Mixed results for ARC crews at Targa West

The 2021 Make Smoking History Targa West has been run and won as Peter Rullo and Jimmy Marquet secured an inspiring victory of almost two minutes.

With 270 competitive kilometres run over 37 special stages across four days of tarmac rally action, there was plenty of action for competitors and fans alike to enjoy.

Featuring in the event were several familiar RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) names in both the driver and co-driver seats.

Finishing the weekend in the highest position was 2018 ARC runner-up and Rally Australia winner Steve Glenney, who was co-driving for David Heaton.

Photo: Image1265

Behind the wheel of Heaton’s 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS, the duo earned themselves an outright podium, Heaton’s highest ever finish, courtesy of their final day performance, which included three stage wins.

Further down the standings was ARC regular pairing John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver, who did an immense job to recover a tough opening day and finish firmly inside the top 10.

Finishing day one in equal 14th position, O’Dowd bounced back over the next two days to collect a haul of top 10s and move up to ninth of the outright standings.

Driving a Porsche 911 GT3 instead of his regular Skoda Fabia R5, O’Dowd’s best run came on the final day where he posted times inside the top five in all of the final five stages, including multiple top threes.

Eventually the duo finished the event comfortably in eighth place, two minutes ahead of the next best placed crew in Doug and Aaron Stevenson.

Photo: Image 1265

ARC junior Max McRae didn’t have the tarmac rally debut he would have hoped for after retiring at the end of his first day of competition.

Taking part in the 2Day Rallye category alongside co-driver Murray Hynes, the 17-year-old was campaigning the same DirtFish-backed Ford Fiesta Rally4 he drove to a maiden class podium at the Accent Benchtop Rally Queensland earlier this year.

Unfortunately the Fiesta had gearbox issues towards the end of the opening day and he was forced to retire from the event after six stages.

With his only recent experience on tarmac coming from competing in the Arise Racing Radical one-make series, McRae still enjoyed his debut and took plenty of learnings away.

“It was definitely positive to come and do this event,” McRae said.

“The racing I’ve done with the Radical helped me to know a little bit of what to expect, but Targa was a really good experience. It’s just a real shame not to get to drive on the second day and learn a bit more.

Photo: CMR Photographic

“I noticed a noise when we were running in third and it was pretty clear there was a chip on the gear. There were quite a few virtual chicanes where we had to break hard, come down the ’box then power back away. It put a fair bit of stress through the gearbox.

“As soon as I heard the noise I pulled over. It was starting to sound pretty ugly. And expensive.

“It’s disappointing, but I’ve genuinely learned lots about driving on asphalt and the way pace notes work differently on Tarmac to gravel. It’s been a great experience.”