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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 ***
December 20, 2011 11:01AM
Major repairs were required to the broken strut. Martin had a spare insert, but not a spare strut tube. That's usually not a problem, but this time we had also managed to damage the tube itself. The upper end was all mangled. So it was a major project just to pull the damaged strut insert out of the also damaged strut tube. The frantic activity attracted quite a crowd of spectators.

After pulling the front strut off the car, the work involved first burning the end off the twisted insert, then using a hacksaw to cut the top end off the flattened strut tube, then welding a square bar to what's left of the bent insert, liberal applications of shock loads delivered by the BF hammer, twice re-welding the bar to the insert, plus one or two well-timed cuss words, and Bob's your mother's brother!

Slap in the new insert, screw everything back together, pop it back on the car, wheels on, drop the car off the jackstands, we're again good to go. Only nine minutes late checking out of Service. At 10 secs penalty per minute late, that only cost us 1:30 in penalties. Meh, that's nothing. We're still running. That's all that matters.


December 20, 2011 11:04AM
A9 - Middle Old Hastings 1:






At the start line Martin remembers how we "


almost went off here" in the opening few corners back in 2009.

In the low-light conditions of these night stages, the camera image has a green hue. The exposure corrects itself at 0:56 when the nose of the car drops through a dip and the view momentarily shows more of the road. From there on the image has better colour.

We were not feeling at all confident in the early portions of this stage. It takes a little while to adjust to driving in the dark. Plus, this stage starts off with very busy section, way too much detail in the notes, and it's difficult for me to read and Martin to process all that information while we're struggling to follow the twisty road. I'm not at a comfortable rhythm with the notes, and Martin is hesitant and unsure about some of my calls. So we're a little slow at first.

At 1:35 we come up on the warning triangles placed by the Narini brothers, off the road on the left.

We got ourselves sorted out after that, with the notes flowing a bit better, and our pace improved. Still, this is a tough roller-coaster of a stage.

Near the end of the stage, at 5:15 there are a couple of jumps with hard landings. I think the second one of those jumps already spelled the beginning of the end for me. But it was the following stage, Lower Old Hastings, that really did me in...
December 20, 2011 03:48PM
A10 - Lower Old Hastings 1:






Martin says he's going to try to keep the car on the ground over jumps so we don't break anything else. That sounds like an excellent idea to me. The stage starts off okay. We're feeling more confident now and the notes are working well.

At 2:50 we're catching the tail lights of the Fiesta R2 of Thierry Menegoz and Guillaume Bechard, who started into the stage a minute ahead of us. They must have had some sort of problem for us to have caught them so suddenly, but they seem to be running alright now.

At 3:40 we pass the Subaru of Pat Cyr and Mark Biernacki, pulled off to the side with what must be a mechanical problem, unless they just decided to stop for a cigarette break. Either way, they don't appear to be in any distress and are safely pulled over in a well visible spot.

The stranded Subaru only presented a momentary distraction, but otherwise was not a factor in what occurred immediately after that.

"L4+/Cr ruf no cut. 60/smCr R6+ 50 ! BIG Jmp into stay right/jmp..."

In hindsight, studying the video now, I'm convinced this was all entirely my fault. The problem started right after we'd passed the Subaru at the L4+/Cr ruf no cut. It actually was rough at that spot. The bumps made it difficult to breath properly, causing me to pause for a moment. Then I fumbled the following R6+ instruction, all of which added up to me being waaaay too late on the Caution BIG Jump instruction at 3:55.

Although Martin had promised to keep the car on the ground over jumps, the warning came much too late for him to back off in time for fear of causing the car to nose-dive on landing. The bugger is that this jump leads directly into a second jump. Catching any air on the first jump means landing the car smack into the uphill slope of the following jump.

We slammed the car down hard on landing. I'm surprised we got away with that without breaking any more suspension components. We broke me instead. Three weeks later my neck still hurts now.

It felt like a pile-driver had punched my head down through my ribcage. Whiplash, concussion, whatever. I got my bell rung big time on that one. And, of course, nausea followed soon thereafter...

At 4:45 I was still cross-eyed from that hit, so I didn't really see much of Max Riddle and Aaron Neumann's wreck at the "L4 deceptive/Cr", but Martin tells me their Subaru had rolled and was well and truly messed up.

Thereafter my note-calling is inconsistent, sometimes too early, sometimes right on, sometimes too late. Martin is not attacking the stage with quite the same enthusiasm anymore. That's probably a good thing.

At 8:20, more warning triangles. It's Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell out with something busted on their Subaru. This stage sure is claiming a lot of victims.

At the finish it's only 5:30 pm. Oh god. The toughest portion of the rally is still to come with us not expected to finish for a long time yet nearer 10 pm. After the end of this stage we have a 45-minute long transit and then the 27 km long rough Egan Creek stage, before a service break, then another repeat of this entire long tough loop.

I am so going to die...
rkj
December 20, 2011 10:08PM
Quote
Ferdinand
A10 - Lower Old Hastings 1:






Martin says he's going to try to keep the car on the ground over jumps so we don't break anything else. That sounds like an excellent idea to me. The stage starts off okay. We're feeling more confident now and the notes are working well.

At 2:50 we're catching the tail lights of the Fiesta R2 of Thierry Menegoz and Guillaume Bechard, who started into the stage a minute ahead of us. They must have had some sort of problem for us to have caught them so suddenly, but they seem to be running alright now.

At 3:40 we pass the Subaru of Pat Cyr and Mark Biernacki, pulled off to the side with what must be a mechanical problem, unless they just decided to stop for a cigarette break. Either way, they don't appear to be in any distress and are safely pulled over in a well visible spot.

The stranded Subaru only presented a momentary distraction, but otherwise was not a factor in what occurred immediately after that.

"L4+/Cr ruf no cut. 60/smCr R6+ 50 ! BIG Jmp into stay right/jmp..."

In hindsight, studying the video now, I'm convinced this was all entirely my fault. The problem started right after we'd passed the Subaru at the L4+/Cr ruf no cut. It actually was rough at that spot. The bumps made it difficult to breath properly, causing me to pause for a moment. Then I fumbled the following R6+ instruction, all of which added up to me being waaaay too late on the Caution BIG Jump instruction at 3:55.

Although Martin had promised to keep the car on the ground over jumps, the warning came much too late for him to back off in time for fear of causing the car to nose-dive on landing. The bugger is that this jump leads directly into a second jump. Catching any air on the first jump means landing the car smack into the uphill slope of the following jump.

We slammed the car down hard on landing. I'm surprised we got away with that without breaking any more suspension components. We broke me instead. Three weeks later my neck still hurts now.

It felt like a pile-driver had punched my head down through my ribcage. Whiplash, concussion, whatever. I got my bell rung big time on that one. And, of course, nausea followed soon thereafter...

At 4:45 I was still cross-eyed from that hit, so I didn't really see much of Max Riddle and Aaron Neumann's wreck at the "L4 deceptive/Cr", but Martin tells me their Subaru had rolled and was well and truly messed up.

Thereafter my note-calling is inconsistent, sometimes too early, sometimes right on, sometimes too late. Martin is not attacking the stage with quite the same enthusiasm anymore. That's probably a good thing.

At 8:20, more warning triangles. It's Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell out with something busted on their Subaru. This stage sure is claiming a lot of victims.

At the finish it's only 5:30 pm. Oh god. The toughest portion of the rally is still to come with us not expected to finish for a long time yet nearer 10 pm. After the end of this stage we have a 45-minute long transit and then the 27 km long rough Egan Creek stage, before a service break, then another repeat of this entire long tough loop.

I am so going to die...

That video only goes to the jump-ouch, that is what you intended, right Ferd?

The surfers have a saying about that condition on impact (I forget the word they use but...), it's when you take a dive in to the sand head first and really see stars. It can be crippling but most times you shake it off after a few days or more.

I've had a few wicked falls in motocross, spent weeks recovering. Can be a real hassle Ferdinand, hope you straighten out soon but keep an eye on your condition, a close eye, bro.

Night racing, looks like a pisser thoughsmileys with beer

Cheers, Rick
December 21, 2011 12:03PM
Quote
rkj
Quote
Ferdinand
A10 - Lower Old Hastings 1:




That video only goes to the jump-ouch, that is what you intended, right Ferd?

The bad jump is at 3:55, but the video continues to the end of the stage and is 12:18 long.
December 21, 2011 02:02PM
Quote
Ferdinand
Catching any air on the first jump means landing the car smack into the uphill slope of the following jump.

AU! Just looking at it makes me feel your pain. Very unfortunate landing. Was the car undamaged after this event?
rkj
December 21, 2011 03:56PM
Quote
Ferdinand
Quote
rkj
Quote
Ferdinand
A10 - Lower Old Hastings 1:




That video only goes to the jump-ouch, that is what you intended, right Ferd?

The bad jump is at 3:55, but the video continues to the end of the stage and is 12:18 long.

Interesting, I couldn't get it to move past your accident... Probably my Barney Ruble computer :laugh:
December 23, 2011 11:14AM
Let the misery begin...

I've got a splitting headache, and I'm feeling deadly nauseous. No amount of rolling windows down, drinking water, or anything else, was going to make that go away. And worse, we had a long 45-minute transit to reach the start of the next stage, Egan Creek.

The straight highway portion is no problem, but from there on the transit road itself is already a roller-coaster, well before we get anywhere near the start of the stage. Once on the stage I'm busy with notes to read telling me what's coming up. But during the long transit I have nothing else to do but hang on while trying not to think about how my head is pounding, how I'm breaking out in sweat, and how I'm convinced I'm about to die.

We reached the arrival control with lots of time to spare, so I got out to walk around trying to shake this off, or better yet trying to puke already to just get it over with. Too bad, so sad. No luck either way. It's time to climb back in the car...

A11 - Egan Creek 1:






I was dreading this so much, I forgot to start the video camera. I only remembered to turn it on about a minute into the stage.

The Egan Creek stage starts with a very fast smooth wide open section. We reach some scary speeds on this road, so it's best if I don't screw up the notes along here. Still, you can tell I'm not on top of things as my delivery sounds flat and lifeless.

At 1:05 we reach the turn off from the smooth road onto the narrow rough stuff, and I warn Martin that he might be on his own from here on. But I hang on for another minute and a half, until 2:35, before I eventually have to quit.



Martin does a great great job of driving without notes. There are plenty of blind crests with sudden sharp turns hidden over them. Notes would have helped a lot, but at least on this roller-coaster there aren't any straightaways long enough to reach crazy speeds. If we go off, it will hopefully only be a minor crash. Besides, Martin is trying as hard as he can to be gentle while still trying to maintain some semblance of speed. I like to think he's doing that out of consideration for me and how sick I'm feeling, but I suspect it's more a matter of him not wanting to startle me into dropping this plastic bag and spilling its contents all over the car before I've safely secured the zip-loc.

At 4:04 we pass Dillon van Way and Jake Blattner, with their turbo Ford Fiesta broken and stranded at a point that's just about as far distant as it is possible to get from the service park. They've got a long wait ahead of them before they get rescued.

Dillon was our only remaining competition in the Group-5 category. Lance Webb and Maxime Vadeboncouer were out already on A3 when their Golf sheared off an axle stub and lost a wheel. Jan and Jody Zedril's Mitsubishi Lancer broke down on A7, as did Greg Healey and Aaron Crescenti's Datsun 280Z. Now Dillon and Jake are out, leaving us as the only Group-5 competitors still running. Well, Martin is still running. I'm hoping I'll soon be unconscious.

At 5:30 I'm still incapacitated, so Martin gets a bit of a fright when he stumbles into the ! L5/Cr>3-. Because he was driving blind without notes, Martin was being cautious over blind crests. This Left-5 drops downhill over a crest, then tightens significantly to a 3-minus. That alone wasn't too bad and Martin was prepared for it. But what surprised him was that this corner, unlike all the previous corners, was coated in slick mud!

This is the same corner that scared us earlier when we were coming the other direction on the A7 - Mayo Lake stage (7:05). Back then I said, "Ooh that's slick!", and Martin responded, "Note it, note it please."

Almost understeering off at this corner now prompted me to stop feeling sorry for myself and maybe try making myself useful again. So I started flipping pages to find our spot in the notes. I knew the big rough washout and Tee-Left was coming up, after which we get into the fast and busy section leading to the "double-dips", all of which would go much safer if I was reading the notes.

At 10:35 we see more warning triangles. It's Martin Donnelly and Angela Cosner. Not quite sure what happened there, but it looks like they're missing their left front wheel and Martin & Angela are down in the forest with flashlights, having a picnic, or searching for the lost wheel.

I'm good for another minute until 11:25 before I'm done again. Martin is on his own until 15:25 when we reach the Tee-Right onto the fast smooth road to the finish. This bit is relatively dangerous because of the greater speed, so it's time to make another effort at reading the notes.

But I only last until 17:45... I'm so gonna die...

This is starting to sound much too familiar. This all happened to me before at the 2009 Tall Pines Rally. See previous stories here: [www.mco.org] That was the event which convinced me that it's really dumb to pack only a single zip-loc bag! Ever since I've carried three zip-loc bags, just in case. Well, I've already used all three on just this one stage, and we have five stages still to come.

I'm so gonna die, so gonna die...
December 27, 2011 07:59PM
Reading notes in a fast moving car is the worst thing to do when your sick...
I know that was sure thing to make me sick, i couldn't read notes even if it was to save my life!
I imagine a cup of tea and an headache pill is not easy to get over there in the woods.

Hope it turned out all right, Ferdinand...
December 29, 2011 01:45PM
Quote
Michiel 318iS
Quote
Ferdinand
Catching any air on the first jump means landing the car smack into the uphill slope of the following jump.

AU! Just looking at it makes me feel your pain. Very unfortunate landing. Was the car undamaged after this event?

Other than the bent left rear upper control arm that was replaced at the first service stop, and another bent left rear upper control arm replaced at the second service stop, and a complete right front strut replaced at the third service stop, surprisingly this hard landing off the jump only bent back the leading edge of the skid plate under the car.

Beyond a quick check to ensure nothing had fallen off, (off the car, not off me), there were no repairs required during the 4th and last service break.
December 29, 2011 01:47PM
Quote
Jose Pinto
Reading notes in a fast moving car is the worst thing to do when your sick...
I know that was sure thing to make me sick, i couldn't read notes even if it was to save my life!
I imagine a cup of tea and an headache pill is not easy to get over there in the woods.

Hope it turned out all right, Ferdinand...

So far I've only ever puked at Tall Pines. There's just something about these roads. It's all in the head though, (except for those times when it's all down the front of your driving suit). I've never been bothered with even a hint of nausea at any other venue, but it seems that for some reason these Tall Pines roads just freak me out. It's not only me. Poor Craig Henderson, three years in a row, got sick at Pines while driving.

My first time ever co-driving in a performance rally was with Martin at the 2007 Tall Pines. I can't even ride the bus to work without getting car-sick. What the hell was I thinking agreeing to co-drive in a rallycar? I was very worried about puking. So I made sure to buy a large package of Gravol anti-nausea pills beforehand. Except, on the morning of the rally, to my horror I discovered that I'd forgotten the Gravol pills at home!! Oh nooooo! I broke out in a sweat and almost puked during the drivers' meeting already! Luckily Jane Laan had extra Gravol pills to give me and after that I was fine.

Method for dealing with it? If I take a Gravol pill before starting I'm not sure whether it actually has any real effect at all, other than as a placebo to give me peace of mind. But if it doesn't work, and I start feeling nauseous, then the only effective method of dealing with it would be a bullet to the head. Nothing short of that helps in any way.

Because of my bad experience in 2009, I already knew with dead certainty that my situation was not going to improve from here on. As-is I was already feeling downright suicidal. No way could I face another round of Middle and Lower Old Hastings and Egan Creek to finish the full length of the National rally.

I told Martin that I would stick it out until the end of the Regional portion of the rally, but I was sooooo done after that.

We just have that damn Golton rallycross spectator stage to do. I can do that. Really I can...

As we lined up to start, all I could think about was how bad it would look to be doing this last short little stage, in front of all these hundreds of spectators, every single one of them armed with a camera, and I'm going to have my head stuck in an (already filled) bag the entire time! I'm not going to puke, I'm not going to puke, I'm not going to puke...

Turns out I didn't puke, hurray! But I couldn't read any notes, and I forgot to turn on the video camera. Not that you missed anything interesting.

Now it's straight back to service and the end of the Regional rally and I'm done. Hurray, I survived!

But nooooooo... There's more. The Regional portion of the rally includes yet another round of the Golton stage after the service break. Damn, I'm still going to die...
December 29, 2011 03:11PM
After all the drama of the frantic repairs needed during the first three service stops, service stop #4 was leisurely with nothing to do. A quick check revealed no issues with the car. Maybe a little smelly, but it's still good to go for more punishment. I however am very rapidly approaching expiration.

Meanwhile, with nothing else to do during the service break, Martin had enough spare time on his hands to hatch another plan. What if we were to swap in a different co-driver? Would he be allowed to continue on to complete the last stages of the National portion of the rally using another co-driver?

Martin ran off to confer with the officials and stewards. Obviously it wouldn't count for points. To be scored as finishing, all three components of the team must reach the finish under their own power - the car, the driver, and the co-driver. If any of those three components fails, it's game over.

Ya, but, the car is still good to go, and Martin is itching to continue. We're the only remaining Group-5 car, since all the others are already out. Is it going to cause anyone grief if he continues with another co-driver? The stewards wouldn't commit to permitting or preventing the co-driver swap, they merely pointed to the rule-book where it says we'd be excluded from the results for doing that.

Okay, so it's a choice of retiring early as a "DNF" (did not finish) due to co-driver illness and missing the last three National stages, or gaining more stage experience with another co-driver over those last three awesome stages and subsequently being "Excluded". That's a simple enough choice.

But first, we want to ensure that we finish the Ontario Regional portion of the rally. For that, I only need to hold it together for one more round of the Golton stage to reach the end of the Regional portion of the Tall Pines Rally. Then I can call it quits.

The Golton spectator stage is a super-special run on a short rallycross track ploughed out of a field.

The benefit of using this stage is that it is conveniently located near downtown Bancroft and is easily accessible to a huge crowd of spectators, all of whom can be safely corralled into a fenced off spectator area from which almost the entire stage can be viewed.

That's about the only benefit though. Martin and I both hate this stage. It's a short little mickey mouse stage, barely 2 km long, all hairpin turns. It doesn't suit our car, or Martin's driving style, and we're always dog slow on this stage.

Thankfully I remember very little of either of our two runs here because I was pretty much comatose by this point. Again I forgot to start the video camera, and I couldn't even attempt to read the notes. All I managed to do without passing out was calculate our proper check-in times so we wouldn't earn any road penalties.

At the conclusion of this stage there was an optional 5-minute refuelling stop back at the service park. Those teams registered for only the Ontario Regional rally then pull into parc fermé for the conclusion of their rally, whereas the National competitors (like us) continue on for yet another long, gruelling, bone-jarring, nauseating loop of the Middle and Lower Old Hastings and Egan Creek stages.

We were already fuelled to the end of the National rally, but took the opportunity of those extra five minutes to stop and perform our co-driver swap.

Lance Webb and Maxime Vadeboncoeur, our competition in the National 2wd Group-5 category, had been forced to retire much earlier when they broke an axle stub on their VW Golf and lost a wheel on already just the 2nd stage of the event. Max is always keen for any adventure and he was eager for a chance to jump in and ride with Martin. It was a win-win opportunity. Martin gets his money's worth from paid entry fees, and Max gets a chance to ride with his closest competitor.

Also a winner, I was now free to search for a rock to curl up under and die...

In-car video of Martin and Max still to come...
Golton Spectator Stage

Before we get to videos of Martin and Max, because we have no video of our own from the Golton Spectator Stage, here's one from Ryan Huber and John Vanos.






Note John isn't calling any notes in this short stage either. But, unlike me, John wasn't nauseous at this point. Ryan didn't need notes to find his way around this track as he was one of the guys that originally created this layout. The Maple Leaf Rally Club hosts a year-long rallycross season open to anyone on this track.

Ryan & John were 8th quickest overall on this run with a time of 1:55.9, compared to our time of 2:14.6 which was only 22nd quickest of the 30 cars still running. blech.

We nearly got stuck during recce in the deep mud on this stage, but then were pleasantly surprised at the condition of the track when it came time to run it at speed. It had been scraped down to dry earth and was in the best condition I've ever seen it. We still hate it though...
January 03, 2012 03:45PM
B2 - Middle Old Hastings 2: -






Here's the first video with Maxime Vadeboncoeur co-driving for Martin. There are lots of interesting things to note in this video.

It's not at all easy swapping co-drivers.

We didn't have a lot of time to make the switch. It would have been much easier to do this during the service break, but I had to continue after the break in order to ride out the second short Golton spectator stage. That meant we now had only the short 5-minute period available during the optional refuelling stop.

We had to readjust the belts to fit Max, remove all my gear, and replace it with Max's kit. Then there was the question of using the notes Martin and I had prepared, or using those that Lance Webb and Max had done for themselves. We decided it would be better to have Max read his own notes, as opposed to trying to decipher my scribblings.

When I first started co-driving for Martin (my first time ever co-driving) we found that the notes provided for the Tall Pines Rally were far too detailed for us. I kept getting lost because I couldn't decode the shorthand notes quickly enough, or spit them out quickly enough to keep up with Martin's driving, so we ended up simplifying a lot of that stuff. Big crest, small crest, long crest, short crest, what's the difference? Just scribble all that stuff out and call them all crests. Same with R6+sh. What the heck is a right-6 plus short, versus just a simple R6? Instead of wasting breath stumbling over each little R6+sh and L6+sh, by which time we'd be past them already anyway, we used to scratch those all out and put something like "kinks 200" at the end of which is a big crest, since Martin could see past all those squiggles anyway and the only feature that really mattered was that big crest coming up.

But, upon gaining more experience, we've come to realize that those little details become more and more important for keeping us on track. Now we hardly make any changes at all to the provided notes because they're usually much better than anything we would have come up with on our own.

It's really interesting to see how Lance and Max (still relative newcomers) have made changes to "simplify" their notes, and how that affects Martin's driving now that he has become accustomed to using more detailed notes.

There's a really good example starting at 2:25 in this video. "Keep Left over Big Crest 100." That's straightforward enough. After this big crest, the next instruction isn't for another 100 metres.

Then "Right 5 short over big jump (at the end of the 100)." Here Lance and Max had crossed out a couple of unimportant instructions to simplify their notes. The road actually first goes slight right over a small crest, then slight left over another small crest, before finally reaching the Right 5 short over big jump.

During recce, done in daylight, Lance and Max figured they could do without mentioning that little zig-zig, because you can see that the road basically goes straight before disappearing over that big jump 100 metres later. It works fine in daylight.

However, when using the bright rally lights at night, both of those small crests cast long shadows so you can't see where the road goes behind them. And it's very difficult to tell how far 100 metres actually is. So Martin is expecting the next feature in the road to be a Right 5 short over a big jump, except this feels more like a Right 6 over small crest. It certainly isn't a big jump. And what's this left over small crest that's coming up here? Where's the big jump?

There's nothing actually wrong with doing it this way, as long as both the driver and co-driver know what's happening. Max is right on top of it. He knows where they are. He even points out to Martin, "this one, right 5 short over big jump." But you can also tell that Martin was unsettled by that and not really sure about what had just happened there.

Rallying is very much a team sport built on trust between driver and co-driver. I know Martin is an excellent driver. And, having watched this video several times now, I can't see anything that Max is doing "wrong". But it's clear that they haven't clicked together yet. Nor would anyone expect them to, this being the first time they've ridden together, especially on such a challenging night stage.
January 06, 2012 12:29PM
B3 - Lower Old Hastings 2: -






With one stage done, Martin and Max head into this next one with more confidence and Martin is charging right off the start. Then there's a small hitch.

At 0:53 it's, "keep right over jump 180... Care keep left Crest L5+ into R4+sh..." But there are several other small crests not mentioned along that 180 metre section. I can feel Martin starting to get nervous as he's wondering if he's already covered 180 metres yet, and which one of these several crests will eventually be the one that he's supposed to take Care over.

It's probably all very obvious in broad daylight, and it actually is obvious when you eventually see the crest at the end of the 180 metres, but at night the deep shadows cast behind each of those crests makes Martin lift off the throttle each time as he's unsure of where the road goes.

Finally Martin sees the Crest L5, and asks for confirmation that this is the L5 here. And that temporarily throws Max off his stride as he repeats the instruction when they're already into those corners. That makes him a little late reading out the following instruction "Care L4 into BigCrR4+". Martin takes a moment to digest that instruction and turns in late on the L4 and then nearly cuts too much on the R4.

And just like that, the initial burst of confidence is gone. It takes a few more instructions after that before they're back on the same page and the pace picks up again.

You have to see this next bit...

At 3:50 is the 100 metre straight where Martin and I earlier, while chasing the Fiesta of Thierry Menegoz, passed the stranded Subaru of Pat Cyr on our first pass on this stage. That means the nasty jump with the hard landing, where I hurt my neck, is coming up soon. But it all looks different now without those other two cars, and Max hasn't seen this stage in the dark yet, so he doesn't know it's coming.

At the end of this 100 metre is a "Care Big Jump". Martin is focused on that, and making sure not to jump the car. But this isn't the big one yet.

Immediately following is a "L4+/Cr ruf no cut". Martin is still worried about that big jump, which wasn't this one, so he didn't really catch all that L4 instruction and asks for a repeat. Max has to repeat the L4 instruction in mid-corner.

Except the L4 is "ruf", ie ROUGH. It's difficult to speak while getting bounced through that rough stuff. So exactly as happened to me earlier at this spot, Max has to pause for a moment to catch his breath before reading the next instruction.

"110... care Big Jmp into stay right/jmp..."

Compare Lance/Max's note above to our notes below for this bit.

"60/smCr R6+ 50 ! BIG Jmp into stay right/jmp..."

Lance and Max simplified their notes by taking out the small Crest and R6+ instructions, combining the 60 and 50 metre straights and instead simply calling that whole bit as a straight "110" metres long.

That wasn't such a bad idea. I hesitated over the L4 ruf portion, then stumbled trying to spit out the "60/smCr R6+", which made me late calling the ! BIG Jmp.

But, taking out that portion of instructions and replacing it with just "110... care Big Jmp" didn't work for Martin. There is a small but definite crest in there, followed by a slight right bend, before eventually reaching the jump. Martin was probably thinking to himself, "that was no big jump, that was just a small crest, and then what's this right bend here? Oh, ok, this thing coming up here must be the jump..."

If you turn up the sound, you can hear Martin suck in his breath when he suddenly realizes what's coming. He's about to say, "Frack! This is the ONE!" Except it's already too late.

SLAM kaBANG!

The car again comes crashing down hard off that jump, landing on its nose. You can see gravel spray forward up into the lights. Martin later discovered the leading edge of the skidplate all curled under from that impact.

It makes me cringe and flinch watching this again, but evidently Max is built of tougher stuff than I am. That hit didn't seem to bother him one bit and he continues reading notes without pause.

The rest of the stage goes fine until the finish at 11:00, after which it's fun listening to some of their post-stage discussion.
January 06, 2012 03:19PM
B4 - Egan Creek 2

After forgetting to turn off the camera until about halfway through the 45-minute transit to this stage, Martin and Max then forgot to restart the camera. So, we have no in-car video of this final stage.

Martin tells me that parts of this stage went really well for them, other parts not so well. That sounds a lot like how Ryan Huber and John Vanos experienced it too. You can watch their in-car video instead.






I think Ryan & John's videos are great because they're always so similar to our own. John groans and complains through all the rough portions, exactly like I do! This stage was particularly rough and beat up. Upon reaching the finish line Ryan exuberantly says, "Ya Buddy!" Poor John can only say, "Thank god. I'm gonna effing puke..."

Of the 31 entrants in the Ontario Regional Rally, which ended three stages earlier, Nick & Kelly Mathew took first place, thereby winning the very closely contested 2011 Ontario Performance Rally Championship (OPRC).

Michelle Laframboise and Dean Hopkins finished 2nd, beating husband Ian Crerar and Doug Draper who finished 4th. This awesome finish brought Michelle to within just one point of equalling Ian's OPRC points total of 48. Michelle finished the season with 47 points. Go Michelle!!

Ryan and John finished on the podium in 3rd place, and Martin and I were 5th.

Interestingly, of the 12 Regional 2WD entries, the top three places were claimed by the only three RWD cars. Martin and I were 1st in the 1991 Nissan 240SX, Ian Topping and Jeff Secor 2nd in the 1980 Volvo 242, and Nuno & Isabel Pereira 3rd in the 1977 Toyota Corolla. 4th were Alexei Stapinski and Jeff Hagan in the FWD 1992 Suzuki Swift GTI. None of the other 8 FWD regional entries finished.

Of the sixty entries overall, National and Regional combined, Martin/Me&Max would have finished 17th overall and 3rd out of the twenty 2wd entries, behind the 1st 2wd (9th overall) 2011 Ford Fiesta of Wyatt Knox and Ole Holter, and 2nd 2wd (13th overall) 1990 VW Golf GTi of Simon Dubé and Pat Lavigne. But of course we were excluded from the National results because of our illegal co-driver swap after I wimped out due to a crippling overdose of pukitude.

However, the biggest story of the event by far was the enormously popular first ever overall National win of "Crazy Leo" - Leonid Urlichich with Martin Brady co-driving. For the full story on that, watch the excellent 23-minute TV coverage posted at FlatOverCrest.com courtesy of TV2Go and CARS.

Huge congratulations to Leo! Surely that's the first of many wins to come.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow 5:30pm EST Saturday, Jan 7th, on TSN2, for the 2011 Year-In-Review show! (Will probably also be posted to Flatovercrest afterward?)
January 27, 2012 01:26PM
I knew there had to be someone with a camera at this corner!

Here is a great sequence of shots showing how we tipped the car way up on its side on A2 - Upper Old Hastings 1.

The front wheel left a neat imprint in the dirt. The rear wheel smacked that tree stump, resulting in a bent upper control arm.

Photos by Charles Spivak.

January 27, 2012 01:32PM
Exciting pics.

So how many control arms is that now? I've lost count. smiling smiley

__________
Dave
'91 325iX
January 28, 2012 06:50PM
Quote
Dave_G
Exciting pics.

So how many control arms is that now? I've lost count. smiling smiley

This is how they bent the CA shown before.
January 29, 2012 03:11AM
Can't you make control arms like the blue ones yourselves, made out of two halves that bolt together, so you can replace them with the strut in place?
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