PHOTO: Ash Westwood
The 12th Make Smoking History Targa South West is ready to roar into the Southern Forests region of Western Australia on Saturday 20th March with a strong field of 40 competitors.
Competitors will travel a total of 242 kilometres which includes 117 kilometres of flat-out competition on 15 closed-road Special Stages that each range in distance from 2.9 kilometres to 15.48 kilometres in and around Pemberton and Northcliffe, about 3.5 hours south of Perth.
Clerk of Course Ross Tapper OAM said that last year, due to the pandemic, the Make Smoking History Targa South West was compacted into a one-day event, and was so popular with competitors, crew and officials that the one-day format has remained.
“The condensed format last year made for a long day but it seemed to suit competitors and crews as well as officials,” Tapper said.
“The Pemberton to Northcliffe stage is fast and flowing and held on the scenic roads through the Karri forest, and the town stage in Pemberton will be tight and technical.
Make Smoking History Targa South West will attract approximately 400 people into Pemberton.
“It’s always a great weekend in the Southern Forests, the camaraderie and sense of community of a group of car enthusiasts sharing a common experience of a spirited drive in a picturesque part of the State,” Tapper said.
After finishing Make Smoking History Targa South West in second place last year, and a class fourth place at Targa High Country in last month, Axis Hire managing director Mark Cates will be pushing hard in his 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS to take his maiden victory.
“There’ll be some hot competition with Mark Greenham, David Heaton in a new Porsche and Steve Jones who’s driving one of Heaton’s cars – you know what they say, it always goes faster when it’s not your car,” quipped Cates of Bunbury.
“I have a new co-driver Bernie Webb who’s been helping me and I’m enjoying the drive, I’ve slowed down a little bit and got more technical.
“My strategy will be to drive fast and don’t crash – straight after Targa South West we’re doing a quick service on the car and putting it on a trailer and driving to Adelaide for the rally there, and then onto Targa Tasmania.
“I’m looking forward to the privilege of driving fast on closed country roads that Sir Ross Tapper and the knights of the round table have put together.”
After a disappointing DNF last year, Mark Greenham and co-driver Steph Esterbauer in their Race Torque Engineering 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 will be looking to repeat their success of 2019 and 2018 where they took the top step.
Calling the notes for David Heaton in his 2018 Porsche GT2 RS is one of Australia’s best co-drivers and driver coaches, Steve Glenney.
Heaton said that he engages Glenney once or twice a year.
“Steve will help with the car set up and adjustments after the stages which takes seconds off our time, as well as coaching and he encourages me to take corners at speeds I probably wouldn’t do on my own,” Heaton said.
“I’ve not done any competitive kilometres in this car – it’s been sitting in the garage collecting dust, so I thought I’d get it out for Targa South West.
“I’m looking forward to it and will use the event as a test to get the car set up correctly for Targa West later in the year.”
Steve Jones with co-driver Caleb Ash will be driving a car leased from David Heaton, a 2018 Nissan GTR Nismo.
Will White, 2017 winner and fourth place finisher last year, will be fighting for a podium place in his Dardanup Removals / Store Local 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 with co-driver Matt Thompson.
Local truffle farmer Al Blakers and co-driver Wayne Deighton are set to compete in their Manjimup Truffles 2008 Holden HSV.
There are four categories of competition at the Make Smoking History Targa South West: Competition Modern and Competition Classic, Targa 130 (speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour) and Targa 165 (speed limit of 165 kilometres per hour).
In the Competition Classic, last year’s winner Tim Wolfe and co-driver Scott Beckwith in their 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RS will need a flawless run if they are to finish ahead of four-time Targa West winner Simon Gunson in his 1971 Ford Capri Perana, this time with Murray Armenti as co-driver.
Cars will start at 30-second intervals and race against the clock with the winner being the car that is fastest over all stages.
Spectators can watch the rally action from the designated spectator areas – click here for more information and visit ww.targasouthwest.com.au for results.