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2009 New England Forest Rally

Posted by Ferdinand 
August 04, 2009 01:33PM
On Fri-Sat, July 17-18, Martin and I competed in the New England Forest Rally in Maine and New Hampshire. Our first foray into the American rallying scene was quite an adventure.

Here a good little 4-minute video about the event. [www.grid1.tv]

About one minute into the video you see Ken Block (Mr Gymkhana) taking the jump under the Red Bull banner. Martin and I in the Nissan 240SX got waaaaaaay more air on that jump than Block did!

Lots more really excellent photos here:

Stories and in-car video to follow.
August 04, 2009 02:07PM
The New England Forest Rally was headquartered at the Sunday River Ski Resort and started with a very short half-mile SuperSpecial stage through some parking lots starting here. There were a bazillion spectators.

I'm not a big fan of these mini-stages, but it's an opportunity to crowd lots of spectators into a small area. We took it easy on this brief stage, not wanting to do anything foolish so early on. Our only claim to fame is that we managed to beat the local star, Chris Duplessis, by two tenths of a second on this stage -- the only time all weekend that we managed to get anywhere near his incredible pace.

Chris Duplessis is an instructor at the Tim O'Neil Rally School in New Hampshire. In his Golf GTi, he easily blew away all the competition in the two separate Friday and Saturday Regional events. Had he paid to enter the two-day National event, which is just the two Regional events combined, he would have finished an astounding 7th overall with the big boys.

We were entered in the 2 Regional events. After this short first stage, we were 8th out of the 31 Friday Regional entrants.

SS1: Sunday River Super Special -

August 04, 2009 02:41PM
After the short half-mile opening super special stage, we had to transit for nearly an hour on open highway to Mexico, for another short super special stage in the fairgrounds here.

The jump under the Red Bull banner is on the short section of road running along the west edge of the baseball diamond. They use a bulldozer to create the jump for the fans. It's a "table-top" jump -- a launch ramp, a flat table-top, then a downslope landing ramp.

Martin said he was going to keep the throttle pinned for the jump. I've seen photos from previous years where cars have cleared the jumped, only to come straight down and stand on their nose. So, as we approached the jump and Martin made good on his threat to keep the throttle buried, you can see me in the video nervously tugging my harness straps tighter.

But we nailed it perfectly, sailing across the table-top and landing feather light on the downside of the landing ramp. Got a big cheer from the spectators for that, and our photo on the Rally-America website.

Because we hit the takeoff and landing ramps so perfectly, and therefore landed so smoothly, the in-car video makes it look like nothing at all. The in-car video generally makes everything look a lot slower than it really is. Luckily, on this short spectator stage, I managed to splice in a couple of outside shots posted by others, so you can see how hard Martin really was pushing the car.

I forgot to start the video camera at the beginning of the stage, so the clip is missing the first five seconds. We made a mess of the final uphill right hairpin onto tarmac, and lost a bit of time there. But we were still 11th out of the 31 Regional entrants, and we're all separated by mere tenths of a second at this point.

The real rally roads are still to come.

SS2: Mexico Super Special

edit - d'oh, forgot the link to the video.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/04/2009 03:35PM by Ferdinand.
August 04, 2009 02:59PM
The South Arm stage is just under 10 miles long on some really awesome roads. It has a little bit of everything, super fast straights, big jumps, an extremely tight hairpin, and lots of rocks everywhere to smash wheel rims and/or shred tires. We were to run this stage once in each direction.

After the two short Mickey Mouse super specials, and hours of sitting around waiting or transiting on the highways, we were all really really looking forward to getting to the meat of this rally and running this stage. Unfortunately, when we finally arrived at the start control for this stage we found a long train of rally cars all lined up and waiting.

It turns out the ambulance went missing. With no ambulance crew on standby, we're not allowed to run the stage. No ambulance, no choice, stage cancelled. Bummer.

Everybody had to turn around, transit another hour back to the Mexico fairgrounds, then sit around and wait there another hour and a half, to pick up again from there so we can start the famous Concord Pond stage as scheduled at 7:30pm.

We've spent hours driving up and down highways, hours sitting around waiting in the hot sun, and in total we've accompished no more than about a minute and a half of super special stage time. So far, we haven't been impressed much by our first Rally-America event.

But Concord Pond almost made up for that...
August 04, 2009 03:33PM
Concord Pond is the signature stage for the New England Forest Rally. It is VERY fast, with wide flowing turns, a couple of big jumps, and is jam-packed with spectators.

It really was too bad that the South Arm stages were cancelled, because we've been sitting around doing nothing most of the day, just cruising slowly up and down the local highways. Now, when it really counts, we're not sufficiently warmed up.

This stage is super fast and super busy. This is the one that everyone talks about, and everyone warned me about. They say this stage is so busy, the co-driver barely has time to breath between calling out all the corner instructions. I'm still so relaxed and dopey from all the sitting around and waiting all day, that of course I'm way too slow on the notes right off the bat.

We did get to drive this stage, one pass only, during recce on Thursday. But that is done at slow speed while checking the organizer-provided stage notes. I'm always totally blown away the first time we get to do a stage at full race pace in the rally car. I can't believe how much faster it is!

Because I'm so slow on the notes, it makes Martin nervous right away. He doesn't want to go charging full-bore over any of these warp-nine blind crests only to have me tell him, way too late, that there's a hairpin turn coming up next. So unfortunately our pace is quite a bit too cautious off the start and it takes us a little while to get into the proper rhythm on the notes.

We could have, should have, been way quicker on this stage. But, hey, we didn't crash anywhere and we didn't embarrass ourselves too badly. In fact, we were 7th fastest on this stage out of all the Regional entries and finished the day ranked 8th out the 31 Regional competitors, and 4th so far in the 2WD Max-Attack category.

SS5: Concord Pond

Day 2 coming next...
August 05, 2009 09:24AM
We were entered in two separate regional rallies, Friday's Drive Your Future Rally, and Saturday's Berlin Rally. The 2-day National New England Forest Rally covered the exact same distances, with the only difference being that the national teams had their cars locked up overnight in Parc Fermé, whereas we were free to do whatever we liked with ours. We actually didn't have anything to do though, and simply locked the car in the trailer overnight.

Saturday morning started off with another hour long highway transit from the Sunday River Resort to a short super special spectator stage held in the grounds of an abandoned paper mill. This was a pretty good little stage. Unfortunately we got a bit too far sideways on one of the final corners, and lost a couple of tenths of a second there. Otherwise it was a good run. Still, a second here, a second there, they all add up. It's just like in golf. Losing a stroke on a long drive counts against you exactly the same as losing a stroke missing a six inch putt.

Of note, manning the start control of this and several other stages was John Buffum. Buffum is a true Rally God. He's the Michael Schumacher of American rallying, having won pretty much everything there is to win, multiple times over, and still is actively involved. And here he is waving l'il ole us on our way. How cool is that?

SS6: Berlin Super Special
August 05, 2009 10:34AM
Due to the cancellation of Friday's two South Arm stages, and with the exception of Friday evening's awesome Concord Pond stage, we've done nothing but very short super special spectator stages to this point. Now finally we're hitting the real stages.

This stage, run on the Success Pond Road, is extremely FAAAAAST! It's all wide open, flat out, easy fives and sixes.

Because there is an FIA rule that stage speeds cannot average greater than 130km/h, this stage with it's long straightaways required the placement of several very tight chicanes to force speeds down to nothing. Those were very frustrating as the soft sandy soil got churned up something fierce in the braking zones coming into the chicances, then the entire chicane as well as the acceleration zone leaving the chicanes was deeeep soft sand. In the deep loose stuff like that our rear-wheel-drive car really suffers compared to the quicker AWD Open Class cars.

The chicanes were purposely configured very tight, that meant there was no room whatsoever to get the tail swung around under throttle. Lots of bad understeer in here. That really killed our time, but I guess that was the whole point of placing the chicanes there. There were severe time penalties for so much as touching any of the chicane elements. So we made certain to be very careful passing through them each time.

On the Thursday recce pass on this stage we encountered a grader levelling the road surface. Up to there the road had been hard-packed dirt, with evil large rocks poking their heads out everywhere. The grader managed to uproot all those rocks, pull them to the surface, and liberally distribute them all over the place. Driving at slow recce speed in my wife's Subaru Outback, we had to thread our way very carefully through this minefield. Some of the rocks could easily smash a wheel rim or tear off an oilpan. Other rocks were so large, they wouldn't have fit under the car at all. How the heck were we supposed to be able to negotiate this mess at speed in the rally car?

But, come rally day, the whole road had been raked clean by the grader, leaving behind a soft sandy surface, with all those loose rocks now lurking at the edges of the road. Woe to anyone foolish enough to attempt cutting any corners, as the grass edges on both sides of the road were now deeply littered with bowling ball sized rocks!

We were 7th quickest of the Regional entries on this stage.

SS7: I Can't Drive 55 - I

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/2009 10:41AM by Ferdinand.
August 05, 2009 02:48PM
In the two full seasons I've been riding with Martin in his Nissan 240SX, we have never DNF'd a rally and never even come close to crashing. Until this stage...

This stage was run as a turn-around, once in each direction. After waiting for all the cars to complete SS7, we lined up for the return run on SS8.

With the National and Regional entries combined, there were 43 cars running this stage. We were down about mid-pack in the running order, so by the time it was our turn for the return run, some 60 cars ahead of us had already roto-tilled the loose sandy surface.

With its long straights and easy fives and sixes fast turns, this road is blisteringly quick. Martin's car will do about 170 km/h at the top of third gear. We rarely, if ever, encounter straightaways long enough where we need more than third gear. But we got well into fourth gear several times on this road.

At these speeds, the deep loose sandy surface feels just like driving in deep snow. The car gets very floaty. Watch how busy Martin is with the steering, working hard to keep the car pointed where we want it to go.

The road surface is not flat either. The road is crowned to assist drainage, sloping away to either side from the centre line. As long as you keep to the inside of the road's centre line on each turn, you can use the crown somewhat like banking on an oval track. But if you get over the centre line you'll be surprised at how suddenly it falls away off camber.

All of those 60 cars ahead of us have been hugging the inside of each corner, not too deep though otherwise you risk snagging one of the bazillion rocks lurking like landmines in the weeds at the edges of the road. As they drift through the fast corners like this, the cars sweep the loose sandy soil out to the centre of the road, where it piles up into a deep soft berm, nearly a foot deep, much like a snowdrift.

We lost it in a fast Left-5 that opens up faster, then tightens back down to a Left-5 over a small crest. It was the small crest that did it for us. As the car got light over the crest in mid-corner, it hopped over a foot or two, and snagged the deep sandy berm in the centre of the road with the outside rear wheel. Things happen quickly at that speed. Just like hooking a snowdrift, the soft sandy berm instantly pulled the nose of the car around and suddenly we weren't pointing left into the corner anymore, but off to the right into the bushes!

Fortunately there were no big trees or boulders to do us any serious damage, as the car slid to a stop just off the outside edge of the road. But we were high-centred, beached, and stuck.

I set out our warning triangle, back far enough so nobody else would slide off in the same spot and hit us. Martin got out our tow rope and hooked it up, hoping someone would give us a tug to get us back on the road. But no luck at all.

We were off in a really quick section of road. Pretty much ALL of this road is quick. Everyone slowed up safely for the warning triangle as required. But they only got a brief glance at us to see we were both out of the car and okay before flashing past. If anyone even noticed we were holding up our tow rope, begging for a quick pull, they probably didn't realize it until they were too far past to stop. Nobody stopped.

We had to wait 24 minutes until the entire rest of the field had passed by and eventually sweep came along to pull us out. Then it took another 3 minutes before everything was safely stowed and we were both fully belted back in before we were allowed to continue. We lost 27 minutes in all, which dropped us to dead last in the standings. But we're still running! Another 5 minutes and we would have been max late and time-barred, not permitted to continue.

SS8: I Can't Drive 55 - II - (Part 1/2)

SS8: I Can't Drive 55 - II - (Part 2/2)
August 05, 2009 02:52PM
Fast or not, it must be great to do this. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the videos. I like the way Martin calmly asks to repeat a corner.
August 05, 2009 03:18PM
Too bad about the crash. Without consequences luckily. I hadn't seen that one yet before posting my previous comment (not that it would change it).
August 05, 2009 03:34PM
Michiel 318iS
Fast or not, it must be great to do this.
It sure beats sitting in the office. smiling smiley


Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the videos.
There are another five stages still to come. These next five are awesome!


I like the way Martin calmly asks to repeat a corner.
I'm very lucky to be teamed with someone as good as Martin. He really is an outstanding driver, always fully in control and calm behind the wheel.

Our "off" in SS8 was an unfortunate thing, but nobody was to blame for that. I was worried that it might have been my fault for not warning him in time that the corner tightened again. But the video shows clearly that I wasn't asleep (for a change). But equally important, the video shows that it really wasn't his fault either. He wasn't driving recklessly or taking unneccessary chances. If anything it's cool that we're finally confident enough in each other that we're comfortable to be pushing this hard. Sh*t happens quickly at these speeds though, and we were lucky to get away with it without damaging the car, or ourselves.

If not for that small mistake and being stuck for so long, we would have finished that stage with us ranked 3rd out of the 22 entries in the 2wd Max-Attack category.

This weekend we are headed to the Galway-Cavendish Forest Rally, an Ontario Regional event. Going into this event, Martin and I are currently tied for 2nd overall in Ontario! We're getting better at this stuff.
August 05, 2009 08:36PM
Because the two South Arm stages were cancelled on Friday, the total stage mileage was no longer enough to qualify as a National event. So Saturday's schedule had to be revised to include some extra mileage. To make that all work out they also had to shuffle the order in which the stages were run. So, after SS8, we went straight to the 16 mile long Sturtevant's Delight stage, running that twice as SS11 and SS12.

This is an awesome stage. It has absolutely everything in it, starting fast, then really tight and rough, then back to fast, and eventually crazy twisty and busy past a lot of spectators to the finish. This one is a strenuous workout.

After crashing on the previous stage, we're a little gun-shy on the fast stuff at the beginning of this stage. Don't much like those Left-5-long-over-small-crest-tightens ("L5 lg/smCr>") type of corners anymore. We weren't so keen on using 4th gear again straight away. But after less than a minute to get settled, Martin went right back into Max-Attack mode!

At 4:00 into the clip we catch and pass the crippled VW Golf GTi of Gary Wiggin/Kim DeMotte, limping along with a bust right-rear suspension.

At 6:00 into the clip I just about put us off the road when I lost my place in the notes and called the next corner as a L5+ when in fact it was a L3. Martin's quick reactions saved us there. That could have been ugly.

At 7:00 we are catching the Mitsubishi Lancer of our friends Jeff & Emily Dowell. You can see how hard it is to stay focused and how distracting it is to be chasing someone this closely, as Martin frequently asks me to repeat instructions.

Finally they let us pass after the super-tight hairpin right. Unfortunately we paid back their kindness by firing a rock into their windshield as we passed them. At least we didn't hit them like our other buddies in the Datsun 510 after they caught a Subaru at the same spot and were surprised when the Subaru came to a sudden standstill in the middle of the hairpin. See

SS11: Sturtevant's Delight - I - (Part 1/2)

After that, in Part 2/2, the stage gets really really busy. We passed something like 8 cars crashed out in this stage.

At 2:30 into this second clip we pass a Subaru stopped on the outside of a Turn L4 No-Cut. A L4 is fairly sharp, but much more important is the "No-Cut" instruction, because there are a couple of huge rocks sitting in the grass just on the inside of this corner. So WHY, for crying out loud, does this guy insist on leaving both his left side doors wide open blocking half the road? What the heck was that all about?

At 3:30 it opens up and gets fast again. Next thing you know we're back in 4th gear again!

What an intense stage!

And then we got screwed on our finish time. Timing it on the video, we crossed the red finish board at a stage time of 18:13.9. I was expecting to see the finish board a little further downstream, where I remembered to check my wristwatch at 18:20. We were fully stopped at the finish control, waiting to move up and collect our time, at 18:47. So I was quite surprised when they wrote the stage time on our route card as 18:58.4. I knew that couldn't be correct. But by then I'd already forgotten my watch had said 18:20 and I asked for a time of 18:26. Dunno where I got that from.

The control marshals made a note of our request in their log sheet, and we submitted an inquiry at the end of the day. But, because none of the log sheets showed a recorded time of 18:26 for anyone (it should have been 18:13.9), our inquiry was denied. So we were assigned a stage time that was 45 seconds out of whack.

It made no difference anyway, after our 27-minute drop in the standings while stuck on SS8. So there was no point in raising a fuss about this. But, if not for our 27-minute off-road mistake, and not for this 45-second timing error, we should have finished 4th in the 2wd Max-Attack standings.

SS11: Sturtevant's Delight - I - (Part 2/2)
August 05, 2009 09:49PM
This is our second pass on this fabulous stage. No more fooling around. Game face on. We're going for it. Note how this time we're straight into 4th gear right off the start!

At 2:05 we got a bit of a fright when we came up on the warning triangle of Matt Bushore / Dave Shindle. Their VW Jetta was upside-down in the ditch off the right edge of the road. That looked nasty. But we were relieved to see Dave Shindle safely up on a rock on the left side of the road, enthusiastically waving us on. Here's a clip from their in-car camera, showing the difficulty they had in getting out of the car while both doors were jammed in the narrow ditch.

This is such an awesome stage. I'm exhausted just watching it again.

SS12: Sturtevant's Delight - II - (Part1/2)

SS12: Sturtevant's Delight - II - (Part2/2)
August 06, 2009 09:38AM
Due to the revised schedule after Friday's cancellation of the South Arm stages, we're running Saturday's stages out of order. SS8, 11, 12, now SS9, 10, & 13.

After the completion of the two loops of the awesome Sturtevant's Delight stages, SS11 & 12, we're now heading back for a Service stop. On the way there we had a big scare. The engine hiccupped once, and Martin thought we might be running out of fuel.

That would be my fault.

The fuel gauge doesn't work in Martin's car. We have to calculate our expected fuel consumption, based on the transit and stage mileages posted in the schedule, and based on our roughly estimated rate of fuel usage while either cruising sedately on transits or at fuel throttle on stages. We could simply fill the tank to the brim at each available fuel stop, but then we'd be unneccessarily hauling all that extra weight around with us all the time. Ideally, we only ever want to be carrying the minimum amount of fuel in the tank to get us to the next refuelling stop. I set up a spreadsheet for that, so we can play with the numbers beforehand and come up with an acceptable fuel strategy for the weekend.

There was an added complication this time in that, for our first American rally, all the stage and transit distances were published in miles, whereas my spreadsheet is set up to use kilometres. A small adjustment was required to accommodate that.

Of course all of that prior spreadsheet planning went straight out the window with the cancellation of the two long South Arm stages on Friday. But we should still be safe. We should have that amount of unused extra fuel still left in the tank now. But then they went and revised Saturday's schedule too, adding another entire stage, and changing the order in which the stages are to be run. My brain went into meltdown mode at that point, so Martin and Christoph ran through the numbers together and came up with a better plan for Saturday.

So now, we still have a few miles of transit to go in order to reach the Service and refuelling stop, and Martin announces we're about to run out of fuel. #@$%!

Did I do the conversion correctly in the spreadsheet, from miles to kilometres? Did we not think this all through properly the night before? How the heck could we be running out of fuel now?

Phew, we made it back to the Service park. But, as we're sitting in line at the Service-In Time Control, waiting for our correct time to come up, the engine suddenly dies. It's dead.

We have to jump out and push the car into the Time Control on our correct minute in order to check ourselves into the Service Park on time. We now have 30 minutes to do all the regular service stuff, and try to figure out what's happened to the engine.

It turns out there's nothing at all wrong with the fuel level. It was the fuse to the ignition module that blew while sitting in line waiting to check into Service. Go figure. Fuse and module replaced, we're good to go again!

Off we go to the start of SS9, which is a shortened version of the previous two awesome stages, but run in the opposite direction.

On pace we were 5th quickest of the remaining 21 Regional entries on this stage. But we're never going to overcome our 27-minute misfortune on SS8, so we're still way down in 19th of the original 32 starters.

SS9: Fishy Middle - I :

August 06, 2009 02:11PM
After completing the stage, we hit the local highway to transit straight back around and run the same stage again. But of course there's a delay at the start.

We're right down near the tail-end of the running order. Cars ahead of us all start into the stage at one-minute intervals, then loop around on the highway to come back and re-enter the same stage, again starting at one-minute intervals. But of course if anyone crashes in the stage, the sweep crew has to clear the wrecks out of the way, or push them off the nearest cliff, before the stage is cleared for the second pass.

In the mean time, we still need to check into the Start Control on our assigned minute at the end of our Transit, otherwise we collect road penalties for being late or early. But, if the road is blocked by other teams waiting ahead of us, it means I have to climb out of the car and walk to the control in order to check us in on the correct minute.

Because of that, there's always some stress involved when we come up on a bunch of cars waiting in line and it's not obvious whether we'll be able to drive in on our assigned minute, or whether I will need to climb out and walk in before then.

On top of that, the method for calculating the transit timing is different in the US compared to what we're used to doing in Canada. There are pros and cons to both methods.

In Canada each stage is given a "slow time" or "bogey time". Let's say the bogey time is 10 minutes. Cars start into the stage and one-minute intervals. Let's say we started at exactly 1:00pm. Everybody takes a different amount of time to race through the stage, and we are then scored according to our actual arrival time at the stage finish. Let's say it took us 8 minutes to reach the finish, but others were quicker or slower. For scheduling purposes though, everybody is assumed to have taken the same 10 minutes bogey time to traverse the stage. Then we're given another set amount of time to complete the transit to the following stage, let's say 15 minutes. We know what time we started into the stage. 1:00pm, add the 10 minutes bogey time for the stage, plus the 15 minutes transit, and we are due to check into the arrival control for the next stage at 1:25pm.

The beauty of the Canadian system is that, regardless of who was quicker or faster through the stage, everybody lines up again at the next stage in the exact same order as they did before, checking in at the same 1-minute intervals. If there is a lineup, we always know who's supposed to be ahead or behind us in the lineup. If we arrive there 5 minutes too early and line up to wait, we know exactly how many cars should be there waiting ahead of us. If there are more than the expected number of cars waiting, then we know there's some delay and I will need to get out of the car to walk into the control on our correct minute.

In Rally-America events they also have bogey times for each stage and cars still start at one-minute intervals. Same scenario, bogey time for this stage is 10 minutes, we start into the stage at 1:00pm, and it actually takes us 8 minutes to reach the finish line. From there, same 15 minutes transit from there to reach the start of the next stage. However, in Rally-America events, you don't use the bogey time in your transit calculations. You use your actual finish time. Started stage at 1:00pm, finished at 1:08pm. Add 15 minutes transit, we're due to check into the next stage at 1:23pm. (Not 1:25pm as per the Canadian method.)

It's important to remember the difference!

The drawback of the Canadian system happens if you managed to catch, get held up by, or pass a slower car in the stage. If everyone is assumed to have taken the same 10 minutes to cover the stage, and we all line up again in the same order at the following stage, it means that slow car will be starting ahead of you again and you'll likely be stuck behind them all over again in this next stage.

The beauty of the American system is that, if you pass a car in a stage, you get to line up and start ahead of them from there on in the following stages. The drawback of the American system though, and it's a big one, is that if several cars catch up to each other and finish the stage together on the same minute, they are all expected to check into the arrival control of the next stage together on the same minute!

That means, if you arrive early at a control with five minutes still to kill before your correct check-in time, and see you are the fifth car in the lineup, you cannot simply relax and assume those cars ahead of you will all check in at consecutive one-minute intervals leaving you free to roll into the control on your correct minute.

That happened to us at the Arrival Control for this stage. We had five minutes to wait, and we were sixth car in line. What's up with that? Top of the minute comes up, the first car rolls into the control and everybody moves forward. Hmmmm? Top of the next minute comes up and three cars all try to jam into the control together. Big mess. The time recorded on your route card is the moment you hand the card to the control marshal. If you can't drive up and hand the card to the marshal out your window, you are expected to jump out of the car and walk up to hand the card in at the correct time. Everybody is jumping out of their cars now.

I can see there's going to be a delay, so now I have to unbelt and climb out of the car to be ready to walk in on our correct minute. On the way I checked with the co-driver of the car waiting ahead of us, to confirm what time they were expecting to check in. Hey, wait a sec! He's not checking in until a minute after us. We're supposed to be ahead of him in the lineup. That means we're up next, right on time. $@%#!!!

Now I have to run back, frantically try to get strapped back in, while Martin wedges our car past this other bonehead. We only just barely made our minute. I'm still fumbling with belts, intercom cable, HANS straps on my helmet, etc, as we're supposed to roll up to the start line to begin the stage. I hate it when this happens! I need my couple of minutes quiet time beforehand to get settled and focused. Crap. I'm completely flustered and we haven't even started the stage yet.

Martin is amazing though. He's always so calm and relaxed. Watch the steering wheel angles on this stage. Martin very rarely, if ever, turns the steering wheel either way further than 90 degrees from centre. Yes, there is constant steering action required. He's busy, no doubt about it. But notice how all of the steering inputs are tiny. There's no lock-to-lock, elbows flying, frantic steering action. He's just smoothly drifting the car side to side through turns, using brakes and throttle to control the car's drift angle, all the while making mere tiny steering corrections from straight ahead.

That is sooooooo cool!

SS10: Fishy Middle - II :

August 06, 2009 02:42PM
One more run on the same stage, our third pass. The road is starting to get a little chewed up in spots, but it's still awesome quick.

Completing this final stage, we only have one more short (ha!) hour and twenty minute transit back down to rally HQ at the Sunday River Resort to reach the finish, keeping our fingers crossed the whole time that we don't actually run out of fuel now, or blow another fuse, or anything like that.

Saturday's awesome stages more than made up for the disappointment of Friday's cancelled stages. What a fabulous event!

We finished 19th out of the 32 regional entries, second last out of the 20 teams making it to the finish.

But we were pleased with our performance nonetheless. If not for our unfortunate 27-minute mistake on SS8, and the 45 second error in our recorded stage time on SS11, our pace should have seen us finishing 6th in Regional and 4th in the 2wd Max-Attack category. So we were pretty stoked about what could have been, if not for, if only, if, maybe, next time...

SS13: Fishy Middle III -

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