The Exmoor Targa Rally

Competing on The Exmoor as a Targa Rally was a new one for me, and especially being in the left hand seat. I’d competed on the event when it was an Endurance rally and marshalled on it as a Targa, but Luis Gutierrez-Diaz had asked if I could navigate for him and so down to Somerset I went.

Matt was meant to be out navigating as well but his driver had to withdraw at the last minute, and Matt couldn’t find a seat, so he marshalled instead. We stayed in Wellington the night before so it as a leisurely start for scrutineering and signing on, before the rally got underway at noon. I prepped my roadbook (with valuable assistance from Luis’ five year old daughter, Valentina), and then off we went.

The whole event was based on a Tulip roadbook including the tests in the forest. Junctions in the forests typically had manoeuvres around cones and I was a little slow and rusty at first at calling them accurately/early enough as well as ensuring we had the many code boards and passage check signatures correctly. However, we soon got into it and Luis was driving well for his first time in the forests. I’d heard that the event could be rough, but any rough sections were clearly marked both in the roadbook and with signs by the test so you could drive accordingly; particularly important for Luis as he wanted to drive the car home again afterwards!

We’d entered the Clubman event as Luis doesn’t have a competitor licence and the class was not split into engine size/experience. We seemed to be going well without too many moments and for our first Targa together, it was working! We got back to the lunch halt and then it was off for another loop of forest tests and a couple of runs up Porlock again. There was a point Luis seemed very interested in the view having not travelled to the area before, but shouting at him seemed to do the trick… He also took a route up a bank for reasons unknown, but he seemed happy enough.

From the photos taken on the day, we’re not really smiling in many/any of them. We both really enjoyed it and finished 6th Clubman which was a good result. Whilst a little bit of a trek, and it being in the middle of a busy work period, I was pleased we’d made the effort and perhaps we’ll do some more targas together in the future…

The organisers offered a small financial incentive for providing a marshal so many thanks to Rob Thomson for marshalling for us, and it was good to see lots of other familiar faces out too; some of whom contributed to the below selection of images (with latter images by M&H Photography).