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2009 Cdn National Rally Perce-Neige - in-car video

Posted by Ferdinand 
On Feb 7th, Martin & I had our first rally of the 2009 season in his Nissan 240SX, the Rally Perce Neige held in Maniwaki Quebec.

I'm almost finished processing all our in-car videos for each stage, but I've got most of them posted now.

There are some really excellent Perce Neige photos to be found on Maciej Janiak's website.

Parc Exposé
Des Eaux 1&2
Farley 1&2

Here's a shot of Martin & me flying on the Des Eaux stage:

and on our first pass of the Farley stage:

February 26, 2009 03:01PM
Unfortunately I somehow missed recording the first two stages, Marie-Anne-1 and Des Eaux-1. I'm not sure how that happened. Fortunately both stages are very short and you didn't miss anything. So the clips start on Stage #3, our second pass on the ultra-short Marie-Anne stage.

SS03 - Marie-Anne 2:

This is a very short spectator stage, located just outside Maniwaki. It's tempting to show off for the spectators, but the few corners on this stage always are extremely icy. The potential is high for making an embarrassing mistake, so we were not going to take any unnecessary risks this early into a long rally.

On our first pass we did a time of 1:42, only good enough for 32nd out of 40 cars entered, but just 3 seconds slower than the amazing Peter Kocandrle in his little Suzuki Swift. On this second pass we were a bit slower at 1:47, managing only 34th quickest. But we were waaaaaay ahead of Kocandrle who had to be pulled out by the sweep trucks after stuffing his Swift deep into the snowbank on the first corner.

Watch how well the AWD Subaru of Patrice Potvin and Anick Madon launches ahead of us. They were 12 seconds quicker than us on this short little stage. I'll bet at least half of that difference was due to the launch alone!
February 26, 2009 03:03PM
SS04 - Des Eaux 2:

This stage has some really fast sections, but is also very icy.

About 4 minutes into the clip we come across the VW Golf of Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila parked high on a snowbank. We felt bad for them, having come all the way from Calgary to stuff their car on only the 4th short stage.

But just like that, two of our main competitors in the 2wd category (Kocandrle & Grochowksi) have now fallen far down the standings. The Zedrils are always way quicker than us, and the Rainvilles are still ahead of us, but we're looking good for a potential podium finish in 2wd.

Ah, but it's still far too early to be thinking about that. From here we head back to Service, then head out into the woods for our first pass through the long treacherous Kitigan Zibi stage.
February 26, 2009 03:06PM
SS05 - Kitigan Zibi 1 (Part 1 of 4):

This stage has a little bit of everything. Actually, it has a LOT of everything.

This is a very challenging stage that seems to go on forever and ever.

The first challenge came in the announcement that the start line was moved 1.5 km downstream, due to a lack of volunteers needed to marshal some of the early intersections and trail crossings. So we had to be careful to figure out exactly where the new start line location comes up in our stage notes to ensure I didn't already get lost in the notes immediately on the start.

About 8 minutes into the clip we hit a big bump in the road that momentarily scrambled my brains. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Right after the bump I call a "120 L5 into R4 long", then change my mind and call it a "L4 long", then back to a "R4 long". Martin tries to correct me, because he can see it's a R4.

I've repeated it four or five times already. Yes, clearly it's a R4. What's the problem? Why does he keep insisting on having this one repeated?

It was only watching the video later that I realized I'd switched back and forth between calling it a R4 or a L4. Oops, little slips like that could create bad consequences. Lucky thing Martin was paying attention.
February 26, 2009 03:09PM
SS05 - Kitigan Zibi 1 (Part 2 of 4):

At the beginning of this clip, Chris Martin & Phil Narini catch and pass us. We know they're faster than us, and Martin has been keeping one eye on the rearview mirror all this time waiting to see them coming up behind us. It was a big relief to us, and probably to them too, that they caught us right at a convenient point where it was easy for us to move over in a clearing to let them past. Sometimes the road is too narrow to risk pulling over anywhere.

At the same intersection where we moved over to let Chris Martin pass us, Bruno-Pierre Allard and Jules Allard were just finishing up replacing a flat tire. Anxious to get out ahead of us, lest we hold them up from there on, they very nearly collided with Chris Martin's car!

From here we get into the rough portion of Kitigan Zibi. It's too bad the video doesn't capture just how steep some of these uphill and downhill sections really are. And they sure are icy too!

At 8:30 into the clip we hit a rock on the apex of a R3 corner. The rocks cuts our right rear tire and it goes flat shortly after that. You can tell it's flat because our speed falls off as Martin starts to struggle with the strange handling. But we continue on for another 4 minutes before the flat tire eventually slips off the bead and then the rim starts spinning inside the loose tire forcing us to stop and change the wheel...
February 26, 2009 03:12PM
SS05 - Kitigan Zibi 1 (Part 3 of 4):

About 3 minutes into this clip the flat tire finally comes off the rim forcing us to stop. We made a real dog's breakfast of this tire swap.

First we overshot the spot where we should have stopped to get safely off the road. We couldn't go any further forward with the rim spinning uselessly inside the loose tire. So we had to back up, probably not the safest thing to do.

While I was out of the car running back with the warning triangle, Martin backed up the car, which is difficult to do when you're wearing a HANS device and can't turn your head far enough to see anything.

While trying to back into a narrow opening in the snowbank, the car got stuck with the nose still out blocking half the road. There was a radio car right where we stopped at this location (view in satellite mode), along with several other cars and people just standing around. Martin got a little frustrated when nobody helped push, but I signalled to him to leave it there as there was plenty enough room for other cars to get around us.

Turns out that was a mistake too as the right rear corner, where the flat tire is, was now wedged into the snowbank. When Martin got the jack into place and started winding it up using the electric impact gun, instead of lifting the car, the jack just drove further down into the deep snow. Eventually, after lots of time, the jack was up high enough to get the wheel off. Just before the wheel came off, and luckily not after, the car fell off the jack. So we had to start the whole process over again.

By then, the battery on the impact gun starting going flat and no longer had enough power to lift the car.

Then we enlisted the help of the bystanders to lift the rear of the car while Martin cranked the jack. We eventually got the car up high enough, removed the flat tire, and replaced it with a spare.

But, all told, the entire process took us an excruciatingly long 12 minutes to change the flat tire. Ouch.
February 26, 2009 03:12PM
SS05 - Kitigan Zibi 1 (Part 4 of 4):

The conclusion of the long Kitigan Zibi stage. Lots of other teams experienced an assortment of flat tires and other issues on this tough stage.
February 26, 2009 03:14PM
SS06 - Farley 1:

This is a fun stage. Lots of spectators, lots of tricky icy corners.

The road was straightened in a couple of spots this year, removing some of the more interesting bits. Luckily there's still no shortage of other interesting bits.

We biffed a couple of snowbanks, dodged a complete exhaust system lying on the exit of one corner, and passed the Narinis and Mathews who were both stuck in the snowbank just short of the finish.
February 26, 2009 03:16PM
SS07 - Fix Auto 1:

This is the new Blue Sea to Bouchette stage, very near to where our cottage is located.

This stage has some steep elevation changes, tight icy corners, and crazy fast long straights.
February 26, 2009 03:21PM
SS08 - Farley 2:

Even more icy the second time. The Farley stage is always a skating rink. Here's a map of the Farley stage.

Patrick and André Rainville stuffed on this stage.

We smelled rubber burning. It turned out to be the alternator belt slipping, but we were convinced we had another flat.

"Good thing we didn't stop to change it."
February 26, 2009 03:26PM
SS09 - Fix Auto 2:

Here's a map of the Blue-Sea to Bouchette stage, sponsored by Fix-Auto a local auto body repair chain.

We switched to recording from the other rollbar-mounted camera. I like this view better because it shows Martin hard at work behind the wheel.

Unfortunately the camera is positioned a little too far back so it sees too much of the interior of the car and not enough out the windshield. That causes the recorder to adjust the exposure more for the interior view and over-exposes the outside view. I thought we'd be okay because it was starting to get dark out, but the view of the road is still a bit over-exposed.

Martin always looks so relaxed at the wheel, making this look easy. But I can assure you, it's not at all easy. This car has way too much power for these extremely icy conditions. Martin is constantly feathering the throttle, keeping the revs low, always trying to keep those rear wheels hooked up with traction. On the ice, the moment the big turbocharger spools up and starts making boost, the engine instantly spins the rear tires loose, and just like that we're sideways.

Martin is an awesome driver and it's fun watching him work.
February 26, 2009 03:42PM
SS10 - Kitigan Zibi 2 - Part 1/3:

Kitigan Zibi is a monster of a stage at 32 kms long. It's also much more icy on this second pass.

The stage starts here, heading west. If you look at the Google Map using satellite view, just west of this point the satellite image resolution is really excellent, and if you listen as I call the notes in the video, see if you can follow along on the map.

There's one interesting little bit in this clip, starting at 3:50 in.

"R6/Cr 80 R5" (Right-6 over Crest, 80 Right-5)
A Right-6 is pretty much flat out but, because it's hidden over a crest, it still looks scary on the approach. Martin needs to know what comes immediately after that R6, so can he decide how much he wants to commit to this blind crest. So I tell him it's followed by an 80 metre straight leading to a Right-5, just so he knows for sure there's no nasty surprise hairpin or anything like that. If I'm too slow with that information, he'll prompt me with a, "Next."

After the Right-5, the road "Kinks 200", meaning it's a longish straightaway that zig-zags slightly with no real turns big enough worth noting.

What we really need to watch out for is the tight Left-4 at the end of the "Kinks 200".

The problem with notes like "Kinks 200" is that it's kind of vague as to just how many times the road zig-zags before it's time to carry on with the next note. If there is an obviously visible feature at the end, like a big crest, or a hairpin, then it's easy to tell when we're done with the Kinks 200. But if the kinks lead into another fast turn like a L6 or R6, then it is sometimes difficult to tell if that was just another kink in the series of kinks, or we've actually reached the next instruction. It's easy to lose your place in the notes in that case.

But this time we have an obvious L4 at the end of the Kinks 200. We'll recognize that for sure when we see it. A left-four is quite tight, especially when approached at speed at the end of a long straightaway.

So here's the other problem with a note like "Kinks 200". The 200 is a very rough estimate of the length of the straight in metres or yards. Anything less than 50 is usually too short to mention. We typically only make distance notes in increments like 50, 80, 100, 150, 200, 250... But they're very rarely ever accurate when compared to what the odometer actually measures.

It really doesn't matter though. It's just a rough estimate. It's what that length "feels" like when at speed. When going slowly an actual 100 metre straight seems to take forever, but at speed a 400 metre long straight may "feel" like it's only 100 metres long. I write down whatever Martin tells me during recce and read it back like that during the rally. If he says it's 200, I call it as 200, because that is what it "feels" like to him.

Okay, so right here coming onto the "Kinks 200", I made a small mistake. As we exit the fast R5 leading onto the Kinks 200, I tell Martin, "at the end of this is a L4." I should have waited a bit longer before alarming him with that.

Because the road isn't quite straight (it "kinks" eh), it's difficult to see down the full length and we can't spot the L4 yet. The moment I mentioned a L4, Martin knew we would need to slow considerably for that sharp corner, so instead of blasting down this long straight at speed, he's already easing out of the throttle well in advance of the corner.

I wanted to make certain I didn't miss this tight L4 at the end of the long Kinks straightaway, because it is easy to get lost when the notes only say "Kinks". So during recce I cleverly noted the exact mileage of this L4. I'm watching the odometer, and I can see we actually still have a long way to go.

To encourage Martin to get back on the gas pedal, I tell him we actually still have another 300 metres to go to the L4. But that's just confusing because I just finished reading him the note that said this straight Kinks for 200 metres. We've already come at least halfway down the "Kinks 200" straight. So how can there possibly be another 300 metres to go from here?

And just then we spot the L4, and even though it truly is still another 300 metres to go from here, on this incredibly icy surface with no grip for braking, it "feels" like the L4 corner is right here, right now!

So Martin sneers at my 300 metre announcement and says, "Or sooner?"

The moral of the story is, the driver is always right.

I should have a waited a bit longer before scaring him by telling him we're looking for a L4 at the end of the Kinks 200. Then he wouldn't have lifted off so early. But if I had waited too long he probably would have snapped another "Next!" at me. In any case, confusing him with an actual odometer measurement didn't help the situation at all.

It was no big deal. We probably only lost a second or two on that straight by lifting off too early. Little miscommunications like this, seconds dropped here and there, are a big part of what separates relative newcomers like us from the real expert teams.

Still, the consequences of lifting off a couple of seconds too late instead would certainly have been much worse for us.
will you temporarily adopt me so I can participate in some of these darn things?

will you temporarily adopt me so I can participate in some of these darn things?
Nonsense, get out there and do it yourself! No need for any adoptions! First thing, go here: Oregon Rally Group. Find a friend and go participate in some TSD rallies, which are relatively tame, low-speed, low-cost events, but provide a good introduction to rallying. I've never done a true stage rally, and maybe never will, but some of the more advanced "brisk" TSD rallies may at times be a fair approximation, I think. grinning smiley

'91 325iX
February 26, 2009 03:55PM
SS10 - Kitigan Zibi 2 - Part 2/3:

If you're still trying to follow along on the satellite map, this clip Part2 starts right here, heading South, and we turn left (East) at that first junction.

About 3:40 minutes into this clip we turn right (South) here onto a very rough trail. ("Caution R2 up, fast bumpy 80 up")

At that point we start seeing the tail lights of Jaak & Jane Laan's Subaru. They must have had some momentary problem that dropped them back to us, because we chased them hard for the next 6 minutes but never seemed to get any closer.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/26/2009 03:57PM by Ferdinand.
will you temporarily adopt me so I can participate in some of these darn things?
Nonsense, get out there and do it yourself! No need for any adoptions! First thing, go here: Oregon Rally Group. Find a friend and go participate in some TSD rallies, which are relatively tame, low-speed, low-cost events, but provide a good introduction to rallying. I've never done a true stage rally, and maybe never will, but some of the more advanced "brisk" TSD rallies may at times be a fair approximation, I think. grinning smiley

i don't think i want to take my car on a rally, though. it is closer to being setup for a racetrack than a rally.

February 26, 2009 04:06PM
SS10 - Kitigan Zibi 2 - Part 3/3:

The video continues starting from here, heading West.

After chasing Jaak & Jane for such a long time, but not really gaining on them, we now have another car catching up behind us. Under this added pressure we start pushing Jaak a little harder, and 2 minutes into this clip Jaak moves over to let us both past here.

It's not easy finding a wide enough spot in this narrow road to safely let other cars by, but it all worked out nicely.

Once ahead of Jaak & Jane, Martin was convinced that we should be able to stay ahead and pull away from the car following us. We thought it was Vince Landreville & Matt Waters, but it was actually Peter Kocandrle & Jimmy Brandt. Those guys are amazingly quick in their little Suzuki Swift. They passed something like five cars in this stage. We let them by here.

Just before the finish we caught and passed Eric Grochowski & Leanne Junnila here.

Lots more in-car action still to come...
i don't think i want to take my car on a rally, though. it is closer to being setup for a racetrack than a rally.
Contact them anyway.

They might even have all-tarmac events. See these photos that look like they even use the Portland race track.
February 26, 2009 04:16PM
SS11 - CGFA 1 - Part 1/2:

This brand new stage is sponsored by "CGFA", which at first I thought might be the local radio station or something. Turns out it's actually the "Corporation de Gestion de la Forêt de l'Aigle", the management corporation for the Eagle Forest, through which all these fabulous forest stages are run.

This stage is so new, you can't even find it on Google Maps. The CGFA stage starts at the point marked in this satellite view, and follows that cow-path south and well beyond the point where the trail ends in this satellite view.

Follow that trail to where it ends at the lake, then look west across the squiggly river to the Chemin du Depôt de l'Aigle where the road crosses the river. Just after the bridge, the road swings sharp right and heads North. The end of the CGFA stage was just after that right turn, from where we follow that road straight up to the Black Rollway centre for the next Service break.

From the end of the visible trail, the CFGA stage continues to zig and zag and dip and dive forever through the most amazingly challenging "road" before eventually joining the Chemin du Depôt de l'Aigle at an evil downhill acute R2 hairpin waaaaaaaay down here at this point.

If you zoom in on that spot, you can just barely see and trace back along a trail that follows the shoreline of a chain of small lakes before it eventually peters out somewhere in a swamp.

Needless to say, Peter Kocandrle & Jimmy Brandt caught and passed us again on this stage, but not until about mid-stage right near the end of this first clip, Part 1.
February 26, 2009 04:22PM
SS11 - CGFA 1 - Part 2/2:

I made another error in this stage. Again it was really no big deal at the time, on this first pass through the CGFA stage, but it would have major consequences on our second pass through this same stage.

In this clip, Part 2/2 of this first pass, we've just moved over to let by Peter Kocandrle & Jimmy Brandt. It's always easier to chase someone, than be chased. So we have a bit of fun trying to keep up with Peter & Jimmy. But it's hopeless. They're way too quick.

About a minute into this clip we smack a big rock sticking up out of the road. Ouch! And shortly thereafter we run over another rock. Ouch again.

It occurred to me that I should maybe mark those rocks in our notes. However, my map-light died early on and now, while trying to read (and hang onto) the notes, I've been holding my flashlight in one hand, while trying to flip pages with my other hand. I'd need to let go with one hand or the other to retrieve my pen if I wanted to add any new notes now.

It only took me a second to consider my options and immediately discard the thought as pure folly, because this stage is incredibly busy and if I risk looking away even for a moment, or worse fumble and drop my flashlight or the notes, I might get lost and then we'd be really screwed because this would be one truly scary stage to do blind in the dark without notes!

Anyway, merely thinking about grabbing my pen was enough of a momentary distraction that I made a small slip in reading the notes. The next instruction was a tight "L3/Cr" (Left 3 over Crest). But more importantly, the L3 falls away downhill, which is much worse than a tight uphill corner.

Because I wasn't paying attention, I neglected to mention (until it was too late) that this was a "L3/Cr down". That gave us both a small fright, with Martin grabbing for the handbrake to get the car turned into the corner. But, no big deal, as always Martin had it all under control.

I say, "Sorry." But Martin is already waiting for the next instruction and doesn't want to take time out for a group hug. He snaps another, "Come on!"

So I go back to concentrating on reading the notes, and the rocks are immediately forgotten, until our next pass through this stage...

Stay tuned. I haven't finished writing that regrettable tale yet.
SS12 - CGFA 2 (Part 1 of 2):

Our time on the first run through here was 16:13 minutes. We thought that was pretty good, all things considered. We are a self-funded team, no rich sponsors, very few spares, and can't afford to take crazy risks. We're in this to finish and to have fun, while also trying to score as well as we can.

We weren't that surprised to see Peter Kocandrle & Jimmy Brandt in their Suzuki Swift beating us with a time of 14:34. That's 1:39 faster than us. Those guys are crazy fast.

But it was absolutely astounding to see that the quickest Open-Class team of Frank Sprongl & Karen Wagner covered the stage in a mere 12:24!! That's amazing.

This video clip is of our second pass on this difficult CGFA stage, which of course is now much more icy. Sprongl was 30 seconds slower this second time through, with a time of 12:54.

On the other hand, Martin & I were almost a full 2 minutes slower, with a time of 18:12. But that was mostly because of hitting that damn rock which I really should have noted on our first pass!

About 7:00 minutes into this clip (Part 1 of 2), we pass the stranded Subaru of Patrick Richard & Alan Ockwell, out with a blown engine. Pat & Alan are the reigning 2008 Canadian National Rally Champions. At the speeds with which they attack each stage, small mistakes tend to have spectacular consequences. It was relief to see them both safe, standing high on a snowbank and enthusiastically cheering us on.
SS12 - CGFA 2 (Part 2 of 2):

With the benefit of hindsight, I now realize we really should have made a note of those rocks which we hit in the previous pass on this stage. But during this second pass, with no note to remind us, we'd already long ago forgotten about the two rocks. It's only by comparing the in-car video of both runs that you can see it's the same spot as before.

On our first pass there were two rocks. The first one was nasty. When we hit it Martin commented that we've probably got another flat tire from that hit, but we got away with it the first time. In comparison, the second of the two rocks was not nearly as bad.

But on this second pass, the first rock was gone. We passed the spot without even a bump. The second rock however was brutal!


The impact broke our right rear suspension. The toe-link snapped. This allowed the rear wheel to flop forward and back, going to full toe-in whenever on the throttle, and toe-out when off the throttle or on the brakes.

On-throttle the car crabbed down the road sideways with the headlights pointing off to the right. Off-throttle the car swung the other way. But, we're still mobile, so let's keep going.!

We didn't realize it at the time, but the right front tire was also flat. You can see it on the video, from the way the car is listing to the right.

Shortly after busting the suspension we came limping southbound out of the forest trail right here, at a "R5> into !! Tee-R2", hairpin right. There we turn North onto Chemin du Depôt de l'Aigle for the fast run (it would have been fast) to the finish of the CGFA stage and straight on to Service at Black Rollway, hoping we can fix the broken suspension.

At 5:00 minutes into the clip, we are caught and passed by David Morrissette & Patrick Lévesque in their fast Audi. They would suffer a similar suspension collapse on the next stage.
March 03, 2009 01:14PM
After breaking the rear suspension on a rock in the CGFA-2 stage, we limped back to Service at Black Rollway with the car crabbing sideways down the road.

Black Rollway is a remote Service location and we didn't bring the trailer, just the truck with whatever tools and spares Freak & Christoph could fit into the box. So, just like always, we had everything we needed to repair the car, except an actual spare suspension toe-link.

The moment we rolled into our service location, the guys jumped into action, getting the rear of the car up first on jackstands so we could see what was broken. When Martin diagnosed the problem, and discovered we didn't have a spare, he took off running around to other crews looking to borrow a welder. We only had 20 minutes to fix the busted part before we were due to check out of Service.

Of course Martin wanted to get to work on the rear suspension right away, but then we discovered the right front tire was flat too. But, with the rear of the car already up on jackstands, we could no longer fit the floor-jack under the nose of the car to raise the front. So the jack had to go under the side of the car to lift the nose. While lifting from the side like this, the car fell off the jackstand on the other side. So we had to lift the other side again too, to get it back up safely onto the jackstand.

Meanwhile Martin had already found an arc-welder, unbolted both ends of the broken toe-link, laid everything out in the correct alignment, touched the welding rod to it, ZAP, and the breaker blew on our generator plunging everything into pitch blackness.

Quick, unplug everything else from the generator and reset the breaker! We need full power for the arc-welder.

Working only by the feeble light of a flashlight, while peering through the dark visor of the welding mask, Martin managed to stitch the broken toe-link back together using the arc-welder. Bolt everything back together, slap the wheels back on the car, we're still going to make it to check-out from Service on time within our alloted 20 minutes. We're good!

So while Martin and I hopped in the car to get belted up, intercom plugged in etc., all that remained was to drop the car off the jackstands, and check to ensure the wheel nuts are torqued tight. Go, go, go!!!

But, nothing's ever simple, eh...

With all the panic with the jack, lifting the wrong end of the car first then having it fall off the jackstand, lifting from the side of the car instead, replacing the jackstands etc, we had inadvertently raised the car up too high. Now, when inserted as usual under the rear diff of the car, the jack couldn't raise up high enough to lift the car off the rear jackstands. The heavy floor-jack then had to be dragged around and repositioned at the side of the car to lift first one side, then the other, off the stands. Then, check all the wheel nuts are tight, go, go go!!!

Damn, we were four minutes late checking out of Service. But, yes, we're still running!
March 03, 2009 02:53PM
SS13 - Tortue North (Part 1 of 3):

I had kind of figured our day was done when we busted the suspension on the previous stage, so I wasn't really mentally prepared to find us now still running and lined up ready to start the long Tortue stage.

When we arrived to check in at the start control, another competitor was there on foot having a long discussion with the control marshals, preventing us from driving up and handing in our timecard. With only 10 seconds left in our minute, I was just about to undo my belts and hop out when finally we rolled up to the control just in time.

And then they assigned us an out-time a mere thirty seconds later, so we had to roll straight up to the start marshal, and get set to go.

That's not a good way to start a stage. I have to show the start marshal the timecard to confirm our start time, then store the card in a safe place, stow the transit routebook, get out my stage notes, remember to roll up the window, maplight still doesn't work, got my flashlight, good, make absolutely certain, check and recheck that I'm on the correct page in my stage notes, video camera is rolling, 's all good, 4-3-2-1-Go!

So, why do I have this nagging feeling that I forgot something important? Crap! I forgot to zero the damn odometer, again!

It's not the end of the world. You really don't need the odo, but it's nice to know that it's there and working if you ever get lost in the notes, because then you can find an odometer notation in your notes, wait for that distance to come up on the odo, and presto you're back on notes, no longer lost. Without the odo though, it's better if you don't get lost.

However, I know this stage has some really, really, fast sections that suddenly end in tight corners. I'd noted the mileage of each of those sudden tight corners to ensure we wouldn't ever get a nasty surprise there, even if lost.

Martin was still fuming about the needless penalty we had received for being 4 minutes late out of Service due to the screwup with the jack, despite all his work to successfully re-weld and replace the busted suspension all within the 20-minutes service break. And now, still on an adrenaline high, he was pushing really, really, hard, skipping off snowbanks, on this fast but very narrow stage!

So when I suddenly realized that I'd forgotten to zero the odo (again), I immediately broke out in a cold sweat of panic fearing that I was going to royally screw this up. Oh please, don't get lost!

So didn't I get lost right away... Sheesh. What a maroon. confused smiley
March 03, 2009 02:57PM
SS13 - Tortue North (Part 2 of 3):

The Tortue stage is 23.78 kms long and very fast.

The corners are almost all sixes and fives, with only a few tight corners to watch out for. Compared to the extremely tight, slow, and constantly twisty CGFA stage, now with the snowbanks and trees whistling past inches either side of the car, it feels like we're really flying. This is an awesome stage.

It's astounding though when you look at our time for this stage. We did it in 20:15, merely 23rd fastest out of the 27 cars still running. It felt waaaaay faster than that.

Frank Sprongl & Karen Wagner did it in 15:37!! eye popping smiley Holeeeeeeey.
March 03, 2009 03:00PM
SS13 - Tortue North (Part 3 of 3):

In this, the conclusion of Tortue North, just before reaching the finish, we caught and passed David Morrissette & Patrick Lévesque as they struggled to coax their broken Audi to the finish line.

They busted something in their right front suspension and couldn't go any faster, or steer, because the tire was jammed back into the fender and dragging.

At the finish control we met our friend Josée, who had a very sensible arrangement of orange pylons safely staking out her location. She was set up out of the back of her car with the tailgate up, and with a table and umbrella. You sure can tell that she's worked a checkpoint once or twice before. Josée, along with our other friends Jetta & Yves, who was organizing cars at the turnaround, always seem to turn up somewhere volunteering at each and every rally. I love these guys!

David & Patrick managed to drag their Audi to the North end of this stage, where all the other cars were waiting at the turnaround. But we still have to run this long stage once more in the opposite direction to get all the way back down to Black Rollway, from where there is still a further one-hour transit all the way back to Maniwaki to reach the end of the rally.

David & Patrick couldn't do anything to fix their broken suspension, so they simply removed the wheel and planned instead to drive the rest of the way on the bare brake rotor!! Sadly, that didn't work either, and they were forced to leave the car stranded way, way, way the heck out here in outer Slobodia.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/03/2009 03:04PM by Ferdinand.
On Feb 7th, Martin & I had our first rally of the 2009 season in his Nissan 240SX, the Rally Perce Neige held in Maniwaki Quebec.

I'm almost finished processing all our in-car videos for each stage, but I've got most of them posted now.

There are some really excellent Perce Neige photos to be found on Maciej Janiak's website.

Parc Exposé
Des Eaux 1&2
Farley 1&2

Here's a shot of Martin & me flying on the Des Eaux stage:

and on our first pass of the Farley stage:

Is that named after Farley Mowat? I love his books smiling smiley
our first pass of the Farley stage:

Is that named after Farley Mowat? smiling smiley
I think not.

Farley is the name of the nearby small town.
March 09, 2009 12:23PM
SS14 - Tortue South (Part 1 of 2):

We had been promised, and were very much looking forward to, coffee and donuts at the turnaround at the North end of the long Tortue stage. But we were way down the running order at this point (third last?), so by the time we finally arrived at the turnaround the coffee and donuts, if there ever had been any, were long gone. There was however quite a party going with a huge bonfire.

When the last stragglers and the sweep crews showed up, the whole caravan got turned around and lined up to start the long run back down Tortue South. ACP needed a push start to get his car running, so about ten of us pushed him down the road until, snap crackle pop and snarl, the engine sprung into life. And then Martin wiped out on the slippery ice and landed flat on his back with a thud.

Oh-oh. That sounded like it hurt.

Sure enough Martin was in pain. I was worried I might have to carry him back to our car and pour him into the driver's seat, but he managed to stagger back on his own.

Finally it was our turn to line up. 3-2-1-Go, and two minutes later I realized I had once again forgotten to zero the odo. Oh, d'oh!

But it didn't really matter much because about 6:50 into the clip everything goes into the toilet when the hastily repaired suspension toe-link snaps again. We're still mobile, but the car is crabbing sideways down the road again. Not good.
March 09, 2009 12:26PM
SS14 - Tortue South (Part 2 of 2):

We were still limping along slowly, with the car crabbing sideways on its broken suspension, when we pulled over to let Patrick & Eric Rainville go by us. Then I got lost, and was forced to admit to Martin that I'd forgotten again to zero the odo. Martin said I'm a retard, but I figured it out eventually and got us back on track okay.

One minute later I got lost again! Okay, so I am a retard. Don't watch that part. It's embarrassing. Luckily we found the "15" sign that I'd cleverly noted during recce and we were good from there on.

None of that mattered anyway because, still well short of the end of the stage, we encountered lots of warning triangles and people waving at us to stop. Frank Sprongl, first car on the road, had suffered a flat tire and tried to drive it out. The tire eventually came apart and the flailing rubber broke an oil line, causing oil to spray everywhere, which then caught fire, forcing Frank to stop.

Sylvain Erickson, second on the road, stopped to help put the fire out. Unfortunately, because of the narrow road and high snowbanks, there was no way to drive around Frank's car, so everybody else got trapped behind the stranded car ultimately forcing the stage to be cancelled.

This was actually a relief to us, since we, with our broken suspension, probably would have been the slowest car on that stage anyway. But we still had to drive the car, as-is, on another hour-long transit on public roads back to Maniwaki to reach the finish of the rally.

I have another short video yet to come illustrating what that adventure was like.
March 09, 2009 12:37PM
Christoph and Freak (our service crew), concerned about the hasty repair job on the suspension, decided to wait for us at Black Rollway to make sure we had successfully made it out of the Tortue stages. There was no more service allowed at this point, so they couldn't do anything for us other than offer moral support and agree to follow us home on the looooooong transit back to Maniwaki.

We only had one hour to complete the transit, so we had to get going right away while Freak and Christoph ran off to retrieve the big F-350 service truck and my wife's Subaru Outback to join the queue and follow us back to Maniwaki.

One hour is not a generous amount of time on these roads in the best of conditions. We were going as quick as we could, with the broken suspension causing the car to snake all over the road. We even had to pass a couple of other service crews pulling big trailers.

We thought for sure we were going to get pulled over by the police for our erratic driving on Hwy-105. That was pretty creepy with the car crabbing along sideways, headlights aimed off to the ditch on the right, unless Martin lifted off the throttle or used the brakes in which case the nose swung the other way instead with the headlights pointed left into oncoming traffic!

It was with huge relief that we eventually reached the rally finish, on time, at the rally HQ in Maniwaki. What a long day. We were fried. We watched the podium ceremonies, champagne spraying, party time, wondering where the heck Freak and Christoph were...

It was almost 1 am when my cellphone rang, my wife calling to let me know she'd received a call from Christoph. He and Freak were both stuck down a snowmobile trail at Black Rollway, something about wolves howling in the background...

Leaving Black Rollway, you cross the bridge and immediately turn right. They went straight instead.

There is no cellphone coverage out there. They called using a land-line phone from the Black Rollway centre, but couldn't reach us because our cellphones had no coverage either until an hour later when we finally reached Maniwaki. My wife had phoned everywhere leaving messages for us. She even posted this plea for help on FlatOverCrest.com.

Our only means of transportation at this point was the broken rally car, and we certainly weren't going to attempt driving that an hour each way to Black Rollway and back. All the other sweep crews were either already well into party-mode by now, or fast asleep in their hotel rooms. We finally coerced Rob Lefebvre into generously agreeing to help us with his Land-Rover, except it would have to wait until morning because we were all dead tired.

Christoph and Freak could run the big truck all night to keep warm, and the owner of Black Rollway had offered them a room for the night. Reassured that they wouldn't freeze to death overnight out in the middle of nowhere, we agreed to meet up with Rob the next morning to see about organizing a rescue mission then.

Of course that meant, to get to our hotel for the night, we had to hop back in the rally car, driving it crabbed sideways through downtown Maniwaki. Then, the next morning, back into the rally car again, zig-zagging sideways all over the road, with just a small detour via the drive-thru window at Tim Hortons for coffee, and then back to rally HQ in time for the breakfast banquet where we'd agreed to meet up with Rob.

And then we got the good news from Christoph. They'd spent the entire night digging the truck and the car out of the snowmobile trail and had just now come within cellphone range of Maniwaki, about five minutes out. Yesssss!

Read Christoph's amusing account of their adventure in this thread.
March 09, 2009 12:38PM
Here is what Marcus Grönholm [aka Martin Walter] had to say about our Perce Neige rally misadventures.

"Not very good, today":

March 09, 2009 04:54PM
Here is what Marcus Grönholm [aka Martin Walter] had to say about our Perce Neige rally misadventures.

"Not very good, today":



March 09, 2009 04:58PM
Read Christoph's amusing account of their adventure in this thread.

"All in all, certainly one of the more entertaining wrong turns that I've taken."

haha it's good he has a sense of humor about it.

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