On Saturday afternoon the smell of onions and sausages enveloped the region as visitors and locals alike set up BBQs all round the stage.
Ute and small truck owners also became very popular with a number of them set up along the track as viewing platforms. Quit Targa West rally manager David
Smith said he even saw one group of residence who had a sign offering a free sausage sizzle for drivers.
“The reception we got from the local residents was very positive,” Mr Smith said. “It was so popular we have been asked to consider holding two stages in
the region next year.”
It was also a welcome addition to the four-day tarmac rally with nearly 100 per cent of the drivers giving it the thumbs up. Targa veteran Jim Richards, who has won the event twice previously, said it is one of the most challenging Targa stages in Australia.
And it was hard to wipe the smile off the face of four-time winner Steve Jones who described the Maryville Downs stage as a “real drivers stage”.
He said the off-camber and unsighted corners made it a technically difficult stage that fully tested the skill of every driver.
Steve Jones took out the Competition Modern category for a record fourth time.
And his four wins, twice as many as any other driver, have come from just five appearances in WA’s premier tarmac rally. His first victory came in 2008 also making him the youngest driver to win the rally. His other two wins were in 2011 and 2012.
He has also won it in two very different types of car, a Nissan GTR (three times) and a Mitsubishi Evo. Jones, who has not competed since his last win in 2012, teamed up with Caleb Ash in an Evo 8 MR and had the event all but sown up going into the last day.
“I missed the last two years because I was bit burnt out to be honest,” Jones said.
“I had spent two years campaigning in a Nissan GTR in Tasmania and blew my budget and lost my passion to drive and when I came home I decided to have a
break. “This year I drove for fun in a car that I love. The Evo has always been my favourite car — they are a great rally car and I just love driving them”.
In one of the most intriguing contests in the 10-year history of the Quit Targa West six teams were still in contention to take out the main prize midway through the rally.
By lunchtime on day three it was down to three and by the end of day three Jones had put enough of a gap between him and last year’s winners Peter Major
and Greg Flood to be able to take more cautious approach on the final day.