Targa Miata
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September 14, 2011 - On to Greenspond.
This is one of the classic Targa stages, and one that we didn't get to run in 2008 due to a funeral. I'd been looking forward to it with a mix of fear and anticipation, as it's narrow, exposed and has the craziest corners. Last night, I watched a video of a car running through the stage to get an idea of how it worked.
Good plan. I was able to recognize every corner - including the real weirdos - and this made a big difference to our time. What also made a big difference was the fact that we're driving one of the smallest cars in the race. There's one spot in Greenspond where you have to ascent a steep grade that's only about 3/4 of a lane wide, and it has a grass bank on one side with a guardrail on the other. Oh, and gravel on the road that's been kicked up. Not a place for wheelspin or a wayward tail, so I had to judge the throttle just right. This spot is so steep I was really wondering if I should be in first gear instead of second when I approached it.
There was one car off on the outside of a sharp corner (and displaying an OK sign), but I also recognized it as the effective end of the hard part, with a full two lanes running up a hill out of town. Well, this car doesn't care about hills so the big hammer went down and we thundered away. We came across the line with a 7 second penalty. That's pretty darn good for Greenspond, even the supercharged Exige with Stan Hartling driving took a penalty there.
The big green Challenger driven by Rob Pacione was the first place Open car on Day 1, and we only got ahead on Day 2 after he was a bit slower around Gander. I asked him how he dealt with Greenspond, and he said it was like walking a tightrope. He also really liked the V8 Miata, although his well-known Dodge sure gets a lot of attention from kids.
Next up was Port Blandford. On a 5 km, 130 km/h stage, we had one instruction: "jump into medium left". Obviously, this was one left to the drivers. About two turns in, I recognized the stage as one we ran in 2008 with no instructions - and in the other direction. In fact, there was one crest on that stage that I particularly remembered, as it was one I came over thinking "this would be an easy place to get off if you lifted..." and saw a set of tracks going into the woods with a Targa car at the end of them. I realized that the jump would be that crest. We pedaled down the stage pretty quick, but thanks to a bit of tentativeness on my part over the jump (wouldn't you?) we came across the line 1 second late. Still, not bad. And quick.
tags: targa, 2011 race, exotics, tuning