Monday, February 19, 2018

Our second TSD rally of 2018.

Following a strong result and all-around fun time in our first TSD rally together a month ago, Josée and I decided to attend the second (and last) rally of this winter, organized by the Club Auto Sport La Licorne. Things had gone quite well at our first rally, and I wanted to see if the bit of experience we had gained would help us achieve an even better result this time around.

The rally would depart from Ste-Agathe, about an hour north of Montreal. I met up with Josée at the hotel where the event would start and finish and we grabbed our route book in time to do a few average speed calculations in the margin. We were car 31 out of 37, so we were in no rush, a we would only be heading out 31 minutes after the beginning of the rally.

As soon as we turned onto the first back-road, I could see that a major difference between this event and our last one would be the number of curves… the roads in the Eastern Townships, though hilly, were often arrow straight. The roads in the Laurentians… not so much. Many corners were blind and I was driving quite cautiously. The road surface was a mix of gravel and asphalt, with many snowy and icy patches. It’s hard to know if it was even an advantage to have all-wheel-drive and a turbo in these conditions, and I was sometimes a bit jealous of the people who were driving small and light front-wheel-drive cars, of which there were several. Still, I feel that the large variations in road surface taught me a lot about the Saabaru, which is still relatively new to me.

The car again performed flawlessly, and the suspension dealt with everything that was thrown at it, even the speed bumps in Ste-Agathe at the end of the rally. Josée was patient and funny, never boring, which makes her a great co-driver. The rally was long. Like, really long. We got lost in the first half of the rally, through no fault of our own (there was a mistake in the route book) and this cost us about 20 minutes. We only found our way back on course using the GPS and a street name from one of the instructions. Then when we got to the halfway point, where there was a 30-minute break, and the gas station there was already closed. I heard someone say the closest open gas station was in Hawkesbury… this sounded really far until I checked my GPS and saw we were only 2 km away… it just goes to show how the driver does not realize where of how far he’s traveled during the event until he looks at a map. Anyway, I judged we had enough gas to finish the rally and I was not wrong.

We were having a lot of fun, but the event was more taxing than the first rally had been, because it was longer and because of the constant concentration required to deal with the icy and often bumpy roads. By the last couple of stages, we were chatting more about our shared background as West-Islanders and less about the event, and I think we were both pretty happy when we knew the finish was approaching. We finished after 3:00 am, and I just wanted to get home to my bed by this point. Luckily, I had enough sugar and caffeine in my system to stay awake on the way home.

Two people who could use a nap
Looking at the scoring, I can see that we scored much better on the first part of the event than the second part, where we took a couple of big penalties for arriving too early at checkpoints (which still baffles me, as the average speeds in the route book often seemed unachievable by someone driving conservatively on twisty roads in winter conditions). At least we made no mistakes with our calculations of what time to enter for our arrival and the end of each leg. We seem to have finished 12th out of 37 cars, which is good enough for me. I still need to catch up on the sleep I lost though. It seems I have most of a year to recover before the next winter TSD, so I should be OK.

From rally car back to the school/daycare run
Someone actually recorded the route of the rally... we covered a lot of ground.