Targa Miata
September 12, 2011 - The un-fun part of being a navigator.
While the cars were being checked over, Janel hid herself away to do her homework. This is why she's such a good navigator. She goes over every stage several times and writes down every word she's going to say. She's almost completely infallible on the stage and this is why I can have the confidence I need to go powering over the road.
Tomorrow's going to be a lot of fun. We're running Port Leamington out and back, which was one of my best stages in 2008. We run Bobby's Cove and back twice, which is a very fast, smooth and fantastic stage that I loved in 2008. Then twice through Gander. Three of my favorite stages in the entire race, back to back to back to back. This is going to be fantastic.
entry 960 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, navigation
September 13, 2011 - And away we go for day 2.
I've been looking forward to this, three of my favorite stages run one after the other. Despite initially pessimistic weather forecasts, the day was absolutely gorgeous.
We started off with Appleton, which is a moderately tight city stage. I had fresh, unscrubbed tires on the back so the car was a bit tail-happy, but a slightly higher cold pressure gave me more grip overall. I might have played a bit too much with oversteer, coming close to dropping an outside tire into the ditch - but it was all good. We zeroed it comfortably.
Then it was on to Bobby's Cove. I loved this one last time, it's quick and smooth. And it still is. Except this time, I had some horsepower! We went past a 30 km/h speed limit sign at 179 km/h. I love it. We zeroed it again, coming in about 9 seconds early. Comfortable. And so much fun.
After a very pleasant wait in the sunshine for the last cars to come through, the circus turned around and took another shot at it. This time, it was called Pleasantview. Our target speed was again a 130 km/h average, which is as fast as the Targa organizers ever specify. So it was back just as fast as we went, and it was just as much fun. Again, zeroed.
entry 964 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Appleton, Bobby's Cove, Pleasantview
September 13, 2011 - Now for the fun stuff.
Point Leamington. Back in 2008, this was quite possibly my favorite stage. It's rough enough to really work the car, but not destroy it. It's twisty. It's fast. It's challenging. It's absolutely fantastic. And we have the perfect car for it.
The AFCO suspension really shines on this. The road is covered with depressions, dips, patched patches and all sorts of damage. But no matter what, the car would simply not get upset. I was running at the top end of fourth gear and sometimes fifth and just loving it. On the video, you can hear me ask Janel for a time check and she replies "30 seconds ahead", meaning we're well over our base time. Right then, we came over a crest and there was a car at the side of the road with no triangles and no OK sign visible. Heck, no crew.
So we stopped, I grabbed our triangle and ran back to see what was going on. Turns out the crew was okay, they were just hiding in the woods to stay away from the cars whipping by at 200 km/h. So I ran back and put up our triangle before the crest so it was visible and convinced the crew that placing the OK sign flat on the back of the car wasn't a good plan.
We got back into the car and pulled back on to the stage. It's clear in the rules that you will never be penalized for stopping to help a competitor, so we knew that our big time penalty would probably be stricken. So there was no pressure at all. Still, I drove fast enough that we would have been penalty-free for the last half anyhow. So that was good. A fun stage with a little interruption in the middle.
Turns out the car was out of gas. We'd just had a chance to fill up, so I can't explain it. But there you go.
The picture is actually from yesterday. But it's a good picture from Zach.
entry 965 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Point Leamington, gas
September 13, 2011 - Lunchtime.
Does this look pleasant? It should. That's moose stew.
entry 966 - tags: 2011 race, day 2
September 13, 2011 - There's been a lot of work done to a lot of cars over the past 24 hours.
The supercharged Exige dropped a valve and underwent an emergency engine transplant. I've heard that the replacement engine is from a Pontiac Vibe. It fired up for the first time at 8 am and they just barely made it on to the stage in time to avoid any penalties. Obviously, a couple of parts were left for later! Until the last couple of stages of the day, they were still penalty-free. Amazing work.
A Porsche that ended up in the drink yesterday got a new left front corner and showed up missing a fender and a splitter, but running. Good work there.
Unfortunately, not all work was successful. Despite going to great lengths - pulling a brand new MINI off a dealer lot, for example, Jim Kenzie's crew was unable to get his car running again. So he's out.
entry 967 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Lotus Exige, MINI, Kenzie
September 13, 2011 - After our yummy moose-flavored lunch in the home of the Newfoundland giant squid, we headed back down the road.
And it's just as good in the other direction. The car was flying, propelled by sheer sonic energy and sucking up the worst the road could dish out. When we got up to 30 seconds ahead of our base time without taking a lot of risks, I backed off. Remember, a zero is a zero. And it's amazing how much harder it was to stay focused when you do that. My brain tried to go into holiday mode, even though we were still hoofing down a bumpy road at 160 km/h. On this stage, Janel had to warn me a couple of times about our maximum speed.
So much fun.
Then it was back out to the Bobby's Cove/Pleasantview stage again for a second run. Yup, just as quick and just as fun as before. Man, what a great day. And all full of zeros.
entry 968 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Glover's Harbor, Pleasantview, Bobby's Cove
September 13, 2011 - Gander.
One of the highlights of the event. Why? Because it's every commuter's fantasy. An entire subdivision is shut down and we get to go mental, constantly turning left and right at every intersection. There's no way I could retrace our steps, and I swear we should have crossed over our tracks several times. Just five minutes of sheer madness and a very big workout for the driver, the navigator and the brakes.
The first time through, I took full advantage of my ability to throttle steer. The balance of the car was perfect, even to the point of letting me get loose under braking and come into a corner already a bit sideways with lots of powerslides coming out. It was so busy I was having trouble processing Janel's calls, as she sometimes would call one when I was just approaching the previous. They were very tight. We took something like 14 seconds of penalties, which is very good for Gander.
The second time through, I realized that if that had been an autocross, it would have been a spectacular but slow run. So I decided to drive it properly. Janel also changed her pacing and only fed me the next corner when I was through the previous one. The result was a time that was 8 seconds faster - although our base time was also faster. So we took 17 seconds of penalties. Again, very good for Gander.
entry 969 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Gander
September 13, 2011 - Zach and Brandon are Grand Touring superstars.
Despite their rocky start tomorrow, they've hit their stride and zeroed the entire day. Yes, they're tied for the lead with a couple of other cars. Fantastic work. It's a different kind of race than we're running, but it's still full of adrenaline and close attention to detail. Anyone who thinks that Grand Touring is the soft option needs to give it a try. Fantastic work on their part.
entry 971 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Zach, Brandon
September 13, 2011 - As for us, we're in the lead.
And it's from doing exactly what we planned to do. Running a clean, consistent race and letting attrition take a big toll. The Civic that was running just ahead of us yesterday failed to finish all of the stages today. I don't know why, but it does mean they've fallen a long way back. The BMW and the Challenger both zeroed most of the day, but the BMW took just over 60 seconds of penalties on Gander and the Challenger took 48. We took 31, which puts us in first place in our division! It's still a long way to go, but for now I'm really pleased.
On Point Leamington last year, I drove as fast as I could and took 6 seconds of penalties with with my slower base time. This time, I had a good margin for error and still managed to come in far ahead of my time. It's a good place to be, right where I wanted. We're not the fastest car on the road, but we have the least number of penalties.
entry 972 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, results
September 30, 2011 - Romping through Gander.
This is the first time through, when I was basically acting like a hooligan. A hooligan with a big grin.
This is the first of a number of photos from Gordon Sleigh, the official event photographer. So we're going to take a few steps back through the race here. Note the red tape. You'll see both red and yellow tape in the background of a number of the pictures. Red tape denotes a potential impact area, and spectators are kept free of the red tape zones.
entry 997 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Gander
September 30, 2011 - Exploring the limits of suspension travel in Gander.
The notes for this stage warn about bumps on the inside of corners where the drains are. And they're right! There's a much better looking version of this shot, taken just before I hit the bump, but this one's just so dramatic. I'm happy to report that the car was not upset in the least by this behavior, and the next shot in the sequence shows it carrying on happily. And people wonder why I spend so much time working on suspension travel. I was able to do things like this without any concern about upsetting the car.
According to Zach, there are something like 29 turns in this stage - and I suspect that he left out the dozen or so that weren't marked, but that were parts of a suburban crescent. Even without those, that means an average of one 90 turn every 10 seconds for 5 minutes. No wonder it's so exhausting.

entry 998 - tags: 2011 race, day 2, Gander, suspension