Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sno*Drift 2007

After worrying that there wouldn't be any snow for Sno*Drift, Mother Nature accomodated the rally community nicely. Except that there was never enough cushion in the ditches, it was absolutely perfect weather for this Winter Classic. Single digit temps when we arrived Thursday night, and on-and-off snow all weekend.

This, of course, made tire choice a nightmare.....do we go on Nokian RSI's which will stick (sorta) on ice, or a more open tread which will shed snow. There seemed to be no right choice. Most stages had both conditions, so you picked on tire and tip-toed through the stage when conditions weren't right....or slid off! The RSI's were the "curve of best fit for us and when we could stay in the icy groove worked excellently. Staying out of the soft stuff was the challenge of the weekend.

Justin was cautious and on a steep learning curve. We went out on the shakedown stage and ran the first miles on the car early Friday morning. There's a vast difference between how Matthew (my '06 driver) learns to do things and how Justin (my '07 driver) learns. Matthew is all trial and error....Justin is calculating and making minor adjustments. Matthew is "over-commit and recover", Justin is "drive within the limits and stretch the limits." An awful lot of the rally "Swedish flick" technique wasn't working here....too icy. you might get the car rotated before the turn, but then you'd sale through the turn into the outside bank. So the "slow is fast" method seemed to save a lot of body damage. It also didn't look very spectacular, but no one's going to apologize to the spectators.

Attrition was at a minimum, too. We were running back about 17th on the road and hardly saw anyone off. Borowicz had a big wreck in his "For Sale" open car (there was always a bad feeling when a race car showed up at a track with "for sale" written on it!), and a few slipped off and got back on, but all-in-all it should leave the entry field pretty much in tact for 100 Acre Wood.

Pat Moro was flat kickin' ass from the start in PGT...several top ten stage times. I suspect his setup worked well for the strange conditions, and Mike Rossey was his usual spot on with the notes. An 8-9 minute off relegated them back to fourth. Too bad, it was going to be a great run. Matthew was having the same difficulties we were...slipping off and understeering. his issues were later resolved as his crew discovered more toe-out than needed. He then got in the groove and gave the crowds the bank thumping excitement they were looking for.

The PGT drive of the day goes to the father-son team of Travis and Terry Hanson. Travis spent some time at Team O'Neill and it showed. They were consistenly fast and right at the edge (as evidenced by several small offs) all weekend. Maybe if they find some HID lights they can be even faster after dark!

But I'm here mostly to talk about Justin. He showed up with ZERO miles on this car. ZERO miles in AWD, and just a couple of snow rallies on his VW Golf and Austin Mini. It was like going to driver's school. We made three passes of the three-mile shakedown stage and that was it. Started the rally. It was interesting watching him get used to 3 turns lock-to-lock! This Formula driver is more used to 30 degrees lock-to-lock! So there was a lot of exaggerated steering efforts for awhile. Then a lot of over-correcting. He was actually laughing while sliding around some of the corners. But by Saturday, that was all under control. We actually took the sixth fastest time on one stage.

So. Put a great driver in an average car and give him 100 miles to learn about it and bingo! You've got a third place podium finish. An added plus is the minimal damage compared to our fellow PGT racers!

What did we learn? That we'll have Yokohamas next year. That we're still sorting out car setup and it will be totally different for 100AW. That the VSS signal feeding the Terratrip is random at best and we actually don't need an odometer! That REAL cold PGT cars running on 100+ octane fuel don't start when it's 0 degrees fahrenheit. That the food at the Lewsiton Lodge is still terrific! That Justin will be in the hunt and will be giving PGT regulars fits all year!

Friday, January 5, 2007

GREAT video from Targa Newfoundland

I've just GOT to do this one of these years.....hey Justin!!!!!! Don't EVER sell the mini!

Read the neat Hemmings article....

or take a ride!