance+ car of Jurgen and Helen Lunssman took a clean sweep of stage wins in the Targa 165 category to finish the day 1:06 minutes ahead of their nearest rival.

If you blink you might miss them because the husband and wife team are posting impressively fast times, so much so that they’d be sitting in fourth outright (ahead of Stagoll) if they’d entered the Competition Modern category.

Targa 165 category restricts drivers to 165 kilometres per hour.

The Mayor of the City of Swan Kevin Bailey (Bullsbrook) unfortunately went off on SS3 and was forced to retire before being able to compete in front of a home crowd at Ellenbrook. Both he and co-driver Eric Purvis (West Swan) are okay. The team are making repairs overnight and plan to rejoin the rally with penalties tomorrow.

Rookie and Targa 130 competitor Aaron Williams (Stratton) and co-driver Rachel Ferrante (Aveley) won four stages including both Ellenbrook street stages in their 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 to end the day on top of the leaderboard 9 seconds ahead of Chris Beerens (Jane Book) and Alex Butler (East Vic Park) in their 2011 Subaru WRX STI.

Exactly 1:00 minute behind the leader were rookies Dylan O’Connor (Maida Vale) and Leigh Fowler (Maida Vale) in their 1998 Hyundai Excel.

Targa 130 category restricts drivers to 130 kilometres per hour.

Tomorrow – Day 2, Leg 2

Tomorrow, Make Smoking History Targa West starts the day at Mundaring with two stages at Parkerville, then onto Kalamunda for two stages before a service on Haynes Street, then the two famous Zig Zag stages and another in Kalamunda before ending the day with a service at the Hawaiian Shopping Centre Forrestfield Service Park. The rally cars head to Northbridge for the Show and Shine display 6pm to 9pm on James and Lake Streets.

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

Make Smoking History Targa West competitors start at 30-second intervals, with the winner being the fastest over all 37 stages, a total of 272 competitive kilometres, across four days.

There are awards for the Competition Modern category, Competition Classic category, Targa 130 (limited to speeds of 130km/h), Targa 165 (limited to 165km/h) and Targa 2 Day Rallye where competitors compete just on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, visit

Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann. Photo: CMR Photographic
John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver lining up to start at Ellenbrook. Photo: Elevation Digital
Simon Gunson and Nigel Jones lining up to start at Ellenbrook. Photo: Elevation Digital