The opening of the 2015 Quit Targa West tarmac rally saw the 67 competitive vehicles being waved off in front of a crowd in Forrest Place. From there it was straight down to business for competitors, as they took on the fast, flowing opening stages at Barbagallo Raceway in Wanneroo.
The Wanneroo Special Stages were a new addition to the 2015 Quit Targa West rally. While some competitors said they were initially skeptical about the new course, the combination of both the race circuit and surrounding roads quickly won them over with the variety and challenge it provided.
From there, competitors headed to Malaga to complete two night stages where they were greeted by a large crowd of spectators which had gathered to watch the motorsport action.
It was a very tightly contested start to the Classic Competition category. By the end of the first three stages just a second separated the Ford Capri Perana of Simon Gunson and Jurgen Lunsmann, and the Porsche 911 RS of Paul Moltoni and Lisa White.
“We really enjoyed the Wanneroo stages today, it was a different style of course being partly Targa-style roads and partly track. It was a mixture of everything,” said Gunson.
“The car was only ready two weeks before event, and we’re still getting used to it. Our event is going well so far and we’ve been able to complete every stage which is good.”
By the end of the two Malaga night stages Gunson / Lunsmann and Moltoni / White were locked in equal first.
“It’s been a really good start to the event for us,” said Moltoni.
“The car is behaving nicely so we’re pretty happy. We’ve made some changes by adjusting the front sway bar after Wanneroo to make it a bit softer. We also put more bias into the front brakes at Malaga, and it is paying off.
“There was a second between us and the Perana in Wanneroo, then in the first stage in Malaga they got a second on us, which put us at level pegging. We were both deadheaded in the last stage. So it’s on!
“We made a bit of a mistake on the first stage of Malaga where we forgot to put our spotlights on, this could have cost us some time fumbling around. But, they (Gunson / Lunsmann) may have also made some mistakes, we don’t know.”
Graham Romyn and Neville Wilkinson in the Holden Torana A9X currently sit in third, 36 seconds behind the two leading teams.
After day one, it was a trifecta of Mitsubishi Evos holding the top three positions in the Modern Competition category.
After experiencing a horrendous first stage which was luckily untimed to allow competitors to settle into the four day event, Peter Major and Greg Flood in a Mitsubish Evo 8 managed to quickly turn their luck around, and put themselves ahead of Will White and Matt Thompson’s Mitsubishi Evo 9 by 12 seconds.
“The first stage couldn’t have gone any worse. We had the gear cable just pop off, I didn’t turn the diffs on and we had no brakes. It was horrendous, thankfully it wasn’t timed. I switched my rally brain on after that,” said Major.
White says he has his eye on the long game, hoping to beat his 5th overall result in 2014.
“If we continue to be in the top five, we’ll be happy. It’s a long way to go until Sunday, and we’re all just in the process of jostling for position now,” said White.
“The car feels good and fast. We feel like we’ve settled into a rhythm and hopefully that continues.
“At the moment, we have a different strategy to the majority of competitors - we are running a full set of medium tyres, while most are running soft tyres. It’s a gamble, but hopefully one that plays to our favour.”
Rounding out the top three in the Modern Competition category is Brett Wilkinson and Matthew Edgar in Mitsubishi Evo 9, who are only 16 seconds behind the leader.
Leading the Modern Challenge category after the first day was Adrian Stefan and Alan Matthewson in the BMW 335i. Only six seconds behind them is the only all-lady team entered in the 2015 Quit Targa West, Sharon Gunson and Helen Lunsmann.
In the Classic Challenge category, Martin Eyer and Ben Russell’s Triumph TR8 claimed victory in all four stages of the day, putting them 12 seconds ahead of Paul Thompson and Vanessa Saunderson’s Porsche 911 RS.
Tomorrow morning, the 2015 Quit Targa West competitors will head to Whiteman Park for the Go Gear Stages before facing some of the Perth Hill’s iconic roads such as the Zig Zag Scenic Drive and Mundaring Weir Road. In the afternoon, they will return to Whiteman Park for two stages.
After the day’s stages are finished, competitors will be in Northbridge for the Northbridge Show ‘n’ Shine vehicle display along James and Lake Streets. Here, the public can see the colourful array of rally vehicles up close from 6pm to 9pm.
The 2015 Quit Targa West runs from August 13 to 16. The 134 competitors, including Bathurst legend Jim Richards and his co-driver Barry Oliver, will complete in 34 stages and 250 competitive kilometres through Wanneroo, Malaga, Whiteman Park, Kalamunda, Toodyay, Lower Chittering, Bullsbrook, and Perth City.
For more information on 2015 Quit Targa West results, road closures, event program and spectator locations please refer to www.targawest.com.au.
The 2015 Quit Targa West is proudly sponsored by Healthway and the Quit message.
Full results can be viewed live at http://www.rallyresults.com.au/targawest/2015/