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The 2006 QUIT Targa West will, unfortunately, be forever remembered as the rally where Peter Brock drove his last event and for the tragic accident that occurred on day one of WA’s premier tarmac rally.

This was a very sad day for motorsport and for Australia as a whole, and something that touched and saddened not only everybody involved with the event, but also people from all walks of life world-wide.

With the day 1 schedule cancelled following the accident, drivers were recalled to the Burswood Complex Rally HQ where it was announced late in the afternoon that after consultation with the family, competitors, officials and all involved with the event, that the unanimous decision was for the planned Friday night Northbridge display to continue and for the rally to restart on the Saturday morning.

With the news of the day’s events being broadcast globally the crowds came out in force to pay their respects as well as to admire the cars and to talk to the drivers and teams along the James Street café strip. A 1 minute silence was also observed by all at 8pm as a mark of respect for Peter Brock.

Saturday morning saw the day break with the sun shining and the temperature rising and aside from the factory entered cars of Subaru, Mitsubishi and MINI withdrawing following the Friday tradegy, all other entrants turned up to take to the roads again to pay their respects to a great racing driver and a great man in the most fitting way possible; by continuing to compete in his memory.

Whilst people started the day with heavy hearts, as it unfolded and the first stages were completed in the beautiful countryside and surrounds of Chittering and Toodyay, the atmosphere lifted and a fantastic day’s rallying was enjoyed by all.

The crowds were out in force along all the stages of the rally and the Tiwest Service Park in Bindoon was also the centre for a host of other entertainment and family activities with music, food, refreshments and entertainment for the kids making it the perfect stop for a family day out.

The significance of the day was not lost on anyone, and when the RAAF Flypast at midday saw the planes perform a ‘missing man’ tribute, with one of the four planes peeling off and flying vertically into the crowds in the time honoured fashion as a show of respect for a fallen comrade, people knew that they were part of something very special.

The rally action was sensational with the field of over 70 remaining competing cars including everything from the spectacular and ever sideways Monaro of Victorian Steve Coad, through to the beautiful gas powered Cobra replica of Bruce Hawley. There were also numerous Porsches, Mitsubishis, Subarus and a host of varied and exotic cars providing something for everyone, whatever their preferred choice!

One car that not only looked spectacular but also sounded as much was the V10 Lamborghini Gallardo of Kevin Weeks from South Australia, which could be heard long before it came into sight!

Saturday night saw the competitors return to Burswood before again heading out to the Shires on Sunday for the final day’s rallying. Throughout day three the competition proved intense with the top contenders in each of the categories trading times over the various stages as they battled for victory in their respective classes, providing the crowds with some fantastic entertainment throughout the course of the day.

By the day’s end though the scores had been settled and as the cars returned to Burswood the medals were presented to the various winners in front of an enthusiastic and hugely supportive crowd. The modern Competition category saw ‘evergreen’ WA competitor Ross Dunkerton defend his crown, having won this category in last year’s inaugural event, by driving his Mitsubishi Evo IX to a magnificent first place, beating off stiff competition from Paul Blackie from Victoria in a Porsche 911 Turbo with a finishing margin of just 16 seconds!

In the Classic Competition Category, another local WA entrant, Kevin Clifton, drove a fabulous event to take victory in his 1974 Porsche 911 3.0 RS by just over a minute from last year’s champion, Steve Coad, in the 1972 Holden Monaro GTS350.

In the Challenge Category of the event for standard production vehicles, the Modern trophy was won by Mark O’Kane in his Subaru STi, whilst the Classic one went to Peter Connaughton in his beautifully prepared 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV.

Sunday evening saw all the competitors and selected guests attend the formal presentation dinner at the Burswood Ballroom for what was a moving but very fitting end to an event that none of them will ever forget.

The first part of the evening saw everyone pay their respects to Peter Brock and the standing ovation of the night went to Mick Hone, Peter’s co-driver, who attended the dinner straight from hospital and took to the stage, discarding his crutches, to share his thoughts with the assembled guests.

Following his speech and the observation of a moment’s silence and the singing of the National Anthem, the evening then moved on as everyone looked to celebrate the life of a great man and to recognise and award the trophies to the winners of this significant and poignant event.

Over the coming weeks and months the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) and the authorities will continue their investigations into the tragic accident and will release further news as appropriate; however what must also be remembered is that the 2006 QUIT Targa West produced another fantastic top class event and one that will doubtless go on to to become a classic in future years as competitors return to pay their respects by competing again in what has now become, by default, such a significant event in the annual motorsport calendar.  

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