RALLY driver Peter Rullo of Gooseberry Hill is thrilled with second place – his best result so far – in the Quit Targa West, which finished on Sunday.
Rullo, who has been plagued with electrical or mechanical problems every year since 2011, said he was happy to have completed every stage of the event.
In the 2014 rally Rullo and his co-driver James Marquet battled electrical issues with their 2012 Nissan GTR, which the crew fixed prior to the Maryville Downs stage but then were forced to retire when the GTR’s driveshaft broke.
Just before the Toodyay stage when Rullo was in a three-way battle with Steve Jones and Peter Major he posed in a photo putting a banana skin under the rear wheel of Major’s Mitsubishi Evo.
From that point on he said his crew struggled to keep his car on the road.
When he was forced out of the rally Rullo joked someone had double-crossed him and put the banana back in his car.
Despite a promising start in 2013 Rullo failed to finish after a mechanical fault resulted in him crashing out during the Toodyay stage.
Rullo said he and his then co-driver Scott Beckwith were sitting in second place about 17 seconds behind and he had been pushing the car hard as they thought they could make up some time.
“In about the last kilometre of the stage I heard a knocking noise,’’ he said.
“Then about 200m from the finish line we were going around a corner when the rear end turned around really quickly, which wasn’t what I was expecting and was unprepared.’’
The car left the road and hit a pole and an inspection later showed the front differential had gone.
In 2015 Rullo and Marquet had some great times and some stage wins but mechanical issues late on the second day and early on the third day put them out of contention.
This year Rullo pushed hard all rally trying to catch rally winner Peter Major after losing time on Friday’s opening stage.
They managed to reduce the deficit by half but it was not enough to put them in front.
Rullo said they were on the limit.
“This morning, every road was different with the wet weather, patches of sun drying the roads, some roads had more grip than others, but the car has been performing well, hasn’t missed a beat,” he said.
“I’m happy we finished and I’d like to thank the crew for making the car reliable – we’ve been chasing this for a while now and although we came here to win, second is a pretty good result, in fact my best result to date.’’
Rullo finished third at Targa West in 2010.
A Targa West spokeswoman said Major drove most of the rally without ABS so braking was tricky particularly in wet conditions.
But it didn’t stop him and co-driver Ben Searcy from finishing in first place.
“Leading by 29 seconds at the start of the final day, Quit Targa West was Major’s to lose,’’ she said.
Major said he was stoked to be going out on a high referring to his earlier announcement that this would be his last Targa West.
“It feels awesome, there’s been lots of emotion with this rally – lots of changing conditions and we’ve had issues with no ABS, aquaplaning on the wet stages and a few other niggling things we’ve had to nurse most of the rally – so it’s good to finish,” he said.
But Major joked if no one bought his 2004 Porsche 996 he could be back next year and ‘do a John Farnham and keep coming back’.
By Anita McInnes