Jim Richards vs the rest in Targa West
- 13th August 2012, 10:18am
Richards, the 2007 winner in Western Australia and seven-time Targa Tasmania champion, is returning with long-time co-driver Barry Oliver in their Porsche GT2 RS as the leading East Coast contender for the eighth annual event.
But his quest to lift the trophy after 215 kilometres of competition on Sunday-week will be met by a strong local line-up in the Modern Competition category, including Nissan GT-R35 drivers Peter Rullo and Jean-Paul Van Loenhout.
A total of 79 cars will start Quit Targa West in Competition and speed-restricted Challenge categories for Modern and Classic cars.
It will be a fast-paced event allowing few mistakes.
The popular Go Gear Prologue to decide starting order at 1.15pm next Thursday at the city’s Whiteman Park will be followed just two hours later by the first of 30 special stages on closed public roads, ranging in length from just 2.79 kilometres to 15.06kms.
Richards, who will arrive from his Victorian team base on Monday, says he likes the rally format.
“I’d rather do six eight-kilometre stages than one 80km stage. It makes it more interesting because the gap between cars is always less,” he said.
“What I like about it is that you do some of the stages two or three times, so you have the chance to improve as the rally progresses.
“But you never can tell (what will happen), so we’ll come over and give it a shot and see what happens.”
Richards and Launceston-based Oliver have competed in dozens of rallies together since 1993 with more success than virtually any other crew in the country, so to beat them to victory would be a huge achievement for businessman Peter Rullo and co-driver Simon Iseppi.
The Ascot motor dealer is keener than ever. Gearbox problems in the Nissan all-wheel drive supercar put him out on the final day last year while in second place. But he believes he has the pace to match Richards’ lighter, rear-drive Porsche.
“We’ve done very similar times in the past three or four rallies. It will definitely be close,” Rullo said.
“We’ve also had our share of bad luck, so hopefully now it’s our turn. I’d love to win it; it’s our local event.”
Rullo rates Jon-Paul Van Loenhout as another serious outright contender.
“It was his first year in that car last year and he came sixth. I know he’s been doing a bit of practice, so he should be on the pace.
“I haven’t had any seat time in my car, but hope to get an hour or two on a track next week some time.”
Quit Targa West Clerk of Course Ross Tapper says competition will be fierce across all four categories
“Tolley Challis (Porsche 911) and Paul Moltoni (Porsche 911) are among the favourites in Competition Classic. Tolley did all 19 year years of Rally Australia when it was here and has contested all seven Targa Wests, winning the past two.
“In Challenge Modern, Keith Hawley (Chevrolet Corvette) and Brett Wilkinson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7) should be at the front, while Razvan Vlad will go very well in his Ford Fiesta, which won the Australian Rally Championship two-wheel drive title last year.
“The top three from Challenge Classic in 2011, Bruce Lake (Datsun 240Z), Paul Thompson (Porsche 911) and Martin Eyer (Triumph TR8) are all back to fight it out again this year.”
Quit Targa West will again offer many opportunities for the public to see the cars in action and at rest.
Spectating highlights will include the new 12.22km Malaga stage, which will be run three times on Sunday morning 19 August.
The stage passes through a light industrial area on the Perth outskirts and Mr Tapper predicts many business operators along the course will take an opportunity to host parties at their premises.
Quit Targa West will finish with a dash alongside the Swan River before the podium celebrations in Plain Street, East Perth, at 4pm.
A detailed Spectator Guide, plus entry list, competition itinerary and other information is available on the event website, www.targawest.com.au
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