Friday, February 19, 2010

Border Raid

Still on a high from Black River Stages and having missed Rally West Virginia due to the event being cancelled I needed another gravel fix before the end of the year. It didn't take much to convince Ben Slocum to apply for a passport and join us on the road trip to Rally of the Tall Pines in Canada.

Tall Pines is one of those classic rallies. Held at the end of November north east of Toronto the weather is anything but predicable. We packed all the tyres we could get hold of, 22 in total from snow and ice to gravel and 15 BRAID wheels. Tall Pines is a long 1 day rally with the day prior spent on 2 pass recce. Paul from Team Illuminata Motorsport was on hand in service along with Corey. TIM provided the 4x4 recce vehicle which came in handy because there had been so much rain during the week the stages were muddy and washed out, more suited to off-road vehicles than rally cars.
We had very little car prep to do following BRS and with new tyres we attacked on the first stage. Perhaps we pushed a little too hard because on SS3 we overshot a L2 going off the road. Coming in far too fast I locked the wheels up on the slippery bridge causing us to lose over 9 minutes. Thanks go to the US crew of Andrew Frick and Ryan Scott for towing us out.

Some of the stages were seriously rough, Peanut and Avery Lake being two of the more notable. This turned the event into a rally of attrition and with nothing to loose Ben and I really pushed the car occassionally posting top ten stage times. Not bad for our first time at a Canadian national event.

With the stages becoming more and more chewed up with each pass we slashed two tyres, thankfully making it into service before then needed changed. We also discovered a snapped spring on the front right strut. The car was taking an incredible amount of abuse. Without a replacement we double ziptied the spring together and pressed on to complete the last 4 stages of the event.

The stages were incredible. Rough, bumpy and fast. Often so fast we re-wrote the crests on the notes as jumps. On more than one occassion we flew higher and further than we felt comfortable about! Having said that I loved the tight, twisty, rocky sections and was amazed that the Alba Rallysport prepared WRX withstood what we threw at it.

Despite an issue on the final stage that left many competitors with the same time we made it and through shear perseverance took 1st in PGT and 15th overall. The roads are tough and the competition is fierce in Canada and because of that we'll be back.

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