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In an impressive field of 50 cars that includes five rookies and six electric vehicles, Western Australian tarmac rally drivers are relishing the opportunity to race the clock at the 11th Make Smoking History Targa South West on Saturday 8th August in the spectacular Southern Forests region.
Competitors will travel a total of 249 kilometres which includes 122 kilometres of flat out competition on 17 closed-road Special Stages that each range in distance from 2.9 kilometres to 15.19 kilometres in and around Pemberton and Northcliffe.
Clerk of Course Ross Tapper said that the usual two-day event was compacted to one day initially for COVID-19 reasons.
“Even though the event has been condensed into one day, it’s going to be a big day with almost the same amount of competition distance as previous years,” Tapper said.
“The Pemberton to Northcliffe stage is fast and flowing and held on the scenic roads through the Karri forest, and the town stage in Pemberton will be tight and technical.”
A favourite to take the top step of the Competition Modern class is Mark Greenham with co-driver Steph Esterbauer in their Race Torque Engineering 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Greenham is defending his 2019 and 2018 title ahead of a potential hat trick, all going to plan.
“Targa South West has historically been a very successful event us and we hope to repeat the win again this year,” Greenham said.
“We're just extremely grateful for the opportunity to compete in motorsport here in the West given the COVID-19 challenges faced by our Eastern cousins at the moment.”
You can bet that Axis Hire managing director Mark Cates with co-driver Declan Stafford in their 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS will be hot on the heels of Greenham.
“It’s an exciting prospect to be able to get back behind the wheel again – we can’t wait for Targa South West,” said Cates of Bunbury, who finished third last year.
“We’ve done testing on the tyres and brakes and made some modifications to the suspension, the car is excellent and if it doesn’t rain, we’ll be having a crack for the win.”
Peter Rullo, a regular on the Targa West podium, hasn’t competed in Make Smoking History Targa South West since the first event in 2010.
“The last three or four months have been challenging both personally and professionally, there are lots of people doing it tough, and that’s a big reason why I’m looking forward to getting down to Pemberton,” said Rullo, who’ll be joined by regular co-driver Jimmy Marquet.
“COVID has been a wake up call not to take things for granted, so I’m taking the time do something that I love, get in the car and go racing. A few friends are also coming along, so it will also be a great reason to get away for the weekend to bond with some old mates.
“I’ll be using it as a shakedown opportunity ahead of Targa West in October, nothing too serious, but we’re keen to set ourselves up to have another decent crack at Targa West.”
Rullo’s Land Surveys / Autostrada 2019 Lotus Exige 410 has been upgraded to the new Lotus Exige Targa GT Spec and should arrive from the east coast later this week.
“I’m excited to jump in a race car again after such a long break and hope to have it in time for a test in the coming days before Targa South West starts,” Rullo said.
In the Competition Classic category, last year’s winner Tim Wolfe will be with a new co-driver, Scott Beckwith, in his Dieselcraft 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS.
“After all this hiatus in the COVID world, it’s good to be getting back in the car. Scott is vastly more experienced than me, so I’m looking forward to learning a few things from him,” said the Kalamunda resident.
“We’ll be giving it our best shot to defend my title but as long as we have some fun, that’s the main thing.”
In addition to the Competition Modern and Competition Classic categories, there’s the Targa 130 (speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour) and Targa 165 (speed limit of 165 kilometres per hour, as well as an electric vehicle Targa Tour, which is a spirited drive on the same closed-road stages as competitors racing the clock.
Florian Popp, co-owner of the Gemtek Group, EV Targa Tour Manager and Team Director for EV competitor Jurgen Lunsmann, said that Targa South West is a good opportunity to collect EV data.
“We’ll have a dedicated charging truck for Jurgen and another for the Targa Tour competitors which can charge six cars at once, but they should have plenty of battery life given the speed limitations,” Popp said.
Competing in the Targa 130 category and supported by Western Power, Jurgen Lunsmann will be joined by his wife Helen who’ll call pace notes in their Gemtek Group 2019 Tesla 3 Performance, a stock standard car that has only had seats replaced and a head-restraint harness fitted.
“Normally the Tesla has a range of about 450 kilometres, but during competition, we’re working on a factor of 5-to-1, so about 80 or 90 kilometres before it needs charging,” Popp said.
“As we all become more climate aware and with the trajectory of clean energy, it’s a great opportunity to educate people about electric cars in a fun way.”
Local truffle farmer Al Blakers and co-driver Wayne Deighton is swapping his classic Torana to compete in his Manjimup Truffles 2008 Holden HSV.
Will White, 2017 winner and third place finisher last year will be hoping to repeat his past success in his Dardanup Removals / Store Local 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 with co-driver Matt Thompson.
There’ll also be a 1965 Mustang, 1964 Ford Sprint, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, Porsche 944, Subaru WRX, Lancer Evo, Nissan GTR, 2008 Dodge Viper and plenty of other fast and furious machines.
Cars will start at 30-second intervals and race against the clock with the winner being the car that is fastest over all stages.
“The essence of motorsport is competition, but what sets rallying apart from other codes of motorsport is the camaraderie and sense of community - a group of like-minded car enthusiasts sharing a common experience – a spirited drive in some of the State’s most picturesque areas,” Tapper said.
The Make Smoking History Targa South West fraternity will bring approximately 400 people into Pemberton.
Spectators can watch the rally action from the designated spectator areas – click here for more information and visit ww.targasouthwest.com.au for results.
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