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The first full day of rally action at Quit Targa West, Section 2 of Leg 1, saw competitors race the clock over 65.10 competitive kilometres split into nine stages at Whiteman Park, north of Perth and east in the Perth Hills. The total distance covered was over 266 kilometres, which ended with a Show ‘n’ Shine display in Perth’s nightlife hub, Northbridge. From the picturesque but twisty stages of Whiteman Park, Quit Targa West moved to the Perth Hills around Kalamunda where competitors were challenged with fast, extremely tight and twisty stages including the infamous Zig Zag stage. Kalamunda’s Zig Zag road was once an old railway used to transport timber down the hill to Midland. Now it’s one of Perth’s most iconic roads that creates unique challenges for competitors, many unable to make the first hairpin turn in one motion without ripping on the handbrake. From Kalamunda, competitors returned to Whiteman Park for the day’s final two stages. Competitors are divided into Competition and Challenge categories with classes for Modern and Classic cars in each. The Challenge category is for showroom style or non-roll caged vehicles. Vehicles manufactured earlier than 1985 are classed as Classic and the Modern class for vehicles manufacture from 1986 onwards. There’s also an award for the Quit Targa West Rallye Rookie (first timer). Competition Modern On SS7, the opening stage of the day, Peter Rullo and James Marquet in their 2012 Nissan GTR “kissed a tree”, smashing the passenger window, door and rear left panel. “On one of the early corners of the stage, I lost grip on cold tyres and just touched a tree and bent an arm on the left hand rear suspension. We’re all ok, it’s minor damage and a not a something that’s going to end our rally - it’s just a shame we lost a bit of time,” Rullo said. The bumper of the Nissan GTR was held up with race tape and Rullo’s crew employed further bush mechanic skills using cable ties and gaffer tape to keep the bumper in place at the refuel stop. During the Minor Service in Kalamunda after SS8, his crew swiftly replaced the door, repaired the bent arm and straightened the left rear panel in 30 minutes. The damage to Rullo’s car didn’t affect his times; he finished fastest on stages 10, 11 and 12 and second fastest on stages 13 and 14. Rullo / Marquet finished Leg 1 in third place overall, 59 seconds behind leaders Peter Major and Ben Searcy. Peter Major also had a moment today, clipping the flying finish sign as he went wide on SS8 in his Porsche 996 Turbo, giving co-driver Ben Searcy cause to hold his breath. The experienced racer quickly corrected what could have turned into a serious incident, and finished the stage sans passenger mirror. “The ABS sensor was out so we didn’t have traction control. I pushed a bit too hard trying to make up time and went a bit wide, clipping a sign post - I think I might’ve given Ben a scare!” Major said. Ben Searcy said it was all in a day’s work. “I’ve sat alongside with some pretty eccentric drivers in my time, drivers who shall remain nameless, who think there’s only one speed and that’s flat out. Peter is a great driver and he manoeuvred out of the situation well, but with one wheel in the air, I did think for a second that we were having a moment!” Major / Searcy finished fastest on stages 6, 8, 13 and 14 and completed Leg 1 first overall, leading second place holders Robert Slater and Richard Harbron in their 1999 Porsche GT3 by 57 seconds. In their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, Will White and Matt Thompson finished Leg 1 in fourth place. “Today’s stages were great. The tight, twisty roads suit our car and it’s where we have an advantage over Major and Rullo – their cars have about 150 more horsepower than ours, so I’ve got to play to my strengths,” White said. “I like the Zig Zag stage and successfully got around the first hairpin in one go with the handbrake – we’re having fun!” White / Thompson finished fastest on SS7 and second fastest on SS6. Competition Classic It’s a Ford versus Holden battle in the Competition Classic category. Brothers Mick Bray and Daniel Bray in their 1975 Holden Torana finished Leg 1 with a 7-second lead over current title holder Simon Gunson and Murray Armenti in their 1971 Ford Capri Perana. Bray / Bray finished fasted on stages 7, 11, 13 and 14, while Gunson / Armenti won stages 6, 8 10 and 12. Phil Peak and Sam Hackett won stage 9 in their 1988 BMW M3 and currently sit in third place after Leg 1, 11 seconds behind second placed Gunson / Armenti. With just 18 seconds separating first to third place, it’s still anyone’s game. Gunson said he exercised caution on the notorious Zig Zag stage.
“The Zig Zag is a great stage, but it’s one of those stages where you can lose a rally, but you can’t win a rally and it’s not forgiving if you make a mistake,” Gunson said.
“The car is going quite well, just a couple of little fuel issues with the carburettor. But we’re having a fun battle with the Bray brothers.” Challenge Modern / Classic The Zig Zag SS8 caused a few head aches for the Challenge competitors with the extremely tight hairpin bends. In their 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI, rookies Nick Bailey and Kyle O’Neil lead after Leg 1 by 9 seconds over Sharon Gunson and Helen Lunsmann of GTI Girls Racing in a 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7. Bailey said his goal is to finish Quit Targa West. “I stuffed up the Zig Zag and turned too early. But it’s all part of the experience and I’m enjoying it,” Bailey said. “I hate the Zig Zag!” Sharon Gunson said. “I had to do a three point turn to get around the first hairpin and then stalled it and lost about ten seconds, it was a bit of a nightmare. It’s still early days, so I’m not worried about the time so much,” said the driver of the event’s only all-female team.  
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