Day 3 – Leads increase for both Rullo and Gunson

Rolling green hills, 20 degrees of sunny spring weather and wildflowers everywhere set a stunning scene for Day 3 of the 17th Make Smoking History Targa West, the longest and toughest day of the four-day rally.

The competition took place around Toodyay, Chittering and Bullsbrook with 14 stages, a total of 128.85 competitive kilometres, including the two 19.67-kilometre marathon stages, Maryville Downs 1 and 2. In a massive 12-hour day covering a total of 475.64 kilometres, today was the day where competitors had to get serious and set themselves up for a strong finish tomorrow.

Make Smoking History Targa West’s third day saw leads increase, some fights, a new stage winner, battles for places, retirements, and penalties.

Make Smoking History Targa West is Perth’s premier tarmac rally and the only event in Perth that uses closed public roads for racing, which will take place in Malaga tomorrow morning and the finale tomorrow afternoon in the CBD along Riverside Drive.

Competition Modern

Peter Rullo and co-driver Jimmy Marquet in their 2020 SSC Lotus Exige GT weren’t resting on their laurels today after their experience in 2020 where they were leading but forced to retire early on Day 3. Fully aware that to finish first, first you have to finish, Rullo was focussed on getting through the day and getting the job done.

Rullo / Marquet started the day with a 45-second lead ahead of Steve Jones and co-driver Caleb Ash in their 2008 Nissan R35 GTR; and by the end of the day, increased their lead to 1:01 minutes. They won the first eight stages of the day, had a further win in Bullsbrook and finished the rest of the stages second fastest – that’s 14 stages finishing either first or second.

“The stages today were awesome, I love them all and it’s pity I didn’t get to experience them last year,” said Rullo.

“The stages today are for high horsepower cars, like the GTR and Porsche, but they don’t drive themselves, drivers have to push them which is good, and I know that because I had a GTR for seven years.

“It was awesome competition and good to be in a battle with Steve (Jones) and Dave (Heaton), trading stage wins. Big congrats to Dave, it was his first stage win in Targa, good on him.

“A lead is always good, but it ain’t over until the fat lady sings,” said Rullo.

Steve Jones was playing things down in the midday service.

“There’s no point trying to chase down the Lotus – they are lighter than us, faster than us, more powerful and running softer tyres. We’ve still got a sliding issue and the traction light for snow is coming on,” he said.

At the day’s end having notched up five stage wins, Jones said he finally discovered what was going on with his car.

“I’d chosen tyres that I’d never run on before and I was pushing the car to do things that it didn’t want to do. So we took two rear tyres off my road car, a different brand, and put them on the rear of the GTR, and now the car is fast,” Jones said.

“These are the tyres I won Targa SW on – they are used but they are making a huge difference, straight away.

“The whole rally I’ve been battling the car, which has made me work. I haven’t had a car under me I’ve been able to do what I want it to do, and now I have, but it’s too late.

“Still, we’re having fun and we had a really good time in Maryville Downs, there were spectators everywhere, people hanging over their fences, it’s such a great atmosphere,” said Jones.

Sitting in third place overall is David Heaton and Steve Glenney in Heaton’s new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

Besides calling pace notes, Steve Glenney is also doing some driver training with Heaton which is reaping results.

This is Heaton’s 12th time competing in Targa West and the first time he’s won a stage, winning SS30, the 11.41-kilometre Bullsbrook Long 2, 3 seconds ahead of Rullo / Marquet.

“We’ve had a great day, a very strong, beautiful, smooth flowing day – Bullsbrook was a highlight, my first stage win at Targa West and I’m happy that we’re able to mix it with Rullo and Jones,” said Heaton.

“The communication inside the cabin with Steven is great, the car is a beautiful thing, it was the perfect Targa West day.”

Moving up a place on the overall leader board, jumping from fifth yesterday to fourth today, is Mark Cates in his 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS with Tasmanian co-driver Anthony Carr.

“Today was fantastic, the long stages are the ones I really enjoy. The last two stages were in the dark and I can’t see for shit, it was a bit scary so we backed off so we didn’t crash,” said Cates.

“Our goal today was not to bin the car and to catch the BMW, and I tell you, Brett (Morse) drives that thing like a scalded cat, so I’m happy where we’re at,” said Cates from Bunbury.

Cates / Carr are 26 seconds ahead of fifth outright Brett Morse and Rodney Ng in their 2019 BMW M2 Competition, and 4:00 minutes behind the rally leader.

Steve Jones / Caleb Ash. Photo: image1265
David Heaton / Steve Glenney. Photo: Tim Allott
Mark Cates / Anthony Carr. Photo: image1265

Competition Classic

Simon Gunson and co-driver Nigel Jones won eight of the Day 3’s 14 stages in their 1971 Ford Capri Perana to increase their lead overall to 3:31 minutes ahead of Tim Wolfe and Scott Beckwith in their 1974 Porsche 911.

Gunson said he’d had a busy day.

“We had a loose gasket on the exhaust and the guys are fixing it so it’s fine, it’s regular Targa maintenance really,” Gunson said.

Gunson’s service crew consists of a group of friends he’s known for 20 years, and every Wednesday night they get together to work on the car.

“We’re cruising now and backed off toward the end of today, preserving our tyres, Malaga (tomorrow) is pretty hard on tyres.”

Tim Wolfe said that the stages were really good today.

“It’s really enjoyable, the car is going well and we’re pushing, hanging on with our finger nails!” Wolfe said.

Wolfe / Beckwith are 39 seconds ahead of third place holders overall, the Ellement cousins, driver Nathan and co-driver Kevin in their 1985 Chevrolet Corvette C4.

The Ellements finished fastest on five stages today, and all the rest in the top three. They incurred a 10-second penalty for hitting a plastic bollard.

“Today was frightening!” said Nathan.  “We clipped a kerb on Bullsbrook Short at a roundabout, it bent two rims but it didn’t slow us down, it’s all good,” Nathan Ellement said.

“We’ll see where we all end up once all the penalties are out and decide how to tackle tomorrow then.”

Simon Gunson / Nigel Jones. Photo: Tim Allott
Nathan Ellement and Kevin Ellement. Photo: image1265

Targa 165 and Targa 130

It was looking like a perfect rally score card of stage wins for Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann in their Tesla 3 Performance+ EV, until SS24 Toodyay 2.

“We had another awesome day, but we had to manage our resources though the middle of the day and we had to back off to two-thirds due to the EV’s charge,” Jurgen Lunsmann said.

“The car is running faultlessly, really we only need to give is chamois and we haven’t even done that.

“Besides a roll cage and some competition brake pads and tyres, it’s a stock-standard Tesla.”

When asked about his strategy for tomorrow, Jurgen said he’s in two minds.

“I’d love to have crack at the city stages and see how times go, but there’s a lot to lose. What I’ll probably do is bring it home safely, stay away from kerbs and preserve the car.”

The Lunmanns finished second for the first time in 31 stages to Targa West rookies Mathew St Guillaume and co-driver James Brittain in their 2006 Porsche Cayman.

Currently in second place, St Guillaume / Brittain might be rookies to Perth’s premier rally, but they have some tarmac experience winning their class at the shorter Targa South West rally held in May.

“Today it all came together. The stages were really great, the best sort of stages for the car, it’s so well suited to them,” said co-driver Brittain.

“Targa West is amazing, it’s as much about the camaraderie as it is about the racing, and driving at speed on the closed roads is incredible, it’s what brings people back year after year.”

Finishing the day in third place overall about 9:36 minutes behind St Guillaume / Brittain are rookies Paul Oxley and Yvonne Mulligan in their 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX.

The Targa 165 category restricts drivers to 165 kilometres per hour, while the Targa 130 category last year limits drivers to 130 kilometres per hour.

It might be the entry category for Making Smoking History Targa West, but it’s where the closest battles are being fought.

Jumping from second place this morning to leading the class this evening is Chris Beerens and Alex Butler in their 2011 Subaru WRX STI who chipped away all day closing the gap to Aaron Williams and co-driver Rachel Ferrante in their 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 to end the day 11 seconds ahead.

Had Williams / Ferrante not been given penalties, the gap going into the finale would have only been 2 seconds.

In third place overall  1:08 minutes behind Williams / Ferrante is Davyd Hooper and Jacob Teo in their 2016 AMG CLA45; 26 seconds of the deficit is made up of speeding penalties.

Retiring on Day 1 after an off and rejoined on Day 2 after some bush mechanic repairs, Mayor of the City of Swan Kevin Bailey reported having a great day in his 1993 Nissan Silvia S13, despite a few crackling comms issues in the cabin with and co-driver Eric Purvis.

“We used two rolls of gaffa tape and about 25 cable ties, but she’s holding together beautifully,” Bailey said.

Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann. Photo: Tim Allott
Chris Beerens and Alex Butler. Photo: CMR Photographic
Cheering kids loving the rally action. Photo: image1265

In other news

Crowd favourite, the cute little bright orange 1967 Morris Cooper Mini of Cindy Gielingh-Jones, has sadly retired. Entrants in the Targa 2 Day Rallye (they compete on Saturday and Sunday only) had issues from the very start with misfiring. A coil was changed and changed back, but it wasn’t possible to fix.

Seventeen-year-old rookie and P-plater Max McRae, another Targa 2 Day Rallye competitor, retired his 2019 Ford Fiesta ST with gearbox issues.

Targa 130 rookies Xia Chen and Nick Chua in car 28, 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 took a wrong turn and ended up far from the stages and will be rejoining tomorrow.

Competition Modern rookies in car 58, Liam Wrenne and Shaun McMacken, suffered a mechanical in their 1989 Honda Civic and hope to return to the rally tomorrow.

Dennis Heller and Richard Harris had an off on SS27, Maryville Downs 2, and were forced to retire from today but have since fixed the rim, tyre, and lower suspension arm in car 25, their 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 and plan to return tomorrow.

The crew were working furiously on car 38, Ben Pang’s 1999 Honda Civic to repair the gearbox. They rejoined the rally with penalties.

Tomorrow – The Finale, Day 4, Leg 4

Tomorrow, the Finale, 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 city stages and 35.55 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 and finishes with the three sprint-style stages 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, completely free and not to be missed is the Shannons Classics on the Swan, a huge collection of stunning classics along Riverside Drive, and the Celebration of Motorsport on Langley Park with over 500 cars, bikes and motorbikes on display.

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.

For more information and results visit

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

Cindy Gielingh-Jones-Jones and her 1967 Morris Mini Cooper, now retired. Photo: CMR Photographic
Spectators in Toodyay. Photo: image1265
Tim Wolfe / Scott Beckwith. Photo: Graeme Howie