Discover Ontario ORRC Rally No. 5 – 5 June 2010

This rally would start in Woodstock, ON and finish in Brantford – with about a half hour’s drive separating the two locations. And Gary had to return to Ottawa the same night, for his daughter’s graduation the next morning. So we decided to travel to south western Ontario the night before, to spread the commute over two days. After about a 5 hour drive, we arrived at the Motel 6 Mississauga Friday night and tucked in early. Saturday morning, we had a hearty breakfast at the Sunset Grill (a Don Henley song!), and took a side trip to Legendary Motor Cars in Milton – the home of Dream Car Garage. We had a great tour of the facility, admiring all of the Cobras, Mustangs, Corvettes, muscle cars and antiques, including a beautiful 1957 Mercedes 300SL convertible. We met the owner – Peter Klutt – and talked about the Cobras and driving at Calabogie. Maybe we’ll get him up there one of these days.

A little before 11 AM we set out for Brantford, to drop off the truck and trailer before continuing to the rally start point in Woodstock. The weather looked very promising in spite of the rather gloomy forecast of intermittent showers; and it turned out to be a beautiful sunny afternoon throughout. At the truck stop in Woodstock, we gassed up and reacquainted ourselves with old friends from rallies past, before attending the drivers’ meeting and preparing to depart at 1:36 PM.

As we began the first Section, I noticed our friends in the Triumph had turned right out of the truck stop, only to reverse their direction and drive off to the left. So we read the first few lines of the instructions and realized that the very first instruction was incorrect! The second instruction had us passing a Highway 401 on ramp, followed by a turn onto the next on ramp – which could only be achieved if we turned left. What an auspicious beginning! The distance to the odometer check was very long – at 25 kms – so Gary had lots of time to work ahead on interpreting the instructions in Sections 2 and 3. This would serve us well throughout the rally, as he always had free time to keep working ahead.

Shortly into Section 2 we came across the first checkpoint and believed that we must have zeroed it, since our timing and average speeds were spot on. But when I looked at the distance and elapsed time on the sticker, it appeared that we were a little over a minute late. This puzzled me for the balance of the rally, as I couldn’t imagine how that could have happened.  As it turned out, the scoring contained an error, which resulted in all teams being penalized at that checkpoint, to varying degrees. I think they should have eliminated all the penalties in the final scoring, but I suspect it wouldn’t have changed the rankings for anyone – certainly not for us.

I am a little fuzzy on the details of which instruction set applied to each of the remaining Sections. However, there was quite a variety, including: simple distance to turns, straightforward tulip diagrams, a line map and accompanying table of speed changes, instructions using a clock face (in by the hour hand, out by the minute hand), a five column table covering Left, Right, Straight, Stop and Average Speed, and a unique set of tulips using a legend of different standard configurations combined with a key identifying the “In” and “Exit” road numbers. The Expert and Intermediate instructions were even more complicated, requiring the use of protractors, rulers and other special techniques. All of these teams struggled to stay on route and on time, using their maximum allotment of Time Allowances. There a lot of changes to average speed, so it was more important than ever to stay close to, but just above, the target speed. I was careful to keep some speed in the bank, so to speak, since you lose about 3 km/h on an average of 72 km/h just by stopping and making a turn.

Before we reached the halfway point, the car started to misbehave when we left a checkpoint. It would stumble and hesitate under full acceleration, and the condition worsened the farther we went. This had happened to a very small degree at our previous event, but had cleared itself shortly. On this day, it just kept getting worse, to the point that I could accelerate only at half throttle or less. There were many long stretches where the target average speed was 72 km/h and it took well over a kilometre to reach that speed. Fortunately, we were able to do so most of the time, in spite of the sluggish performance, and we were able to compensate in subsequent sections by exceeding the target speeds and calculating estimated times of arrival. At one checkpoint I asked for three extra minutes in our out time, so I could try to find the source of the problem. I discovered that the throttle cable had jumped out of its guide, resulting in random amounts of throttle being applied when the pedal was depressed. I fixed this and the car ran better for a while, but the problem returned and the cable wasn’t the problem. By the time we finished the rally in Brantford, the engine was stalling at every stop light and in the heavy traffic we encountered while driving past the town fair parking area. I need to perform some tests of the fuel injectors, throttle position sensor and maybe other things to find the cause and repair this problem.

Despite the car troubles, we felt that we had done extremely well, since were able to track our progress at each checkpoint. We only took one Time Allowance – for 2.5 minutes – as a result of missing a turn in the map section; and it was very close to the amount of delay that we’d incurred. We finished with a total score of 2.3 penalty points, including 1.1 for the error in the first checkpoint scoring. That turned out to be the lowest score of all classes in the rally and, of course, lowest in Novice. So we earned our first ORRC (or MCO) victory and got the big trophy for this event, which has been awarded since 1983. We received congratulations from many of our friends and saw several of them along the highway on the way home, honking and waving every time. Tired but happy, we got back to my house around midnight, still pumped from our successful day. We now have about ten weeks until the next event, which should be more than enough to repair the engine problem and the leaking fuel filler and even do some body work. I believe we’re still in second place in the provincial standings and it will be a close race with our friends in the Triumph right through until year-end.

Videos are available at

Photographs from Legendary Motor Cars are filed at

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