PARTICIPATING IN TARGA WEST, particularly the Kalamunda stages has been a dream of mine for quite some time. Being Kalamunda locals, my wife Anja and I have seen the event come through town for the last 10 or so years and always wanted to be part of it. Earlier this year, we purchased a 2013 VF SSV with the intent of slowly improving it and using it for the HSV club track days. My 2015 GTS was a fantastically fun car around Barbagallo, but I always felt I was risking it by taking it out, and with the upcoming delivery of my new GTSR W557, I knew it was time to get something more dedicated to the track.

Anja and I have both been having a lot of fun in the SS. The work done by Brett Stewart and his team at FTP have transformed the SS from a pseudo suburban taxi into a super reliable road licensed race car that we can still drive to the track and back, with air-conditioning and radio, and without the hassles of a trailer. When Targa rolled around again this year, I had entertained my dreams again of participating, but had resigned myself that there was still too much to be done to the car (whilst on our ‘to-do’ list we still hadn’t fitted a roll cage, amongst other things), and that entering an event like this was far above our skill level. We had done some track days, but nothing ever like a tarmac rally. Anja will say I don’t listen to her at the best of times, how would we go with her giving me high speed directions up the Zig Zag? Would our marriage of 18 years even survive!?!? One evening about 6 weeks out from the event, an email went around from the HSV club,
encouraging people to “Get involved or get entered”. There was an option to enter in the Challenge category, no roll cage required but limited to 130km/ hr. We had a chat at home, and after a few rounds of rock-paper-scissors to decide who might drive, I gave Jamie Gilbert a call. Jamie as always was very encouraging, and put me in contact with Ross Tapper (Director for Targa West). As it was our first time, and from what I believe the entries were down, Ross agreed to let us enter in the Challenge class, for the Friday only. Zig Zag here we come…

We entered the event and received amazing support from Ross Tapper and his crew. They helped push our entry through the system, set us up with all the required documentation and some tips for scrutineering and the event itself. We were given the Road Book (instructions on how to navigate the Special Stages and the transport between them) and a set of stickers. We attended a Rookies night at Shannon’s in Cannington, with a great presentation given by Paul van der Mey on co-driving basics and general running of the Rally itself. Next was getting the car sorted. Back to Brett and the crew @ FTP who did an amazing amount of work in a short time. We got the car up to the requirements for the class and to pass scrutineering. Brett also applied a variation of his famous black and green livery, with graphics customised to our business.

We took some time for reconnaissance around the special stages, and Anja made some very good pacenotes. Some further discussion again on who would be driving, another round of
rock-paper-scissors (always go rock for the win) and we were ready to compete. The event itself was a huge amount fun with some fast stages through Whiteman Park and the
Zig Zag, and the longer stages from Kalamunda to Mundaring and back again. Despite a string of some 13 penalties for ‘Exceeding 130km/hr’ – (I’m sure that’s the co-drivers responsibility
to monitor!) we ran some respectful stage times. The day, even though quite long (7.30 am to finally getting back to Rally HQ at the Hyatt around 9.30pm) absolutely whizzed by. The day was
topped off with a, well let’s call it an ‘entertaining’ dinner in Northbridge with the Team Dezire crew (thanks Doug and Jamie), while the cars were presented along James street for the punters
to admire. The coordination of the event staff and volunteers to keep some 70 cars safe, on time and in the right order was amazing. Special thanks to Brett and Formula Tech Performance for building us such a reliable and fun car, the sponsorship and the FTP teams amazing support, and everyone from the HSV club for helping us along the way. If this is something on your bucket or to-do list, my suggestion is to certainly have a go. If we can do it, so can you.


FTP Easy Credit