MCO Open Road Rally #5 – August 18, 2010

The final rally of the 2010 MCO Open Road series would decide the championship in Expert class. After having completed the Infinite Monkeys ORRC rally only four days earlier, Gary and I were well prepared for this one. Going into the event, we were twenty points behind our closest rivals for first place, with the potential to move ahead of them with a good finish – although they would have to make a serious mistake as well. As we all gathered in Carp for registration, it was a beautiful clear evening, but cooling off quickly. There were a number of new teams – for a total of thirteen entries – plus special guests in the person of two handicapped veterans of the Canadian forces in Afganistan, who would be competing in Targa Newfoundland later this year. They were practising for Targa while raising money for Soldier On, a fund designed to help wounded veterans develop new activities in spite of their handicaps.

We were given Car Number One status, so we left the Cheshire Cat pub at 8:01, headed east towards the odometer check. The instructions in Section 1 were very simple distance to turns and we completed the odometer recalibration and the remainder of the section without incident. The instructions for Section 2 were simple tulip diagrams in the proper sequence, with numerous changes in average speed. Shortly after beginning the section, we were hustling along the Old Almonte Rpoad at 66 km/h when we passed through a left hand bend, followed by a right-hander, only to find the first checkpoint right around the corner. Fortunately we were just above the desired average speed and I had no trouble slowing to exactly 66 km/h when we passed the control. So we zeroed the first checkpoint and felt good about our start. The rest of the section went fairly quickly, although we had to be careful to change speeds accurately and time our departure from known intersections. Some of the tulips did not have distances marked in the instructions, so we had to pay attention to the configuration of those intersections when we approached them.

The next section had a combination of distances, turning instructions and average speeds that Gary had to correlate on the fly so we would stay on time. But once again, this was a familiar format on familiar roads, so we had no trouble staying on course. Two of the intersections involved long curves in the main road from which a secondary road would go straight ahead at the beginning of the curve. But we knew that “Straight Ahead” meant just that, rather than meaning “stay on the road you’re on”. So we had no trouble there; although I suspect some of the newer teams weren’t as successful.

The next section used incremental distances, so each time there was an instruction, I had to reset the incremental odometer reading, even if the instruction was “straight ahead”. In one portion of this section, Gary told me that our average speed should be 61 km/h and I was maintain that very well until he said, as a reminder, that our speed should be 67! I double-checked and sure enough, he had been looking at the cumulative odometer instead of the incremental and had given me the wrong speed. So I accelerated sharply to try to make up some time, but we arrived at Glen’s checkpoint before I could get even close to 67. I asked for a Time Allowance of 1.5 minutes, which turned out to be way too much. We were 1.3 minutes early, whereas a TA of 0.5 minutes would have put us 0.3 early. As it turned out, this mistake did not cost us a victory, but it did put us in third place behind our main rivals. So it might have cost us the championship.

As we began the last section, we were on Diamondview Road, paralleling Highway 417. I said to Gary that I’d bet there would be a checkpoint as we approached the stop sign at McGee side road, since Robert (the rallymaster), seems to favour that particular spot. Sure enough, when we rounded the last bend before the intersection, there was Evan at the side of the road waiting for us. The last portion of the section was simple distance to turn instructions and when we got to the corner of William Mooney and Cavanmore, the instruction said to turn left. But the intersection was so dark that I couldn’t see a road on the left. So I turned right and we quickly realized that it was not the correct way. So we turned around and found the very dark correct portion of Cavanmore, and proceeded to the end of rally at the Cheshire Cat.

When we checked in, Robert pointed out that we’d missed a checkpoint! But in the ensuing discussion it became obvious that the checkpoint worker had not been there when we passed. As other teams eventually checked in, we learned that he’d gone to the wrong place initially, realized his mistake too late and gone to the designated place. But two cars including ours had already passed his intended location. So Robert had to ignore all the results for that checkpoint and just calculate the end of rally expected times from other data.

We finished third with 1.7 points, while the winners had only 0.2 and the second place Experts had 1.1. If we hadn’t made the mistake with the TA, we would have had 0.7 and would have finished second. Can’t change it now, so we have to live with second place in the championship. We had a good season, finishing with only 13.2 points for the whole season, while the champions had 12.9. Now that’s close!

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