Targa Adelaide – Bringing it home in one piece

The fourth and final day of Targa Adelaide was a short one – only three stages in the morning – but that was no reason to become complacent because two of the three tests were arguably some of the most challenging stages in the event. The day would begin with a blast up Gorge Road, before the extremely tight, twisty and technical Basket Range stage and would finish with a fast sprint from Echunga to Macclesfield. The last stage of the event was planned to be Clarendon, however it was cancelled as a mark of respect to Adam Plate, who tragically died on Friday while competing on the same piece of road.

In what was becoming a groundhog day-esque routine, our morning once again started at the Wayville showgrounds. Carny folk were beginning to bump in for the Royal Adelaide Show in a few weeks time, and by the looks of things this large waisted clown was quite happy to see us.

It was a bit of a shame that Sunday was so short because we were really starting to get into the swing of things. We had a blistering run up Gorge Road, catching and passing an Evo 9 by the halfway point, but it was our run through Basket Range that stands out in my mind. Everything was as close to perfect as it could be, and the feeling of our speed as the notes were perfectly in sync with Guy’s driving is something that will stay with me for a very long time. It was the first time I’ve properly competed on Basket Range, and it was the highlight of the rally for me.

We had a little bit too much fun on Basket Range though, and the transport immediately after it revealed a clunking noise from the rear of the car. We arranged for our service crew to meet us just before the start of the events final stage, Echunga, to have a look. They confirmed out suspicions of a broken upper control arm, which I think may have broken when the car got light through an ‘8R Bridge 7L50 3R’ and landed a little sideways. The lateral load broke the arm at the weld.

Given that we had achieved the trophy times for the whole rally and were on track to receive Targa plates, we made the decision to carry on and hope it lasted the final stage without breaking the other side control arm.

For me it was a tense few minutes as I prayed that the remaining control arm would hold, and we both gave a loud cheer as we crossed the finish line well inside the trophy time.

The transport immediately after the final stage of the event is always a great place to be. Everybody stops to remove their helmets, and there’s an electric atmosphere as competitors congratulate each other and finally begin to relax. Some are looking forward to class wins and some are just happy to have finished, but everybody is in a good mood.

I always enjoy the final transport back to the podium celebrations, and this time we stopped for a quick photo with our brilliant service crew.

And sure, at our end of the field there aren’t that many people to watch us finish, but that doesn’t matter. It still felt great to arrive at the Chinatown gates after 5 challenging days of rallying.

But at the end of the day we’d accomplished both of our goals; to be reasonably competitive, and to get one of these finishers medals. We finished the event 15th in Classic Outright and 8th in Late Classic Handicap.

While *media tart* Woody was busy with the TV crews…

… we shared a beer with our service crew…

… and a few other interlopers that passed by.

And of course, the all important team photo. L-R: Mick Bridges, James Wiltshire, Adam Savis (above), Zac Souri, Guy Standen, Andrew Coles, Carl Seaver, Mike Coles and Graham Standen. Thanks for your brilliant help, guys!

And the WRC style shot with Guy Standen (left) and myself.

But the best thing all afternoon was that the Escort of Glenn Dean and Damian Reed made it across the finish line! They don’t look too perky because in this photo most of the crew are running on less than an hour’s sleep in the past 36.

After building the car up in less than 8 weeks and only making scruitineering with an hour to spare, the Escort performed faultlessly, right up until it lunched an engine on Saturday afternoon. The boys managed to track down a $200 spare engine, and began the all-night process of swapping it over. Only god knows at what hour this photo was taken!

But suffice to say, after a full night’s worth of sugar, coffee and Red Bull, the guys had a fully functioning rally car by just after sunrise.

I think the new team name should definitely stick.

The outright placegetters were led across the finish line by the oldest car in the field, this Holden 48-215 that’s set to compete in the historic Monte Carlo Rally early next year.

Despite changing two gearboxes, third place outright went to the R35 GTR of West Australian’s Peter Rullo and Simon Iseppi.

Second place was earned by Queenslander Tony Quinn and local Adelaide navigator Naomi Tillett in another R35 GTR.

Tasmanian’s Jason and John White once again won the top step of the podium, driving their Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale.

Jason and John are some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and the fact that they’ve won the last four Targa events driving arguably the most desirable car in the field hasn’t gone to their heads.

They’re just a couple of knockabout country lads who enjoy a beer while being interviewed on TV.

Stevo was back for more onesie action…

… until he ran into some trouble with some rather dodgy looking cops,

at which point Andrew Challen stole my camera and took a bad photo of me for a change. I guess I had it coming, and fair’s fair so I’ve posted it all the same!

And once the sun had set and we’d changed out of our dirty race suits, Targa week ended with the presentation dinner at the Intercontinental.

The minor motorshow out the front gave away that it was a Targa event.

And down toward North Terrace, away from the limelight, there was parked an old Mercedes van towing…

…. oh, just the rally winning Gallardo. Ratty trailer and all. Brilliant.

The MP4-12C looks so evil yet so restrained at the same time.

Proton factory APRC co-driver Vivek Ponnusamy was co-driving for Rob Black in his gorgeous Porsche 911S, and when receiving his trophy fought his way to the lectern to follow up on his speech at last years presentation dinner. I think an address from Vivek may fast be becoming an annual occurrence at the presentation dinner.

When accepting his first place trophy, Jason White made a moving speech about what tarmac rally means to him and how genuinely privileged he feels to be in the lucky position he’s in. I got the picture that even if he couldn’t rally the Lamborghini, he’d be just as happy belting around in a Datsun.

The big news as far as car 529 is concerned is that Guy got his gold Targa Trophy. Each stage has what’s called a trophy time, which is the maximum allowable time to do the stage in. It’s not breakneck fast, but it’s not slow either – for example the Trophy Time on the Echunga stage required you to average at least 95km/h. If you travel every stage of the event faster than the trophy time, you receive a Targa Trophy, which is an inscribed pewter plate. Achieve two consecutive Targa Trophies in consecutive Targa Adelaide events, and your third consecutive trophy will be a gold one. So for Guy to receive his gold trophy, it means he’s completed every single stage of the past three Targa Adelaide events in under the trophy time. It’s quite an accomplishment, because a single accident or mechanical breakdown will mean you won’t achieve the trophy time, and must start again from scratch. Congratulations, Guy!

Andrew Challen also received his gold Targa Trophy, and was a little bit happy about it!

And the midnight taxi ride home signalled the end of Targa Adelaide for 2012. I had Monday morning breakfast on my Targa plate (that’s right, I actually went through with it!) as a way of trying to help going to work with a pretty epic case of the post rally blues, but it didn’t really work. It’s always tough – you work towards an event like Targa for months beforehand, live an incredible experience for the five days of the event and then all of a sudden, you’re back at work wondering if it all was just a dream.

So what’s in store for the future? Well, nothing at this stage. But I am eligible for my gold Targa Trophy next year….


1. Jason White / John White, 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo, 22m24s
2. Tony Quinn / Naomi Tillett, 2011 Nissan GT-R, +25s
3. Peter Rullo / Simon Iseppi 2012 Nissan GT-R, +3m30s
4. Andrew Burnard / Tim Magarch, 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, +9m07s
5. Peter Leemhius / Ben Fitzsimons, 2008 Nissan GT-R, +11m50s

1. Craig Haysman / Neil Branum, 1981 Triumph TR7 V8, 34m11s
2. Nick Streckeisen / Mike Dale, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo, +1m15s
3. Roger Paterson / Paul Whatnell, 1974 Porsche 911 RS, +1m43s
4. Barry Faux / Therezia Mihajlovic, 1979 Mazda RX7, +1m50s
5. Donn Todd / Dean Tighe, 1971 Ford Capri Perana, +2m31s

1. Bill Brentzell / Karien Heimsohn, 1965 Shelby GT350, 31m21s
2. Rob Black / Vivek Ponnusamy, 1971 Porsche 911 S, +3m53s
3. Andrew Bryson / Craig Milich, 1964 Hillman Imp Rallye, +4m02s
4. Donn Todd / Dean Tighe, 1971 Ford Capri Perana, +4m11s
3. Richard Woodward / Neil Gibson, 1969 Holden Monaro GTS, +4m21s

1. Nick Streckeisen / Mike Dale, 1985 Porsche 944 Turbo, 28m39s
2. Barry Faux / Therezia Mihajlovic, 1979 Mazda RX7, +35s
3. Bruce Power / Ray Baker, 1979 Mazda RX7, +59s
4. Roger Paterson / Paul Whatnell, 1974 Porsche 911 RS, +2m24s
5. Craig Haysman / Neil Branum, 1981 Triumph TR7 V8, +2m28s

1. Tim Possingham / Ben Scott, 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R, 30m21s
2. Adam Kaplan / David Kaplan, 1988 Holden Commodore HSV, +5m37s
3. Andre Lukasz / Adam Tillett, 1994 Nissan 200 SX, +5m44s
4. Andrew Booker / Chris Edmonson, 1990 Nissan 180 SX, +8m47s
5. Richard Perini / Chris Perini, 2000 Porsche 911 GT3, +9m31s

1. Greg Burrowes / Rhonda Burrowes, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, 38m20s
2. Michael Flood / Nathan Green, 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, +2m15s
4. Allan Mair / Michelle Mair, 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, +9m51s

1. Glyn Crimp / Paul van der Mey, 2010 Ford Focus RS, 45m32s

1. Neill Ford / Nathalie Ford, 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, 41m51s

1. John Goodall / Graham Palich, 2009 Porsche Cayman, 308 points
2. Richard Davis / Bill Best, 2008 HSV W427, 366 points
3. Graeme Lowe / Gordon Elley, 1983 Porsche 911, Turbo

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  1. Domenic Romeo August 28, 2012 Reply

    totally awesome! thanks for blogging all this

    • Andrew Coles August 28, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Domenic, glad you enjoyed it!

    • Glenn Dean - Car 502 August 28, 2012 Reply

      An excellent blog mate. Really enjoyed it. The little Escort performed so well as did the whole crew. I think we really surprised ourselves and cannot wait to have another crack next year!!

      • Andrew Coles August 29, 2012 Reply

        Thanks Glenn, I'm just glad you guys made it to the finish!

  2. Tom Gilbert August 28, 2012 Reply

    Well done Andrew. Not only did you prepare, co-drive and complete a pretty tough rally under extreme conditions, you also wrote and photographed the whole event. Well done, it is a credit to you. Great coverage of the whole event.

  3. Tom Gilbert August 28, 2012 Reply

    Oh yeah thats right, you also posted some blistering times in the little Fiat. You were being VERY modest! Great job..

    • Andrew Coles August 29, 2012 Reply

      Thanks mate, we had a ball! And yes, after co-driving, photographing and blogging it was a fairly hectic few days. Btw, I loved Tom's Torque this week, so true. According to the media, everyone is against rallying. But I think the 23,000 people at Wayville that night might have a different opinion!

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