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2010 Tall Pines - Martin/Ferd Nissan 240SX in-car videos

Posted by Ferdinand 
Martin did an amazing job rebuilding the car after we tore it up at Targa Newfoundland on some rocks that were waiting for us at the bottom of a deep ditch.

After that painstaking restoration we weren't all that keen on wrecking the car again, so we decided to be a bit cautious on this first stage at Tall Pines.

Our goal was to finish first of the 2wd cars. Peter Kocandrle, our usual target, has moved to 4wd and Open Class. This time our goal is to beat Simon Dubé and Pat Lavigne in their G2 VW Golf. But those guys are really really quick.

Although there was no snow this year, it was very cold the night before the rally and the gravel roads were frozen hard but expected to thaw throughout the day. We suspected there might be patches of ice in the shady spots. By the time we started into this first stage there were plenty of slick wet patches, and other very deep soft sandy areas where the road had already been ripped up. It was difficult to get a proper feel for the conditions.

Then we just about went straight off, due to a small miscommunication, on the corner that claimed Simon Losier's Mitsubishi in 2008, when he shot off the road on the L5>3/Cr ending up on his roof in the swamp far below! Yeesh, that was too close.

Still, despite that brief scare, this was a decent enough first stage for us, even though Dubé and Lavigne beat us by a whole 17 seconds! We will need to pick up our pace.

A1 Upper Old Hastings I:

After this first stage we went straight back to Service, where Martin decided we needed to change to softer springs on the rear suspension.
For this run I switched to the interior view camera, which was a mistake. It's much too bright outside, compared to the darker interior of the car. The high contrast bleached the view out the windshield. It gets better after this though as the sky becomes more overcast through the day.

A2 Upper Old Hastings II:

Rear springs changed at the first Service stop, the car handles much better now. And, no mistakes this time at the corner that scared us the first time through. Martin nailed it perfectly.

But then, at 3:50 into the video, we come across somebody waving frantically for us to slow down, and just around the corner we find Crazy Leo and Chrissie Beavis also waving for us to slow. We're already crawling, any slower we'd be stopped. Oh, I get it now. I see. Just over the crest, Leo's car is broadside across the road, blocking our path. See in-car video of Leo's crash here:

He's only just a little bit faster than us, eh. It's a huge shame he crashed out so early.

There's only barely enough room to squeeze past Leo's car off the road to the right. Except, there's a humongous rock hidden there in the deep dirt and leaves. Wham, slam, bash, ouch. That hurt. We found out later that impact flattened the control arm on our right rear suspension.

At 4:55 we see more people waving for us to slow again. It's for Richard Burton and Dean Hopkins whose Subaru is stopped with an overheated engine. We noticed as they were pulling out of the Service control ahead of us, that there was steam coming from under their hood already then. It looks terminal for them now.

At 7:07 Martin cuts a bit too much into the grass on the inside of a R4+ and we clout another big rock. We were lucky not to get a flat, or worse, on that one. "Oooh, that was a good one."

Dubé/Lavigne beat us again, by another 16 seconds on this stage.
A3 The Peanut:

This stage starts out wide smooth and fast, then turns left onto a goat path that makes The Peanut so famous for breaking cars.

Right at the start of this stage there's a R6sh into L6+deceptive/Cr that's surprisingly difficult. It would have been easier with no description at all, just keep going straight ahead. There used to be huge pine trees along here, which all got blown down by a tornado a couple of years ago. Now there's nothing but empty horizon.

We run this portion of road three times at speed. Each time Martin was tempted to steer to the right over this blind crest, aiming at the empty hole to the right of the first three tall trees that appear on the horizon, when in fact we should be heading left. It's a bit unnerving.

After turning left at 3:50 onto the narrow rough forest road it gets difficult to talk while reading out the notes. I keep getting the breath knocked out of me in mid-speech over the bumps and kicks in this road.

At 6:50 we pass Ian Crerar and Doug Draper, out with a broken transmission in their Mitsubishi. They've had a lot of tough luck the last three years at Tall Pines. They were out at the end of the very first stage last year with a blown engine, and out after rolling on the 8th stage the year before.

At 8:09 is the R5lg>4 from where Alexei Stapinski and Angela Cosner, running several cars behind us in the order, exited the rally in spectacular fashion when they rolled their Scirocco waaaay down into the trees off the steep left edge of the road.

This was a pretty good stage for us. We were only 3 seconds slower than Dubé this time.
Speaking of goat paths...

A4 Old Detlor:

The spot where we need to line up to launch into this stage is already so churned up and dug deep into the loose sand, we're afraid we might actually get stuck and never get off the line.

The first half of this stage, on Old Detlor Rd, is incredibly rough, tight, twisty, and busy. Again, I find it difficult to keep breathing over all the bumps. It so rough I can hardly get all the stage notes out of my mouth in time to what's coming at us. I can barely flap my lips quickly enough to spit it all out in time.

Martin is wrestling with the steering because the road is dug up so badly. There is DEEP soft sand in all the tight corners, and it's littered everywhere with big rocks that have been churned up.

From 4:30 on it gets easier as we do the Detlor Crossing onto the smoother Landon Rd. From here on there's time enough between corners to breath again.

At 7:35 we come to the big jump, carrying a touch too much speed into the jump, and land heavily on the nose of the car.

That piece hanging under the car is plastic torn from the rear skid plate, when we bashed over the rock while squeezing past Leo's stranded car on Stage A2.

Then it's past Tait Farm, and the Iron Bridge spectator locations to the finish. Again Dubé/Lavigne are 3 seconds faster than us. They now have a 39 second lead over us. We need to do something about that soon.

See more excellent Tall Pines photos by Michael Tan at Motorsport.com

At the end of this stage Martin announces that something is wrong with the car. It's low on power. We determine that the fuel filter is clogged up again, causing the fuel pump to complain and screech from lack of fuel flow. With a 25-minute Service stop up next, we have enough time to fix that.
A5 Iron Bridge I:

Fuel filter cleaned, boost leak plugged, the engine is running fine now. It's time to put the hammer down and make up some of that time we lost to Dubé/Lavigne.

It's not easy though. The road is very chewed up, with deep soft sand piled high in all the corners. Put a wheel wrong into the soft stuff and it tries to drag the car off the road.

At 1:25, into a L3 tightens narrow, the car momentarily gets away from Martin in the deep sand, swinging too far sideways. It wouldn't be a big deal, as there is a nice grassy verge on the inside of the corner. Except, holy cow, there's a big tree stump standing right there in that grassy shoulder! Hitting that would have been Bad.

At 3:35 we again get big air over the jump, with another hard landing.

photo by Justin Bierworth

At 5:11, it's over the Iron Bridge and past the famous lady in the red housecoat.

see more photos by "Fotografix" on the OttawaSubaru forum.

At the finish control Damir Akik and Lee Silverstone are checking out their collapsed rear suspension, and Maxime Losier and Philippe Porier are out with a dead engine.

The good news for us is that we finally beat Simon Dubé and Pat Lavigne on a stage. But it's only by a measly two seconds. At this rate it'll take us a week to claw back the remaining 37 second lead they still have over us.
A6 Mayo Lake (Part 1 of 2):

This is a long busy stage.

I need to tighten the screw on my microphone boom. Over the bumps my microphone keeps dropping away from my face. It's a nuisance.

At 5:00 into the video we turn right R3- at a junction. Martin has a nice drift going through the turn, cutting deep across the apex, and then we almost clip the metal signpost on the inside at the exit of the turn. Whoa!

At 6:35 is the first of two deep water crossings. Martin has added a special pre-filter sock to the cone filter, which helps a lot in keeping water from being ingested by the engine. We used to have to crawl through these water crossings to keep the engine from spluttering and coughing. Big difference now, Splash!

Just a couple of corners later, at 6:50, is the second much deeper water crossing. Encouraged by how well that pre-filter functioned in the first crossing, we hit this second water splash a little quicker. Keep your eye on the bottom right corner of the windshield. A large wave of brown water rolls up over the hood of the car, up the windshield, and straight through my side window which I keep open an inch to prevent the windshield from fogging up. Okay, so I'm wet now.

On top of that, apparently there is a finite limit to what that pre-filter can accomplish. The engine swallows a big gulp of water, dies for about ten seconds, stumbles for another ten, and eventually runs again about 30 seconds after the water crossing. A full minute later the engine is still misfiring.

At 9:30 we pass Hardy Schmidtke and Adam Vokes, out with mechanical issues.

A6 Mayo Lake (Part 2 of 2):

The second part of this stage takes us back through The Peanut. At 4:17 is the "R4+vlg slippy?" where Ken Block went off a couple of years ago, punching a big hole into the undergrowth that's still visible today.

At 5:48 there is a new hole in the bushes on the left where, on the earlier running of The Peanut, Alexei Stapinski and Angela Cosner dropped their Scirocco out of sight down the embankment.

We were feeling pretty pleased with our finish time of 16:00 flat. But Dubé/Lavigne did it in 15:24!! Okay so we lost maybe ten or fifteen seconds sputtering through the water crossing. But they beat us by 36 seconds! They're now a whole 1:13 ahead of us. That's beginning to look serious.
A7 Iron Bridge II:

I really do need to tighten that screw on my helmet mike. At 1:20 I reach up to re-adjust the microphone position yet again, and promptly lose my spot in the notes. D'oh.

After several passes on this road it's incredibly chewed up with deep deep loose dirt and sand piled high everywhere. Martin hardly ever has the steering wheel pointed straight down the road as he's constantly fighting with the steering.

I am very happy to report that I made it past the many hundreds of spectators at Tait Farm and Iron Bridge this year without my head in a bag and puking. That's a huge relief to everyone, I'm sure.

The other good news, for us, is that this was the 2nd stage so far on which Dubé/Lavigne didn't beat us. The bad news though is that we didn't actually beat them either. We only tied them, each of us with a stage time of 5:12.

From here it's back to Service for a 25-minute stop. On the way we pass Chris Martin and Brian Johnson looking dejected, out with a blown turbo.

Our fuel pump is whining loudly again. It does that whenever the fuel filter clogs up, starving the pump of fuel. That'll need to be looked at again during this stop before we start out onto the long loop of Egan Creek, Lower, and Middle Old Hastings coming up next.
Off to Service, pull the fuel filter, only to discover that it's clean. Huh? So why is the fuel pump making all that noise?

It's been run too often, starving for fuel, and now the bearings are shot. That's why it's complaining with all those screeching noises.

No problem, grab the spare pump out of the box of spare parts in the trailer, and swap that in for the worn pump that's making all the noise.

Lots of time. It's all done, all good, we still have two minutes remaining before we're due to check out of Service.

Except now the car won't start. WTF? It's cranking fine, just not firing up.

A quick diagnosis reveals the engine is not getting fuel. Panic time!

After cleaning, did the fuel filter get installed the right way around? Are the fuel lines plumbed the right away around, hooked up correctly to the "new" pump? Are the electrical connections plugged in the correct way around? Yes, yes, and yes. Check, check, check. Everything was done correctly. So why is there is no fuel reaching the engine?

Disconnect the fuel line from the pump, run the pump, there's no fuel coming out. The "new" pump is not pumping anything!!

Martin is somewhat "frugal" eh, when it comes to buying replacement parts. Other teams drop $1000 a pop on a brand new set of tires. Martin instead spends only a few hundred bucks to acquire multiple sets of cast off used tires from those other teams. Apparently the same frugality applies to fuel pumps. The last time we swapped the noisy fuel pump for the spare "new" pump, the worn out "old" pump was chucked back into the spares bin, thereby itself becoming the "new" pump that has now been reinstalled into the car. Oh-oh.

Quick, retrieve the original noisy pump and swap it back in!! Make sure that one is working! Yup, it works fine. It shoots a reassuring jet of fuel all over the inside of the car (because Freak and Martin know how much I enjoy riding with that smell).

Everything gets hooked up, buttoned up, screwed down, and we're good to go again.

Except now we're ten minutes late checking out of Service. That's not good, but it's not the end of the world. The penalty for being late is only 10-secs per minute late. So, 100 seconds is a 1:40 penalty.

Stay calm and focussed, it ain't over yet. We were so calm and focussed,we even managed to remember that we still needed to add more fuel to the tank before heading out on the looooong loop of Egan Creek, Lower Old Hastings, and Middle Old Hastings. Otherwise we would surely have run out somewhere deep in the woods.

Furthermore, the stop in the refuelling zone gave Freak yet another opportunity to spill more fuel into the car, thereby further enhancing the toxic atmosphere inside the car. And all this just before the really brutal roller-coaster stages.

I am soooooo NOT going to puke, I am NOT going to puke, I am NOT going to puke... Really, I'm not.
Our 1:40 late penalty means we're now even more unlikely to catch Dubé/Lavigne, but we're still second in 2wd well ahead of the third place 2wd Mitsubishi Lancer of Jeff Dowell and Javor Klostranec. The bigger problem is that we have negated all the benefits of the prior reseed in our running order.

Previously we had been running up with the big boys, starting right behind Martin Donelly and Jodie Shay. We were unlikely to ever catch up and be held up by them on a stage. But now, after leaving Service 10 minutes late, we've dropped down the running order and find ourselves behind the Production Sport Mitsubishi Lancer of Jeff Dowell and Javor Klostranec.

Jeff is by no means slow. We would not likely catch him on any of the shorter stages. But right now we're heading into the very longest stage, the 27.5km Egan Creek stage. We will almost certainly catch Jeff somewhere on this stage, and it gets really narrow in most of it, with no convenient spots to pass. We caught Jeff a couple of years ago, with nowhere to pass, on a long stage at the New England Forest Rally and got held up for quite a while before he finally found a spot to let us squeeze by. Unfortunately, as we went past, we fired a rock through his windshield!

So, as we waited in line to start this Egan Creek stage, we asked Jeff if he'd mind letting us start ahead of him and he graciously agreed to that. It's a good thing too, because Martin excels on these rough and difficult stages, and Egan Creek is one of his favourites. We were two minutes faster than Jeff on this stage. We were 16 seconds faster than Dubé/Lavigne as well!

This is a big one, sharing the same fast smooth start as The Peanut, but at 3:50 we blow straight past where would have turned left into The Peanut, and continue to 5:10 before turning left onto the start of the fun stuff. Then it gets narrow and rough.

Of course, during all the excitement with our fuel pump at the Service stop, I forgot again to tighten the screw on my helmet mike. So I'm still distracted by the microphone boom dropping away from face over every good bump in the road.

At 7:50 we hit the first of the deep watercrossings. Martin takes it nice and easy through that one, and through the next one at 8:15. But still the engine chokes on a big swallow of water, and the windshield fogs up. It takes nearly a whole minute before the windshield clears and the engine stops popping and banging.

How silly would that have been, after successfully negotiating with Jeff to allow us to start ahead of him, if we now had to pull over with our sputtering engine to let him get ahead of us again?

A8 Egan Creek (Part 1 of 2):

Part 1 ends and Part 2 continues at the Tee-Right where we start into the really difficult stuff.

The first 2:30 of this 2nd half is faaaaast over a lot of nasty dips and bangs over which I get beat up. Then there's the wicked deep and rocky double-washout, which we would normally take every bit as fast as Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell (not!!!) Except we were worried we'd drown our engine again, so crossed through at a slightly less insane speed.

After that it gets very busy again, with lots of surprise corners with the potential of shooting you off into a swamp. Good notes are vital through this section.

Finally at 7:10 we turn Tee-Left back onto the original fast wide road for a blistering fast dash to the finish, where Martin informs me that he has been driving for half the stage with his water bottle rolling around loose under his feet and jamming into the pedals. Eeeeeek!

A8 Egan Creek (Part 2 of 2):

A9 Lower Old Hastings I:

Alrighty then. Even if you don't watch any of the other videos, ya gotta watch all of this one! This one is nuts.

Watch it in full-screen mode to enjoy the full effect of all that rear-wheel-drive goodness.

The trees were whipping past at a brisk pace on this stage. It starts off fast, but gets progressively more and more twisty the further in we get. From 4:50 on it gets crazy narrow.

At 5:15 it goes sharp left over a very narrow bridge, where somebody has already lost a bumper cover, or a fender liner, or maybe thrown out their co-driver??

After that there is a brief respite where I get to catch my breath on a 220 metre straightaway in preparation for the pounding I am about to receive...

At 5:34 I call the end of the 220 straight with a Bump 50 L6sh into R4+. But it doesn't look at all like that when approached at high speed in the dark. Rather than the easy Left into tight Right that I just announced, Martin is convinced that it looks more like a tight Left first. We got a bit out of shape for a moment at that point.

When flying in the dark like this, you really really need to be completely confident in the notes, otherwise things have the potential to rather suddenly go pear-shaped.

From here on, all the way to the finish, this stage is nuts! Really really busy, with deep dips and huge jumps and brutal landings.

It's very difficult to time the breathing properly, between barking out instructions, without risk of getting the breath knocked out of you in one of those dips or hard landings. If you can see it coming you can brace yourself with stomach muscles clenched and butt puckered up. But if you're busy reading ahead in the notes at the time, you risk biting off your tongue.

At the end of the stage Martin suggests we might have an exhaust leak. It stinks of exhaust fumes in the car, and no, that's not just from my underwear. An exhaust leak, or the beating we've just endured, may well explain the pounding headache I now have.

Still, all-in-all, we were pretty pleased with that run, convinced we must have set a pretty good time. And yet, Dubé/Lavigne beat us again by 4 seconds. Damn, those guys are good!
A10 Middle Old Hastings I:

More fun on Old Hastings Road.

At 5:00 we pass "Bellefleur Rock". It's famous for trashing numerous cars over the years. On the approach it looks like you can simply straight-line it over this jump. But that would be a terminal mistake.

The road jogs slightly to the right immediately over that jump. A straight line into the jump would carry you directly to a hard landing on the infamous rock. One of the top teams in this rally fetched up on this rock later in the night...

For a graphic example of why this crest must be treated with the utmost respect, see 3:40 in this video:

And, for a whole series of crashes onto this same rock, skip ahead to 1:46 in this video:

A11 Golton Spectator Stage I:

This stage started off quite bizarre for us.

Apparently another competitor, who shall remain nameless (but whose name can easily be looked up at Rallyscoring.com), arrived in the dark at one of the time controls for A10 Middle Old Hastings missing a wheel and with no lights whatsoever. He wanted to run the stage this way, then complete the long transit on Hwy 62 to the Golton Spectator Stage, run that, then transit back to the Service Park to fix his car, all the while driving on three wheels with no lights.

From what I heard, the control marshals said, "No way!" and promised to call the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) if he tried it.

We were upstream of all this drama and knew nothing about it. We were patiently waiting in line to check into the arrival control for the Golton stage on our assigned time.

With less than a minute to go, suddenly an OPP vehicle barged past us and parked sideways blocking the entrance to the time control. Huh? WTF?

Okay this is weird. What are we supposed to do now? We need to check in on this minute and it doesn't look like the OPP is going to move out of the way in time to let us in. I'm already unbuckling, preparing to climb out of our car when, with only 15 seconds left in our minute we manage to squeeze around the police car to get into the control barely still within our minute. Phew.

The control marshal clocked us in on our correct minute and, as usual, assigned us a start time two minutes later. Normally that's plenty enough time to get ourselves lined up on the start line. But at Golton we first have to go all the way down to the end of the long driveway, and since we entered the control so late, we in effect had less than a minute to get there.

When we got to the start line, J.P. was more concerned with getting us lined up exactly in the right spot, then leisurely sauntered to his usual starter's position, casually glanced at his watch to see how much time was left, and almost had a coronary.

He came hustling back to my window and said, "Go, go, go, go right now!" Huh? Say what? Where's our countdown?

After some more brief panic and confusion, we simply got J.P. to amend the start time on our timecard, initial it, and start us on the following minute. No harm done. There was quite a bit of swearing involved though. To avoid embarrassing anyone, I edited all that stuff out of the YouTube video. It was pretty funny actually.

Other than that bit of amusement, we really hate this stage. We're always dead slow in this one. It's painful.
More bizarre happenings...

After A11 Golton, we headed back for the last Service break, where Martin and Freak jumped to work trying to find the source of our exhaust leak. It didn't take too long to find. The down-pipe is supposed to be attached with four bolts to the flange on the outlet of the turbocharger. There's only one bolt there now! Gotta find three replacement bolts quick.

There is a regroup and reseed at this stop. As cars drop out during the rally, it introduces gaps into the running order. This regroup gives the organizers an opportunity to hold cars back or bump them up in the running order to fill gaps so that everyone is again running at 1-minute intervals with no excessive gaps between cars. The reseed shuffles the running order so the faster cars run together, not mixed in with the slower cars.

Everyone is guaranteed 20 minutes for this Service break, but some teams might get as much as 40 minutes depending. We won't know until they post our Out-Times.

I'm waiting for our time to be posted, but nothing yet. I need to give the guys enough warning, letting them know when we're due to leave, so they know how much time is left before they have to start putting stuff back together. They still have the car up on jackstands, wheels off, exhaust system apart...

Every now and then someone comes running to update the list, posting times for another three cars. Nothing for us though. Time is ticking away. Still nothing posted for us. Wait a sec! They just posted an Out-Time for Jeff Dowell, but still nothing for us. We're about to head out on another long loop of Egan Creek, Lower, and Middle Hastings. Why are we being seeded behind Jeff?? Something's not right here.

Hang on! Paul and Rita, riding in the official chase-car Car-99, look like they're getting set to leave at the tail of the line, and STILL there's no Out-Time posted for us. Finally, somebody responds to my increasingly anxious requests for our Out-Time to be posted. Oh, sorry, we seem to have overlooked you guys. I guess you'll be last in the running order. Get your car out here right now.

GUYS!!! Put the wheels on right NOW!!! We gotta GO!!!

That sure was strange.

First we have to do another round of the Golton rallycross stage. J.P. greets us at the start line, "All good this time?"

B1 Golton Spectator Stage II:

Martin did a much better job of this stage this time around. Nice and smooth, no excessive wheelspin, nice tight lines. All around it felt much better than our first run.

Of course we're one second SLOWER! We @%#*ing hate this @%#*ing stage!
This is our second pass on the long Egan Creek stage. We were worried the screwup with the Out-Times, which dropped us to dead last in the running order, would result in us being held up by slower cars if, or when, we caught any on this loooong stage. But it actually worked to our advantage.

B1 Golton, the second running of the short rallycross spectator stage, marks the end of the Regional portion of the rally. All the Regional competitors head straight back to Rally-HQ for the end of their day's rally. We National teams though, get to do one more gruelling round of the long Egan Creek, Lower, and Middle Old Hasting stages.

Quite a few Regional-only competitors now disappear from the running order ahead of us, leaving us with a nice four-minute gap until we are due to start. We now have a 4-minute dust window. Beauty. We won't need to drive through anybody's dust cloud, and we're highly unlikely to make up the 4 minutes to catch the car ahead of us. That's cool.

B2 Egan Creek (Part 1 of 2):

Egan Creek starts off with a long fast portion, and at 5:10 we slide past where we should have turned left onto the tight twisty stuff...

There usually are red arrows posted at intersections and tricky corners to give some indication of what's coming up. Martin was relying on using one of those red arrows as a landmark to show where we need to turn left. But there was no arrow.

We overshot that corner by a small amount, but Martin managed to keep the car pointed where we wanted it to go so we hardly lost any time at all.

From here on it gets really narrow, with lots of trees lining the edges of the road.

At 8:00 and 8:35 we crawl through the two deep watercrossings to make sure the engine doesn't sputter and die again.

At 8:58 there is a back-breaking nasty sharp dip in the road. Then, as a result of the deep watercrossings, the windshield fogs up. Perfect.

Part 1 ends and Part 2 continues at the Tee-Right where we the difficult stuff starts.

B2 Egan Creek (Part 2 of 2):

Note the nice "Scandinavian Flick" into the Tee-Right. Martin first points the car left under braking, then gently lets the tail swing back around the other way to get a nice controlled drift going into the Tee-Right. That worked well this time. Not so well later on though...

The fogged windshield clears up about a minute into this second video. That's when we pass a stranded VW Golf, pulled off on the right side of the road. Oh no! It's Simon Dubé and Pat Lavigne. That sucks for them. Heading into this stage Dubé/Lavigne were leading us by 3:04, including our 1:40 penalty for checking out of Service late with our fuel pump issue. Now it looks like they're out.

Actually, they weren't out yet. They had broken their alternator belt in one of those deep watercrossings and it took them 22 minutes to repair that out in the dark woods before continuing on to still finish 1st in Group 2.

From there on the road gets busier and rougher. Again, due to fretting about our Out-Time not being posted, I had forgotten during Service to tighten the screw on my helmet mic. But Martin, clever guy that he is, brought the screwdriver with us. During the road transit to the start of this stage I fumbled in the dark trying to tighten the tiny screw that's on the outside of my helmet (while wearing the helmet), and successfully managed that without losing an eye! Yay.

No we can enjoy pounding the car through all these dips and jumps, and I can continue reading the notes without needing to hold the microphone up with one hand. That's a novel improvement. (p.s. Martin, the screwdriver is still wedged into the left side of my seat cushion.)

At 3:00 we come to the big double-washout in which, coming the other direction last year, Hardy Schmidtke and Adam Vokes parked their Subaru and blocked the road. Again the watersplashes cause our windshield to fog up for another couple of minutes.

The windshield clears up in time for you to see us blow the Tee-Left at 7:30 onto the fast road. I was way too late calling that instruction. Martin tried another Scandinavian flick but the car got badly bogged down in the deep loose sand. The tail refused to swing back and we were left pointing the wrong way, heading right when we really wanted to go left. I think that scared the control marshal parked in his pickup off to the right more than it scared us. Martin had it nicely under control the whole time. We were in no danger of crashing. He just spun it around in a 270 and off we went in the proper direction. 's all good.

The fast dash to the finish was scary though. The car felt so squirrelly, Martin was convinced we had a flat tire.

Only two more stages to go. But they're tough ones...
B3 Lower Old Hastings II:

We take a slightly more conservative pace this time, not quite as aggressive over all those bigs jumps.

Something interesting I just noticed now while studying our video, at 2:44 we come to a R3+ that is surprisingly slippery, "ooooh, that was slippery!"

That's the exact same corner where Pat Richard, running in the opposite direction last year, said, "Whoa, very, very, very, slippy!!" at 6:25 in this video:

It's also the exact same corner where Christoph and I stuffed the BMW into a snowbank during the 2006 Ontario Winter Rally as seen in this classic "Triangle definitely" video: http://icerace.net/triangle.wmv (2MB wmv file)
B4 Middle Old Hastings II:

The last stage.

While waiting to check in at the start control, Martin mentions that we "haven't seen any of the top cars out, apart from Leo." That is unusual. The top teams are normally the ones pushing the hardest and taking the biggest risks. There are Championships on the line for them. So, usually by this point we would have passed several of them either broken down or crashed out already.

At 4:44 we again pass Bellefleur Rock. And then, sure enough, we find Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell are out on this stage, so close to the finish. At 5:15 we pass them stranded by the side of the road. They had broken their suspension earlier and tried to drive it out. But, with the car's unpredictable handling they then clouted Bellefleur Rock which did some other terminal damage to the car and they were forced to abandon any hope of finishing.

We made it to the end of the stage though, totally wrung out and exhausted after a difficult rally.

Of the original 48 entries, there were 23 retirements. That's typical for Tall Pines. We finished though, and finished well. But first we still have to transit back to Rally HQ and check in on our correct time.

After 12 tough hours of rallying, it's difficult to do the timing math. It's just simple addition, but it's really easy to screw it up like I did at the New England Forest Rally, earning us a 5-minute penalty. So now I always get Martin to check my math. I'll do it first and write it down, then ask Martin to do it too, until we agree.

The other benefit of doing this is that it gives us something to occupy ourselves with on the long boring transit. After the adrenaline rush of stage rallying, it's the highway transits that are actually the most dangerous portion of the rally. We can't use our full rally lights on the highway, and the stock headlamps are useless in comparison. It'd be sooo easy to fall asleep now. But we made it safely to the finish.

13th overall. 1st in Group-5. And 1st in 2wd. That was pretty good.

Results posted at [www.rallyscoring.com]
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