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In a year of tarmac rallying that threw just about every imaginable challenge at her, Naomi Tillett has finished with victories in the final two headline events within two weeks in two countries!

In late-October, Tillett, who co-drives with Tony Quinn in the VIP Petfoods Nissan GT-R R35, racked up her fourth successive win in Targa Zealand, the Shaky Isles’ biggest tarmac rally.

A fortnight later, the South Australian-Queenslander duo triumphed in the second round of the 2012/13 Australian Targa Championship, Targa High Country in Victoria.

Their unrelenting pressure on faster opponents was the key ingredient to their success in both events.

At Targa New Zealand, young speedster Glenn Inkster set a scorching early pace in the six-day North Island marathon, but in his efforts to stay ahead he rolled his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo – not once, but twice!

At Targa High Country it was mechanical failure, not driver error, that handed victory to Tillett and Quinn.

Jason and John White looked set to extend their Australian tarmac rally winning streak to five after the first day, but they retired on the second and final day after their Lamborghini Gallardo broke its front differential.

But having the leaders fall by the wayside didn’t turn either rally into a cakewalk, according to Tillett.

“Tony and I couldn’t slow down at all because there were some fast drivers in fast cars chasing us,” she said.

“Even when we had a solid lead we kept pressing on, because mistakes can happen if you let your concentration slip for a split-second.”

The two wins reconfirmed Tillett’s status as Australia’s tarmac rally ‘co-driver queen’ in a tumultuous season that included the most traumatic experience of her 20-year motorsport career.

In Targa Rotorua last June, she and Quinn were first on the scene after the car running ahead of them on the road slammed into a concrete roadside parapet, seriously injuring Sydney driver Stuart Scoular.

Until emergency crews arrived, Tillett tended to Scoular, who survived but had one leg amputated.

The two Aussies’ life-saving efforts were noted by Motorsport New Zealand, which also conferred one of its highest awards on Tillett by adding her name to the New Zealand Motorsport Honour Roll.

She received a citation from Motorsport New Zealand and the St John Ambulance Service at the Targa New Zealand presentation.

“The award was a nice surprise, although it was one of those situations where there was no time to think – I just did what I could to try to keep Stuart alive,” she said.

With the 2013 tarmac rally season over, Tillett reflected on a year of highs and lows on both sides of the Tasman.

“It didn’t start too well with car problems putting us out of Targa Wrest Point in Tasmania in January, and Targa Bambina in New Zealand in March,” she said.

“In April we finished second to the Whites at Targa Tasmania – their car has been in a different league compared to everyone else’s since Targa High Country last year.

“Of course Targa Rotorua was the low point, and at Targa Adelaide in August the Whites beat us comfortably again.

“It was great winning our fourth Targa New Zealand, being such a long rally on roads that we’re not allowed to drive beforehand to make pace notes.

“And finishing the year with a win at Targa High Country was a bonus. We can’t get close to the Whites on pure car speed, but we’re happy to take the win whenever they don’t finish!”
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