Targa Miata
September 13, 2011 - Talking over strategy.
Janel's is fairly simple: don't crash. Mine's not far off that. 80 cars were originally entered in the event. 66 made it to the start line of the Prologue for various reasons, including blown engines long before the race started. Unfortunately, Paul Horton's delicious Mk1 Escort was amongst those. Tomorrow, 60 cars are listed for start. A couple are back from the dead, such as the Audi 80 Avant that had such a bad start at the school. But others are gone, and a few of the remaining ones are looking a bit rocky.
The supercars are not part of the competition. They're running in a new class called "Hot Tour". It's a bit of an experiment on the part of the organizers, and is basically a group of cars escorted through the closed stages before the Touring class goes out. They're not just crawling through, but the speeds are kept in check somewhat by the lead car. They haven't done every stage either, but I'm not sure whose decision that was. Most notably, they missed the long, fast, bumpy North West Brook stage. The Saleen S7 is refusing to run properly so it's been put on the trailer. Still, you can't miss the Enzo as it goes whooping by.
I know Jim Kenzie's crew was working hard on resurrecting the MINI last night. Jim reported to us that the security system was now starting to give problems as part of his cascading failures, and he seems to be longing for the days of points and condensers while using satellite phones to download wiring diagrams off the internet. The not-inconsiderable resources of a factory-backed team are being thrown at the recalcitrant little car.
Both he and Stan Hartling with the Lotus Exige got lucky when the last stage was scratched yesterday, as they won't take any penalties. The Lotus is suffering some sort of electrical bug (no, really!) that's affecting the drive-by-wire throttle. Stan managed to zero all the stages we ran yesterday, but celebrated loudly when that last one was cut.
entry 963 - tags: 2011 race, day 1, MINI, attrition
September 14, 2011 - The cars are starting to show signs of wear.
This Porsche Turbo, for example, took a short swim in shallow water and tangled with a boulder on the way. A lot of work overnight and it was back up and running the next day, although the aerodynamics may not be as Stuttgart intended. Another Porsche appears to have one fender made primarily of duct tape, and we've dodged the odd MINI part lying in the road. It's a tough race, and it's going to get tougher tomorrow.
A number of cars are out due to engine problems, including a very well-driven Civic that was our direct competition as well as a truly terrifying Mustang.
entry 979 - tags: 2011 race, attrition
September 16, 2011 - We've got quite a storm coming, by all accounts.
Lots of rain and 25-35 mph winds. Waking up this morning, it looks like a little bit of the former and a good bunch of the latter are already here. It's survival time, especially since we're all running on tires that have seen four days of escalating competition. In our case, I've been preparing for this and have a set of very good rubber ready to put on. My rear tires from yesterday were only intended to end until the end of yesterday, so I was able to abuse them. Now I have lots of tread depth to deal with the treacherous conditions. One thing about the roads in Newfoundland is that they have some big grooves in them from truck traffic, and those grooves become rivers that like to hydroplane cars.
The big story on the internet is, of course, the Enzo. But for us, it was part of a demonstration class and was a bit of a sideshow. More important is the condition of the rest of the fleet. The M3 that is currently leading Open division had a cracked oil pan yesterday and barely made it home - but managed to do so without losing significant time or lunching the engine. The supercharged Exige snapped a halfshaft and missed three or four stages. All the cars are starting to look a big rough. Other than the electrical fault, we're looking pretty good. Janel and I are operating on fairly low sleep so crew management has become an issue, but I think we'll be okay today.
One stage today has been canceled, turning a long transit into a killer: 250 km. In the rain. Yuk. More importantly, we start the day with two long, fast stages that will be the last high speed test of the car and crew. Again, our priority is to bring it home.
entry 987 - tags: 2011 race, day 4, attrition, weather