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Rally of the Tall Pines

Posted by Ferdinand 
November 25, 2014 05:17PM
This weekend coming up is the 2014 Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft, Ontario. It's always a tough event. "Winter roads with summer ditches." It'll probably be icy roads again with no snowbanks high enough to catch mistakes.

Here's the TV coverage of last year's 2013 Tall Pines Rally. It was our best finish ever (due mostly to the high rate of attrition). We finished 7th overall National, 3rd overall in Ontario Regional, and 1st in 2WD.





All of our in-car video from last year's 2013 Tall Pines Rally is here: YouTube Playlist Tall Pines 2013

In 2WD this year, we likely won't be able to keep up with super-quick Simon Dubé in a VW Golf, and Will Hudson in Ford Fiesta R2. We certainly won't be able to match their pace, but those two will be engaged in a fierce battle amongst themselves and might well push each other into making mistakes. Our closest competitor matching our pace is Andrew Kulikowski in a Ford Focus ZX3. I suspect it'll be a battle between us for the 3rd spot on the 2wd podium. There are another three 2wd teams that could push us and then several others that we know we should beat. But this particular event is notoriously difficult to finish. All it takes is one inconvenient flat tire to ruin everything. Historically, less than half the teams entered make it to the end.
November 25, 2014 05:37PM
Very cool! Go get 'em, Ferdinand!

I need to see if I can find an online source for CRC TV to keep up with stuff like this. I follow the WRC all year, but I like the more local feel of smaller national series.

The closest I will ever get to this in this lifetime is running John Buffum's Winter Challenge Rally here in Vermont. It's just a TSD rally with normal cars, but since it's put on by Buffum, it has been called the closest thing to a stage rally without actually being a stage rally. smiling smiley

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Dave
'91 325iX
November 25, 2014 06:05PM
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Dave_G
I need to see if I can find an online source for CRC TV to keep up with stuff like this. I follow the WRC all year, but I like the more local feel of smaller national series.
The TV company records each event but they aren't aired until later in the season, starting sometime in the fall. After they've been shown on TV, then they are posted online on their Youtube channel. They're eventually shown in Canada on The Sports Network (TSN), in Britain on Motors TV, and USA on Speed.

Canadian Rally Championship (CRC) TV coverage = https://www.youtube.com/user/CARSRallyTV

More CRC and Ontario Performance Rally Championship (OPRC) = https://www.youtube.com/user/cdnrally

This year 2014 we only made it out to Perce Neige in February and Rallye Défi in September. Martin spent all summer rebuilding the car, welding in new floors and rocker panels.

Because we weren't competing this summer, that left me free to fly my quadcopter at two of the OPRC events, the Shannonville Stages Rally and the Lanark Highlands Rally.







November 26, 2014 02:08PM
Cool videos Ferd!

I can't tell if you enjoy navigating with Martin or being a pilot more :rally:
December 04, 2014 03:25PM
Here's the Highlight Reel from the TV production company covering last weekend's Tall Pines Rally.

We didn't make it into the highlight reel (probably a good thing).

In the National event we again finished 7th Overall of 31 starters and 2nd Overall in 2WD. In the Ontario Regional portion we were 2nd Overall and 1st 2WD.





I've been posting stories and videos (as quickly as I can get them processed) in the SpecialStage forum.

http://www.specialstage.com/forums/showthread.php?69793-2014-Tall-Pines-Rally-Martin-amp-Ferd-Nissan-240SX
December 04, 2014 03:38PM
CDNRally.com, covering the Ontario Performance Rally Championship, has just posted their summary of the Ontario Regional portion of the Tall Pines Rally, in which we finished 2nd Overall and 1st in 2WD.

http://www.cdnrally.com/news/martin-donnelly-wins-oprc-round-of-tall-pines-clinches-championship.html


December 04, 2014 03:46PM
Congratulations with a very good result!
December 04, 2014 05:41PM
Congratulations!

I'm enjoying watching your videos on the other site. It looks like so much fun. smiling smiley

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Dave
'91 325iX
December 04, 2014 05:42PM
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Ove Kvam
Congratulations with a very good result!
Thanks Ove!
December 04, 2014 05:44PM
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Dave_G
It looks like so much fun. smiling smiley
The fun is just getting started. The crazy big stages are still to come. Working on those videos now. They take a long time to process.
December 09, 2014 02:42PM
The first car in this video is Antoine l'Estage. He won every Cdn National event this year. First time that's ever been done.

The crash happened to the Subaru Canada factory entry driven by Martin Rowe, the only one with any chance of catching l'Estage. Fortunately Martin and co-driver Nathalie Richard were both okay. But they were taken to hospital for checkups just to be sure.





What a crazy stage. Four cars went off on this stage, including the two cars running just ahead of us in the order. We come to the scene of Martin/Nathalie's crash at 5:10 into our video.





I'm just now posting up the stories and videos from the last four stages.

http://www.specialstage.com/forums/showthread.php?69793-2014-Tall-Pines-Rally-Martin-amp-Ferd-Nissan-240SX
December 10, 2014 10:45AM
Yikes!

Looks like you guys handled that stage well, though.

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
December 11, 2014 04:31PM
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Ferdinand
The first car in this video is Antoine l'Estage. He won every Cdn National event this year. First time that's ever been done.

He drove that corner very well. I don't think the WRC guys could have done it any better.

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Ferdinand
We come to the scene of Martin/Nathalie's crash at 5:10 into our video.

Do you actually say "That's them"?
December 12, 2014 06:10PM
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Ove Kvam
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Ferdinand
We come to the scene of Martin/Nathalie's crash at 5:10 into our video.
Do you actually say "That's them"?
I was at a loss for words at the time. A little shocked at how much damage they had done to the car, but relieved to see them both out of the car and okay.

I've always been a big fan of Nathalie (and have a secret crush on her). For a couple of years, in addition to co-driving, she was doing commentary for the rally TV coverage. On transits between stages she'd give updates on how the rally was going. Or waiting to start the next stage she'd be out of the car doing standup commentary for the TV crews.

Martin Walter and I, usually choking on dust in our Nissan and sweating, would have mud dripping down our faces by the end of the day. But Nathalie always looks like she's just stepped out of the make-up trailer.



Martin Rowe, a Brit, was Production Class World Rally Champion in 2003, and British Rally Champion a few times. He was hired this year as the driver for the Subaru Canada Factory Team, replacing Patrick Richard (Nathalie's brother) who had to retire due to medical reasons. I've heard Subaru would prefer to have a Canadian driving for them instead and Martin's job is far from secure. This crash likely won't help his case.





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Ove Kvam
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Ferdinand
The first car in this video is Antoine l'Estage. He won every Cdn National event this year. First time that's ever been done.
He drove that corner very well. I don't think the WRC guys could have done it any better.
Antoine is definitely WRC calibre. Multi-time Cdn Rally Champion and North American Champion. His WRC ambitions suffered a big financial setback last year. He rented an ex-WRC Mitsubishi, hoping to use it to compete for the North American Championship with Nathalie co-driving, but wrote off the car in a huge crash in the Oregon Trail Rally. It was a costly mistake. He was scrambling for sponsorship this year, and then managed to win EVERY Cdn National event this year. He's amazing.







December 13, 2014 01:57AM
With your background from crash analysis, and seeing these brutal crashes in the rallies you participate in, aren't you afraid it will happen to you? It is not only a big dent in the economy, but it could also do serious damage to your health. When I briefly tried rallying, I was rather surprised at the risk my competitors were willing to take. It almost seemed like some of them were embarassed if they made it to the finish line without visible car damage. I was catching one car just as he went straight into a building!

I found out that it was too dangerous for me if I wanted to be competetive, as I would have to drive so fast that a crash sooner or later was inevitable. I can of course run off at a race track as well, but then I will probably just be stuck in a gravel trap with no damage to neither me nor the car. The risk is also a lot lower, since you know every corner well, and can build up the speed gradually over a weekend. The idea of a high speed parking into a tall pine seems too dangerous for me.

One of my friends used to participate in rallycross, where there is quite a lot of high speed crashing into other cars. I asked him about his view on the risk management. His answer was that you can't think about that. Then you will be too slow. So I guess I would always be too slow, as I can't block those thoughts out. I have a pretty good imagination when it comes to ideas about what could go wrong.

I noticed that your driver blaimed you for surviving the carnage stage, but ultimately you have to put a lot of trust in him. You have no brake pedal on your side ot the car.
December 13, 2014 07:14PM
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Ove Kvam
With your background from crash analysis, and seeing these brutal crashes in the rallies you participate in, aren't you afraid it will happen to you?
There is always the chance of something unexpected happening. But, life wouldn't be worth living if we were afraid to get out of bed every morning. It's all a question of managing acceptable levels of risk. Even riding your bicycle is fraught with risk, no?

I do put a LOT of trust into Martin's driving skills. Fortunately he is not stupid. He also has a family with two children and like myself he is no hurry to die. I have been riding with him since 2007 and, with the single exception of our crash into a rocky ditch at Targa Newfoundland 2010, we have not yet ever crashed out of a rally together.



Actually the thing I'm most afraid of is hard landings off big jumps. That and landing upside-down in water.

In addition to our infamous DNF at Targa, of the many events we've run together we have only ever retired twice. Once, at the 2012 Black Bear Rally, we cracked the differential case on a rock and all the oil ran out. We finished all the competitive stages and were sitting 2nd overall, when the diff finally let go on the last road transit back to the finish ceremonies. A fellow competitor towed us home, but we were disqualified for the illegal tow. Bummer.





The 2nd retirement was in the 2011 Tall Pines Rally, when I hurt my neck and suffered a concussion on a hard landing off a jump and then couldn't stop puking. There was nothing wrong with the car or Martin, but I couldn't continue.





Martin had a significant crash in his first ever event in this car, with a different co-driver, in the 2006 Tall Pines Rally. Ken, his co-driver at the time, was behind in the notes, calling the next corner as a fast Right-6, when in fact it was a very tight Right-3. If you stop the video at 0:30 you can see a red warning arrow mounted on a wooden post. Instead of pointing 90° to the right as it should have to warn of the sudden sharp right ahead, some joker from the crowd of spectators gathered at this notorious corner had flipped the arrow so it was instead pointing nearly straight ahead.

Martin managed to pitch the car sideways, but it was too late. As they left the road sideways they hit a rock which flipped the car into a rollover, and while still in the air the car struck a tree ten feet off the ground while upside-down. Luckily the tree hit just behind Ken's seat and not square into his door. The car flipped and spun down an embankment where it landed on top of another car that had just crashed in the same spot one minute before. It was a scary and expensive crash.

Another benefit that I brought to the team, was better in-car video recording equipment. The image and sound quality on his old system was pretty bad.





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Ove Kvam
I was rather surprised at the risk my competitors were willing to take.
I am very lucky to be teamed with a sensible driver who I trust. There have been times where I've thought we could be pushing harder. We both know the road continues straight over this blind crest. Why is he lifting off the throttle? Ya, so we lose a couple of seconds here and there being overly cautious where others might not have lifted at all. But I'm happy to say that Martin has never scared me or done anything outright stupid (other than sticking it in the ditch at Targa for which he is still kicking himself every time he thinks of it).

I have occasionally been invited to co-drive for others, but I don't know them or trust them. There are certainly some other drivers that I do know quite well, and I wouldn't ever consider sitting in their car because they are complete lunatics.

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Ove Kvam
I found out that it was too dangerous for me if I wanted to be competitive, as I would have to drive so fast that a crash sooner or later was inevitable.
One big difference, I remember when you did the Stavanger Rally that you were not using detailed stage notes. In effect then every corner is blind and you have to take risks every time when you don't know what's over the next crest or around the next corner. If you drive safely, slowing each time, then you will be slow. If you gamble and take big risks to go faster, then certainly that will eventually end badly. But with detailed pace notes (assuming the co-driver is reading them correctly) you form a picture in your head of what's coming up next and then you can make an informed choice on how much risk you're willing to take.
December 13, 2014 10:09PM
The rewards are worth the risks. It's a huge rush and a lot of fun (when things go well).

Here's the helmet-cam in-car video from Simon Dubé on the stage where all the wrecks occurred. He was running three cars ahead of us in the order. The two cars between us both crashed out. That's why he sees only two cars off, whereas we saw four off. Note different driving style for FWD, he hardly ever lifts the throttle but you can hear the engine bog down as he uses his left foot on the brake pedal.





The rally community, compared to most other wheel-to-wheel combat sports, is a tight-knit family of friends. We're all competing against the same things, the roads, adverse conditions, endurance, etc, much moreso than competing directly against each other. At the end of the day though, yes, it's all about who gets onto the podium.

This year's media coverage of Canadian rallying has really been outstanding. The Tall Pines show hasn't been aired yet. Martin and I couldn't afford to go to either of the western Cdn events, Rocky Mountain Rally or Pacific Forest Rally. The previous National event we competed in was the Rallye Défi Ste-Agathe earlier this summer. Here's the coverage from that one. Of course the main focus is on the Overall top teams, but they also give decent coverage to our 2WD Championship battles. Rallye Défi is both a National event and an Ontario Regional event (even though it is Quebec).







December 14, 2014 03:37AM
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Ferdinand
There is always the chance of something unexpected happening. But, life wouldn't be worth living if we were afraid to get out of bed every morning. It's all a question of managing acceptable levels of risk. Even riding your bicycle is fraught with risk, no?

Yes, bicycling is dangerous as well. I was participating in an off road bicycle race far beyond my skill level this summer. I saw some of the other guys jumping over some roots on a downhill forest section. When I got there, I realised that I could not lift the front wheel off the ground at all while I was braking. I was however very successful at getting the rear wheel over the root, doing a nice face plant in the process. I also managed to continue after straightening the steering that was about 90 degrees off.

I was asked to participate again next year, but I think I will pass. It is too risky for me.
I gave up hang gliding as well before I had a serious crash.

The track days on ice with a new car with no valid insurance, is also something that could go very wrong. The last two years I have been very careful. While driving sideways a whole weekend, I have not yet touched a single snow bank, and I have not had the car swap ends. I have also seen potentially slower drivers catch up and pass me, without giving in to the urge to show them how it should be done! smiling smiley

Example of very cautious driving recorded with a mobile phone:
[www.youtube.com]
(The car handles rather well despite missing a real limited slip differential, but has an annoying turbo lag that complicates things)

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Ferdinand
Actually the thing I'm most afraid of is hard landings off big jumps. That and landing upside-down in water.

My fear in rallies would be hitting a pole or tree at high speed. They can penetrate quite far into the car.

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Ferdinand
In addition to our infamous DNF at Targa, of the many events we've run together we have only ever retired twice. Once, at the 2012 Black Bear Rally, we cracked the differential case on a rock and all the oil ran out. We finished all the competitive stages and were sitting 2nd overall, when the diff finally let go on the last road transit back to the finish ceremonies. A fellow competitor towed us home, but we were disqualified for the illegal tow. Bummer.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently in that situation?

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Ferdinand
One big difference, I remember when you did the Stavanger Rally that you were not using detailed stage notes. In effect then every corner is blind and you have to take risks every time when you don't know what's over the next crest or around the next corner. If you drive safely, slowing each time, then you will be slow. If you gamble and take big risks to go faster, then certainly that will eventually end badly. But with detailed pace notes (assuming the co-driver is reading them correctly) you form a picture in your head of what's coming up next and then you can make an informed choice on how much risk you're willing to take.

But that sprint rally was rather short. The reason we chose to not use stage notes, was that it was all on familiar roads. I had every corner in memory, so I knew what was supposed to be around every blind corner, but you never know if there is competitor parked in the concrete blocks. In some corners the fastest line went over some sidewalks and stuff like that, potentially damaging the suspension and driveline. We were one of very few cars choosing a safer line around those obstacle, as we knew the car was not reinforced as much as most of the others. If we had gone for the win, we would have to take the risky line, and could suddenly be without steering heading into a corner. After all, I did manage to take out an engine mount at the launch of the first stage, causing quite a lot of torque steer the rest of the rally.

My co driver (and car owner) had pretty much only one task while I was driving, and that was to count laps on the loop stages. He failed. smiling smiley

Due to lack of experience with rally driving, I also misjudged the braking points quite severely. When inspecting the stages, we tried to guess what speed we could have in the corners, what speed we would reach on the straights, and where I thought I would have to brake. I had all this in memory as well, but I could have been braking far later and still made it around. That lost us some time. To be competetive, I would have to give up a lot of my margin for safety in these situations. My competitors seemed very comfortable with braking too late, crashing into all sorts of barriers.
December 14, 2014 02:31PM
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Ove Kvam
I gave up hang gliding as well.
I didn't know you that you did hang gliding. I had an opportunity to try a friend's hang glider once during university, on a very small gradual slope barely inches off the ground. But I was completely hooked. Other than skydiving in a wingsuit (which I would never try), hang gliding is pretty much as close as one can get to flying like a bird. But I also recognized right away that one is very exposed to all sorts of dangers when hang gliding.

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Ove Kvam
The track days on ice with a new car with no valid insurance, is also something that could go very wrong.
Agreed. Those crazy overnight winter navigational rallies I used to do in my E30 with my 15-yr-old son Christoph navigating for me, ask Dave_G about those, they were quite crazy. On open roads, we could meet oncoming traffic at any time, with a 20 year old rusty car with no rollcage, no helmets, no special safety gear, and questionable insurance status. My wife would have killed me if I had hurt Christoph. In all sorts of ways, those events were a far greater risk in terms of liability exposure and health risk than what I'm doing now with Martin in closed-road performance rallying.

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Ove Kvam
The last two years I have been very careful. While driving sideways a whole weekend, I have not yet touched a single snow bank, and I have not had the car swap ends. I have also seen potentially slower drivers catch up and pass me, without giving in to the urge to show them how it should be done! smiling smiley
That comes with maturity. Controlling the mental aspects and emotions is every bit as important a skill as actually controlling the car. Being able to suppress the "red mist" or road rage is a skill that also must be practised.

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Ove Kvam
Example of very cautious driving recorded with a mobile phone:

You still have the touch. It's great to have an opportunity to go out and practise occasionally. Keeping those skills honed could one day save your life when something unexpected happens on the highway.

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Ove Kvam
My fear in rallies would be hitting a pole or tree at high speed. They can penetrate quite far into the car.
Even just a branch coming through a window could be bad. A few years ago, at the Rallye Baie des Chaleurs, Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino had a scary crash. At the end of a long fast straight, over a series of many crests, they lost count of how many crests they'd already come over and missed the last note after which the road turns sharp right. The car went off sideways, bounced up into the air and snapped off a tree about eight feet off the ground. The car then came down sideways and impaled itself onto the remaining tree stump, with the tree running right through the car in one window and across out the other side. Lucky for them the stump went through the rear side windows where the rear seat would be, not the front windows...

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Ove Kvam
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Ferdinand
... the diff finally let go on the last road transit back to the finish ceremonies. A fellow competitor towed us home, but we were disqualified for the illegal tow. Bummer.
In hindsight, what would you have done differently in that situation?
We could have tried pushing the car home for several kilometres, but even if that was possible we would have been far too late getting back. The rules are quite explicit that, with the exception of a quick push or tow out of a snowbank/ditch, the car has to complete the entire distance of the rally under its own power.

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Ove Kvam
Due to lack of experience with rally driving, I also misjudged the braking points quite severely.
That's a very good point. You were driving someone else's car. FWD as well, wasn't it?

Practice on all sorts of different surfaces, gravel, asphalt, mud, ice, knowing exactly how your car behaves under every different type of scenario, that all takes time and money to perfect. Some people are specialists on only one particular type of surface, others like Sebastien Loeb seem to excel no matter what or where they're driving.

When you are lapping continuously on the ice track, chasing other cars, you can memorize the best lines and can see exactly whether you are gaining or losing ground on other cars. But if you are doing solo timed runs, only one car at a time, it's completely different. You can't immediately tell whether you are faster or slower than others, and if you have to wait for thirty or forty other cars to complete their runs before you get your next chance, by then the ice track conditions will have completely changed and the lines you had hoped to take may no longer be the best lines, where you usually brake may now be polished ice. You need to react accordingly and adjust your strategy on the fly. And that's where some people really excel. It's not just about car control. Being able to think and constantly revise and adjust strategy while at the limit of car control is what makes some people better at the game than others.

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Ove Kvam
My competitors seemed very comfortable with braking too late, crashing into all sorts of barriers.
Our strategy has always been to ignore what others are doing and simply run at our own pace. Martin decides how hard he wants to push. Ultimately it's his money that he's throwing away if he trashes his car. He always leaves a healthy safety margin and won't take stupid risks.

We have no hope of ever achieving the same pace as the top Open-Class 4WD factory teams. We are very rarely the quickest of the 2WD teams entered, although we're never the slowest either. There are teams willing to take much greater risks, either because they can afford the expense of rebuilding cars after every event, or because they're crazy stupid. Those teams rarely make it to the finish line, whereas Martin and I have an enviable finishing record.

The Tall Pines Rally historically sees only half the entries making it all the way to the finish. In the eight times I've run this rally with Martin, we only failed to finish the one time that I quit on him due to concussion/nausea.
December 14, 2014 08:36PM
The TV episode covering the Oct 2-3rd Pacific Forest Rally was posted online today.

Neither we or Simon Dubé could afford to travel out west to this one, or to the Oct 30-31st Rocky Mountain Rally.

This BMW (The Gravel Machine Gun) finished 3rd Overall, and Chris Greenhouse wrecked his Neon SRT4.



December 15, 2014 01:45AM
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Ferdinand
I didn't know you that you did hang gliding. I had an opportunity to try a friend's hang glider once during university, on a very small gradual slope barely inches off the ground. But I was completely hooked. Other than skydiving in a wingsuit (which I would never try), hang gliding is pretty much as close as one can get to flying like a bird. But I also recognized right away that one is very exposed to all sorts of dangers when hang gliding.

But the dangers of hang gliding are very visible and obvious, so you are not likely to underestimate them. When you take the sensible precautions, hang gliding is actually a rather safe sport. I gave it up mostly because it was too time consuming. Here is a small video of me launching from a mountain some time during the previous millennium:
[www.facebook.com]

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Ferdinand
You still have the touch. It's great to have an opportunity to go out and practise occasionally. Keeping those skills honed could one day save your life when something unexpected happens on the highway.

It sure can, even though the necessary defensive reflexes are now also built into the modern cars. The dynamic stabilty system of our F20 one series is rather impressive. While the older DSC systems were fighting me for control by over-correcting all my inputs, the new system actually cooperate. It is not useful for track driving, as it brakes way too much, but it can come in handy in a critical situation on the road.

My own ice track reflexes has kept the shiny side of my older cars up a couple of times.

At one time, driving the E30 318iS, I was accelerating from 60-80 km/h in fifth gear on a wet road while swapping out a CD. I had my eyes briefly off the road when I heard the engine speed raise too fast. I had hit some black ice, and both rear wheels started spinning. The road was narrow and straight, with no cars coming towards me, but when I looked up, the car was already rotating way out of line. The friction was close to zero on the wet ice with studless tires. I declutched and spun the steering to full lock as quick as I could. This was all reflexes, so my brain was still not understanding the situation. The car was sliding completely sideways for what seemed like a very long time before it decided to cave in and point the kidneys in the direction of travel again.

The other time was on a wet summer road, doing around 70 km/t around a corner in the E36 323ti Compact. I suddenly felt the steering go light, which caused an internal body reaction, raising the readiness level to DEFCON one. It was a right hander, with oncoming traffic, so there was not much room for understeer. Just as I felt the steering weight starting to come back, both rear wheels spun out. Since this was uphill, I had my right foot down. The ASC+T "stability system", which is really only traction control, was enabled. It did not manage to prevent the wheelspin. It did however prevent me from sustaining the slide under control by keeping some wheelspin. All I could do, was to work with the steering. Just enough to keep the car from swapping ends, but not so much that I crossed into the oncoming lane. It was a fine balance along the center line of the road. Eventually I could bring it back under control.

Turned out that there was oil in my lane. After the corner, I called it in to the local authorities.

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Ferdinand
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Ove Kvam
Due to lack of experience with rally driving, I also misjudged the braking points quite severely.
That's a very good point. You were driving someone else's car. FWD as well, wasn't it?

Yes, it was a Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9.

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Ferdinand
When you are lapping continuously on the ice track, chasing other cars, you can memorize the best lines and can see exactly whether you are gaining or losing ground on other cars. But if you are doing solo timed runs, only one car at a time, it's completely different. You can't immediately tell whether you are faster or slower than others, and if you have to wait for thirty or forty other cars to complete their runs before you get your next chance, by then the ice track conditions will have completely changed and the lines you had hoped to take may no longer be the best lines, where you usually brake may now be polished ice. You need to react accordingly and adjust your strategy on the fly. And that's where some people really excel. It's not just about car control. Being able to think and constantly revise and adjust strategy while at the limit of car control is what makes some people better at the game than others.

Yes, I have definitely noticed. We sometimes have timed solo runs on our ice track weekends. Particularly the cars with rally tires affect the conditions for the next car. Five laps with those tires, and the grip is excellent. 10 laps with studless tires, and it is polished again. Very difficult to judge the braking points. When I had the E30, I was younger and braver, taking more risk (and denting the front plate in the snow banks). Now I prefer to always err on the side of safety, which sometimes makes me too slow. But I have plenty of trophies at home, so I don't mind if the other guys get some as well! smiling smiley

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Ferdinand
Our strategy has always been to ignore what others are doing and simply run at our own pace. Martin decides how hard he wants to push. Ultimately it's his money that he's throwing away if he trashes his car. He always leaves a healthy safety margin and won't take stupid risks.

We have no hope of ever achieving the same pace as the top Open-Class 4WD factory teams. We are very rarely the quickest of the 2WD teams entered, although we're never the slowest either. There are teams willing to take much greater risks, either because they can afford the expense of rebuilding cars after every event, or because they're crazy stupid. Those teams rarely make it to the finish line, whereas Martin and I have an enviable finishing record.

The Tall Pines Rally historically sees only half the entries making it all the way to the finish. In the eight times I've run this rally with Martin, we only failed to finish the one time that I quit on him due to concussion/nausea.

Seems to me like you found a very nice strategy for winning the overall championship, except not participating in all the rallies. Sometimes the overall winner does not win a single competition, but keeps collecting those points, and avoids having to spend all the money rebuild the car. Instead that money can go into maintenance, better tires and maybe even some test runs.
December 15, 2014 10:46AM
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Ove Kvam
Here is a small video of me launching from a mountain some time during the previous millennium:
[www.facebook.com]
Cool !
That is very similar to the one my friend had back in University, except his didn't have the fancy streamlined hammock, his had just a harness that left you sitting upright. He built his own first hang glider by himself out of bamboo poles and a sheet of plastic. Amazing he didn't kill himself with that. Then he bought that delta-wing. I wonder what ever became of him.

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Ove Kvam
... the necessary defensive reflexes are now also built into the modern cars. The dynamic stability system...
I still help out as an instructor at our Ottawa Motorsports Club winter driving school which we offer to the public. It is becoming increasingly frustrating because it's difficult to demonstrate any of the necessary skid recovery techniques when the car automatically does everything for you nowadays.

One of the things I used to stress was not cranking the steering wheel over even more when the car is already understeering. Come to a corner, turn the steering wheel, car refuses to turn and plows straight ahead, most students would instinctively crank the steering wheel several more times until it's at full lock, only making matters worse. When eventually slowed enough to regain grip on the front wheels, the car would suddenly spear off in the direction the wheels were pointed, with the student not even realizing they had the wheels pointing way off to the left or right.

I had to keep demonstrating that, at the point where the front wheels are already starting to slip, turning the steering wheel further only makes it slip worse. You need to back off the steering wheel a bit to allow the front wheels to regain grip, using a very light touch on the wheel in order to feel exactly the point where the steering is still gripping or where it's starting to let go.

Well now of course that old theory goes right out the window. Student after student has proven me wrong, because the more ham-fisted you get with the steering wheel, the more aggressively you yank the steering wheel hard into the turn, the sooner the stability control system is triggered to save your bacon. Forget trying to be sensitive with the wheel, just crank it over hard and let the computer figure out what you're trying to do.

After a few laps around the track like that we'd eventually pull back into the paddock for a rest and there'd be smoke coming off all the wheels because the brakes had been cycling away the whole time forcing the car to turn into corners, ABS, Traction Control, Stability Control, everything working like mad to correct the driver's ham-fisted inputs.

It's frustrating. There's no art in doing it that way.
December 15, 2014 12:38PM
Why not use an older simple car, to explain basics, then escalate to the modern car?

I feel most new cars don't "communicate" with the driver as older ones did, so don't blame the new drivers to be insensitive to the car inputs, they are deeply masked under several layers of power assistance and electronic aids. :/
Not sure if the industry has taken the right path, as new cars instile overconfidence in inexperienced drivers, as older ones felt more unstable and taught drivers to be sensible.

Mika hakkinen teaches captain slow
December 15, 2014 01:23PM
Quote
Ferdinand
One of the things I used to stress was not cranking the steering wheel over even more when the car is already understeering. Come to a corner, turn the steering wheel, car refuses to turn and plows straight ahead, most students would instinctively crank the steering wheel several more times until it's at full lock, only making matters worse. When eventually slowed enough to regain grip on the front wheels, the car would suddenly spear off in the direction the wheels were pointed, with the student not even realizing they had the wheels pointing way off to the left or right.

That sure is a classic. I have seen another version of the same thing many times when FWD cars are accelerating onto another road through a right turn. They use too much throttle, and get wild understeer as the turbo diesel engine hits the torque peak. Since the car has straightened the path by itself due to understeer, it is now perfectly aligned with the new road. When they declutch to shift up, the wheelspin stops, and the car steers abrubtly into the ditch, where the steering was pointed all the time. Quite funny to watch.

Quote
Ferdinand
It's frustrating. There's no art in doing it that way.

I agree. But knowing that most other drivers (including my wife) don't master this art, I am pleased that their cars can save the day.

There is another part of the art that has gone missing. With the E30 and the E36 Compact (same suspension layout), the balance of the car was very throttle sensitive. There was a lot of work with the pedals in slippery conditions to tune the balance of the car continuously. Even with all the stability systems disabled in the F20, the car is very difficult to bring out of balance. If I just crank over the steering too much, the car will go into a four wheel slide. Instead of using the pedals for balance control, I can now brake hard or accelerate hard in corners while cornering rather well. It makes it easier to drive, and lets me brake very late, while still getting decent exit speeds. If you watch modern racing, they have more spiral lines now, not the old constant speed circle arcs. You can hear them shift down several times after corner entry, and then start working their way up through the gears again on the way out.
January 10, 2015 03:50PM
Quote
Ferdinand
Martin Rowe, a Brit, was Production Class World Rally Champion in 2003, and British Rally Champion a few times. He was hired this year as the driver for the Subaru Canada Factory Team, replacing Patrick Richard (Nathalie's brother) who had to retire due to medical reasons. I've heard Subaru would prefer to have a Canadian driving for them instead and Martin's job is far from secure. This crash likely won't help his case.


Subaru Canada has announced their team lineup for 2015, and Martin Rowe is not on it. Instead the coveted factory sponsored ride has been given to Antoine L'Estage and Alan Ockwell. Despite struggling for sponsorship to run his Mitsubishi Evo for the last several years, l'Estage has proven again and again that he's the best driver competing in the Canadian Rally Championship. I think, given the fully-sponsored Subaru factory ride, he's going to be unbeatable.

http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1470295/subaru-rally-team-canada-prepares-for-2015-canadian-rally-championship-antoine-l-estage-steering-the-way

The TV coverage of the 2014 Tall Pines Rally is now available online. They've done an outstanding job of covering the entire season. Lots of good stories in this event.



January 14, 2015 01:35PM
Quote
Ferdinand
The TV coverage of the 2014 Tall Pines Rally is now available online. They've done an outstanding job of covering the entire season. Lots of good stories in this event.

Outstanding! Thanks, Ferdinand!

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
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