TESTING CONDITIONS FOR RICHARDS/OLIVER IN TARGA WEST.
21 AUGUST 2013
The long time tarmac rally combination of Jim Richards and Barry Oliver had to battle greasy and sometimes very wet roads for the first three days of Quit Targa West in their Shannons Porsche GT2 RS in conditions which really suited the large field of four wheel drive cars in the Modern Competition.
Day one of the four day 31 stage rally consisted of three stages over the RAC Driving Centre course in Perth with competitors required to complete three laps each time.
The 81 car field were seeded slowest to fastest with Richards/Oliver starting last by virtue of their win in the event last year.
Not only was it raining but there was a lot of standing water on the course ,which was a recipe for aquaplaning ,but Richards showed his class as a wet weather driver with the two wheel drive twin turbo Porsche finishing in third place overall at the end of the three runs.
The day two conditions were not much better with intermittent showers and changeable road conditions facing the crews and it was very obvious they suited the local teams in their four wheel drive cars.
The first run through the twelve kilometre Kalamunda stage saw many teams (including Richards/Oliver) confused by the lack of signage to designate the start and finish of two 60 kph speed restriction zones and after the stage had been run the organisers very wisely elected to downgrade the stage as non competitive.
The signs had been stolen prior to the running of the stage but the organisers had decided to go ahead with it on the basis that the Rallysafe equipment in each car would denote the start of each session.
The problem was there were no 300 ,200 and 100 metre warning boards to designate the start points and with an approach speed of 190 kph it was impossible to judge the start.
Fortunately for the second run the organisers had replaced the signs and there were no further problems.h.
At the end of the days seven completed stages Richards/Oliver were happy to be in fifth place but with day three set to cover 14 stages it was going to be a tough battle to maintain position as the gaps were very small back to a number of very quick teams.
Day three road conditions were better but there were still greasy parts to catch the unwary and the Shannons team were reasonably satisfied to be in sixth place and looking forward to a dry sunny day for the final six stages on day four.
The 12 kilometre Malaga street stage was run three times to be followed by three runs over the City of Perth stage at Langley Park and while there was a great battle going on for the outright position between Peter Major/Greg Flood in the Mitsubishi Evo 8 and the R35 Nissan GTR of Ben Searcy/James Marquet the battle for fourth place was equally as intense.
Four teams were separated by just 30 seconds with Tolley Challis/Anthony Chudleigh in the Evo 9 Lancer leading the Conacher brothers in the Nissan R35 by 17 seconds with a gap of 9 seconds back to Richards/Oliver and just 4 seconds back to the Michael Lloyd/Craig Stampfli Subaru WRX.
After the final stage the order was Major/Flood by just 8 seconds to Searcy/Marquet who were 34 seconds ahead of the Nissan R35 of Jon-Paul Van Loenhout/Lisa White in their Nissan R35.
In a late surge the Conacher brothers got up to fourth one minute 49 seconds further back with Challis/Chudleigh coming home in fifth place 16 seconds behind.
Richards/Oliver remained in sixth place just 7 seconds behind with Lloyd/Stampfli a further 27 seconds back in seventh.
“I was very happy with the car over the four days but obviously the conditions on the first three days did not suit our car”. said Richards.
“I have to say the local drivers were seriously quick and drove extremely well so we can’t be disappointed with the result. It’s a great event and we both really enjoyed competing and meeting some great people”. said Richards.
The next tarmac event for the team will be Targa High Country in Victoria in November but in the near future Richards will contest the next round of the Touring Car Masters at Sydney Motorsport Park in the Shannons Falcon Sprint.
At this stage Richards has decided not to rush the return of the AMC Javelin and will stay with the Falcon Sprint for the rest of the championship.
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