Targa Miata
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.
entry 975 - tags: 2011 race, day 3, Greenspond, Port Blandford
September 30, 2011 - Stampeding through Greenspond.
This was a remarkable stage, and we're just coming up through the most remarkable part of it. I've got my head lifted as high as I can, trying to see over the hood of the Miata as we come out of a steep climb and get ready for a hard right turn.
The car looks so industrial in this shot. The black tape is holding the hood down at higher speeds, and you can see some of the undercar skid protection silhouetted against the dust.
entry 1000 - tags: 2011 race, day 3, Greenspond