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Western Australia delivered warm sunny spring weather for Day 2 of the 16th Make Smoking History Targa West which took to the streets of Parkerville, Mundaring and Kalamunda, including the Zig Zag today.
Today was Section 2 of Leg 1, consisting of eight stages, 76.56 competitive kilometres and a total distance of 264 kilometres.
The day began at Mundaring Christian College where the Bush Cadet students donned high vis vests to join officials to help set up stages. The school newspaper students interviewed, photographed and filmed drivers before they set off, and the canteen put on a special morning tea to keep everyone caffeinated and fed. The day ended with rally cars in Northbridge for the Show and Shine along James Street and Lake Street.
Mark Greenham and Steph Esterbauer in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 started the day 22 second ahead of nearest rival Peter Rullo and Jimmy Marquet in their 2019 SSC Lotus Exige Targa GT and were doing all they could to maintain their lead.
At the day’s halfway mark, Rullo / Marquet made up enough time during the first four stages to be equal first with Greenham / Esterbauer. The battle was on and Rullo / Marquet were able to pull away in the day’s last three stages to finish 12 seconds in front.
“We’re running our own race,” said Rullo. “There’s still a long way to go.”
Greenham said that he’s been going flat out.
“It feels good to be fighting for the lead. Yesterday’s stages suited us, and the car has been faultless. We expected the Lotus to catch us, but we’ll keep doing our own thing and having a crack - we’re having a ball,” said Greenham.
There’s a little gap between the two front runners and the rest of the pack and the day ended with a tie for third place between Brett Morse and Rodney Ng in their BMW M2 Competition and husband and wife team Jeffery and Catherine Foster in their 2019 Porsche GT3 RS, a further 2:03 minutes behind Greenham.
Will White and Matt Thompson blew the engine of their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 just a week before Targa West and yesterday were plagued with fuel regulator issues which have resolved. They finished Day 2 in fifth place 11 second behind the equal third-place holders.
In the mid-pack there’s some healthy competition going on with bragging rights on the table (and possibly $50 according to sources) on who finishes fastest.
In contention (and possibly the instigator) is David Heaton and Caleb Ash in their 2018 Nissan GTR R35 who are currently in sixth place, just 8 seconds behind White / Thompson.
Also vying for bragging rights is John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver who yesterday showed promise in their leased 2004 Porsche 996 Turbo but today had issues with a slipping clutch, losing time and dropping down the leaderboard to ninth place, 3:55 minutes behind first place.
No longer in contention in the mid-pack rivalry and adding to the retirements list is Bill and Gleyns Stagoll their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 who were showing good pace earlier on before suffering a mechanical issue.
Mark Cates and Declan Stafford who retired last night after hitting a kerb in Ellenbrook breaking a strut housing in their 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 RS will rejoin the rally as an invitational competitor in Cate’s 1977 Holden Torana LXSS V8.
In the Competition Classic (pre 1986), Simon Gunson with rookie co-driver Peter Morley continued to set a blistering pace in his 1971 Ford Capri Perana, again taking a clean sweep to win all stages two days in a row to increase his lead to 2:36 minutes. Gunson / Morley have won 15 stages straight.
Gunson was all smiles in the Kalamunda Service Park today.
“It’s been very good so far. We’ve got to the stages that we enjoy and the car is beautifully balanced,” Gunson said.
Co-driver Morley said today was awesome.
“Now we’re doing real stages, I’m loving it and we’re having so much fun. I can’t wait until Toodyay tomorrow,” Morley said.
Finishing the day in second place was Tim Wolfe and Scott Beckwith in a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS and jumping up the leaderboard to third today was Kim Stewart and Frank Zanotti in their 1965 Ford Mustang, 2:27 minutes behind Wolfe / Beckwith.
Targa 165 and Targa 130
The Targa 165 category that restricts drivers to 165 kilometres per hour, rookies Ben Pang and co-drive Brandon Chin in their 1999 Honda Civic have increased their lead to be 6:01 minutes ahead of Nick Rahimtulla and Lisa White in their 1973 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV 105.
The Targa 130 category restricts drivers to 130 kilometres per hour and it was again soft but speedy electric Telsa 3 Performance+ car of Jurgen and Helen Lunssman that finished on top, increasing their overall lead to 4:47 minutes ahead of David and Anna Hodges in their 2013 Holden VF SSV.
Tomorrow – Leg 2, Day 3
Tomorrow is the marathon day at Targa West with competitors heading out to Toodyay, Chittering and Bullsbrook for 14 stages, 129.2 competitive kilometres that includes the two longest stages of the rally, Maryville Downs at 19.68 kilometres, that’s run twice. Competitors will cover 461 kilometres in 12-hour day.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is expected to reach 30 degrees and Sunday’s prediction is for 34 degrees, which could create new challenges for competitors.
Usually run in winter in August and deferred to October due to COVID, the warm weather meant crews at Make Smoking History Targa West had to pay close attention to tyre pressure, particularly those running the soft tyres, which be at risk as the weather heats up. Each car is permitted six types during the four-day event.
Competitors start at 30-second intervals, with the winner being the fastest over all 36 stages, a total of 268 competitive kilometres, across four days.
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