Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sommes-nous pret pour le Defi?

Quick note: I've ended up getting a last-minute ride for Defi Ste-Agathe this coming weekend. I probably won't have internet access up there, so check for results until I get back.

In other news, Targa is quickly approaching. The Opel has been loaded onto the trailer and is en route to Newfoundland as we speak. The action starts on Sunday, Sept. 14 in St. John's. Woot!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Galway Wrap-up

GCFR is over for another year. I'm really happy with our performance: in his first rally in a four-wheel drive car, Matt Barnes drove us to a fourth place overall finish.

Things were great on stage: Matt drove a quick and clean rally. The notes we had made worked well and it didn't take long for our in-car communication to "click".

Off-stage, though, there were some hiccups. At the turnaround at the end of the first stage, when we went to start the car... nothing. The engine wouldn't turn over. A quick check showed 8 V at the battery, so a group of volunteers from other teams and some of the folks at the quarry (thank you, BTW), tried to push start us to no avail. Finally, Bryn Epp from MLRC brought his truck over, and someone grabbed a set of booster cables from somewhere, and we got the car re-fired. The whole episode lasted a few very tense minutes. After that, we kept the car running, just in case.

The weather was damp without being completely soggy, and it seems like this made the stage road quite a bit quicker than previous years; the old stage record time was broken by several cars.

Several photographers have already posted photos from the event. We're in car 8, a black and red Eagle Talon:

Evan Holt
Andrew Harvey
Tom Hayston
Robert Roaldi

Great rally, great road. Thanks to the organizers and all the volunteers.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Long time no blog... but time for Galway!

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted to my blog, and a big part of that has been a rather unlucky season so far. I guess I find it hard to write "we DNF'd. The end."-type posts.

Sandblast went well - we finished first in our class and fourth overall, but the season went downhill from there.

Rally New York

Our run at Rally New York ended on the first day in the ditch: we came around a sweeping left-hand corner and were confronted by a car stopped on stage on the inside of the corner near the exit, half on the shoulder and half on the roadway. We went wide to avoid them and touched the left wheels on the edge of the early April Catskills slush on the side of the road. This sent the car spinning. Ivor tried his best to catch it, but we slid across the road and hit a rock wall and a telephone pole guy wire, doing a fair bit of damage to the front end of the car.

Back at the shop, the mechanics got to work assessing and fixing the damage... but it was bad enough that we missed the next event, Rally Tennessee. By not scoring points at two rounds of the championship, this effectively put us out of the running for the USRC.

Black Bear Rally

This past June, Black Bear promised to be an interesting rally. I signed on to co-drive for Robin Fleguel in his former AV Sport WRX STi.

The rally started well. In the first few stages, we were setting safe but decent times and steadily improving with each stage... then stage 4 happened.

A few kilometers from the end, we hit a small bump just before a left six, a fast, very slight curve. This upset the car a bit and pushed us to the outside of the corner, landing us on a slick patch of mud. The mud didn't provide even enough grip for the slight curve of the road, and we slid off the road, slipped a few feet down an embankment, and came to rest against a few trees.

That was our rally.

MLRC Testing Day

At the end of July, I went to my first MLRC testing day, co-driving for Francisco Peirera in his Evo VIII. He rallied for quite a while until the late 90s, when he switched into dirt track modified racing. Francisco is quick.

I made a rookie mistake: I figured that the way the testing day was set up (short stage, with breaks in between runs), I wouldn't need a motion sickness patch... well, on our third run through the testing stage, my body voiced its disagreement. I started to feel sick about halfway through, but held myself together until the end of the stage.

Once we pulled to a stop, I found out just how quick I can get out of a rally car. :) I didn't just climb out, I actually leapt from my seat through the door and into the ditch.

Later on, the bad luck continued: Francisco took his crew chief (a co-driver in his own right) out for a couple of tuning runs, and on the last run as it went over a crest, the transmission locked like it had shifted into two gears at once. This caused the wheels to lock up... and without any way to control the car, it slid into the bushes.

Coming up - Galway

They say bad luck comes in threes, and if that's really the case, then I've got mine out of the way for a while. Coming up next is the Galway Cavendish Forest Rally on August 9. I'll be co-driving for 2007 OPRC Production 2 champion Matt Barnes; for this rally, he's leaving his Toyota Paseo in the garage and will be competing in the Planet Motorsport Eagle Talon. It's looking to be a good rally.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008


My first rally of 2008 is a few short days away: I'm going to be co-driving for Ivor Wigham in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI at the Sandblast Rally in Cheraw, South Carolina on Saturday, February 9.

Sandblast is a rally that's bit me in the past. Last time I was here, in 2006 with Craig Studnicky in his first rally ever, we DNF'd with a burnt-out clutch. This was the result of getting bogged down in a deep, loose sandy uphill on the aptly-named Sandtrap stage.

This time, though, the outlook is much more positive. Ivor, the owner of the European Rally School in Starke, Florida, is a very experienced and very quick driver. We should be quite competitive, even though there are several hot teams on the entry list.

I'll have internet access in Cheraw, so look for updates here over the next few days. Scores will be posted in the results section of the rally web site as they become available.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tall Pines Wrap-Up

I'm back from what in my mind was a successful Rally of the Tall Pines: we finished the rally without major problems, and Luis got his 3rd place in Production 2 class in the Ontario Performance Rally Championship.

The weather forecast was all over the map leading up to the rally. In the end, the weather on the day of the rally was clear, with a fairly thick layer of snow from a few days before. The stages ended up being a combination of loose snow and powder early in the day, which compacted to almost ice as the day went on. This made tire choice difficult, and we were forced to compromise based on the tires available, but Luis did his best to cope with the poor grip we experienced at some points.

We were really running to finish, so caution was the order of the day. We passed plenty of cars that pushed a bit too hard and went off the road. When the Tall Pines TV broadcast airs in late December, watch for Car 41, the yellow Rabbit of Malo/Fudalej. They went off near the end of the spectator area on stage A5, the third run through the Iron Bridge spectator stage, and judging by the aftermath, it must have been pretty spectacular when it happened.

We were only entered in the regional portion of the rally, so we had a 2-or-so-hour gap in the middle of the day while the national-only stages were being run. After that, we re-joined the rally for the final four stages, including two runs through the always amazing Castledine's Corner spectator area.

Every year, I'm floored by witnessing the sheer amount of work and manpower (and by imagining the work that I don't witness firsthand) that goes into pulling the Rally of the Tall Pines off. This year was the best year that I've personally experienced, not only because of the "proper" Tall Pines snow that's been absent the past few years, but because the workers and organizers consistently manage to do the unthinkable of out-doing their performance from the year before.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tall Pines is a-comin'

After a month away from rallying, it's time for the last event of the season: the Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft, Ontario.

Tall Pines is the last rally in both the Ontario and Canadian championships, and it's generally an amazing rally in its own right. Like most years, several titles are on the line and the weather is extremely iffy - right now I hear Bancroft has a snowfall warning, but the forecast for competition day is above freezing... barely - so it should be a good show for the fans.

I'm going to be riding once again with Luis Melo. He and I teamed up earlier this year at the Rallye Perce-Neige in February. This will be our first foray in the Ontario Performance Rally Championship since then, but with our strong second-place finish at Perce-Neige, we're still in the running for third in the Production 2 championship for the year.

We won't have internet access in Bancroft, so I won't be able to post an update here until after I get back. In the meantime, there are a few sources for realtime and semi-realtime news, results and photos. Look for Car 45:

flatovercrest - rally news and photos
Rally Scoring - live results and stage times


Monday, September 17, 2007

Targa - Finished!

We're done! We finished the rally and qualified for our Targa Plate. We came second in class, third in category 7, and eighth in the Modern division.

Unfortunately, our teammates in Car 404, Bob and Adam Trinder, DNF'd on Thursday with engine issues.

I'll be scouring the web for photos and other items; watch here for links as I find them.