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2009 Black Bear Rally

Posted by Ferdinand 
June 18, 2009 02:51PM
The 2009 Black Bear Rally, an Ontario Regional event, was held last weekend out of McArthur's Mills just east of Bancroft Ontario.

Of the 17 teams entered, only 8 made it to the finish. In the only RWD entry, a 1991 Nissan 240SX, Martin and I finished 4th overall.

Stories and in-car video to follow.


June 18, 2009 02:58PM
Our adventures started already the Monday before Black Bear, when I very nearly had to cancel my entry. I got called for jury duty!

They sent me a letter a couple of weeks before requesting my presence in a jury selection panel at the courthouse on Monday morning. The letter said, "Please be advised that your attendance may be required by the court the following Monday." Stupid me. I assumed that meant, if selected for jury duty, I would be required to attend the trial starting a week later, i.e. on the Monday following the Black Bear Rally.

That would be okay by me, as it beats sitting in the office.

However, I was shocked to discover that, if I'm selected as a juror, the trial starts right away that morning! And they estimated it could require 8-10 days to complete the trial, Mondays thru Fridays!

Oh-oh. Hang on here, wait a second. I can't do this. I'm supposed to be going rallying this Friday and Saturday in Bancroft.

There were about a 150 potential jurors to choose from. We all trooped into the courtroom and sat down and, yikes, the defendant is sitting right there in the penalty box, defence lawyers and prosecutors ready to go, court clerks all set, and the judge starts asking questions.

Does anybody here know the defendant, the plaintiff, any of the lawyers, or any of the twenty or so names read off the witness list, please stand up? Nobody?

Next question. This is a sexual assault case. Have any of you potential jurists, or immediate family of anyone here, ever been sexually assaulted or been involved in a sexual assault case, please stand up?

Holy crap! HALF the room stands up! What kind of a twisted world do we live in? They all form a line so they can individually whisper quietly to the judge, who dismisses them one by one, but sends the occasional blushing person back to sit down again. Apparently self-abuse doesn't count as an acceptable excuse to get out of jury duty.

Anybody here have any medical reasons why they can't sit without fidgeting in a jury box for a couple of weeks? Is anybody hard of hearing, can't hear what's being said? Does anybody here not understand English? etc, etc. etc...

I'm listening as the judge goes through her list of questions, patiently waiting for her to ask, "Would any jurors prefer to go car rallying this coming Friday?" But the longer and longer this drags on, and the fewer and fewer potential jurors remain sitting in the room with me, the more and more I'm beginning to suspect the rallying question ain't on the list of possible exemptions. Oh crap. This could get serious.

Then the judge eventually asks if anyone would be subject to "exceptional financial hardship" if called to serve on this jury? Okay, that one's worth a try! Martin says rallying is the definition of "exceptional financial hardship".

Technically, it was Martin who paid the entry fee and made the hotel reservations for this event, so I hadn't even paid a cent yet. And my employer would cover my wages if I'm on jury duty. The other guys that stood up are all self-employed and can't afford to shut down their businesses during a trial. One after another they're all dismissed. So what's my excuse?

When my turn came up I smiled nicely at the judge and explained how I couldn't possibly let my team down. We're already registered and committed to competing in this car rally. All our other team members have already made arrangements, booked time off work, etc. Well, actually, none of them were coming with us on Friday. Christoph stayed home to go kart racing Saturday and Sunday, and our chief mechanic had to take his wife out for her birthday on Friday. So we had no service crew at all coming with us to Bancroft on Friday. But all our other team members, if we had any, otherwise surely would have made arrangments to come.

I tell the judge that Martin and I are currently ranked third overall in Ontario, which is actually true. It would cause desperate financial hardship to our small (and getting smaller) struggling rally team in these economically difficult times if we didn't show up to fulfil our contractual commitments to all our sponsors. Okay so we don't actually have any sponsors yet. Details, details. But it could happen, someday, if we keep scoring this well in the results, (3rd overall in Ontario, eh, and did I mention that we're the reigning Canadian National Group 5 Rally Champions?). It's not entirely impossible or unrealistic to expect that we could potentially attract sponsors, someday, maybe, uh-huh, but probably not if we were forced to miss this weekend's rally...

The judge considers this for all of two seconds, shakes her head, that's it, I'm toast, contempt of court, slap him in jail, then she laughs and says that's a new one on her. She's never heard that excuse before.

Good luck at the car rally. I'm dismissed. Yippeee!

I was supposed to return for a second round of jury selections this Monday morning though. However, they phoned to say this case had been settled out of court and I wouldn't be needed.
June 18, 2009 03:04PM
A1: McCaw Eastbound.

Starting here.

We started 9th in the running order. The dust was pretty bad on this first stage and we might have been a bit too cautious, giving up some time to our competition.

We were gunning for Ian Crerar & Doug Draper. With a stage time of 5:36, we were only 6 seconds slower than Ian, and 18 seconds slower than Martin Donnelly & James Drake.
June 18, 2009 03:13PM
A2: Egan Loop 1

Starts here.

I'm always amazed at just how much faster the full race pace is compared to our easy sedate pace while checking the notes during recce. It still takes me much too long to adjust to that, and consequently a lot of my calls were way too late on this really fast and busy stage.

We should have been quicker on this stage, but Martin and I weren't feeling fully confident yet, and again that affected our pace a bit.

We were sad to see our friends Jaak & Jane stranded with a broken halfshaft.

Martin Donnelly & James Drake were again faster than us, this time by 35 seconds. But with a time of 14:04 we beat Ian Crerar & Doug Draper by 10 seconds, moving us ahead of them in the running order at the reseed following this stage.

A2: Egan Loop 1 - (Part 1 of 2)

A2: Egan Loop 1 - (Part 2 of 2)

continues here

We really picked up our game on the following stage though.
June 18, 2009 03:26PM
A3: Egan Loop 2

Starts here.

Stage rallying is very much a team sport. If either the driver or co-driver is not performing up to snuff, then the team is slow.

Our first two stages were merely okay. We weren't embarrassingly slow and we didn't screw anything up too badly. But we weren't warmed up yet. I was way too slow on far too many instruction calls. Understandably, that makes Martin nervous, and thus he can't attack as hard as he would like. I sensed he was hesistant in some spots, so I found myself repeating instructions. But while I was wasting time repeating instructions, Martin would rather have been hearing what's coming next, and I just ended up being even slower on the instructions. That makes Martin even more nervous, which makes me repeat more instructions, etc...

It's no good at all if we're not BOTH confident. Thankfully though, Martin is the type of driver who backs off the throttle a notch or two when he's not 100% certain. He never takes stupid risks if he's not completely sure of what's coming up next. We might be slower than we'd like, but we still get through the stages cleanly.

On this third stage however, our second pass on the long Egan Loop, we suddenly "clicked" and found our rythm. I was confidently calling the notes far enough in advance, and Martin was really shovelling the coals to the boiler.

Holy cow! What a huge difference! Now we're cooking. We were 44 seconds quicker on this pass!!

At 4:45 into the first half, I spliced in a short external video from the spectator point where we turn left from the narrow forest road onto the much faster Egan Creek road.

In the second half from about 3:00 minutes on, after the deep washout with water, it gets really busy and twisty with lots of dips, crests, and jumps. Crazy fast! This was an awesome stage.

A3: Egan Loop 2 - (Part 1 of 2)

A3: Egan Loop 2 - (Part 2 of 2)

Continues eastbound here.
June 18, 2009 03:39PM
A4: McCaw Eastbound 2

Starts here.

We were really stoked after our good run on the second Egan Loop stage. But this next stage, A4: McCaw Eastbound 2, was a sobering reminder that even the best teams can have things very suddenly go pear-shaped.

Coming off a string of outstanding performances, 1st overall at the Ontario Regional Lanark Highlands Forest Rally and 3rd overall at the Canadian National Rocky Mountain Rally, after three stages of the Black Bear Rally Nick & Kelly Mathew were sitting in 2nd place only ten seconds behind leaders Peter Thomson & Frank Sprongl. Halfway through this fourth stage, they suffered brake failure, ran off the edge of the road on a sharp right over crest, and rolled into a tree, catching the tree in the middle of the car's roof.

As first car on the scene, Martin Donnelly & James Drake stopped to assist. Another minute later Chris Martin & Phil Narini also stopped to help. We arrived on the scene three minutes after the incident, by which time Kelly was already up the road with her warning triangle out, waving for us to slow down.

We were relieved to see the situation was under control with nobody hurt. Donnelly & Drake were still stopped, but Chris & Phil were just pulling away as we came around the corner.

That sucked for us, as it meant we were stuck in their dust and couldn't see a damn thing. Martin pushed as hard as he dared. But we were worried about potentially surprising any trees which might have chosen this moment to attempt crossing the road under cover of all that dust. Out of respect for those sneaky wandering trees, we felt it best to back off just a wee bit where the dust was really bad. As a result we were 14 seconds slower this time through.

Both Martin Donnelly and Chris Martin were granted a time allowance for having stopped for Nick & Kelly, and were assigned a stage time equal to their previous run. That's completely fair, as nobody should ever be penalized for doing the right thing and stopping to help like this. In fact, this actually was a reward for them, since the other top running teams were all slower on their second pass due to the dust and the road getting chewed up. Peter Thomson was 6 secs slower, we were 14 secs slower, Ian Crerar 10 secs slower, and Vincent Landreville was 22 secs slower.

A4: McCaw Eastbound 2.

Four more stages still to come...
June 20, 2009 06:02PM
Martin and I finished 4th overall.

Well done!
Nest time aim for the podium! spinning smiley sticking its tongue out
June 22, 2009 11:07AM
Jose Pinto
Next time aim for the podium! spinning smiley sticking its tongue out
We did make the podium, for the first time ever, on our previous regional rally, the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally. They pulled a cruel trick on us in this Black Bear Rally though.

From right after the fourth stage until the finish after the eighth stage, the results had us listed in 3rd overall. At the finish, when all the other teams drove straight back into the service park, they pulled us out of the lineup to have us park our car up in 3rd spot waiting for the podium ceremony. But then they changed their minds and kicked us off the podium when the official final results were announced, as Donnelly&Drake received a time allowance for stage A4, where they had stopped to help the team who rolled. Bummer.
June 22, 2009 11:10AM
This was our third pass on the long Egan Loop stage and some portions of the road were getting ripped up, churning up the deep loose sand in the slower corners and bringing lots of big rocks to the surface. The front running teams were all approx 20 seconds slower on this pass.

Of the original 17 teams starting the event, only 8 remain after this stage.

Former Canadian Champions Thomson & Sprongl are still running fast and strong in the lead, with Chris Martin & Phil Narini only a 1:22 behind in 2nd place. Martin Donnelly & James Drake are still in 3rd, with Martin & me 1:23 behind them in 4th.

With a time of 13:40, we beat Donnelly/Drake by 20 seconds on this stage! There are three stages still to go. We might catch them yet.

A5: Egan Loop 3 - (Part 1 of 2)

A5: Egan Loop 3 - (Part 2 of 2)

In an attempt to minimize the dust and sand blowing aroung inside the car, we kept the windows shut tight this time. But it was really hot in the car. At the finish control, Martin had sweat running into his eyes and used a rag to wipe his face. We had a small fright when Martin thought he had wiped one of his contact lenses out of his eye! He starts looking down hoping the lens dropped into his lap. Oh-oh. That can't be good...
June 22, 2009 01:55PM
A6: McCaw Westbound -

Starts here.

This stage was tough because we're heading into the afternoon sun. With the dust hanging in the air it was really difficult to see where the roads goes.

On this 7 km stage we were 3rd fastest, again faster than Donnelly/Drake, finishing 7 seconds quicker than them. But we're still 1:16 behind them in total time.

We have two more stages to go, two passes on the 13.5 km Peanut stage.
June 23, 2009 01:10PM
A7: Peanut 1

Starts here.

This is the same 13.5 km Peanut stage that's part of the Tall Pines Rally, except run in the other direction.

Ken Block crashed out of the Tall Pines Rally on this stage last year.
Tall Pines - Peanut 1 (part 1/2) - [URL="


Tall Pines - Peanut 1 (part 2/2) - [URL="



Seven months later, at 3:13 in our in-car video, you can still see the hole he left in the trees on the right, just after the yellow sign with black arrow.

Run in this clockwise direction, the Peanut stage is rough with several deep washouts, then at 6:20 turns TEE-Right onto the fast wide run back to the finish. We were looking forward to letting her rip on that wide open section to the finish, but the dust was really bad there and we lost a good chunk of time.

Martin Donnelly & James Drake were faster than us this time, but only just by 1 second.

A7: Peanut 1- [url="


June 23, 2009 01:13PM
A8: Peanut 2 - [URL="



We were certain we could have been quicker on our first pass on Peanut, if not for the dust. We considered deliberately checking in a minute late for this second run of the Peanut, and taking the 10-sec penalty, because we felt we could make that up with a faster run if we had a clear 2-minute dust window.

But, that wasn't necessary, as it turns out everybody got a 2-minute dust window for this second run.

It's a good thing we didn't take that 10-sec road penalty because, without the dust, we were only exactly 10 seconds quicker on this second pass. We wouldn't have gained anything at all by taking a deliberate penalty.

We were 3rd fastest on this stage, and 12 seconds quicker again than Donnelly & Drake on this stage.

They must have realized that we were steadily nibbling away at their 3rd place overall position...

When we arrived at the finish control, we found Donnelly's Subaru with its [URL="

"]brakes on fire[/URL], enveloped in a cloud of smoke and fire extinguisher dust! They emptied both of their extinguishers trying to put the flames out and were waving anxiously for us to drive up and give them a third extinguisher.

While Martin Donnelly was emptying the last little bit out of their second extinguisher onto the brakes to keep his car from going up in flames, and James Drake was grabbing our fire bottle from my hands, all James wanted to know was, "How did you do on this stage?" Co-drivers, eh. smiling smiley

They managed to put the flames out and drag their car to the finish with no penalty, finishing 1:05 ahead of us to secure 3rd place, behind Chris Martin & Phil Narini in 2nd despite their car puking transmission bits all over the road, and Peter Thomson & Frank Sprongl 1st overall.

What a fun rally this was!
June 23, 2009 05:51PM
Judging from those in car videos, it looks like great fun!
smiling bouncing smiley
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