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2008 Tall Pines Rally

Posted by Ferdinand 
December 15, 2008 08:19PM
I've got all my in-car video processed now for the 2008 Tall Pines Rally and will post up the stories, photos, and vids for each stage.

The first few stages you've all seen already, but the stories got lost in the transfer to new forum site. So I'll start by reposting them, then add the new ones in order.
December 15, 2008 08:24PM
Our weekend got off to a very rocky start when I made it only through the second pass of Old-Detlor, the very first recce stage, before having to stop and puke.

At the end of the second pass, after crossing the Iron Bridge, we were supposed to transit right through downtown Bancroft, then 40 kms south all the way down to start the next recce stage at the bottom of Lower Old Hastings.

As I was turning green and breaking out in a cold sweat, my worst fear was that we wouldn't make it through Bancroft and we'd have to stop somewhere right downtown for me to lean out and puke on the sidewalk. Definitely not cool.

So I told Martin he had better stop now before starting through town. Unaware of my increasingly urgent dilemma, Martin just said, "Eh?"

We're starting to pass houses now. I say again I'm feeling sick and we better stop here. He says, "Eh, say what?"


I was hoping I could just swing the door open and quickly lean out, but Martin brought the car to a screeching halt right at the end of someone's paved driveway. Not cool. So I fell out of the car and staggered across the street and into the bushes...

Meanwhile the guy comes out of his house to ask Martin if he's lost or needs help. They're chatting away, having a grand ole time, while I'm busy dying in the bushes, happy only in the fact that I didn't puke on the nice guy's driveway.

Alrighty then, that business successfully accomplished, we were back on our way and completed the rest of the long arduous day of two reconnaissance passes on each stage with no further drama, finishing well after dark, totally exhausted, spent, and fried.

But there's still lots more fun to be had, because then we had to hop in the rally car in order to do several passes at speed down the Shakedown stage...
December 15, 2008 08:26PM
Shakedown is my least favourite part of the entire rally weekend. Shakedown is a necessary evil though.

It gives us a chance to try several different types of tires to check the grip levels on various surface types. It's far better to discover issues that can still be corrected now, rather than on the first rally stage when it's too late. And it gives me a chance to adjust, as it's always an enormous surprise how much hugely FASTER the pace is in the rally car, compared to the sedate pace of recce in my wife's Subaru Outback.

So, yes, Shakedown is necessary. But I still don't like it. After an exhausting long day of recce, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.

The reason I don't like Shakedown is that Martin uses this opportunity to fully "shake down" the car. To get a feel for the difference in grip available from the different tire types, to make sure the brakes are all working properly, to make sure the engine is running strong and responsively, it is necessary to weave back and forth on the road, and jump on and off the brakes and throttle.

It's not Martin's fault. He's an awesome driver! When he's really on it, in a stage, it's a treat to ride along with him. I always feel totally comfortable and at ease when he's driving at speed, because I know what he's going to do and how he'll react to situations, because it's exactly how I would respond (or wish I could) and it always feels "right" to me.

On Shakedown though, and worse, on the transit leading to and from the Shakedown stage, the objective is NOT to be smooth and fast. The objective is to see if everything is stowed properly, anything is loose on the car, and everything is responding as it should. So he needs to be rough, wiggling the steering, hunting for grip, and otherwise jerking the car around when he's normally so smooth.

Unfortunately I can't take a lot of that. So immediately after this, our

third pass on the Shakedown stage, I had to call an emergency stop for another one of these sessions...

Damn. I really hate it when that happens!
December 15, 2008 08:30PM
Here's a map of the Old Detlor stage, from A to B, then returning through the town of Bancroft to rally HQ located at C.
December 15, 2008 08:38PM
Start of Rally:

After sitting out in the extreme cold all night, the rally car refused to crank over in the morning and had to be pushed started and boosted to wake it up. Then we remembered that we needed to put more fuel in it too before the start, so we would need to switch off the engine again in the refuelling zone, which is after we check out of Service. If the car didn't start after refuelling, our crew wouldn't be allowed to work on it outside of the Service area. Luckily it started fine after everything had warmed up.

Nick and Kelly Mathew's crew had to steal the starter motor out of John Vanos' street car after the overnight cold seized up the starter motor in their rally car.

Eventually everyone limped safely into Parc Exposé and the rally got under way.

A1 - Upper Old Hastings:

We started on snow tires, knowing that the following stage would be icy. But this first stage, Upper Old Hastings, is all hard frozen gravel and the sandpaper surface was not friendly to our soft snow tires.

We took a relatively conservative pace at first, until we settled in more comfortably about halfway through the stage. Réjean Losier crashed spectacularly, launching off a steep drop and rolling into the swampy area below, and Chris Martin was too aggressive over a jump and cracked his radiator.

We started 26th in the running order of 43 entries and finished this stage mid-pack as 23rd fastest.

In-car video:

A1 - Upper Old Hastings

hint: The picture is better if, on the YouTube page, just below the volume slider, you click on "watch in high quality".

December 15, 2008 08:41PM
A2 - The Peanut:

This is a tricky stage with a little bit of everything thrown in. It starts really fast with wide open flowing corners winding over long crests. It would be insanely fast, if not for the fact that it's all covered in polished ice!

Eventually the stage turns sharp left off of the main road and drops into a narrow, single lane, rough, cowpath through the woods that twists and winds and bashes through deep washouts, before finally spitting back out onto another wide open smooth icy section to the finish.

Several cars crashed in here, some managing to continue, but it was terminal for Ken Block & Alex Gelsomino and for Matt Barnes & Jodie Shay.

Unfortunately we were just a little bit too slow, what with gawking at the various wrecks, so we ran a bit over the 10-minute limit allowed by YouTube, forcing me to split the video into two parts.

We're up to 19th overall after this stage.

In-car video:

A2 - Peanut - Part 1/2

A2 - Peanut - Part 2/2
December 15, 2008 08:48PM
A3 - Old Detlor:

I messed this one up badly. It's really too bad that we only do this stage once, because I was itching to have another go at it.

It starts off fairly tight, then gets even tighter and busier, until I was drowning trying to keep up with the notes. It didn't help that it was on this stage that I got all pukey during recce, because that was at the back of my mind the whole time we were racing on it now. Even worse, it was starting to creep from the back of my mind into the back of my throat!

My mouth started going all dry, my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth, and that didn't help at all with the pace of my notes delivery. Luckily, after the really twisty stuff, the road opens again and after the Detlor Crossing it's wide open and really fast all the way through the Iron Bridge spectator area to the finish.

Watch for Gord Olsen backward up in the trees about 1 minute in, and passing the Grp-5 Datsun 280Z of Greg Healey over a jump about 7 minutes in, and the hole in the railing where Hardy Schmidtke launched down the cliff at the finish.

We're up to 17th overall now!

In-car video:

A3 - Old Detlor

From here we head back through Bancroft to rally HQ for Service #1.

December 15, 2008 08:54PM
Map of Upper Old Hastings stage.
December 15, 2008 09:02PM
Map of The Peanut stage.
December 15, 2008 09:06PM
Here's a map of the Old Detlor stage, from A to B.
December 15, 2008 09:11PM
Service #1:

Having successfully completed the first three stages, unlike several other teams, we finished Leg-1 by returning to the Service park at Rally HQ.

If you listen carefully in the previous videos, you might have heard the engine misfiring occasionally. Martin thinks it's due to fuel starvation. We know for certain that we put a generous amount of fuel into the tank, so we can't be running out yet. Martin thinks it's the fuel filter. So cleaning the filter is the first priority job in this stop.

The second priority is to swap the tires front to back, in order to even out the wear that we're expecting on the soft snow tires due to the abrasive frozen gravel surfaces on the fast stages.

It's a 20-minute Service break this time. That should be plenty enough time to accomplish everything that needs doing.

We have to wait patiently for our check-in time to come up, before entering the Service-In time control. From then we have 20 minutes before we need to check-out again. So of course, when I went to hand our timecard to the control marshal, we fumbled the hand-off and dropped the card. And then, because we were parked door-to-door close to his car, neither I nor he could open a door far enough to reach the card. Martin had to move our car forward, so I could unbelt and climb out of the rally car to go chase the timecard. We wasted nearly 2 full minutes of our precious 20-minute allowance with that nonsense.

And then the boys jumped into action. "Freak" in the white sweater directs us into our slot. Christoph works the jack. And Chuck slides the jack-stands into place. While Christoph and Chuck swap the tires around, Martin and Freak pull the fuel filter and clean it out. Wheels go back on, jack up, jack-stands out, jack down, check the engine fluids, and we're good to go.

While all this is frantic activity is going on, I stroll off to check the official notice board to ensure I'm not missing out on any critical changes to the routebook or schedule.

Leaving the Service Park, there was mass confusion because there was no official timing board to mark the location of the Service-Out control. We're supposed to wait until our minute comes up before checking out of Service. Some guy with a clipboard just waved us over, and wrote the current time on our routecard. Wait a sec! That means we're 2-minutes early!! He says it doesn't matter, but it DOES matter. We're going to get a 2-minute penalty for that. He says, no, because he waved us in early it doesn't matter. We say, yes, it still matters because then he should have written the correct time that we requested on our routecard. Turns out he screwed up everybody's timecards so that particular control later had to be scrubbed from the scoring.

From there we moved forward through the regroup and reseed zone to the Re-grouping Out control where they assign us a new out-time, moving us up or down the running order based on our performance so far. We're still slotted behind the very fast WRX of the brother/sister 2Brits Racing team of Nick & Kelly Mathew, who eventually finished 4th overall, and whose car is no longer as pretty as it once was after they tagged a tree with it on an earlier stage.

From there the clock is running and we have 27 minutes to complete the 23km transit on public roads to the arrival control of the next stage, A4 - Upper Old Hastings. But first we have to pass through the refuelling zone where we need to throw another 15 litres into the tank. And they make us wait some more for that because there's some new rule that only three cars at a time are allowed into the fuelling zone.

Engine off, belts undone, doors open. Fuelling is completed. Belts done back up, doors closed, and we're good to go to start the first of four stages in Leg-2 of the rally:
A4 - Upper Old Hastings
A5 - Iron Bridge
A6 - The Peanut
A7 - Iron Bridge

Here's the

Video of Service #1. Enjoy!
December 15, 2008 09:15PM
After the first Service stop, we do a repeat of A1 on Upper Old Hastings and this time in A4 we shave 12 seconds off our previous run.


A4 - Upper Old Hastings
December 15, 2008 09:25PM
This stage (see map) uses the same roads as the last half of A3 - Old Detlor, but run in the opposite direction.

This is a really FAST stage. It starts off fairly slow, with the spectator area and famous Iron Bridge at the beginning, until the left turn onto Landon Rd. From there on it's wicked fast, with a big jump 2:38 into the video.


A5 - Iron Bridge

We made good time on the Iron Bridge stage. We started the rally 26th in the running order of 43 entries, and we're now up to 16th overall!

We've been consistently second quickest of all the 2wd cars, behind only the Grp-2 Suzuki Swift of the amazing Peter Kocandrle. We'll soon need bigger helmets to fit our swollen heads, cause we're starting to believe we're pretty good. Unfortunately the next stage put an end to that...
December 15, 2008 09:36PM
A6 - The Peanut:

This is a repeat of A2, except the icy fast section at the beginning is now twice as icy.

The Peanut starts with a wide open fast smooth section, at least it would be wide open and fast if it weren't so damn icy and scary. At about 4:10 into the clip, the stage turns sharp left off of the main road onto a very rough narrow forest trail, before eventually returning to another short fast icy sprint to the finish line.

At about 5:30 into the video clip, the right rear wheel bottoms heavily through a pothole, or over a rock, or something. "Wham!" That was a big hit, hard enough that it swung my helmet mic away from my face. I could hardly hear myself on the next call of the notes. I first had to reposition the mic before repeating the instruction.

I don't know if it was this hit that caused the tire to go flat, or whether the impact felt so violent only because the tire had already gone flat well before that bump, or whether the tire didn't go flat until much later in one of the rough washouts, but eventually the tire was well and truly undeniably flat.

That was an inconvenience which cost us a LOT of time...

The Peanut is a perfect example of why the Tall Pines Rally is such a notoriously difficult challenge and why proper tire choice is critical.

The fast icy portions of this stage would best be tackled with soft ice tires. Then the rough forest trail has some deep snow portions on which ice tires don't work as well because the tires tend to float up on the snow, losing touch with the road surface. For deep snow you really need a proper snow tire with a more open spaced tread, like the expensive Yokohama A034, which we can't afford and have none of.

By the time we came through here again on our second pass, the trail was already well ripped up by the faster cars, so there's not a lot of deep snow left. Where there was deep snow before, now it's either polished down to slick ice for which ice tires are best, or it's ripped up into loose sand and rocks for which proper gravel tires would be the correct choice.

And then there are the deep water-filled and rock-strewn washouts. Cars splashing through those have carried water well beyond the washouts, so coming out of each one of those the road is pure ice. Once again an ice tire would be better for those portions.

The problem is, we have to deciside already before, at each Service stop, which set of tires we will use for the entire next section of the rally. This one stage, The Peanut, is a difficult mix of several different types of conditions. But each of the other fast stages in this loop before out next Service stop are hard frozen gravel best suited for gravel rally tires.

Snow tires work okay for gravel, but they wear down quickly. Gravel tires are tough and won't wear out as quickly, but they have zero grip on ice. We knew the Peanut would be dangerously snowy and icy, so we chose snow tires for the first loop. At the Service#1 stop, we just rotated the snow tires front-to-back and re-used them for this leg.

The problem is, soft ice and snow tires are, um, soft. Unlike the hard gravel rally tires with their tough tread and stiff armoured sidewalls, soft winter tires are vulnerable to being cut by sharp rocks and stuff.

Which is what happened to us now on this stage.


Normally, we'd just say screw it and keep driving the car out of the stage on the flat tire. Besides being plain dangerous, stopping anywhere within a hot stage to change a flat costs a LOT of time. It's much better to limp as quickly as possible out of the stage, then change the flat on the next Transit section. If we're late checking into the following control after a highway Transit section, it only costs a 10-second penalty per minute late. But when stopped on a stage the clock is ticking the entire time.

When we realized we had a flat, we decided to keep driving. Unfortunately it was a rear tire which went flat, which then eventually came off the rim, which meant the car was no longer able to climb hills because the rim was spinning inside the loose tire.

We had to stop and change it. We couldn't quite make it to the top of a long steep hill before stopping. But we couldn't risk jacking up the car there, perched on a steep hill like this. So, after dropping me off with a triangle, Martin backed the car almost all the way down again.

We lost nearly 3 minutes alone just manoeuvring up and down that stupid hill before even starting to change the flat tire.

Lots of other cars passed us while we were stopped, dropping us way back down the running order. Crap. All that hard work, and now a stupid flat cost us over 10 minutes. We were 10:18 slower this time compared to our previous stage time on A2.

That really hurt us. From 16th overall, we plunged all the way down the standings to 30th. Crap. Crap. And double-crap.


A6 - Peanut - Part 1/2

A6 - Peanut - Part 2/2
December 15, 2008 09:44PM
A7 - Iron Bridge:

Bo Skowronnek was working the start control of the Iron Bridge stage! Bit of trivia here. Bo finished 6th overall in the 1974 Rideau Lakes Rally, Canada's only WRC event.

Martin pushed very hard on this Iron Bridge stage. We got HUGE air this time over the jump at 3:10 into the video!

But, despite the fact that it felt way faster, we were only 2 seconds quicker compared to our previous run. It's a sign that our soft snow tires are nearing the end of their useful life and they are beginning to object to the abuse we're putting them through on the hard frozen gravel surfaces.

Still, we were 13th best on this stage, and only 8 seconds slower than the Suzuki of Peter Kocandrle, with nothing but monster Open-Class cars ahead of him. We've already clawed back two places and are up to 28th now.


A7 - Iron Bridge

From here we head back to Service#2 for a tough decision on which tires to use next. Unlike the top teams who bring a whole trailer full of fresh tires to choose from, we have a very limited supply of used tires and not a lot of choice.

We switch to gravel tires next, and save what's left of these snow and ice tires for the later night stages when it'll be even colder. But the gravel tires will be a big challenge on what's coming next, the very long Egan Creek stage.

Lots more still to come...
December 15, 2008 09:54PM
A8 - Egan Creek:

We wore out all our snow tires on the first seven stages and don't have enough spares left. With the snow tires worn thin, we're afraid of more punctures. So we're switching to gravel tires for this loop. It's a bit of a gamble as we know Egan Creek will be icy and gravel tires don't work so well on ice. But we're less likely to get punctures with these tires, and we expect they'll last longer and perform better once we get to the following two gravel stages.

Right off the start it's confirmed, whoa baby, gravel tires SUCK on ice!

Watch for the two cars upside down off the edge of the road. One is at 2:20, a Grp-2 VW Golf that fell off the road earlier on the 2nd pass through the Peanut stage. A notice was posted at the start control, informing us the crew were okay and there's no need to stop, so we wouldn't be alarmed when we saw the car. Still, we were quite alarmed when we spotted it.

The second car off was the Open-Class car of Ian Crerar, upside down in the trees off the right side of the road at 4:55 into the clip. We definitely do NOT want to end up like that.

Tip-toeing with our gravel tires on the ice, we lost a lot of time to Jaak & Jane Laan, who started a minute behind us but caught and passed us early into the stage, shortly after we turned left off the very icy opening section, and down onto the rough forest trail which, by the way, is also quite icy.


A8 - Egan Creek - Part 1/3

From there on though, as we expected, the rough forest trail had been torn up by the faster cars ahead of us. There were quite a few sections of bare gravel showing through the snow and ice, and on those bits the gravel tires worked really well.

Furthermore, the durable gravel tires gave Martin more confidence in pounding the car through the rough washouts and water splashes, which we would otherwise have been forced to crawl through to not risk cutting open our worn out soft winter tires. Jaak & Jane were running on ice tires. They had a flat earlier and now had no spare at all. Another flat in here would have spelled the end of their rally. They were being very careful in the rough sections to take care of their delicate ice tires.

Our gravel tires, and the reassurance of carrying two good spares, allowed us to push hard in this rough section and soon we found ourselves catching back up to Jaak and Jane. We had some fun chasing them, until the road turned icy again. After that, Jaak & Jane took off and disappeared from view.


A8 - Egan Creek - Part 2/3

This last section gave me problems with the notes, and gave Martin problems with the ice.

About 45 seconds into the clip there's a "R3lg<@Cr" (Right 3 long, opens at Crest). Martin asks me to repeat the instruction, and that trips me up for a moment. Then I get a bit too far ahead until 1:15 where there's a "L5>/Cr" (Left 5 tightens over Crest). But Martin has been keeping track, so it's all good. We're still okay.

Right away, I blow it again. At about 1:20, there is a "CrR5lg" (crest Right5 long). The crest was obvious enough, and the Right5 is an easy right-hand bend which continues for a long time.

The next instruction following after that says, "into L5Bump/smCr into R5lg".

Just as I had my head down looking at the notes and reading "Left5 Bump over small Crest", we hit a small bump. You can hear the hitch in my voice as I say, "Left5 Bump (oof) over small Crest". I glanced up to see we are indeed going over a small crest, and that from here the road continues into a Right5 long. So, I just carried right on with the notes from there.

The problem was, we were actually still in the original CrR5lg, which continues much longer than expected over another two small crests. It's quite obvious watching the video that we had not yet reached any L5Bump/smCr. We hadn't stopped turning Right yet, and certainly hadn't turned Left anywhere in there.

But, just like that, I was now two instructions ahead of where I should have been. I babbled on for quite a while longer before either of us realized I was spouting gibberish. And then it took me a while to figure out where we actually were.

Usually when I screw up it's because I'm too slow, can't keep up, and I fall behind in the notes. So, as usual, I started looking further ahead in the notes to see if I could recognize anything, when actually I should have just paused for a moment and let the road catch up to where I was in the notes.

Also, Martin and I normally make our own notes, and I add lots of mileage markers in the notes to label recognizable features so that, if ever I do get lost, I can always quickly find my way again simply by comparing our current odo reading to the notes. But the organizer-supplied notes which we were using had very few mileages indicated, so that didn't help me much.

At this point, Martin was getting a little anxious, not looking forward to driving the rest of this challenging stage without notes. And I was scrambling, checking ahead in the notes to ensure there were no imminent instructions like "Triple Caution - blind crest, steep cliff, huge rocks, deep lake, hold your breath, big ouch!"

And, there it was. "Caution Deceptive R4/Cr". The road turns over a crest, through a clearing, which deceptively makes it look like the road continues straight. Found it. I'm back on the notes. It's all good again.

The funny thing is, later on in the dark, we got lost in exactly this same spot again on our second pass through this stage. But that was a result of slightly different circumstances.

At 4:50 we turn from the rough forest trail and Tee-Left3 onto a ridiculously slippery, but fast, icy sprint to the finish. Our gravel tires were particularly unsuitable for this stuff.

On a fast Left5-long-with-bumps, we just about understeered straight off into the trees!

Oversteer doesn't scare me one bit. Martin can drift the car as far sideways as he likes and I just think it's awesome and cool. He's always totally in control. But understeer scares the crap outta me.

We came tip-toeing into this long Left 5, skipped a little over the first bump, and I heard Martin suck in his breath and say, "Whoa!" The car is not responding to steering inputs, just floating straight on and heading for the trees. Oh-oh...

Martin gently steers out of it, and that's that. It could have ended badly. It looks like nothing at all on the video, but THAT was the scariest moment of the entire rally.


A8 - Egan Creek - Part 3/3
December 15, 2008 09:57PM
A9 - Lower Old Hastings:

Sadly, this stage was cancelled.

Dave Mirra's co-driver, Lance Smith, injured his back on landing over a big jump. They were so concerned about it that they pulled off at one of the controls, from where a marshal contacted Emergency Services to come deal with Lance.

After some delay it was decided to cancel the stage. All remaining competitors were sent through at Transit speed, using the stage "long time". That caused some confusion at the A9 finish control when a long queue of cars all arrived together, everyone clocking in on the same minute.

This delay cascaded into a further scramble, and total mayhem, after a too short 5-minute transit, when the same queue of cars then all hustled to check into the arrival control for A10 - Middle Old Hastings. Poor Craig and Paty, at that time control, had to deal with four or five co-drivers all rushing up together, each trying to jam their routecard under Paty's nose at the same time, all jostling to avoid getting a late penalty at this stage arrival control.

Paty threatened to come armed with a water pistol next year! So watch out.
December 15, 2008 10:11PM
A10 - Middle Old Hastings:

This road is amazing (see map).

The stage starts off very fast, mostly straight, with a long series of crests and jumps. After that it twists and turns endlessly over one blind crest after another.

This is another one of those stages where I can barely flap my lips fast enough to spit out the notes in time to keep up with Martin's driving. I was completely wrung out and fried by the end.


A10 - Middle Old Hastings

This stage has a particularly nasty trap where the road jogs to the right over a blind crest. It looks like the road goes straight but, if you take a straight approach over the jump, you'll get a hell of a surprise when you land on the rock that's on the left edge of the road on landing.


this video for a whole series of crashes onto the rock, starting at 1:45 into the clip.
Then watch this

in-car video of a brutal hit onto the same rock.

Thankfully, after this stage we head back to Service for a little recovery time before heading to the new Golton Spectator Stage on the rallycross track...
December 15, 2008 10:16PM
A11 - Golton Spectator Stage:

What with all the excitement of arriving under the huge lights, seeing the thousands of spectators, camera strobes flashing, fancy countdown lights at the start line, etc,... um, I forgot to start the video camera.

Too bad. We really made a dog's breakfast of this run.

Too many tight hairpins, not enough traction anywhere, lots of sideways action, even spun off backwards out at the far end of the track. Not our finest moment, so it's probably best that it wasn't recorded on video.

Our time of 1:58 was only good enough for 21st out of the 27 cars left running, a full 26 seconds slower than Pat Richard's 1:32. Sheesh.

A12 - Golton Spectator Stage:

After a short wait for everyone to complete their first run, we all queued up for a second shot at it.

Our second pass was MUCH better. Nice and tidy everywhere. Just enough sideways to carry the tail end around the tight hairpins, without wasting too much time spinning the wheels. No drama. A touch too wide in the final slippery hairpin, but otherwise a huge improvement over our first run.

Martin confidently predicted we'd be at least 10 seconds quicker this time. So we were shocked to hear that we were only 2 seconds quicker with a time of 1:56, still just 21st of 27 on this stage, and soundly beaten both times by our Grp-5 competitors, Greg Healey & Brian Johnson, in their Datsun 280Z.


A12 - Golton Spectator Stage

Now it's back to the Service park, where the Regional competitors get to call it quits for the day, whereas we National competitors have to gear up to soldier on for one more long loop, in the dark this time, over the tough Egan Creek stage, followed again by Lower and Middle Old Hastings.

Still more videos to come...
December 15, 2008 10:25PM
B1 - Egan Creek:

The Ontario Regional competitors are already all safely tucked away in Parc Fermé, whereas we National competitors have one more lonnnng loop to complete of Egan Creek, Lower Old Hastings, and Middle Old Hastings before we also get to call it quits.

We saved our only set of ice tires for this loop. They work MUCH better than gravel tires, just as long as we don't get any flats. This first part is wicked fast, and nasty icy.

Simon and Maxime Losier, with their Mitsu Evo 8, broke down at the side of the road, 4:00 into the clip.

Watch for Peter Reilly & Ray Felice, at 7:15, off into the trees on the left in what was potentially the most serious wreck of the whole rally. Rollovers look and likely feel spectacular, but a rollover usually expends energy comparatively gradually. Reilly & Felice slipped off the road at a high speed corner, mowed down a whole series of smaller trees, then came to a very abrupt stop when they eventually connected with a big tree. It says much for the level of safety designed into modern rally cars that they were lucky enough to walk away under their own power from that heavy crash. We were relieved to see them displaying their triangles and OK sign.

Egan Creek is a long stage. Too long to fit into the 10-minute limit of YouTube videos, so I broke it into three parts. There's sufficient time available to fit in an extra little bit at the start, where we got to chat for a moment with the marshals at the start control.

Rallying is very much one big family. No matter where you go, you always run into the same volunteers manning registration, checkpoints, radio locations, time controls. It's always the same people cheerfully contributing their time and efforts, often standing for hours out in the rain or freezing cold, all so we can have fun racing our cars.

We owe a huge debt to these generous folks, so the very least we can do is be friendly to them during the brief intervals when we get to talk with them. I love to chat with these guys. Unfortunately, during the rally, the only brief opportunity to do so is at time controls like this, where I really should be paying closer attention to all the little details I normally need to look after before starting into a stage. Things like remembering to zero the odometer, etc.


B1 - Egan Creek - Part 1/3

In this second part we go onto the tight twisty forest trail. It gets very busy in here.


B1 - Egan Creek - Part 2/3

I have a lot to say about this next clip, Part 3, because I got lost AGAIN in the notes.

I got lost on our first run through this stage, running too far ahead of myself in the notes. That was totally my fault. It happened in a long right bend that continues over several small crests. I didn't wait long enough for that bend to finish before already calling the next couple of instructions, and after that I was two instructions too far ahead in the notes.

On this second run through the stage, in the dark now, we got lost again on the exact same damn corner, only this time I'm convinced it was more Martin's fault.

Martin doesn't like long silences. If I'm not constantly talking to him, he thinks I've fallen asleep, or that I'm lost again, or the intercom has gone dead, or worse. So if I go more than a few seconds without saying something, he'll jump in and give me a shout to make sure I'm still conscious and awake.

Same as before, the problem starts already at 1:15 into the clip, with a "R3lg no cut <@Cr". There's a 70 metre longish straight after that and a R6. I'm a little slow telling Martin what comes after the R6, so he says, "Quicker, come on." I go a little quicker and tell him the next two instructions, but that's too much now and he needs to repeat the instructions. We stumbled for just a moment there, too slow, then too fast, but it's all good again.

The notes obviously have to come soon enough so Martin won't be surprised by any sudden hairpins, but if I run too far ahead he won't remember more than one or two instructions at a time, especially if the road is tricky and busy and he's tightly focused on doing the driving.

It is REALLY difficult to get the timing just right. And, once I've settled into a particular tempo, I find it's even more difficult to have to adjust the timing ahead or back on the fly. I'm still new at this game so, more often than not, I tend to lose my place in the notes whenever Martin asks me to speed up or repeat an instruction.

Next, at 1:55 we come to the "CrR5lg" (Crest R5 long) where I screwed up on our earlier pass through here. That instruction really should be fixed to read "CrR5Vlg cont/2*smCr" (Crest R5 Very long, continues over 2 small Crests).

This corner continues for MUCH longer than expected. On our first time through here I thought we must have already finished with that instruction, and mistakenly went on to prematurely read the following two instructions, resulting in me running too far ahead in the notes and getting hopelessly lost.

This time I was determined to wait it out until we definitely reached the following L5 Bump over small Crest. Listen in the video, I tell Martin that the next instruction is "L5Bump/smCr", so he's know what we're looking for next after this R5 long.

But still within this same R5-long, we hit several bumps and small crests that aren't mentioned in the notes, and those once again trick us into believing we've somehow already done the L5Bump/smCr. It's quite obvious watching the video that we haven't turned left yet.

But, just in case I've maybe missed it again, I go ahead one more instruction and tell Martin that, after the "L5Bump/smCr", there is another "R5 long". But right now, we're still in the original R5 long. We haven't reached the L5Bump/Cr yet.

Then, just as we finally reach the L5, and I'm just starting to say, "This is the L5...", Martin tells me to speed up more. He says, "... and Left? Quick. Come on. Come on."

It sounds like he thinks we've already passed the L5Bump/smCr, and the R5lg that came after it, and now he's wondering what's this Left that I see coming up? Quick, tell me what's next!

And then I'm convinced that I must have messed it all up again, just like on our previous run through this stage. Not wanting to fall behind again, I jump right to it and read the next couple of instructions, and that's the end of that. Now we're lost again.

Okay, it's still my fault. It's my job to keep track of this stuff. I should have known we hadn't reached the L5Bump/smCr yet. But when Martin prompted me to speed up, I was immediately convinced that this was all my fault again, that I had screwed up and fallen behind again somehow.

In-car video is great for this. I can slow it down and re-run it several times to study it, to try to understand what went wrong, so that next time we can fix the notes to avoid such problems. But isn't that what recce was supposed to be for? We had two recce passes, and now two passes at speed, and I still didn't understand what went wrong there each time until just now studying the video.

Still, all-in-all, for our first season teamed together, I think we managed pretty well this year. I certainly learnt a lot from all my mistakes.


B1 - Egan Creek - Part 3/3
December 15, 2008 10:33PM
Although the videos are useful for replaying and studying all my mistakes, some of those mistakes make me cringe when I watch them again. For example, both of these last two stages make me cringe when I watch them now.

I had some "issues" with nausea.

B2 - Lower Old Hastings; (see map)

Normally, I never have a problem while I'm reading the stage notes. That's because I can see what's coming next in the notes. I usually know what's coming long before Martin does. So I'm ready and braced for it. I even have a small degree of control, from over in the right seat, on what Martin is doing behind the steering wheel in the left seat. If my voice gets all shrill and panicky, "OMG there's a R6 over this really scary blind crest!!!", Martin will probably back off and slow right down, based just on the tone of my voice, long before before he realizes that a R6 can be taken flat out without slowing at all.

So as long as I'm comfortably in control of the notes, then I feel right at home "driving" the car from over in the passenger seat. I never have any problem whatsoever with the way Martin drives on the stages. It's totally cool and awesome.

But, if I'm lost in the notes and flipping pages back and forth trying to find my spot again and therefore blind to what's happening on the road, or we're on a twisty transit section with no notes at all, then I'm just being tossed around with no control over what's happening. If at the same time I have to do timing calculations or whatever, then car-sickness may result.

Even then, I normally pop a couple of Gravol pills before starting off in the morning and that takes care of any potential issues before they become a problem. Except that didn't seem to work for me this weekend.

I was already feeling a little woozy at the end of the B1 - Egan Creek stage. And then we had the very long 45-minute transit to the start of the B2 - Lower Old Hastings stage. I deliberately chose to leave the timing calculations until later when we got to the smooth highway-62, and sat still with my head up for the initial portion of the transit over the remaining twisty section of Egan Creek and Weslemkoon Roads.

I thought I had it under control by the start of B2 - Lower Old Hastings, but only about 2 minutes into the stage I had to bail out and puke. Unfortunately, bailing out is not an option.

Martin had to do the rest of this long 12-minute stage driving blind, literally blind because of the thick dust hanging in the air, while I enjoyed the ride with my head in a bag.


B2 - Lower Old Hastings
December 15, 2008 10:37PM
B3 - Middle Old Hastings;

I really did not enjoy Lower Old Hastings. I suspect Martin didn't either.

The worst part of feeling car-sick is the waiting and feeling miserable. If you try to suppress it, thinking happy thoughts, you'll just prolong the misery and feel awful for a longer time. It's much better to get it over with. Normally, once the deed is done, I'll feel better right away and can go straight back to doing whatever I was doing before.

Um, but not this time...

I spent the entire last 10 minutes of that 12-minute stage, stuck on this crazy roller coaster ride, with my head in a bag. Looking on the bright side though, things could have been much worse. At least I had a bag, eh.

I always pack a large zip-loc freezer bag in my kit, just in case. That sure came in handy.

Note to self: Next time, bring more than one bag.

Speaking from experience here, when you're feeling deadly ill, feeling like you're about to die, wishing you actually would die just so you didn't have to feel like this any longer, well, it's really really really unpleasant to have to re-open and re-use the same zip-loc bag another two or three or twenty more times...

However, there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that I survived Lower Old Hastings without dying.
The bad news is that I survived Lower Old Hastings without dying...

You know that old saying about getting right back on the horse after it's bucked you off? Well whoever said that should be shot.

We had only a short 5-minute transit to the start of B3 - Middle Old Hastings. From there, it was straight back onto the roller coaster for another six and a half minutes of fun, fun, fun...


B3 - Middle Old Hastings.

Yay! We finished 15th overall!

Shoot me now. Please.
December 15, 2008 10:54PM
Oh yeah, now there is a place and all I need is time smiling smiley Thanks Ferdy
December 16, 2008 06:04AM
Woohoo! We really are back for real. We have Ferdinand's rally reports! hot smiley

Thanks for the great account! smileys with beer

'91 325iX
December 16, 2008 10:57AM
TV coverage of the Tall Pines Rally will be shown on TSN on Dec 28 08, 14:30 est.

Episodes of this year's previous events, after they've been aired on TV, are posted online at [www.flatovercrest.com].
December 16, 2008 11:02AM
TV coverage of the Tall Pines Rally will be shown on TSN on Dec 28 08, 14:30 est.

Episodes of this year's previous events, after they've been aired on TV, are posted online at [www.flatovercrest.com].

That link sounds like an ad for gas fighting toothpaste grinning smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2008 11:03AM by Archeo-peteriX.
December 16, 2008 11:06AM
Yay! We finished 15th overall!

Shoot me now. Please.
Yay! My life is yet again complete smiling smiley
Your stories are so inspirational, Ferdinand. Hope to see more of them soon thumbs up
December 21, 2008 08:54PM
TV coverage of the Tall Pines Rally will be shown on TSN on Dec 28 08, 14:30 est.

The English broadcast of the Tall Pines Rally coverage is now available online at [www.flatovercrest.com].
January 12, 2009 12:48PM
The 2008 Canadian Rally Championship Year in Review was shown on TSN-TV.

A copy of the 1/2 hour show is now posted on www.flatovercrest.com.

The TV coverage of each of the individual events concentrated almost entirely on the front running big-money teams. The first half of this season review show again summarizes the battle for the overall title, but the second half of the show, starting at 14:15, does a good job of mentioning the competition in the other classes. We're shown in the Group-5 segment starting at 15:10.
January 25, 2009 10:51AM
Congrats again, Ferdinand. Fantastic effort to win the championship.
What's happening for you guys in '09?

For us is Norway. the season has already started, but my car isn't ready. I decided to "throw" some money into the engine, hoping to be a bit more competitive this year. The Norwegian championship has already gone two of the seven rounds, with nice snowy conditions. Here's a video from yesterdays round from way east in Norway, not far from where the WRC round will be in three weeks: [videos.streetfire.net]
Ove has been icetrack-driving this weekend:

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