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Mitsubishi has won Targa West for the second successive year, beating a class field that comprised many exotic marques.

An Evolution IX Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer driven by West Australian legend Ross Dunkerton finished the three-day tarmac rally 16 seconds ahead of Victorian Paul Blackie’s Porsche 911.

Porsches also filled the next two places, with Queenslander Tony Quinn claiming third place in a 997 model.

Dunkerton won the first Targa West last year in an Evolution VIII Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer. Queenslander Alan Stean has been his co-driver both times.

Tragically the second Targa West will be remembered as the event in which touring car great Peter Brock lost his life when his Dodge coupe crashed on the first morning.

“It’s just so sad that we lost Brocky this year,” Dunkerton said. “If he’d still been here I would have been second.”

Team Mistubishi Ralliart withdrew the factory Evolution IX Lancer driven by Warwick Rooklyn and Linda Long on Friday evening as a mark of respect to Brock.

That decision was made jointly by Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd’s President and CEO Robert McEniry, MMAL’s new Motorsport Manager and its Project Manager responsible for its relationship with associate company Ralliart, Richard Emery, and Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s Principal, Alan Heaphy.

Mr McEniry had worked closely with Brock earlier in his career at Holden, while Heaphy had known him for many years through touring car racing and had spoken to him on the morning of his death.

Subaru and Mini also withdrew factory entries but the field that continued included many exotic marques – a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Maserati and a De Tomaso Pantera, apart from almost 20 Porsches.

The brand new Evo IX that Dunkerton spent a week at Mitsubishi Ralliart’s Melbourne headquarters preparing, and then another week back in Perth, beat them all.

“The Evo IX is bloody brilliant – it does everything you want it to do,” Dunkerton said. “It’s a superior car to the Evolution VIII Lancer we won in last year. It was a second a kilometre quicker than the Evo VIII when we needed it to be.

“All we had to do to it for three days was fuel it up and pop a bit of water in the intercooler. The pace got pretty hot on the final day, but we still didn’t take any unnecessary risks.

“Blackie took 2 seconds off me on the first stage Sunday, then 12 seconds on the next, but then I got 10 back off him,” Dunkerton said.

“He was in front by 5 seconds at one stage. It was a fight right to the end. We were matching times all the way.

“It’s a big thrill that a Mitsubishi Lancer has beaten not only Porsches but a lot of other exotic marques, and we’ve also beaten drivers with a lot more experience of tarmac rallies than us.”

Although he has won 100 major gravel rallies, five national titles and two Asia-Pacific championships, as well as many classic rallies in recent years, this year’s Targa West was only Dunkerton’s tarmac rally.

A new Mitsubishi Ralliart Colt driven by Perth remedial therapist Robert Buys and his motoring journalist father Bill finished third outright in Targa West’s Challenge category and second in its class.

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