Today (Sunday 18th September) was the third and final instalment of 2022 Make Smoking History Targa West, the Make Smoking History Targa Malaga Sprint.
The fast 6-kilometre course on the closed roads in Malaga’s industrial area in Perth has always been a firm favourite for driver and spectators.
Shortened this year to meet rallysprint regulations and to avoid the newly built BP service station, 70 drivers raced the clock along the street circuit four times.
Troy Wilson took the outright win convincingly, in his 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 with co-driver Frank Guildea, leading from start to finish, already 8 seconds ahead after the first run.
First-time competitors in Malaga, Wilson / Guildea finished all four runs 24 seconds ahead of Matt Cherry and co-driver Cade Bell in their highly modified 1982 Toyota Starlet. Third place went to Cody Harris and Morgan Ward in their 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 MR who finished 2.5 seconds behind Cherry / Bell.
The ex-West Coast Eagle AFL footballer won the first two rallies in the Make Smoking History Targa West series, namely, the Midland Toyota Targa Ellenbrook Sprint and The City of Perth Targa Rallysprint, both held last weekend.
Sitting on a hat trick ahead of the Make Smoking History Targa Malaga Sprint, Wilson said he didn’t know what to expect.
“Being rally, it’s different to any other type of motorsport, as in there’s no practice, you don’t get to drive on the stage beforehand at speed, so it’s tricky to balance how fast to go - there’s no concept or idea of braking points, grip level, or speeds to carry through corners. You don’t know those things without any practice, and I love that challenge,” Wilson said.
“There were a lot of fast cars there today, a few more big hitters, but I had a little bit of luck on my side, I managed to get through four clean runs which gave me good times.
“The crowds were awesome, it was so good to see so many people out and about.
“I told Ross [Tapper, Event Director] that next year we should make Malaga a full day rather a half day, eight runs instead of four, which would make it even better,” said Wilson, who has his sights set on the GT Fabrication Targa Bunbury Sprint held 12th and 13th November.
“After today, I can say that Bunbury is my second favourite rallysprint, I really, really like Malaga, it’s got more speed than Bunbury, we had a great day,” said Wilson.
“It’s not bad for a 1982 Toyota Starlet!” Cherry quipped, who also took a class win in the Open Rallyspint 2WD 2000cc and over.
“It’s always surprising to do well in such great company among some heavy hitters, and always good to mix it up at the front of the pack,” said Cherry, a self-employed electrician from Duncraig.
“I held back a bit on the first two runs – I haven’t raced in a year and the boys did some mods on the car.
“The car was unreal, Racing Dynamics do an amazing job – I had the boss Cade Bell next to me calling notes, I’ve known him for 20 years from go-karting days, and besides Bunbury, this was the first time listening to notes for me, so it’s a big learning curve,” said Cherry.
Cherry said that some teething issues with the car prevented him from competing in the Ellenbrook and the City rallysprints last weekend.
It was the first time Cody Harris has tackled the timed street circuit in Malaga only to finish third outright.
“Malaga was really fast, some of the fastest driving I’ve done in this car, I had a lot of fun,” said Harris of Caversham.
“It’s new to me, I’m still learning and figuring things out and hopefully I’ll get a lot quicker later in the year.”
Harris was running in second place at the Targa Bunbury Sprint last year when a fuel pump failure forced him to retire.
“Redemption in Bunbury – that’s what I’m going for!” said Harris.
Bunbury resident Mark Cates finished fourth outright in his 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS with co-driver Pete Davies, also winning the Targa Cup Outright Driver class and Targa Cup 2WD 2000cc and over.
“Malaga is always fun, there’s some distance, there’s speed, it’s technical, and today it ran like clockwork, the organisers did a magnificent job,” said Cates.
“We had a good day out, I was super consistent, within half a second in every run.
“There were good crowds, and at one stage, we came around a corner sideways and saw the crowd roar, it looked good, that’s fun,” said Cates.
Cates will miss his hometown rally, the GT Fabrication Targa Bunbury Rallysprint in November to “have a red-hot crack” at the Street Car Record in Bathurst.
Finishing 8 seconds behind Cates / Davies rounding out the top five was Daniel Gonzalez and co-driver Caleb Ash in their 1999 Porsche 911 GT3.
It was an unfortunate day for Peter Rullo and co-driver Jimmy Marquet in their 2020 SSC Lotus Exige GT when two rear left tyres delaminated, forcing them to retire after the second run.
Event Director Ross Tapper said that it was a terrific day of street rally competition.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and I’d like to thank all the businesses in Malaga for allowing us to run the rally here,” Tapper said.
“The weather was perfect, thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch all the motorsport action, and importantly, everyone who started the rally finished safely. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Next: GT Fabrication Targa Bunbury Sprint, 12th – 13th November
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