Leg 2 Exploits Sept 11th
After crawling out of bed (with only 4 hours sleep for me) we proceeded to the arena. Our scoring inquiry had been confirmed so the 55 second penalty we had been assessed with will be removed. That would leave us with a 7 second penalty, good for second place so far. And upon examining that, it looks like there is another error that affects not only ourselves but about 10 other touring cars. If that one is upheld, it would reduce us to 0 penalty points and reduce the penalties of other Touring Teams as well.
Bit of an overcast day with showers threatening but they never materialized. Ran with dry conditions most of the day. Today the margin for error was target time +/- 20 seconds
Stage 2-1 Glenwood 3.41 km 55 kph
Roads are a bit damp so we run at Condition 2 with speed reduced from 60 to 55kph. I drove this stage as Glenwood is tight and twisty with narrow roads and pavement fair to poor. At this point, Alan doesn't really have the familairity with the car for this kind of stage. About 19 major turns in the 3.4 km run. 55 may not sound fast but these are not the roads in a modern subdivision. We are up a down a bit on our time as we run the stage but we ace the finish right on our target time. If condition 1 had applied with the speed at the full 60, this would have been a much more challenging stage.
Trucking through Glenwood
I'd like to mention Car 1029 a 63 Volvo PV544 with Bob Melville and Ron Bujold. These two guys were quite the characters and a lot of fun. The car was a wolf in sheeps clothing as well. The original PV544 had a 1.6 litre engine but this one had a detroit V-8 dropped into it with the rear end from a Chevy S-10. You'd never say it looking at it from outside.
Stage 2-2 Lewisporte 4.88 km 58 kph
Lewisporte is another town stage and quite busy. 22 major turns over the 4.9 km, not quite as wild as Glenwood but still a stage where maneuverability matters. Definitely a strong point of the Mazda. Alan takes the wheel for this one, his first true test on a tight stage. Everything went well with one minor glitch. Somehow at the end I got a touch mixed up in where we were in the instructions and the Flying Finish seemed farther than I (momentarily) anticipated. Thought we might have been late but we actually aced our second stage of the day. Oddly enough, we talked to another team, and their navigator had made the exact same error in the exact same place... By this time we had worked out a good system for hitting our target times. When we'd get near the finish, I'd call out what our target in seconds would be and then give a count from the stopwatch. Ie 'Target time 24. 19 20, 21, 22 etc.' Alan would finesse his speed to cross the line as close to target as he could. The system would work well for us for the rest of TN07.
Stage 2-3 Point Leamington 30.50 km 66-91-67.1 kph
This is one of the longest stages of Targa and most of it is the most leisurely cruise you will have during the event. Alan is behind the wheel and it starts with a lively 5.4 km run through the streets of Point Leamington at 66 kph. From there we turn onto the main road for a 23.5 km cruise at 91 kph down to Leading Tickles. We actually used cruise control....
Not a sight you would expect to see while driving a competitive stage...
In the last 1.5 km we slow to 67.1 and proceed thouh a few rapid turns before crossimg the finish. 1 second off of target time.
Run through Leading Tickles
An immaculate 65 Porshe 356 Speedster
Lunch break was in Leading Tickles and overall this was defintely the best lunch stop/Meet and Greet of the entire TN07. Nice locale, good food, lots of friendly people, all the Targa cars lined off in rows in a grassy field.... Fanatastic scenery as well.
Lunch in Leading Tickles
Stage 2-4 Leading Tickles 25.74 km 67.1-93.5 kph
After lunch, we head out of Leading Tickles back towards Point Leamington. This is the reverse of the morning stage but with the twisty bit through Point Leamington eliminated. After a quick run through Leading Ticklesat 67.1, we settle in for another cruise, this time at 93.5 kph. By this time, I think we're becoming a bit of a time guage for some of the other Touring competitors. The cars are supposed to be at 30 second intervals and, barring mishaps, you would never see another competitor. However, as we're cruising along, we start to catch up to Bob Grainger and Jean Wright, car 1005, a 68 MG C. They see us coming and must think 'Oops, if they're catching up to us we must be behind time...' So they drop the hammer a bit and pull away. A little bit later, car 1024 the Mazdaspeed 3 Nika Rolczewski/Sandra Lemaitre (the Racerchicks) catches up to us. 'Oops, if we've caught up to them, we must be ahead of time...' and they slow and drop back.
Alan and I
The left turn into Point Leamington was a touch wild as we had gotten a bit distracted and I was a second or so late initiating our turn. And at 93k, starting a turn a second late can be interesting... Past the flying finish with just 2 seconds of off target (remember, today we were allowed to be 20 off). On to Botwood for another 'Meet and Greet'. These 'Meet and Greets (Parc Expose) are supposed to be a stop for 10 minutes and then you continue on with the transit. However its easy to get distracted and we must have spent 30 minutes here. Enroute to the next stage in Appleton we realize we're running dangerously late on the transit. We're only allowed 5 minutes. I'm driving and I start to boot it. Not enough to get us in trouble but definitely pushing the envelope.... (BTW, there were two unmarked RCMP cars traveling with Targa. We saw a LOT of (non-targa) vehicles hauled over by these two during the week.) We make it into Appleton with 30 seconds to spare, switch places, pull on out helmets and go. Shortest time we ever spent in a start line and a lesson learned....
Stage 2-5 Appleton 2.62 km 64 kph
Appleton is a short stage on narrow roads with a few turns to make things interesting. Speed is pretty quick but a good bit of fun. 2 seconds off of target time.
Stage 2-6 Gander 6.29 km 60 kph
Gander is the 'Big Daddy' of the tight, busy stages. This year, it was 41 90 degree turns over 6.17 km at 60 kph. This stage was MINE. (been living in Gander for the last 15 years..) I knew the route, knew the car, and knew how to handle it. If Alan had wanted to drive it he was going to have to pry the wheel from my cold dead fingers. Cranked the Mazda up to 80+ prior to the first turn and let her rip though the course. I have not heard so much screaming of tires from the car in the 3 years I have had it.... Got the back end sliding out on many curves (which is a GOOD thing for hard cornering) and Alan insists I actually had a bit of 4 wheel 'Drifting' happening in a few places. I felt totally in control at all times. Ran much of the stage in second gear for the punch when nailing the gas and the engine braking when backing off. The Mazda 3 pulls very well in second and revs to 6500 quite happily (actually puts out its max horsepower at 6500 rpm). I had been cautioned by another competitor who has run the Gander stage for the past 4+ years (in touring class) that a lot of brake fade could be expected by the end of the stage as the brakes would get REAL hot. However, I didn't use my brakes all that much .. I noticed at one point that I went thorugh a 90' left, followed by a 90' right into another 90' left (in a distance of @ 500 feet) and never touched the brake pedal once.... Fade was NOT an issue. Most of the stage I was running ahead of time., I'd slow down a bit, get back on target time and then wind up ahead again a bit later. Alan was a little late giving me a time check as we rounded the last turn to the finish and I hesitated thinking I was probably ahead and would need to scrub off a second or two. Got the call, on schedule but now going (relatively) slow. Punched it but too late...Overall for the stage, we finished two seconds behind target time. Still well within the 20 allowed and I was quite pleased with that. While I know the Targa class cars with their higher speeds can be more dramatic, I feel we put on a good show for the residents with the Mazda3 (Look! See what you can do with the family Mazda! Zoom-Zoom!!).
Approaching the last turn. Notice Alan hanging on to the 'Jesus bar'
Batman and Robin again...
In the arena for the night. All dressed up and nowhere to go...
A GREAT day. No penalties on any stage and on every one, we were within 2 seconds or less of target time. Seeing as how our 'target window' will only be +/- 3 seconds by the last day, this bodes well. The adjustment to our score re the inquiry hasn't been reflected in the posted results yet so we are showing as being in fifth place. With the adjustment, we will be in second. There is another inquiry that has gone in that affects several competitors. If that is upheld, we might be in a three way tie for first with 0 penalty points.