August 28 and 29 saw the second installment of the Targa Trophy go flying out of the San Francisco Bay and into Silicon Valley. As we wrote in the October ’10 issue, european car has partnered with the event organizers as an official media outlet and will be offering expanded content at europeancarweb.com, including expanded photo galleries and the official Targa press alerts. The second event began at the San Fran W Hotel, with a midday lunch stop at the W in Silicon Valley, then continued over some damn tortuous roads en route back to the S.F. W.

Leg Two in the Bay and Valley was pretty special, since the ec team in our green Porsche Panamera 4S actually scored well enough to rank in the top ten. As we’ve stated before, Targa isn’t an all-out speed trial, that is, the fastest time between checkpoints wins. It uses a points system that takes your overall accrued distance and elapsed time into account and compares those to the distance and time set by the event’s pre-runners, who at the same time map a very specific route for event participants. So this rally presents its own very unique sort of challenge.

Of course, there are always the guys who just love to go completely balls out, throw the rules to the wind, and try and set the overall fastest time for the route. But those guys never win and a strategy like that pretty much guarantees you won’t place anywhere near the front. The Traga Trophy generally rewards more conservative driving, but more significantly, it rewards precise navigation. In fact, the navigator is usually the more important component on the driving team. The routes these guys map can be tricky, even downright diabolical.

As media partners, we aren’t competing for the prizes; even if we took the top place, we wouldn’t be collecting any schwag. But what the heck, it’s all about bragging rights, yeah? And so having never ranked anywhere near the top ten, this time around was surprisingly gratifying when we placed Eighth.

Yeah, we’re easily amused. Check back soon for the official Bay Area rankings, overall standings, and expanded photo galleries from the rally.

Our Ride

Considering the extended drive routes cover a good bit of ground and you can be physically on the road for anywhere between six and eight hours, we’ve been trying to think of cars to drive that offer an ideal combination of speed, driving dynamics, and a relative amount of comfort. Guys that show up in raced-out performance cars are very likely to get the crap beaten out of them, and certain sections of this outing’s route, at least, were decidedly not kind to stiff aftermarket suspensions and low-slung ground effects.

This time around, Porsche came through for us with a Panamera 4S. Despite the controversy that surrounded it basically since its inception, the Panamera was conceived as the ultimate four-dour performance car. And true to aim, that’s pretty much what the engineers in Zuffenhausen built.

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