Herridge takes lead in Targa West
- 12th August 2016, 5:47am
It was only four timed stages and just less than 20 competitive kilometres, but the first day of competition saw the Quit Targa West tarmac rally’s leaderboard undergo many changes as competitors tackled the two very different courses.
The 62 vehicles entered in this year’s event started the day at Forrest Place in the Perth CBD, where they gathered to form a colourful display for the lunchtime crowd to peruse, while they awaited the event to officially start. After The Right Honourable Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffadi opened the rally by giving her well wishes, competitors were waved off from the Ceremonial Start and headed to Barbagallo Raceway to launch into competition.
The Wanneroo Special Stages featured plenty of variety from the fast flowing smooth circuit roads where the larger high performance vehicles could hit their stride, to the tight corners and hairpin in the pit area where the more nimble vehicles excelled.
From the first stage it was obvious Kerry Wade and Mike Kennedy meant business in their Mitsubishi Evo 8, winning both the Wanneroo Stages and putting a 14 second buffer between themselves and Peter Major and Greg Flood in the Porsche 996 Turbo.
The Malaga Night stages saw both the heavens open and Wade and Kennedy’s luck change, when the rear differential housing to their Mitsubishi broke. The pair rigged the broken part up enough to complete the day but it cost them in time.
Peter Rullo and Jimmy Marquet briefly took over the leadership until they experienced electrical problems in their Nissan R35 Skyline GTR which prevented them from starting the last stage of the night. The pair hope history isn’t repeating, with their event last year also marred by electrical issues.
By the end of the first day, it was Dean Herridge and Bill Hayes leading the field in their Subaru WRX STI. Herridge, who has been absent from tarmac rallying in recent years, said he wasn’t expecting to be at the top of the leaderboard.
“I haven’t competed in a Targa West since 2009, and the last tarmac rally I did was about four years ago so I am pleasantly surprised,” said Herridge. “I would have been happy to ease our way into the event so to speak.
“We managed to keep our nose relatively clean despite the combination of conditions, so we’re pleased.
“It was the luck of the draw with the weather. We had one run where we thought we were caught out a bit by the rain - but give and take, everyone was experiencing the same tough conditions. The standing water at night can make it hard to judge the corners.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that there is still lots of rallying to do and lots of different stages and rhythms to come. There’s still another three tough long days to go with lots of fast people who still haven’t come on yet.”
Herridge and Hayes finished the day five seconds ahead of Mike Conacher and Andrew Conacher in a Nissan R35 Skyline GTR. The Top 3 was rounded out by ex-Targa West champion Steve Jones and co-driver Toni Feaver who sit 14 seconds behind the outright leaders in their Subaru WRX STI RA.
Last year’s Classic Competition runner-up Simon Gunson eased into the event this year, finishing seventh quickest on the first timed Wanneroo stage. But Gunson and co-driver Murray Armenti, quickly found their stride to win the next three stages, and finish the day with their Ford Capri Perana leading the classics.
“The conditions were changing at Barbagallo, some had dry runs and some had wetter runs – so it was up in the air a bit,” said Gunson. “Malaga everyone experienced similar conditions because it was wet for most people.
“The Malaga stage is great for the spectators. Our car is 46 years old, so the lights aren’t great on it, even after we’ve upgraded them we have trouble. So we just conserve ourselves in the night stages.
“The car is going well. No major issues, but it was also a short day. We enjoy the Kalamunda stages and do reasonably well there so we’re looking forward to it.”
Gunson is hoping both he and wife Sharon, who is competing in the Modern Challenge category, will both take home wins.
“I won one and then Sharon won last year, so we’re hoping that we both can get on the podium together this year.”
Mark Dobson and Nigel Jones were hot on Gunson and Armenti’s heels in the Triumph TR7 until the last stage of the day, where the leaders were able to widen the gap to 15 seconds Graham Romyn and Neville Wilkinson claim third place in their Holden Torana A9X, with a 34 second gap to the leaders.
History is repeating in the Modern Challenge category, with the battle of the Mitsubishi Evos’ of last year’s winner Sharon Gunson and second-placed George and Kerry Watts carrying on into 2016. Gunson and her navigator Alexandra Wilde lead by 13 seconds. Andy Van Kann and Madelin Kirkhouse sit in third place 37 seconds behind in the only front-wheel drive of the category, a Honda Civic Type-R.
There were plenty of leadership changes in the Classic Challenge between the team of Phil Peak and Sam Hackett in the BMW M3, and husband and wife duo Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann in the Ford Capri Perana. Despite the Lunsmanns posting the category’s quickest times around the Wanneroo stages, Peak and Hackett’s excellent performance in the wet saw them finish with a respectable 24 second lead. Paul Thompson and Vanessa Saunderson hold third place in the Porsche 911RS.
Today the 2016 Quit Targa West competitors head to Whiteman Park for the Go Gear Stages before facing some of the Perth Hill’s iconic roads such as the Zig Zag Scenic Drive and Mundaring Weir Road.
The centre of Kalamunda will turn into a motoring festival, with Haynes Street becoming a service park between the Hills stages. Joining the competition cars on display from 11am will be a variety of Vintage Cars alongside modern day exotics including Lamborghini, Ferrari and AMG's as Kalamunda embrace Quit Targa West. In the afternoon, competitors return to Whiteman Park for two stages.
After the day’s stages are finished, competitors will be in Northbridge for the Northbridge Show ‘n’ Shine vehicle display along James and Lake Streets. Here, the public can see the colourful array of rally vehicles up close from 6pm to 9pm.
The 2016 Quit Targa West runs from August 11 to 14. The 124 competitors will complete in 32 stages and 242 competitive kilometres through Wanneroo, Malaga, Whiteman Park, Kalamunda, Toodyay, Lower Chittering, Bullsbrook, and Perth City.
For more information on 206 Quit Targa West entries, road closures, event program and spectator locations please refer to www.targawest.com.au
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