The Targa West tarmac rally has been run 14 times and it has taken Peter Rullo and co-driver James Marquetit 10 attempts to win.
They ran second to multiple previous winner Peter Major last year, but in previous attempts Rullo’s Nissan R35 GT-R usually recorded DNFs after its dashboard did impersonation of a Christmas tree as it signalled the termination of its stirring performance.
So this year Rullo leased Major’s Porsche 996 Turbo and went on to win — but by only a narrow margin.
At the start of the final stage of the four-day event held in Perth and surrounds, Rullo and Marquet had lead of 1:14 minutes from Will White and Matt Thompson in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
But the White/Thompson combo won the first five of the day’s six stages to close the gap to just 51 seconds.
“It’s one of those things,” White said.
“We lost 50 seconds on the second day when we blew an intercooler hose and I got some speed penalties which put us behind.
“We put up a good fight but just couldn’t get there.
“The Mitsubishi has done us proud, I’m stoked,” he said.
The 10-year Targa West veterans were fighting nerves during the day and drove at a steady pace, which paid dividends.
“This has been 10 years in the making and I couldn’t be happier, I’m ecstatic!” Rullo said.
Finishing in third place was Mark Greenham and Stephanie Esterbauer in their 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 9, 2:58 minutes behind White/Thompson and 3:48 behind Rullo/Marquet.
They lost their turbo early on in Day 1, but after it was replaced the duo put in consistent good performances to take the final step on the podium.
“Given the issues we started with, it’s a brilliant result,” Greenham said.
“We started today with big gap on either side of us, so there was no point pushing or doing anything crazy. Finishing third is amazing.”
Crowd favourite on the city stages was the 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 of Chris Caruso and Alex White, who put on their customary smoke and thunder display.
In the Competition Classic class Mark Dobson and Nigel Jones in their 1975 Triumph TR7 V8 won from Simon and Susannah Lingford in their 1973 Datsun 240Z — which the Lingford’s drove to a class win 18 years ago in the London to Sydney Marathon.
Classic Challenge winners were Kirk Beardwood and Nives McGavin in their 1985 BMW E30 over Bruce Lake and Peter Hall in their 1971 Datsun 240Z – by just 11 seconds.
Modern Challenge went to Nick Mitic and Geoff Duckworth in their Lotus Elise from John and Kevin Ellement in a Porsche 911.
Third came rookies Michael Brandt and Rachael Ferrante in their 2002 Mazda RX7 and fourth was husband and wife team Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann in a 2011 Tesla Roadster.
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