2016 Rallye Défi - Peter & Ferd Subaru WRX

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2016 Rallye Défi - Peter & Ferd Subaru WRX

Postby -Ferdinand- » 2016.09.24 06:43:35 PM

EC 1 - Lac des Pages Nord

Our rally didn't go quite as planned, coming to a premature end. Nonetheless it was still fun and we made some significant progress.

This first stage was already an adventure. While waiting for our start we had a few funny moments trying to diagnose an intercom problem.

At our previous event, the 2016 Lanark Highlands Forest Rally, I made quite a mess of struggling with our notes, reading either too far ahead, or too far behind. I was determined to do a better job of it this time...

Well, that lasted for all of six instructions before I got lost! :confused:

It starts with an obvious "Kink.R into L4sh into R4 keep out", each of which we can already see even before leaving the start line.

Then it's "20 up, Kink.R/Cr into L4/Cr", so far so good.

Then "into L4sh and R5", and that's where I tripped up, because there was no "Left4short". It instead goes immediately into the Right5.

Huh? I hesitated for a brief moment there, causing me to be late reading the next instruction, "30/R.Cr down into L3". I was still trying to spit out the Right.Cr just as we were going over it into the Left3.

Then Peter, realizing the notes I was reading to him didn't match up to what he was seeing, says, "You're early!"

How can that be? I've only read six instructions so far. Did I skip a whole line? How can I be early? So I repeated the previous instruction, by which time I'm really waaaaay late, right as Peter says, "You're waaay early!"

Things kinda went into the toilet for a while after that...

We should have caught that error during recce, but the funny thing was, during our second pass of recce Peter asked me to insert "Kink.R/Cr" just before the "L4/Cr", and as I was busy scribbling that into the notes we didn't notice that there were two L4 noted "L4/Cr into L4sh", when in reality there's only one. Little things like that can really make a difference.

Anyway I managed to recover my spot in the notes fairly quickly. No harm done, other than to my confidence. I didn't know at the time how I'd managed to screw that up so badly.

I made a few more minor slips after that, until 12:45 in the video where I got tripped up badly again by a small miscommunication. This time I actually was reading way too far ahead in the notes. And again, it looks like it was caused by something we changed in the notes during our second pass of recce.

We come to this "Kink.R into L.Cr". The road kinks to the Right, then we should Keep Left over this Crest. Okay, that's clear enough.


It's always scary approaching a blind crest without seeing what follows after it. So I read out the following instruction, which is "Kink.R/Cr". But as I'm reading that, it occurs to me that's confusing as it sounds a lot like the "Kink.R into L.Cr" which we're still looking at. So I modified the next instruction slightly, reading it out as "Kink.Right over the Next Crest".

And that's where things started to wrong. I think Peter thought I was referring to this crest, while I meant "Next" to be not this one, but the following crest. This one is still the "Kink.R into L.Cr".


Here's the "next" Crest, way at the end of this straight. On our first pass of recce we had this marked as a 30 straight, followed by that Kink.Right over Crest, "30 Kink.R/Cr". But on our second pass of recce, for some reason we removed the "30".

So have we already done the Kink.R/Cr, or not? To be safe, I read out the following instruction which is "Kink.L 30 R5", just as Peter shouts "What's at the end?"

From here it sure looks like a distance of "30" after which the roads bends to the right, so maybe that's already the "30 R5".

But it's not...


Things get a little embarrassing from there on, until I eventually do stumble onto the correct note again, at which point Peter remarks, "Forgive me if I'm not believing you." :roll:

Unsurprisingly, our stage time of "11:00" minutes flat was only good enough for 18th out of the 19 National entries still running. But, considering how much of this stage Peter was driving blind, with me fumbling the notes, that wasn't actually a bad time at all.

Here's the video, warts and all.


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Re: 2016 Rallye Défi - Peter & Ferd Subaru WRX

Postby -Ferdinand- » 2016.09.24 09:06:45 PM

EC 2 - Lac des Pages South

I was still feeling sorry for myself for having screwed up the first stage. So, just to make me feel better and lighten the mood somewhat, Peter demonstrated the awesome takeoff potential of his car's launch control system when one forgets to first put the car in gear. That was pretty funny. :lol:

Other than that silliness on the start line, this was actually an excellent stage for us!

At 4:00 into the video, we nearly ran over a porcupine.

We had a small scare at 8:10 into a Left3 that probably should have been noted tighter as a 2. And again at 8:20 coming into a R4 > 3 (Right 4 tightens 3). That should be noted as tightens to 2. No worries. Peter had it under control.

It gets a little busy right at the end, but overall we were stoked at how well this stage went for us.

If I'm confident in reading the notes, then Peter is confident in attacking the road. I must say, I was impressed at how well he drove this stage. In our previous events up until this point, he has been just a little bit tentative about pushing the car to its limits. It really is a wickedly potent car, and I had the sense that Peter wasn't quite certain what it was going to do if pushed too hard. But this time out, he was driving with authority, letting it drift sideways where ever needed, wringing its neck and powering through corners with hard throttle. That was exciting!

It's interesting to note that the stage is significantly slower in this return direction. All of the top teams were between 10-20 seconds slower in this direction. In comparison, despite the muffed start, we were only 2.5 seconds slower. That's mostly because we were simply not up to pace on the first stage. We really should have been much quicker, if not for me getting lost in the notes. But this stage was a much better indication of our actual potential.

Sadly, we were still only 18th out of the 19 cars again on this stage. But we're feeling good about our progress. There's a lot more still to come.


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Re: 2016 Rallye Défi - Peter & Ferd Subaru WRX

Postby -Ferdinand- » 2016.09.25 08:24:19 PM

EC 3 - St.Émile-1

This was a new stage added this year. Here's a map: https://goo.gl/maps/TELfRT6WAqN2

There is a lot of MCO history on this stretch of road. This road was used in the 2003 Chénéville Rallye Sprint in which MCO's Craig Seko and Jim Morrow competed using Craig's Porsche 944.

Christoph and I were there to spectate. I posted photos and video of each car at this link: http://www.icerace.net/Cheneville/

This road was also frequently used in the overnight winter drivex Criterium rally. Roughly half way along its length at its northernmost point, there is a sharp hairpin. Greg's hairpin. That's where Greg van Dalen and his dad Rene slid off the road in their Audi during the 2007 Criterium rally.


During recce with Peter, I pointed out this hairpin turn as the spot I'd choose to spectate from, if we weren't competing. Sure enough, on this first pass at speed during the rally, we found a tour bus with a bunch of spectators there as this was one of the rally's VIP locations. We weren't all that pleased though at how close to the edge of the road some of them had chosen to stand!


On recce day it was raining pretty heavily and this road's surface was covered in an inch of extremely slippery mud, like grease. There are so many sharp corners hidden over blind crests, it makes this road quite intimidating.

Fortunately by race day it had all pretty much dried out and the grip levels had improved a lot. The bigger issue for us was heading directly into the setting sun. We were totally blind in some spots.

Greg's hairpin comes at 5:30 in our video. Note the crazy spectators.

This is only Peter's third rally driving this car. His first ever event was on the ice and snow of Rallye Perce Neige back in February. Then our first event on gravel was the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally in May. The LHFR roads are very tight and technical, with no room whatsoever for experimenting. Way too many trees closely lining the edges of those narrow roads.

Peter had suggested arranging a day of testing somewhere, as a chance to get familiar with drifting this car. That's a really excellent idea, because he needs a chance to experiment and play with the car somewhere in a safe setting in order to get a full understanding of how it responds when pushed to, and beyond, its limits. Unfortunately we never got around to doing that.

But the St.Émile stage was ideal for this purpose! It's nice and wide, with good predictable grip levels, and there are lots of slow 90° degree corners with plenty of runoff room where it's safe to pitch the car sideways into corners.

Before the start of the rally, Terry Epp gave his usual safety sermon, advising everyone to set a realistic goal for themselves and stick to it. Don't go crazy. Our goal was to get as much stage mileage under our belts as possible, while learning how to exploit the potential of this amazing car.

At Greg's hairpin at 5:30 in the video, we had a nice drift going for the crazy spectators to snap photos of. From there on, on each subsequent corner, watch Peter's hands on the steering wheel. He's sawing back and forth, trying to get a good pendulum swing going heading into each corner. At 6:30 he timed it perfectly to pitch the car over a "small.Crest into R3".

"Nice!" I said.

Note: It wasn't particular fast, or even all that smooth. There's loads more unused space we could have used to enter the corner faster and run wider on the exit. But that's not the point at all. We need to gain experience and confidence in tossing this car around. This was a perfectly safe way of accomplishing that.

Once you're certain of how the car handles, and only once you're comfortable throwing it around like this, only then should you risk hurling it into corners at top speed, forcing use of the full width of the road on exit. Even at that, the real speed comes in smoothing corners to the bare minimum of drifting, carving through cleanly instead. But you'll never reach that point unless you're absolutely confident that you're always fully in control of the car at speed.

We're not setting a target of beating Antoine l'Éstage in only our 3rd rally. That's an utterly unrealistic goal. We're still just learning. But on this particular stage, we both came to the realization that the light bulb has definitely switched on. Peter has figured out how to make this car dance on demand! That was hugely satisfying, and confidence-inspiring. :drivin:

And then we come around the next corner, at 6:50, to discover Antoine is out with some terminal mechanical problem. Hate to see that so early in the rally.


There are some big names already out. Sylvain Erickson broke on the first stage, Maxime Labrie, Maxime Losier, Antoine out on this 3rd stage, Sebastian Besner out too with a blown motor.

We're pumped up at how well this stage went. Now we just transit around back to the start for a second opportunity to run this same stage. This will be good.

Ya baby, we're cooking now! :rally:


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Re: 2016 Rallye Défi - Peter & Ferd Subaru WRX

Postby -Ferdinand- » 2016.09.26 05:21:09 PM

EC 4 - St.Émile-2

Brimming with optimism, we're on the transit back to the start of the St.Émile stage for a second pass.

Originally the route had us taking a Tee-Right onto the highway to backtrack to the town of Chénéville, where there was supposed to be an optional refuelling point located downtown in front of the fire station. But during the pre-rally drivers' meeting we were told the plan had changed and the refuelling location was moved closer to the start of the St.Émile stage.

Rather than Tee-Right on the highway, we could now trim nearly 30 minutes off the transit route by going Tee-Left onto the highway instead. But that meant we now had 30 minutes extra to idle waiting for the start of the next stage.

That worked into our favour as, during the wait, we noticed that our car is leaking coolant. Except it's not exactly "leaking". There's no evidence of coolant escaping from any of the hoses, all the clamps are tight and dry, the radiator looks fine too. Coolant seems to be pumping out of the vent of the overflow bottle. The bottle itself is full to the top.

We had lots of time, so we shut the engine off to allow it to cool. As it cooled, the coolant level in the overflow bottle went back down to normal. So that looked good.

But when we restarted the engine, moments later it started pumping out coolant again, and this time the temperature gauge climbed right up into the red zone. We tried turning the cabin heat to full hot with the blower fan on high in an effort to dump some heat from the engine. But the fan is blowing only cold air. Oh-oh. That's not good. That means there's no hot coolant water flowing to the heater core.

We opened the rad cap and, sure enough, now it's low on coolant. So we ran around borrowing from others as many drinking water bottles we could find in order to refill our coolant system. But the temp gauge still climbed into the red every time we started the engine, and it would start burping coolant out the overflow again.

We only need to get through this stage, then it's a relatively easy transit back to our first Service break. Hopefully Warren and Jeremy can fix the issue for us there...

So when it was time for us to roll up to the start line, we shut the engine off again to let it cool as much as possible while waiting for the start lights to begin their countdown.

When the 15-sec light came on, Peter turned the ignition key and discovered the engine wouldn't crank over. It's dead. "Son char est mort." That's kinda not a good thing, eh.

So I pop my belts loose, unplug my intercom cable, I'm climbing out, intending to push the car out of the way so we're not blocking the start for everyone else still waiting behind us, and as I'm halfway out the door Peter suddenly manages to start the engine!

Right. So mad scramble to get back in and all belted up before we can go. Meanwhile the engine is idling itself into overheating mode again.

We only made it around the first corner before deciding this is stupid, we need to pull over and stop before we do irreparable damage to the engine.

We set our warning triangle out and got on the phone with Warren and Jeremy to see if there's anything we can do from here. We suspect it's a blown head gasket. There's no coolant showing on the oil dipstick, so that's good news at least. But combustion gases are blowing into the cooling system, which is why the coolant is pumping out of the overflow vent.

We're done.

Élise Racette, from Car-99, collects our timecard. Then Sweep's Bob Boland and Justin Cohen hook us up with a tow strap and, bless their souls, they pull us all the way back to the Service Park.

If we can repair it overnight, we would be able to restart on the second day of this long event.

Back at Service there was some frantic phoning around, with no luck, to see if a replacement engine could be sourced from somewhere conveniently close by. Otherwise a major engine tear down would be required to install a new headgasket. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of enthusiasm for either plan.

So we threw in the towel. The car's going back on the trailer. There is a couple of month's time between now and Tall Pines to fix it properly.



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Re: 2016 Rallye Défi - Peter & Ferd Subaru WRX

Postby -Ferdinand- » 2016.09.26 06:12:56 PM

As disappointing as it was to be forced out so early in the rally, it did mean we were free to spectate on the second day.

The in-town stage in Montpellier always draws a huge crowd of spectators. There's always an interesting show at the main spectator point where the cars come whistling downhill on a long tarmac straight then have to turn square left at a difficult to see (from the car) junction. Lots of teams overshoot this corner. Hence the draw for spectators.

But I was more interested in watching downstream to see how other teams handle the tricky blind left over crest just before the finish line of the Montpellier town stage. In previous years' running this stage with Martin Walter, I've tried to encourage him to cut the corner, cutting tight past the stop sign there. It's the only landmark that you can clearly see as you approach the blind crest.

But during recce, which is done at a much slower legal speed, you can see that there is a DEEP ditch right beside that stop sign. You really do need to leave a healthy margin of a couple of metres space between your car and the stop sign, or risk falling into that deep ditch.

Here's how the winners of the 2016 Rallye Défi handled that!


And here's how everyone in the rest of the field did it on their first and second pass of the Montpellier stage.


And this is as close as we dared to cut it, the last time I ran this stage with Martin in 2014. See starting at 3:30.

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