Targa Miata
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September 15, 2011 - And there goes our lead, as well as our hope for a Targa plate.
On the second run through Marystown, we were running hard and doing pretty well. We'd cleared the hardest parts of the course and were hammering through one of the fastest sections when we made a hard right on a short downhill section, ready to howl under one of the bridges. And the car lost power. We were going fast enough that it took me a moment to figure out just what had happened. We had enough momentum to coast up the hill to a wide spot as I tried to get the car to refire, but to no avail. I pulled off the course in a safe place and we scrambled to get the triangles out and display the OK sign so nobody had to stop. Mission accomplished.
With the car safe and Janel signalling the passing vehicles (do we go past that fast? Holy cow!) I started to try and diagnose it. Nothing wrong underhood that I could see. And no fuel pump noise. Now, I'd been worried about the fuel pump in the past, but it was behaving itself. But when I heard it wasn't running, I assumed it was the pump. I checked a couple of wires but couldn't find anything obvious. So we gave up and watched the last few cars go by. There went our Targa plate, and we were pulled into the overnight stop on a rope.
We'd been running really well - Janel reports that we were about 4 seconds behind our base time when we stopped, and the best time in our class was a 34 second penalty. We were only a kilometer or so from the end. But that's how it goes.
When we got back to the arena, Brandon and I tore into the car. No power at the fuel pump. Odd. No power at the fuel pump relay. Odder. Brandon reported he could hear the main relay clicking over when I cycled the key, and could even feel it. But we swapped it out anyhow, just to see - and the beast awoke with a roar. We'd lost the main relay. The stock, unmodified Mazda main relay.
Now, if you call FM for tech support and you tell me that your Miata just stopped and won't restart, I'll usually tell you to check the main relay. I even had one in the car just in case. But I was so sure it was the fuel pump that I just stopped trying when I didn't hear it running. My bad. Had I identified the relay sooner, we may have been able to get running and get home without incurring the maximum 5 minute penalty. Or maybe not, the fact that it was clicking would have been a problem, and we still would have had to get reloaded into the car. Since we were running near the rear of the pack, I'm not sure we could have done this before the Road Open car arrived.
Did I mention that we did this right in front of a bridge full of spectators and our camera crew? Nicely done. We did provide a bit of entertainment when I had to pantomime to Janel that her OK sign was upside down, which was greatly appreciated by our audience.
So we'll be back in the competition tomorrow. Despite the rumors we heard that we rolled twice and were stuck upside down in a ditch, it was a simple mechanical fault that had nothing to do with the car's modifications. Usually that relay fails when the car is turned off, rarely does it let go while driving. So at least it wasn't an error on our part.
Tomorrow, we have serious weather on the way. Serious. It's going to be a fight to survive. Time to get to bed, it's late.
tags: 2011 race, day 4, Marystown