GT Fabrication Targa Bunbury Sprint: Front runners in close competition to the finish

Local motor sport fans young and old turned out en masse at Bunbury’s Halifax light industrial area to cheer on the 90 tarmac rally vehicles competing in the GT Fabrication Targa Bunbury Sprint on the weekend.

In the first half of the event, Troy Wilson and co-driver Willie Thompson quickly established themselves as the fastest team around the 4km course, managing to complete it four seconds faster than any other team. Wilson and Thompson’s luck changed in the afternoon, when they had to withdraw from the event on the fifth stage due to mechanical issues with their Mitsubishi Evo X.

It was then a battle between Matt O’Neill and co-driver Mandy Lister in a Subaru WRX STI, and Quit Targa Cup frontrunners Will White and co-driver Matthew Thompson in the Store Local Mitsubishi Evo IX.

Both teams ran consistently, and on most stages there was less than a second between their times. However, White says he wasn’t paying his usual level of attention to the leader board, and that may have been a factor that cost him the podium.

“Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realise that Matt O’Neil was so close when I rolled out of the start on the fifth run,” White said. “I was just taking it a bit easier and not going too hard because I was thinking all we’ve got to do is just finish it now, all good. Then my co-driver went ‘oh crikey, Matt O’Neil is closer than I thought!’ We then upped our game and went even with Matt on the next three runs. I think he chinked me on that fifth run because I was in ‘Miss Daisy mode’.”

O’Neill and Lister completed all eight stages in 20:23.38, to win the event outright and secure a class win. The GT Fabrication Targa Bunbury Sprint was the first event for O’Neill after a two year break from motor sport.

“I haven’t driven competitively since Targa West 2015,”O’Neill said. “Considering the field, and being a bit rusty I was aiming for the Top 10, but to win it exceeded my expectations and was a nice surprise.

“The course was really good. There was a bit of everything for everyone in there – with tight twisty parts and wide open fast parts. It is quite an interesting course.

“I didn’t do the Bunbury Sprint last year, so I was a bit excited to do it this year. There’s limited motor sport opportunities around WA at the moment and everything feels quite repetitive, to do something new and different was refreshing.

“The way the event was structured gave competitors a chance to spectate and mingle with the crowd in between runs. There was lots of people out, and the event was well received.”

White and Thompson completed the event in a time of 20:25.91, earning them second outright, a class win, and more valuable Quit Targa Cup points. White says overall the event was a fantastic experience for the Store Local team.

“We had an absolute blast. Matty called some good notes again and we got some more Targa Cup points which is what we’re after.

“The General Manager from our sponsor Store Local attended the event and was impressed by the community spirit between the competitors. It’s not all about sheep stations – when we are all in the pits, we’re all having a laugh, a joke and a chat. We’re all friends – it’s all said and done on the clock.

“There was a fantastic turnout of people. I couldn’t believe how many people were there in the morning until lunchtime – it was just huge! It is wonderful to see so many families in the grandstands just enjoying the day.”

Third outright was claimed by experienced Targa competitors Peter Rullo and co-driver Jimmy Marquet. They completed the event in their Nissan R35 GTR with a time of 20:44.54, which also awarded them a class win.

Competitors in the Quit Targa Cup series now turn their attention to the Shannons Targa Mid-Year Sprint at the Kwinana Motorplex on July 16. This event will be the warm-up for many competitors, as they head into the final round of the series, the Quit Targa West on August 10 – 13.

GT Fabrication Targa Bunbury Sprint class winners below:

Class 1 Targa Cup 2WD < 2000cc Car #59 Andrew Carrick / Alex Carrick
Class 2 Targa Cup 2WD > 2000cc Car #10 Simon Gunson / Murray Armenti
Class 3 Targa Cup 4WD < 3500cc Car #3 Will White / Matthew Thompson
Class 4 Targa Cup 4WD > 3500cc Car #5 Peter Rullo / Jimmy Marquet
Class 5 Targa Cup 2WD/4WD Gravel Car #82 Mitchell Clarke / Stuart Clarke
Class 6 Open Rally Sprint 2WD < 2000cc Car #36 Jared Bevan / Ty Summers
Class 7 Open Rally Sprint 2WD > 2000cc Car #31 Mark Cates / Todd Haffner
Class 8 Open Rally Sprint 4WD Car #7 Matt O’Neil / Mandy Lister

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