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2011 Tall Pines Rally - Martin/Ferd Nissan 240SX

Posted by Ferdinand 
The Rally of the Tall Pines runs this weekend, in Bancroft Ontario with a record 60 teams entered.

TV2Go will be doing live streamed coverage of the event in three shows on Saturday, Nov 26:

Show #1 at 09:00 a.m.
Show #2 at 15:00
Show #3 at 22:30

All times are EST.

http://tinyurl.com/tv2go-TallPines


Martin and I will again be competing in the Nissan 240SX. Stories and in-car video coming soon!


Cool! Thanks for the links. I'll be sure to check out the live coverage if the family doesn't keep me too busy this holiday weekend. (It's Thanksgiving down here, y'know. winking smiley)

I saw your name on the entry list when I was poking around looking for information on this winter's Maple Leaf Winter Rally. (It isn't up yet.) Despite banging up my car pretty well there last year, I had a great time and hope to make it back again. On the other hand, rumor has it that the Maple Leaf club is thinking about moving the rally to March. If so, the organizer of the WINTR series is apparently in touch with the MCO folks in your neighborhood about possibly running one of the MCO rallies instead earlier this winter. I'm sure I'll have fun either way!

Good luck at Tall Pines! :rally:

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
rkj
Quote
Dave_G
Cool! Thanks for the links. I'll be sure to check out the live coverage if the family doesn't keep me too busy this holiday weekend. (It's Thanksgiving down here, y'know. winking smiley)

I saw your name on the entry list when I was poking around looking for information on this winter's Maple Leaf Winter Rally. (It isn't up yet.) Despite banging up my car pretty well there last year, I had a great time and hope to make it back again. On the other hand, rumor has it that the Maple Leaf club is thinking about moving the rally to March. If so, the organizer of the WINTR series is apparently in touch with the MCO folks in your neighborhood about possibly running one of the MCO rallies instead earlier this winter. I'm sure I'll have fun either way!

Good luck at Tall Pines! :rally:

Go get um Ferdy :wavey:
Here's a better link to the live coverage:

[www.live.tv2go.com]
Quote
Ferdinand
Here's a better link to the live coverage:

[www.live.tv2go.com]

Can't open from here... sad smiley
I'm still recovering. Brutal tough event. Only 28 of the 60 entries finished.

You can watch a repeat of the live coverage episodes at [flatovercrest.com]

Our stories and some pretty awesome in-car video will follow later...
Quote
Ferdinand
You can watch a repeat of the live coverage episodes at [flatovercrest.com]
Unfortunately the coverage was predictably focused on the front-running AWD cars, but there's about a minute of coverage of Martin and Ferdinand in the Part 1 video from about 45:36-47:04. (You can see Ferdinand's left arm. smiling smiley )

I haven't yet seen the results beyond the top three. Can't wait to read your reports after you recover!

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
Yeeeeeeeeha!


Woohoo! :thumbup: That 's the best thing I've seen all day!

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
Flying low!

:cool2:
December 02, 2011 11:12AM
I bought a new HD GoPro camera!

There's good news and bad news. The good news is that the GoPro is awesome! The image quality is amazing. It's mounted in a waterproof case, is small and lightweight, is virtually indestructible, and has no cables attached so it can be mounted anywhere. The bad news is that, with no cables attached and shooting in highest quality HD mode, the battery doesn't last nearly long enough. Also the 1920x1080 HD files are ENORMOUS compared to the 720x480 ChaseCam files I'm used to dealing with. I don't have enough file space and my old computer is painfully slow when editing and rendering these huge files. It's taking me days to process each file.

The other issue is that it's a huge nuisance to have to climb out of the car each time to trigger the damn camera on or off. So sometimes we forget, or don't bother, and end up with half an hour's worth of boring highway transits rather than useful stage footage, which eats up precious battery life and file space...

Here's the first instalment of videos. Rather than climb out of the car, we asked a spectator to start the camera for us.

At the Ceremonial Start they wave us up one-by-one for a little introduction then send us on our way.

The comment at the end of the clip, about making sure to turn Right out of the parking lot, is because we normally turn Left here. The organizers added a new stage this year and we need to remember to turn right onto the highway, not left. In front of all these spectators it would be embarrassing to turn the wrong way so early in the rally.

If you have enough bandwidth, watch it in HD.

Ceremonial Start:




December 02, 2011 11:15AM
A1 - Landon Road

Starts here: http://g.co/maps/xfywf

The first half of this short stage is used the night before as the Shakedown stage. We're allowed to run the Shakedown stage as many times as we like during the hour and a half that it is open for use. We managed to line up and get in 5 runs between trying different tires and setups on Friday night. Not all of the 60 teams entered choose to do Shakedown. Nonetheless this stretch of road has already seen a LOT of rally traffic before the actual rally starts on Saturday with this as the opening stage.

Unpredictable weather always plays a huge role in this particular event, run is at is at the end of November. Four years ago we had similar warm weather during Friday's recce day and shakedown only to wake up to two feet of snow on Saturday's race day. It snowed so much overnight that they had to cancel two stages because the snowplows couldn't get in to clear the roads for us. In other years the ground has been frozen solid then thawed throughout the day with nasty surprise ice patches hiding under the overhanging trees.

This year the weather leading up to this event was unseasonably warm, with overnight frost. The ground was very soft. Early in the morning on Friday during recce there were some very slippery frozen patches on the roads, which then melted into even more slippery muddy patches later in the day. But this Shakedown road then got ripped up with all the gravel rally tires tearing through the shallow muddy top layer, then churning up the deep sandy layers below, while pulling bowling ball sized rocks up to the surface.

For this short opening stage the loose sandy surface was already treacherous. Sixty cars get to run it in this direction, then later three more times in the opposite direction. The ruts, huge sand berms, and loose rocks, eventually got so bad that some of the 2wd cars running at the tail end of the pack later actually got stuck on this road!

But the first pass on this short stage wasn't too bad for us. The real fun starts on the next stage...

A1 - Landon Road:




December 02, 2011 12:22PM
Nice! I'm really loving these videos. More! I want more! :popcorn:

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
December 02, 2011 04:11PM
A2 - Upper Old Hastings 1:






Ya gotta watch this one! We made a dog's breakfast of this run, almost crashing out starting at 2:30 in the video.

Divided into three portions, Old Hastings is a fabulous rally road. The northern "Upper" section is wide, smooth, and crazy FAST!!! "Middle" Old Hastings is narrow, twisty, and technically difficult, while the southern "Lower" portion is a rough goat path roller coaster with some vicious nasty jumps in it.

Upper Old Hastings is scary fast. We normally run this stage in a northbound direction and have become comfortable with the speeds in that direction. This year we're going the other way, southbound. It's much more intimidating in this direction due to the number of downhill turns and surprise gotchas hidden over blind crests.

The first stage, Landon Road, was relatively simple and familiar, seeing as how we've practised it so often during Shakedown. But we've only seen Upper Old Hastings, run southbound, at slow speed during recce. Now we get to attack it at full race speed.

It's always tough trying to establish the proper rhythm and timing to delivering stage notes the first time "at speed". It's not really clicking for us yet, and we're not feeling at all confident yet. Am I too far ahead, too late, or repeating myself too often? It takes a while to settle into a comfortable routine. But you definitely do not want to be unsure about the notes on THIS stage. If you're not confident, you'll either be over-cautious and dog slow, or over-committed and off into the trees!

We are car #32 out of 60 in the running order. Note at 1:25 into the video how much the road has already been torn up by the thirty cars running ahead of us. The soft sandy surface is all churned up with large rocks sprinkled about.

At 1:35 there is a smooth straight section of road leading over a jump and then immediately into a fast downhill Left-5. It didn't look particularly difficult at slow recce speed, but it's nasty at race speed! The car is still unsettled from a hard landing after the jump, when the road suddenly drops out from beneath us as the road sweeps away down to the left. Many of the much faster cars ahead of us have obviously already taken this curve sideways, as the gravel road has been deeply dug up with lots of soft sand piled to the outside of the turn. If you turn in too late and run a bit wide on this corner, that deep sand will drag you off the outside edge of the road and put you into the trees, which would be "not-a-good-thing" at this speed!

After that there are some corners which were snow-covered or icy during recce early Friday morning. You can still see some snow along the edges of the road. At the time we noted those corners as icy, or icy maybe. It's all melted now. Because it's written that way in my notes, I still read out the icy warnings as-written. They may merely be muddy now, or gone altogether, but it takes too much mental gymnastics to skip over them without potentially losing my place in the notes. It's safer to continue reading as-is.

Corners are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6. The tightest hairpin would be a 1, whereas a 6 barely requires turning the steering wheel. Once you're used to dealing with those numbers you eventually realize that they're not descriptive enough. There are turns that are more open than a 5, but not yet quite as straight as a 6. So you can have a 5-, 5, 5+, 6-, 6, or 6+.

Starting at 2:15 in our video, the organizer-supplied notes said, "R5+ into smCr and L5/Cr 40 L5-"

You can see the road bends to the right into a R5+, then there's a small Crest (barely noticeable), followed by a bigger Crest that you can't see over. At that bigger Crest the road goes into a L5 (hence the L5/Cr), followed 40 metres later by a slightly tighter L5-.

During recce we amended those notes by adding a notation that the road not only turns L5 over that Crest, but that it also drops away downhill. We recognized that this might be another potential danger spot. So from 2:15 into the video, our revised notes said, "R5+ into smCr and L5/Cr (down) 40 L5-". Martin had to dial in a large steering correction as the car got light over the crest, but otherwise no drama at all as we were ready and prepared for the big downhill slide.

Now, in a separate window, open up our buddies' in-car video of this same stage.
Ryan Huber and John Vanos:






At 2:10, as they're rounding the preceding tight right turn, John calls out the next section as-is, "R5+ into smCr and L5/Cr 40 L5-" and then Ryan is surprised when the road suddenly drops out from under them and falls away into the downhill L5/Cr. At the speed they're travelling in their Open-Class Subaru, that could have ended badly and abruptly for them. But Ryan is an excellent driver. He very calmly and smoothly gathers the car up with no real drama or loss of time. You can tell though from their in-car commentary that they both realized how that moment could easily have turned out ugly for them.

It's interesting how such a subtle difference in stage notes (adding the "down" notation) can potentially make such a big difference. That's what recce is for.

It only threw them off their stride for a brief moment, then they were right back into it. Good thing too, because following right after this is a nasty spot with a sharp R3 hidden over a Crest that's marked in the notes with a big !CAUTION. Listen as John remarks, "Wow, that is Caution."

It's also interesting how badly I managed to screw up our own notes at this spot thereby almost putting us straight off the road! If not for Martin's skill at the wheel, our rally could well have ended right there already on just the 2nd stage of this long event.

Starting at 2:30 into the video, the supplied notes say, "60 R6+ into ! L6sh/Cr into R3+"

That's 60 metres to a R6+, where the road only barely bends in a fast Right. "Into" means that corner then flows directly into the following instruction. The underlining means that whole phrase has to be spoken quickly in one breath, as those two features are linked tight together. R6 vs. R3 is a measure of how far you need to crank the steering wheel. R3 is like turning a 90-degree square-right at a city block corner. The "sh" means short, as opposed to "lg" for long, which is a measure of how long you need to hold the steering wheel in that position.

So a L6 is a little more open than a L6-, but slightly tighter than a L6+, and a L6sh is short so it's just a quick flick of the steering wheel, as opposed to L6lg which would require holding the steering wheel at that angle for a little while longer as the corner continues on for a while, all of which is completely and utterly irrelevant because the only vital piece of information in that entire long string of notes is the critical fact the road turns SHARP RIGHT IMMEDIATELY AFTER THIS BLIND CREST!!!

Oh jeez, we almost went straight off into the trees!

Martin managed to get the car pitched sideways enough that we almost went straight off the road sideways into the trees! But we scrubbed off enough speed that the car merely tipped way up onto its side, before dropping back on its wheels, and we continued with hardly any loss in time.

Shaken, but thankfully not stirred.

Martin says I was waaay late calling that R3. Not true. Watch the video. You can hear that I called it well in advance, and even repeated it a second time before we got to the crest.

However, it's those subtle little things that will catch you out every time. It wasn't so much whether I was late or early on the call. It was the delivery that was totally wrong, and the inflection in my voice. I distracted Martin with all those trivial bullshit 6+ and 6sh instructions when the only thing that really mattered was the R3/Cr. Even though I definitely did mention the R3 (twice even), Martin simply didn't hear it in time because that tidbit was buried within all those meaningless sixes.

Note that Ryan and John had changed their notes for this instruction. In their video they call it as, "60 R6+ into ! L6/Cr into R3+".

Can you see the difference?

They removed only the "sh" from the "L6sh/Cr". That small difference streamlined the instructions enough that Ryan was able to process it all and understand it in plenty enough time to safely slow down.

Needless to say, almost crashing gave us a fright and we were a little ragged for a while thereafter.

At 3:45, on a "L4>3" (L4 tightens 3), we scared some photographers into scrambling out of the way as we ran wide on the exit of this left hander.

At 5:30, R6lg>4 o.c. (R6 long tightens 4 off camber), I get lost in the notes. I don't know why. Reading along in the notes now, it all makes perfect sense. That corner is followed by "into L5". Yup, it's all correct. No idea why I stumbled there, except I did it again at the exact same spot when we run this same stage a second time, coming up next...
December 02, 2011 05:07PM
Very cool! :cool2:
Quote
Ferdinand
It's always tough trying to establish the proper rhythm and timing to delivering stage notes the first time "at speed". It's not really clicking for us yet, and we're not feeling at all confident yet. Am I too far ahead, too late, or repeating myself too often?
This is something I've always wondered about, particularly the repeating part. How does the driver differentiate a repeat from a new instruction? I guess it's all in the delivery. I'm always amazed when I watch WRC footage and try to match the pace notes with the road. As near as I can tell, they're about three turns ahead, with no pauses or repeats, and the drivers keep all that in their heads while driving 100 MPH on one-lane gravel roads between rocks and trees. Amazing. But not much more amazing than what you guys are doing!
Quote

Now, in a separate window, open up our buddies' in-car video of this same stage.
Ryan Huber and John Vanos:




That link goes to the video of your car again.

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
December 02, 2011 06:03PM
Quote
Dave_G
Ryan Huber and John Vanos:
That link goes to the video of your car again.
Oops, my bad. Sorry.

Try this link instead, Ryan Huber and John Vanos:






Quote

How does the driver differentiate a repeat from a new instruction? I guess it's all in the delivery.
That's a tough one.

I really should preface every repeat by explicitly saying, "repeat". But often there isn't time to slip that extra word in. I try to make it clear by changing the tone of my voice. If I'm stressed my voice gets all high-pitched and screechy. But if I need to repeat an instruction I'll try to raise or lower the pitch to emphasize it so it sounds different than the first time I say it. It's hard to describe, but it seems to work for Martin.

When to repeat instructions, that's another problem. Sometimes Martin will interrupt me in mid-stream to ask me to repeat something and it'll throw me right off my stride, especially if I'm already a couple instructions ahead and then have to wonder which part he wants to have repeated.

It also depends a lot on how busy the stage is. Sometimes there is lots of time to leisurely repeat every instruction. Other times it's so busy and the corners are coming up so fast I barely have enough time to flap my lips trying to keep up. Any repeat in there and I fall hopelessly behind.

So if I do repeat an instruction, that's another signal to Martin that he still has time to react. But if I'm already rattling off the following instructions, then he knows there's more stuff coming up right away.

Here's another friend of mine, Jeff Hagan co-driving for Alexei Stapinski in a much slower Suzuki Swift. Alexei had a big crash at this event last year, wrapping his Scirocco around a tree. I think that's a factor in why he seems a little slower this year. Anyway, note Jeff's style of calling notes. He just barks out each instruction only once and then shuts up. I should be more like him:




December 04, 2011 12:19PM
Here's the same stage again with no in-car commentary, just the rooftop GoPro video. It's such an awesome viewpoint.

A2 - Upper Old Hastings 1 - No Talking:






When we nearly went off and clouted the dirt berm on the edge of the road at 2:40, we bent the upper control on the left rear suspension. The top of the wheel was pushed in.

Right after this stage we transit back on the highway to the Service park for a 20-minute break. We had a spare control arm and swapped that in, checking out of Service right on time.

From here we start a longer leg beginning with a second run on the same Upper Old Hastings stage, then Old Detlor, and The Peanut, before returning for the second Service stop.
December 04, 2011 12:59PM
A3 - Upper Old Hastings 2:






With the rear suspension repaired, this is our second run on Upper Old Hastings.

For this run I stuck the GoPro camera outside my door. With the engine idling the door panel resonates something awful causing the camera to flutter on its mount. The "rolling shutter" on the camera creates that weird pulsing wavy effect in the image. Thankfully that goes away as soon as the engine comes off idle.

With my door open, the camera gives a nice view of our sponsor decals. Big thanks to Cayley Aviation, and the guys at 53 Colours!

We're lined up a bit too close behind Ryan Huber and John Vanos on the start line and get showered in sand as they launch into the stage.

At 4:30 we come to our R3/Cr and, because I'm already nervous about it, I do a great job of fumbling the notes this time. Luckily Martin has the situation well in hand.

At 4:50 we both say, "Oh no!" when we see Peter Kocandrle's yellow VW Golf stopped on the left side of the road out with a broken halfshaft. PK should have been battling right to the end against Simon Dubé for the 2wd podium. Instead he's out much too early in this event. We hate to see that.

At 5:40, "not into the water please".

At 7:20 we're coming to the spot where I got lost in the notes the last time. I still don't know why I got lost there, but I'm determined not to screw it up again. So naturally I screw it up even worse, already getting lost a couple of corners earlier this time around.

I'm reading along in the notes right now while watching the video, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with them. Bizarre. I have no idea why I got so freaked out at the point, twice in a row. I struggle to get back into the correct rhythm from there on for the rest of the stage.
December 06, 2011 03:16PM
A4 - Old Detlor

Old Detlor starts with a very narrow, tight, and rough section of Old Detlor Road, then a brief bit of tarmac at Detlor Crossing where the stage jogs left across Detlor Rd, then back onto the increasingly churned up and deeply rutted Landon Rd, over the BIG jump, then the Tee-Right at Tait Farm, eventually finishing in front of the huge crowd of spectators at Iron Bridge.

This is a cool video. I tried a different picture-in-picture editing feature.

At the start control we have Chris Major clowning for the camera. Chris always mentions how much he looks forward to watching our in-car videos.

I really enjoy chatting with the control workers. You see the same friendly and helpful volunteers coming out year after year, standing out there in all kinds of weather and, just like Chris, they always seem to be enjoying themselves. Without the efforts and contributions of all these generous people we would have no rallies.

Martin says, "Quit your yapping, get your window up." That's a subtle reminder to me that, in the few seconds remaining before we start, I'm supposed to be concentrating on my job of ensuring the odo is zeroed (I still sometimes forget that), cameras are running, belts are snug, HANS tethered, window up, and most importantly that I'm turned to the correct page in my notes.

The start line has deep craters dug into the soft sand where the cars ahead of us have already churned up the road on launching. We choose to hang back a little short of the official start line, to ensure we can at least get rolling, rather than bog down completely and get stuck forever before even leaving the line.

As we bounce our way through the deep holes at the start line, Martin blows the upshift from 1st to 2nd grinding gears for a moment before we finally get underway and exit the control zone.

We had the GoPro camera mounted outside my door again, stuck just under the side mirror. It's not hanging any further outboard than the mirror, so it should be safe there, right? NOT!

Just after 2:10 at the Cr.R4-, there's a big branch sticking out into the road which scores a direct bulls-eye hit smack into the GoPro camera! The camera gets slapped, twisting back on its mount, flattened against the door. Those cameras are tough though, it doesn't even skip a frame. The new view angle is, um, different. But I can work with that...

A4 - Old Detlor:






From 3:05 there's a quick section over crests that is ridiculously busy in the notes. I always have problems with that section. It's impossible to find a good rhythm through that bit because of all the jumps and crests interrupting my breathing. I can't hold the book still enough to read it, or get the words out quick enough, as we're banging over all those dips and crests, for fear of biting my tongue off.

At 6:20 you can get an idea of just how badly the car is affected by the deeeeeeep soft sand and huge ruts on Landon Rd as Martin struggles to keep car pointed straight. Martin grumbles, "F##k, this is horrible!"

At 7:20 there's a slippery R3 followed by a 250 metre long fast straightaway. The loose sand is so deep that the car is tobogganing on its skid plate for much of that straight. We're usually well into 4th gear by the end of that straight, but not this time. When Martin shifts up into 3rd the car just bogs down, so it's back to 2nd for much of that long straight. We get to do this same section of road twice again later, oh joy.

At 8:03 we're approaching the big jump. Note to self: Next time do NOT attempt reading notes while in flight. Oof!

The landing bent the brand new upper control arm on the left rear suspension (again!). Check the camber angle on the rear wheel in this photo by Christoph.

At the end of the video clip (Hi Daphne!) I jump out to retrieve the GoPro camera, and psychic Martin suggests I should have walked around to check if there's air in the tires because, "It feels to me like I have a left-rear problem."

Yup, it's a problem for sure, because we have one more stage to do before the next service, and it's the roughest stage -- "The Peanut"!


December 06, 2011 03:43PM
Quote
Ferdinand
The landing bent the brand new upper control arm on the left rear suspension (again!).
Dang, you guys go through control arms faster than I go through tires! Good thing it sounds like they're easily replaceable.

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
December 06, 2011 05:50PM
Quote
Dave_G
Dang, you guys go through control arms faster than I go through tires! Good thing it sounds like they're easily replaceable.
The easily replaceable ones look something like this. They are already banana-shaped to begin with because they have to pass around the strut assembly. Easy to replace, but weak.

We had only one spare, which is now just as bent and buggered as the original one.



A much stronger upper control arm design look like this, going around both sides of the struts. But to replace them, the whole strut has to come out first. We didn't bring any of these with us, since we'd already bent all of those on our previous rally back in July.



But Martin has a jig made up so he can weld up a set of his own upper control arms to look just like this whenever he needs more. At the first service, when we replaced the first bent control arm and replaced it with our only spare banana-shaped control arm, Martin asked our service crew to gets the pieces ready to weld up one of these stronger lollipop designs, just in case.

But we still have one more brutally rough stage, The Peanut, to do with our bent control arm before we can limp back to service to fix the suspension properly using a stronger lollipop arm.
December 08, 2011 02:10PM
Watching that A4 - Old Detlor stage again, I only just realized we did that big jump in 4th gear! Yikes!

A5 - The Peanut:






Speaking of helpful and friendly volunteers who come out year after year, at the arrival and start control of The Peanut we were welcomed by my friends Josée Riopel and Guy Blanchard. Seems like they' show up to help at every rally! Josée informs us that Antoine and Nathalie are out with a broken transmission and they're stopped on stage just before the flying finish.

Because of our already bent rear suspension, we take it slow and easy on this stage. If the bent control arm fails altogether the suspension will collapse and that would be the end of our rally. Martin chooses to keep the speed down so we can limp back to service to make repairs. It's a smart tactic.

The first portion of this loop is wide, smooth, and FAST! But we are taking it very cautiously. We don't want to end up in the trees if that control arm suddenly lets go while we're at speed.

At 5:30 we turn left into the beginning of the narrow and rough stuff. Martin hates going this slow. These nasty rough stages is where he usually puts the boots to the car, pounding the crap out of it (and me) [wait till you see the Mayo Lake stage!]. It's where we typically make up time on our competition. But Martin is showing great restraint this time in order to ensure we make it safely back to service.

The GoPro camera is getting splattered with mud and sand. It was completely kacked up by the finish. I'm amazed at how good the image quality still is through all that dirt plastered over the lens.

At 11:25 we come to the new bit where we usually turn left to complete the Peanut loop, but now turn right instead.

At 13:25 is the start of a longish 120 metre muddy straight ending with some wicked whoop-dee-do bumps over which you can hear the left rear tire rubbing on something. That's not a good sign. As we limp past a bunch of spectators on the left I see Jimmy Brandt (in red) waving at us to get it in gear and pick up our pace 'cause we look dog slow. Martin wisely chooses to ignore Jimmy, instead continuing at a conservative pace to nurse the car home.

At 13:55, there's Antoine's Mitshubishi stranded with a broken transmission. Bummer.

Another of our friends, JP Walsh, greets us at the finish. JP gives so much of his time to volunteering at all sorts of motorsports events. And bonus, he's offering handouts from a bowl of Halloween treats!

While I'm peeling a Snickers bar, Martin takes the opportunity to lean out his door to check on the condition of the rear suspension. Can't do anything about it here yet, but one quick glance is all it takes to confirm, "Ya, it's bad."

Our pace through this stage was okay, all things considered. It was thankfully uneventful. In comparison, watch the pace of these guys. This is a video of the same stage from Simon Dubé and Pat Lavigne in their Group-2 VW Golf. These guys have huge talent and are incredibly quick. It's them we were hoping to beat, or at least stay close to in the standings.

It's also cool to see, while standing by his broken car at 10:39 in this video, how enthusiastically multi-time Champion Antoine L'Estage is waving and urging these guys on to the finish. Antoine is a classy guy. Despite his own rally ending in such disappointment, he still takes the time to recognise and cheer on his friends in the 2wd category.

Dubé/Lavigne - A5 - Peanut:




December 08, 2011 05:47PM
"It feels to me like I have a left-rear problem."


December 09, 2011 06:38PM
Now it's back to the Service park for a scheduled 20 minute stop. Car goes up on jack stands, wheels off, left rear upper control arm is toast. It has to come out. Time for Dr. Goodwrench to perform another emergency control-arm-ectomy.

Meanwhile the crew has pre-assembled the bits in the jig to fabricate a stronger ring-shaped control arm. They've tack-welded the parts to hold them in place, but they're waiting for Martin to do the actual welding himself. That operation consumes a few precious minutes.

Then scramble to reassemble the rear suspension with the newly fabricated (red hot) control arm, but the whole strut has to come out first as the strut needs to be inserted through the ring-shaped control arm. That then takes some fiddling to get it all the various bits and pieces realigned in the proper orientation before the nuts and bolts can be re-inserted. Cursing and swearing is required at that point, as that always seems to help the work go smoother.

Done! Wheels back on, remove jack stands, drop the car, check wheel nuts are torqued, scramble to hop in and get belted up, back out of our service slot, and hurry to the time control to check out of Service on our correct time. Sheesh, still got a couple of minutes left to spare. We're golden!
December 09, 2011 08:13PM
A6 - Iron Bridge 1:






Suspension repaired and strengthened, we're good to go. Lots more fun to be had.

The Iron Bridge stage is a repeat of the last portion of the earlier Old Detlor stage, the fast stuff with the big jump then ending at the Iron Bridge spectator location. The road is getting badly dug up, with deep ruts in the loose sand.

This is one of our better runs. We were the 2nd quickest 2wd car, beaten only by the Grp-5 turbo Ford Fiesta of Dillon van Way & Jake Blattner. The less powerful non-turbo Grp-2 cars in 2wd, including Dubé/Lavigne, all had a bitch of a time dealing with the deep soft sand.

The ruts and loose sand is starting to get ridiculous. At 2:38 we struggle in 2nd gear to maintain momentum for the whole length of the 250 metre straight.

From 3:10 the hard-packed surface better allows us to build speed, again up into 4th gear, approaching the big jump. Martin is a bit more conservative this time though. He backs out of the throttle a little more than last time, which causes the car to pitch forward and land hard on the nose. But we still get some big air over this jump! This was where this awesome photo was snapped by Peter MacDonald.



This is Martin, your captain, speaking. Please remain seated with your belts, helmet, and HANS securely fastened until this smoking wreck comes to a screeching halt, preferably sometime before impacting those trees. In the unlikely event of a safe landing with all the wheels still attached and pointing in the same direction, please remain in your seats, hang on, shut up, and enjoy the rest of the movie until the completion of the stage. Thank you for flying with Martinair.



I'm thinking Daphne needs a uniform like this...
December 11, 2011 05:36PM
Unfortunately the GoPro battery died just before this stage, so no more HD footage from here on. But the ChaseCam is still working fine.

A7 - Mayo Lake:






This an awesome stage, 28.5 km long. We had a scary big moment further in when we fell completely off the road on a slippery muddy corner and almost bounced the car sideways over several tree stumps!

Just a few seconds after the start of this stage, at 0:38, we get to the, "Caution BIG Crest into R5."

This is one of those really nasty gotcha spots. It's a big sharp crest that you cannot see over, followed by a fast right bend. However, the right bend does NOT come immediately at the crest. The road briefly continues straight ahead on the downside of the crest, before then sweeping into the R5.

The Nissan 240SX has quite a long nose and, when the car is pointing steep uphill like this, the long nose completely blocks the view of the road beyond the crest. The view of the treeline makes it obvious that the road swings away to the right. You're naturally afraid of driving straight off the road into the trees while blind. And, because the stage notes warn you that it's a Crest into R5, it's very tempting to start turning to the right already well before the nose comes back down far enough to allow you to see the road.

But turning early is a big mistake because there's a nasty rock lurking just there on the right edge of the road.

We know this corner is a bad trap. We've seen it before. We run this same stretch of road in the spring during the Black Bear Rally, when there's usually a large group of spectators and photographers at this crest. In the 2010 Black Bear Rally, Andrew Kulikowski and Gary Sutherland tore the right front suspension off their Ford Focus on this surprise rock, ending their rally at this corner. See 6:25 into their video from Black Bear 2010:






Watch Martin's steering wheel as we come over the top of the big crest. Even though we both know what's over this crest, Martin still can't resist giving the steering wheel a twitch to the right as he's tempted to turn in early. Luckily he manages to squelch that instinct and he brings the wheel back straight again just long enough that we carry on past the rock with no issues.

Ryan Huber and John Vanos weren't so lucky. See 0:25 into their video. Ryan is already angling the car to the right as they're coming up the hill to the crest. Oh-oh... It hurts my teeth just to watch this. Their Subaru comes down hard and prangs that rock big time.






Meanwhile, we're still cooking along. At 0:50, there's a "L4- possibly icy". During recce this corner was still frozen and very slippery. But Saturday's warm weather has melted away all those dangers.

We really like this section past the "double-dips" after which it gets fast and busy over lots of crests and dips and it's a challenge to keep up in the notes until eventually at 6:00 we turn right and through the deep washouts, which were dry but still rough this year.

Then there's some fun stuff with plenty of opposite-lock steering on tight, slippery, muddy corners. Lots of busy stuff in there.

At 10:40 we come to the Tee-Right onto the wide fast smooth road, where we can catch our breath and relax for a while. Except, it's really not relaxing at all because much of this is done well up into 4th gear, which means we're carrying some serious speed. In the tight busy stuff you don't tend to notice the trees as much, but on these "easy" fast sections you get to spend a lot more time admiring the view as trees flash past at very high rates of speed. Any mis-communication at these speeds could well see us doing some major damage to the forest as we knock down trees and spread car parts deep into the scenery.

Speaking of car parts, what the heck is that thing sitting in the middle of the road at 11:00? It looks like someone left their beer cooler in the road, but it's actually someone's bumper cover.

At 12:20, R6sh/jmp 250... Holeeeey, we're smokin' through here! Listen to the revs climb in 4th gear. I've always meant to have a quick glance at the speed readout on our Terratrip rally computer as we go down through the bottom of that long downhill bit, but I never remember to do it because I'm already clenching my butt for the L4+/smCr that we see coming up!

At 13:20 we turn right onto the tough portion of the Peanut.

Starting from 16:30 we come into the area where a tornado blew down all the trees a few years ago. There has been lots of logging activity to clean up the mess, but the landscape still looks like a war zone.

At 17:25 we catch a rough muddy section and the car suddenly skates off the road as though it slipped on a banana peel. Whoa ho! Yikes. It's surfing sideways off the left edge of the road, heading broadside for several large tree stumps. Oh man, when we hit those stumps the car is going to flip for sure. But just as suddenly as it fell off the road, the car is suddenly back up on the road with no apparent damage and we continue on our way.

Martin asks me to mark that note with a Caution, except I'm not even sure at which spot that happened. It was somewhere in the "R5sh kinks 50 ruf". I'm still trying to figure that out, while trying not to take out an eye with my pen on this rough road, even though it didn't matter as we weren't going to run this road again, so I get a little lost until Martin tells me (at 11:53) we've, "just come across Cosner corner". Right where Martin says that, last year Alexei Stapinski and Angela Cosner pitched their VW Scirocco way down into that hole in the trees where you see the birch trees flash by on the left.

The road is really rough from 20:00 to the finish, with lots of bouncing and bashing. We roll into the finish control a mere 11 secs behind the Open-Class Subaru of Ryan Huber and John Vanos, who had started this stage a minute ahead of us. We were feeling rather chuffed about that, not realizing that Ryan and John had had their own misadventures earlier on when they clouted that rock over the BIG crest at the start.

All-in-all, this was a fun stage. Until we discovered that we'd buggered the right front strut...
December 15, 2011 12:18PM
After narrowly missing a bunch of tree stumps, but successfully finishing the long and rough A7 Mayo Stage, we were happy to find that the car still steered straight, not pulling to either side. We assumed that meant all the wheels were still attached and pointing in the right directions. Wrong!

I had to get out of the car at the arrival control to check us in on time at the start of the next stage, A8 - Iron Bridge 2. While walking back to our car I noticed the right front wheel was cambered in at about a 20-degree angle! Oh-oh, the strut is bent. That can't be good...

So, once again, we find ourselves limping slowly through the Iron Bridge stage in order to nurse the ailing car back to the next Service break.

A8 - Iron Bridge 2 -






The countdown lights had stopped working so we got an old-fashioned manual countdown to start. In case you're wondering why we're going so slow, at 0:45 Martin announces that he is, "taking it fairly easy". We have about 8 kms of stage road to do, then another 16 kms of hwy transit back to service. If the strut breaks completely, we're not going to be able to carry the car that far.

The loose sand and deep ruts have become even worse. With our front suspension collapsed, the resulting lower ride height means the nose of the car is sometimes pushing through the deep sand while the car surfs on its skidplate.

At 2:57 we see a big hole in the bull-rushes where somebody unfortunate has earlier gone off into the swamp.

At 3:07, Oh Nooooooo! The Zedril brothers are out with something broken on their car. That's sad.

Then there's the long straight that's now nearly impassable because of the deep ruts and sand. This is where several 2wd cars got stuck already on the previous pass on this stage. See 3:40 in the video from the RallySputnik team Lada:






3:50 - Nice and slow over the big jump, "Don't go breaking anything."
4:05 - Rocks! "That's what skid-plates are for."
4:50 - Starting from the Tee-Right at Tait Farm we start hearing the tire rubbing. Not good.

At 5:30, Shaun Volpe snapped this photo of us at the Quarry Rd intersection. You can see we have a bit of an alignment problem developing there.


And us approaching the Iron Bridge, as shot by NicolasR - http://linuxfly.net/RallyTallPines2011/


At 7:00, at the finish control, helpful Daphne asks, "Need me to check anything?" But she won't be able to fix that broken strut for us.

Now we merely have to drive the car like this for another 16 km, through downtown Bancroft, in order to get back to the Service park.

At 7:38 we hope we don't have a Marcus Gronholm moment before reaching the Service park.

At 8:00, we have to stop for the traffic light in Bancroft. A cloud of blue tire smoke envelopes the car as a man on crutches just about falls off the sidewalk in his haste to inform us that we seem to have a problem with our car! :lol:
December 15, 2011 12:31PM
While we're waiting for the car to be repaired (again) at Service, check out this little video!

Surely you've all already seen the awesome wing-suit video, called "Grinding the Crack". If not, you're probably the only person on the internet who hasn't seen it yet.

Either way, watch it again because it's truly amazing!
Jeb Corliss, "Grinding The Crack" (3:30)







Once you've seen that video you'll appreciate what I was getting at with this video.
2011 Tall Pines Rally - "SAIL" (1:09)





December 15, 2011 01:36PM
Good videos!
:cool2:
December 15, 2011 03:26PM
Yeah, I'm wasting to much time on them. *** J E A L O U S ***
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