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2010 Lanark Highlands Forest Rally - Nissan 240SX in-car video

Posted by Ferdinand 
On Saturday May 15, Martin and I competed in the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally. This was a relatively short (50 km) Ontario Regional event, running the same 10km stretch of road up and back 5 times. This awesome piece of road was included in the 1974 Rideau Lakes Rally, back when it was a World Rally Championship event won by Sandro Munari in a Lancia Stratos.

Here's a good spectator video of Saturday's rally:

And here a couple of in-car videos from other competitors, each ending in a rollover;

More photos and stuff here: http://lhfr.ca/2010_photos.php

Those roads look good, very clean and pleasant.

And you made 7th overall, first from your class, only half minute after the subarus!

Keep up the good racing.
smileys with beer
May 18, 2010 07:55PM
LHFR Stage A1:

See map.

Our goal was to finish first of the 2WD cars. To accomplish that we would need to be quicker than Peter Kocandrle and Jimmy Brandt in a Grp2 Suzuki Swift. That's not easy. Those guys are QUICK!

On this first stage, Martin gave it everything right from GO. Then we just about fell off the road only a few corners into the stage (1:08 into the video). A combination of too much loose gravel, and an inaccurate note, caught us by surprise.

We noted this one as a "L4 < lg" (Left 4 opens long). It is a L4, it is long, and it does open up toward the exit, but then it tightens again slightly over a bit of a crest right at the exit.

Martin hasn't driven the car at speed since the Tall Pines Rally last November. But just like that he's already fully committed to MaxAttack mode! Then we almost slid wide at this corner, which could easily have seen us connecting with the big rock you see flashing past on the video. It didn't slow him down much though.

I am always totally amazed and stunned at just how much FASTER full out race mode is compared to the leisurely recce pace of the day before. It takes me a while to settle into a comfortable pace in reading the notes. I was way too late and slow on several important corners.

Despite all that, we both felt it was a damn good opening stage, waaaaay faster than last year in the rain. But Peter & Jimmy beat us anyway, by ONE second.

It turns out the near crash was all entirely my fault. We actually had it noted correctly as, "L4 > lg" (Left 4 tightens long), but I read it backwards. It's correct on both subsequent southbound runs.

Evidently Martin actually does listen to what I say, and then drives the corner accordingly, even if I'm reading the notes wrong.

That's pretty scary!
May 19, 2010 05:13PM
LHFR Stage A2:

This is our first Northbound run. The stage is considerably slower and more difficult in this direction. It feels like it is all uphill, and the road surface is churned up by all the previous cars, so some corners are now surprisingly loose.

Last year we had some issues with the notes early in the stage. We made lots of changes this year during recce. But I still wasn't comfortable with the section over three crests just before the Gemmills Rd spectator point, starting at about 1:45 into the clip.

We had two slow recce passes in the morning, and still couldn't get an acceptable description for the way the road wiggles through here. The road zig-zags over a series of very fast crests. Our notes were way too busy through there, so Martin decided to note it simply as "kinks 3 crests/120", then there's the obvious "R4@Y" at the spectators point, so we couldn't possibly get lost...

We hadn't practiced it at speed though. So I still managed to screw it up. Luckily the spectator point is easily recognizable, so I managed to pick it up okay from there on. Martin took it easy through here, but he seemed to know the way despite my mumblings. Our next Northbound pass was better.

Since we were only one second behind Peter K and Jimmy Brandt on the first stage, at the end of this stage Jimmy was waiting to hear what our time was for this second stage. And damn, didn't those guys beat us again by another measly one second!
May 19, 2010 05:20PM
LHFR Stage A3:

Peter and Jimmy are only two seconds ahead of us. We're confident in our notes, and we really like the stage in this direction. We're certain we can make up a couple of seconds on this run, if we just clean up our lines a bit. Of course Peter and Jimmy will be thinking exactly the same thing, so we're going to need to push hard on this stage.

First success, I managed to read the note correctly at 1:03 into the video, "100 L4 > lg". It definitely does tighten. Martin approaches it a bit more cautiously this time, we get through cleanly, and as a result we're probably already two seconds quicker at this point than on our first run. Looking good so far.

Watch Martin's steering inputs. He's concentrating on threading the car cleanly between the trees. No excess drama. No huge power slides. The fans like seeing big drifts, but it's slow. Neat and tidy like this is the quickest way.

Unfortunately, it all comes off the rails at 5:13 into the video when we clip a rock on the inside of a L3 . Immediately after that corner is a big jump. The car lands really squirrelly, "Oooo". We think maybe a tire has gone flat, but we're going to keep pressing to the end of the stage and change the flat on the transit.

Safely out of the finish control zone, Martin hops out of the car to take a look and discovers that the left rear suspension is busted. The control arm has torn loose from its mount and the wheel is flopping back and forth. Ah yup, that would certainly affect the handling.

With power on, the wheel toes in and the car wants to turn left. Off throttle or braking, the wheel toes out and the car swerves to the right. The amazing thing is though, Martin hardly slowed up at all for the remaining three minutes of the stage!!! Peter & Jimmy, unhindered by a broken suspension, beat us by a further 15 seconds on this stage. We're now 17 sec behind them.

Think this might make the car handle strangely? Check the rear wheel angle, yikes, in these photos. Click images for enlargment.
May 20, 2010 12:17PM
LHFR Stage A4:

Martin and Freak rebuilt the suspension, replacing the broken control arm, all within the 30 minutes allowed for Service. We checked out of Service right on time with no penalties.

On this stage, Martin was determined to claw back some of the time we had lost to Peter & Jimmy, so he's giving it everything. But the road is getting chewed up in some corners, leaving deep ruts in the soft sand and gravel. The car gets way out of shape in a "R3 long" at 2:23 and Martin has to use a lot of steering input to gather it back. "Tidy, tidy, tidy..."

It happens again at 3:30 on another R3 when we snag some deep loose gravel, the car slides way wide, and we practically have to stop to avoid slapping up against a tree on the exit.

It's frustrating. Things are going really well, then suddenly this stuff happens and we burn up a couple of seconds here and there.

At 4:30 there is a particularly nasty section of deep soft sand in a L4. This corner already scared us a couple of times last year coming the other way. But this time the car very nearly got away from us. Unlike his usual calm steering inputs, Martin needed to do some very sudden, elbows flying, sawing at the wheel to save this one.

Following that corner is another crest and then the R4 (at 4:38) where Jamie Gardhouse and Ryan Huber, running somewhere behind us in the order,

rolled their Mazda 323 to the outside into the trees.

Immediately after that corner is a "R5 >" (right 5 tightens) where we are startled to see Peter Reilly with his warning triangle standing well out into the road waving frantically for us to slow down. It's a good thing too, because hidden around the corner is Ray Felice with their VW Golf almost totally blocking the road. They had clipped a rock on the inside, smashing the right front suspension, leaving their car immobilized and stranded smack in the middle of the road. Ray indicates, with two fingers held close together, that there's barely enough room to squeeze past between the car and big a tree on the left, without knocking our side mirrors off.

Sheesh. Stuff like that can really break your concentration and throw you off your stride.

At 5:35 there is a tricky "Crest + Crest R3 L4" and again the car nearly gets away from us as it surfs through the deep loose sand and understeers badly entering the L4. For a brief moment there it looked like the car would refuse to turn and instead head straight into the tree on the exit. You can hear Martin suck in his breath, "whoa".

I'm getting concerned about how badly the car is wallowing around in the deep sand and ask Martin, "Have we got a flat?" He says, "I don't think so. It's just getting slippery."

There are triangles and cars off everywhere. At 7:20 we come to the warning triangles placed by Michelle and Dave after they

rolled their Mitsubishi coming the other way on the previous stage.

Definitely not our best stage. But we did beat Peter & Jimmy by a whole 4 seconds! Probably only because they slowed up more than us for the triangles though. Still, we're now only 13 seconds behind them.
May 20, 2010 03:27PM
LHFR Stage A5:

This was our best run of the day.

Despite the churned up condition of the road, and all the many abandoned cars with warning triangles everywhere, we were one second quicker this time than on our first southbound run. Another great drive by Martin!

Be sure to listen to the in-car chatter after the end of this stage, as Martin lets off some pent up steam about all those bleeping cars off the road, and the bleeping triangles everywhere, bleep it I'm going through, what the bleep who's that, and holy bleep the ruts were deep... He makes me laugh.

But bleep me, despite our best efforts, Peter and Jimmy were yet another 4 secs quicker than us, seeing us finish the rally 17 seconds behind them, 2nd in 2WD and 7th overall.
Great report, Ferdinand. Second by 17 seconds is nothing to sneeze at -- that's a super result!

I'm trying to imagine changing a control arm in 30 minutes in a clean, dry, well-lit, and fully-stocked garage, and thinking, nope, I couldn't do it. In a temporary service area? Amazing! I guess you carry spare control arms for times like that?

'91 325iX
I'm trying to imagine changing a control arm in 30 minutes in a clean, dry, well-lit, and fully-stocked garage, and thinking, nope, I couldn't do it. In a temporary service area? Amazing! I guess you carry spare control arms for times like that?
I wish I had taken photos of that operation. The Nissan has a complicated multi-link rear suspension. The lower control had to be replaced. When I asked Martin if there was anything useful I could do to help, he suggested I just stay well out of the way!

He said he and Freak would normally be able to change a rear control arm in just over 15 minutes. But it requires removing the BIG nut to pull the half-shaft out of the rear hub. He usually uses an impact gun for that, but we discovered the air tank didn't have enough pressure in it and it would have taken too long to start up the generator to run the compressor just for that. So a bit of time was wasted running around in panic asking other crews if anyone had a long cheater bar to force that nut off by hand.

Usually the service breaks are only 20 minutes long. That would have been tight. Luckily they scheduled a generous 30 minutes for this service. We had about a minute and a half to spare, given us enough time to leisurely make our way over to the Service Out time control and check out right on schedule with no penalty.

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