The West

Triumphant Jones pays tribute to Gentleman Jim
Steve Jones and Caleb Ash race through the forests in their Mitsubishi Evo 8 MR. Picture: Manolo Photography

Jim Richards just happens to be the all-time idol of Steve Jones, the guy who smashed all comers in the comp modern category this year and now wears the crown as the most successful driver in Quit Targa West's 10-year history.

The 30-year-old from North Perth was the event's youngest driver when he first took home the bacon in 2008. He followed that by defending his title in a Nissan GTR and then won again in 2011.

This year he and Caleb Ash drove a Mitsubishi Evo 8 MR, the very style of import the company Jones works for,, ships in from Japan.

They finished ahead of defending champions Peter Major and Greg Flood, who were chasing their third win, and Ben Searcy and David Heaton.

After a two-year absence from the sport he loves, Jones can fairly lay claim to being one of the country's finest tarmac rally drivers - just like Gentleman Jim, the man he so admires.

"Jim Richards was a god to me when I was growing up," Jones said. "To be mentioned alongside him is unbelievable."

Jones pulled the pin at the end of 2012, burnt out after campaigning in WA and Tasmania.

"This year I went back to what I love," he said.

"The Mitsubishi Evo has always been my favourite car to drive and Targa West is a great event.

"It took me a while to get back in the swing of driving competitively but it is a bit like riding a bike, you never really forget how to do it. 'Cash', my co-driver, was fantastic and pulled me back into line a few times."

In this most intriguing of contests - a battle between the smaller, more nimble Mitsubishi Evo and the big, brutish Nissan GTRs - 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 a trio of contenders and, by the end of the day, Jones had put enough of a gap between him and last year's winners, Major and Flood, to pretty much take it easy on the hop to the flag.

Harry Nijsen and Adrian Kirk-Burnnand's rally lasted all of 60 seconds, slamming their Renault Megane R26 into a tree just 1.5km into the practice run at Whiteman Park.

"We were coming over the brow when Adrian gave a caution call," Nijsen said. "I braked but didn't wash-off enough speed and, rather than try to take the bend and see if I could get the car back under control, I elected to keep it straight and brake hard."

Officials had to cancel two stages on Friday because of loose stones on a road in John Forrest National Park. After the first run it was deemed too dangerous and the pin was pulled.

Targa veteran Tolley Challis, a competitor every year and comp classic winner from 2010-12, had an early finish when the gearbox in his Mitsubishi Lancer 9 blew halfway through his run.

"I had a massive smile on my face," Challis said.

"The roads were a bit loose and I was really enjoying it. Then suddenly the gearbox went bang and my rally was over."

They call it the luck of the draw. And they'll be back again for more of the same next year.

For a full list of results, video and more photos from this year's event, visit

The West Australian

Popular videos

Our Picks

Follow Us

More from The West