|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.
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.