June 26, 2010-The Targa Trophy Triple Crown rally series finished its first event at the W Hotel in San Diego. This is ec's third year participating in the event, and this one is special because we've partnered with the Trophy as an official media sponsor.

Targa Trophy has made up quite a bit of ground in the four years since its inception. It began as a single event and has expanded to three individual events, hence the Triple Crown moniker. Initially beginning and ending in the Orange County/Los Angeles areas, this year it has expanded once again to include Northern California and Scottsdale, Ariz., in addition to SoCal.

The Trophy is open to anyone who wants to participate; you don't need some kind of high-powered exotic or even a European car to get in the running. Hell, all you really need is a car. The format is somewhat unique in that it isn't a trial of all-out speed. Event organizers pre-run a set course, noting their odometer reading at the end of said course as well as their overall elapsed time. For participants, the trick is coming as close as possible to their distance and time. So you don't have to really hang it all out trying to sustain the fastest possible speed. In fact, if you drive conservatively and consistently, you'll do much better in the long run. This helps encourage entrants to be courteous to their fellow motorists and effectively negates any sort of danger factor (not to mention keeping you off law enforcement radar).

In a field of no fewer than 73 entries, event number one's first-place finisher was Radoslav Kalla in his screaming orange Gallardo Spyder. "Targa Trophy did a great job and everything went very smooth," he says. "This was by far my best rally experience." Kalla's first-place schwag included a custom black diamond Targa Trophy pendant and around $6,000 worth of travel packages, automotive gift certificates-and even a free pass to a party at the Playboy Mansion.

Event number two will run from the W Hotel in San Francisco to the W in Silicon Valley-but if you're just reading about it now it's almost too late. No worries; you still have plenty of time to register for the final Desert Challenge event at the W Hotel in Scottsdale.

For more information, the official press releases, and points standings, visit europeancarweb.com or targatrophy.com. And if you think you've got what it takes to place, or just want to get out, have a little fun and enjoy your car the way it's meant to be enjoyed, reserve your spot at the Targa Trophy website.

Our Ride

Even though we weren't actually competing for the prize, being insecure magazine guys and all, of course we had to get a hot car to run in the rally. Mercedes turned us down for an E63 AMG-since the disaster on the Gumball a couple years ago, the mere word "rally" tends to strike fear into the hearts of auto PR types. But Jaguar did come through for us with the equally studly XFR.

When we learned an R-branded XF was in the offing, it was the first Jaguar in a long time that I really got excited about driving. And when I finally found myself in the hot seat, it didn't disappoint. Whereas the old Rs were simply supercharged versions of the standard V8 and pushed slightly north of 400 hp, the new R represents a third tier over the mid-level XF Supercharged. A massaged version of the standard supercharged V8 now pushes 510 hp and a great big slug of torque, 461 lb-ft peaking from 2500 to 5500 rpm. It also has such standard goodies as Adaptive Dynamics that analyzes body movement and steering inputs and adjusts the suspension accordingly for maximum stability, Active Differential Control to maximize traction (and believe me, you'll need it), and a thundering 14-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound audio system.

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