Targa Miata
September 18, 2008 - Leg 3.
Sorry, this is a day late. I couldn't find internet access in Clarenville, but here's what I wrote at the time.

The classic Mini owners are banding together. The dark blue one (Molly) got a new engine today that was the spare for the light blue one that crashed (Lucy). We did see the blue new MINI by the side of the road near the end of the day though, hopefully it'll be back.
The car needs more spring, I think. The shock's holding out well enough. Since it's not a pressurized design, the only concern is running out of fluid - at least, that's how I understand it. It's not leaking badly, so that's a good sign. The replacement shocks are due to arrive in Gander tomorrow, but we'll be far away from there when they do. Next-day shipping isn't always next-day.
Th Gander stage last night was downgraded to Condition 2 due to light, so that puts us only 7 seconds late. Also, it turns out we didn't come in late in the first stage yesterday. So that's all good.

The first stage: Main Point Davidsville. Very fast and smooth and flowing, right along the edge of the ocean. Gorgeous and super-fun. It's too bad it was only a bit over 5 km. Easy zero.
Slow transit, everyone got behind.
Stage 2, Fredrickton Carmanville. A bit in town at first, then fast and flowing through the woods. We caught and passed a Corvette (not the one from yesterday) quite enthusiastically, another zero. About 30 seconds early, really. Not that this matters, it just shows up on the books as 0 penalties. But man, that was really fun.
Stage 3, Musgrave Harbour. Terrible. Rough and bouncy with a speed bump in the middle. Very hard on the car, and on our penalties. 31 seconds late. Not fun at all. We finished on the Corvette's butt.
Stage 4, New-Wes-Valley. A great stage. All of the square corners were actually fairly fast and it would be possible to carry more speed. Still, it was a fun one. Part of the fun of a first-time Targa run is seeing all these stages for the first time. Would it be as thrilling if I could recognize things? We were 43 seconds late so there was obviously a lot more speed available. Still, what a blast. The Corvette was dispatched in short order.
Stage 5 Greenspond. Cancelled due to a funeral.
Looooong transit. 210 km. Yuk.
Stage 6, Northwest Brook. Similar to the Leading Tickles stage, but tighter in spots, this started in town (with the famous wooden bridge), got into the country where it was fast, tightened up, then opened, then finished in town. Yeehah. We were caught by an M3 just as we came up on a Porsche 911 and ended up running with three cars through the tight middle section. Fairly bumpy in spots and the car was throwing sparks by all accounts, but it was controlled. We came in 17 seconds early. The Porsche driver was quite impressed with both our car and my driving, he thought it went pretty well.

Stage 7, Gooseberry Cove. This was Stage 6 in reverse. We were late leaving due to an accident on stage 6. We got going a half hour late, and were driving into the sun. This was a real problem in spots as we couldn't see the corners. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that this stage gets downgraded retroactively. And it's here that I made my first navigational mistake. Janel called for a square left and I didn't see it. I blew past it - on the brakes - and had to make a 3-point turn to get around. We lost about 10 seconds, I'd guess. Luckily, there was no lasting problem and we didn't hit anything. We hammered on, trying to see where we were going through some tricky corners. Just as the Acadian behind us caught up, we caught the Porsche again so there was a little more three-car action. It's not usually this wheel-to-wheel in the Targa, apparently. We'd already dispatched the Corvette some time ago. The Acadian's target time was a full minute slower than ours (the advantage of a vintage car!) but he was driving the car hard. You could see it moving around quite a bit on the road. I was pushing hard as well and stuck with him for the rest of the stage, but we crossed the line about 11 seconds late. I wasn't too impressed with myself, and the main reason for the mistake was fatigue. It had been a long day. I wasn't the only one having problems. We saw a number of cars littering the stage, mostly due to small offs as far as I can tell.

Stage 8, Clarenville. Another smooth, in-town stage. Well, mostly smooth. We started off on main roads, then ducked down someone's one-lane alley, then back out into the big roads. We caught the Corvette very quickly and unfortunately he didn't see us coming this time. A 1970's Vette is no match for a Miata on this sort of course, and our closing speed was fairly substantial. We followed him around for a few corners until he saw my lights behind him, then waved us by on a narrow bit. The Targa rules say that you have to pull to the right to let a faster car pass as soon as they're behind you, and the Vette driver did. He just didn't see us for a while. I seriously considered stuffing him on one corner, but it would have been ugly. This cost us a fair bit of time and we ended up coming in 4 seconds late. We've filed an inquiry to see if we can get this taken off. I don't know if it'll happen or not. Jim Kenzie saw us catch the Corvette as I came around one corner in a nice little slide and called me a hoodlum. Hey, it worked! My parents also saw us tailgating the Vette. I'm not sure my mother is going to watch any more stages after that.
At lunch, we had slipped from 13th to 21st due to our slow times on 3 and 4. Fair enough, we're mostly looking to finish and hopefully bring home a Targa plate. That is not a problem so far, but there are still two long days left. Janel's doing her homework right now and I'm going to hit the sack. We have a 2 hour transit before the first stage tomorrow, and we're leaving the hotel at 6 am. That's in 8 hours. G'night.
entry 565 - tags: leg 3
September 18, 2008 - Miatas are not big cars, especially when filled with roll cage and other bits and pieces of rally equipment.
If we don't have a chance to put the helmets in the trunk, Janel uses them as a foot rest.
In this blurry picture, you can see the setup of the Coralba. We're on a transit, but the display's the same. The upper left shows our current speed. Lower left is the Pilot display, telling us if we're ahead or behind our target speed. Here it shows that if we crossed the finish line right now we'd be 35 seconds behind. The main display is an odometer that shows distance right to the meter.
entry 566 - tags: leg 3
September 18, 2008 - We had lunch at the Barbour historic site today.
It's absolutely gorgeous, and the weather was perfect. It was like walking around in a postcard. To add to the fun, a Grand Touring team got married. The best man and maid of honour were also running the race, as is the "Faster Pastor" who performed the ceremony.
entry 567 - tags: leg 3
September 18, 2008 - After lunch and a wedding, I added just a touch more ride height to the back of the car.
This is an attempt to keep it from bottoming out without affecting the high-speed stability.
entry 568 - tags: leg 3
September 18, 2008 - Approaching the Corvette at a rapid pace.
We requested that our penalty points be removed because he didn't see us and held us up, but it was denied. It's unlikely to make any difference in the end, and it did provide some entertaining in-car video footage.
entry 569 - tags: leg 3
September 18, 2008 - Heading off on a stage.
I'm not actually sure which one - I think it was the really bumpy one from Leg 3. On short, fast stages, the time it takes us to get up to speed is fairly critical so I've been launching hard all week. To get an idea of what the notes are like, the first instruction is for "square right don't cut" amongst those houses, nearly a kilometer down the road. I always find out what the first instruction will be and how far it is so I can build a mental picture of the first corner. I'll do the same for any tricky parts, so Janel usually only has to give me a quick clue and I know what to expect. Or what the two dimensional drawing looked like, anyhow.
entry 572 - tags: leg 3
October 7, 2008 - Looking nicely planted.
As far as I can tell, this is the Main Point Davidsville stage, the first one of leg 3. I'm hard on the tail of the Corvette in front.
entry 620 - tags: leg 3
October 14, 2008 - Enough of the rain, let's have some sun!
Northwest Brook, I think. Ralph took some great shots, but he needs to reset the clock on his camera! It's interesting how much the suspension is compressed here. I think it's a high speed corner and the car's leaning a bit.
Photo by Ralph Saulnier.
entry 629 - tags: leg 3
October 14, 2008 - One of my favorite pictures from the event.
It's not completely in focus, but it captures the speed really well. Gooseberry Cove, driving into the sun flat out. This one's going to get turned into a poster for my wall.
Photo by Ralph Saulnier.
entry 630 - tags: leg 3