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Jim Richards faces odds of 80:1 when he returns to defend his Quit Targa West title in the 2013 event starting in Perth next Thursday.

Richards, co-driver Barry Oliver and their Porsche GT2 are one of just two East Coast entries facing 80 of the West's best on the four-day, 203 kilometre competition.

Quit Targa West will have a colourful ceremonial start at 1pm on Friday in Forrest Place in the Perth CBD, before crews tackle three short timed tests at the RAC Driving Centre at the airport from 2pm.

The start has been moved from Friday and brought into the city to allow the public a better chance to see the millions of dollars worth of high-performance and classic cars before competition starts.

The change is part of an upgraded program for the ninth annual event, which sees new stages, some stages run in reverse direction, two service stopovers relocated to the Toodjay main street on Saturday, a new layout for the event-closing Killarnée City of Perth Stage on Riverside Drive on Sunday afternoon, plus a return to the popular Friday night Show 'n' Shine display in Northbridge.

The Complete Portables Malaga Stage, run three times from 9am Sunday, is again expected to be one of the spectating highlights. Up to 9000 people turned out when the stage was run for the first time last year, many at work parties in the forecourts of businesses that line the roads of the industrial estate.

A comprehensive spectator guide including times and locations is available on the event website www.targawest.com.au. All general public spectating is free.

While the challenge of winning a second straight Quit Targa West won't daunt the most successful driver in Australian targa rally history, the focus will be on which West Australian competitors can take the fight to Jim Richards over the series of 31 Special Stage tests to the finish on Sunday afternoon.

The field in Richards' Competition-Modern category includes five all-wheel drive Nissan GT-R35, two other Porsches and two Chevrolet Corvette Z06 coupes all capable of similar top speeds to the all-conquering Porsche GT2.

Nissan driver Peter Rullo has a new car and revamped team ready to try to break the hoodoo that has thwarted his two previous attempts to beat Richards.

A virtual horde of Subaru WRXs and Mitsubishi Lancer Evos – not including the two other podium finishers from 2012 - will be able to exploit their lighter weight and nimble cornering against the bigger GT cars on the many tight stages as the rally progresses through Whiteman Park, the Zig Zag, Kalamunda, Toodyay, Coondle, Timberden, Bullsbrook and Malaga.

Mitsubishi entrants include WA stalwart Tolley Challis, who has stepped up to a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo in the Modern section of the event after winning Competition-Classic last year in  Porsche.

The rally field also features a speed-restricted Challenge category for Classic and Modern cars, with 18 entries expected to put on a spirited display.

Quit Targa West organisers are delighted with the improved quality and quantity of local competitors in this year's event, which they say is a result of a planned development program over the past three years.

"Though we of course welcome all East Coast competitors every year, it's wonderful to see the field packed with locals who have graduated to Quit Targa West level through other events we have organised," organiser (?) Bob Schrader said.

"When East Coast numbers dropped off after the global financial crisis, we introduced a strategy of giving West Australian competitors a chance to get experience in our Killarnée Targa South West event every May and the monthly McRae Motorsport Rallysprint Series during the summer.

"It's worked very well and over recent years has produced around 50 rookie, home-grown crews, many of which will be at the Targa starting line on Thursday."

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