MCO Open Road Rally #4 – 23 Mar 2011

The fourth rally in the 2011 MCO Open Road series was held Wednesday evening and started at the Tim Horton’s in Stittsville. Gary and I met at the Cheshire Cat, where the rally would end, so he could leave his van there. When we got to Timmie’s a couple of kilometres away, there was a small group of rallyists and the usual assortment of volunteers to man the checkpoints. We were the third team to register, so we were designated Car No. 3 and we would depart at 8:03 PM.

The first section was simple distance to turns up to the odometer check, followed by a single average speed for another 10 km or so to the end of section. We had no trouble with this part and had some time in hand before beginning the second section, allowing Gary the luxury of working ahead on calculations while parked by the side of the road.

Section 2 was a series of distance to turn instructions which were completely out of sequence. So Gary had to be careful not to miss one, thereby causing us to stray off course. This section also covered the most challenging road of the rally – the Old Perth Road. Glen had told us at the drivers’ meeting that when he greened the rally the day before, the condition of the roads had been awful, with a mixture of mud and slush that was very tricky at speed. However, when we drove it the ground was essentially dry and somewhat frozen, so the traction was quite good. The speed on this road was 65 km/h and it was challenging to maintain. But with excellent visibility from having corrected the aim of the driving lights, it was reasonably comfortable negotiating the numerous hills, crests and hidden turns. The potholes and dips were another matter though, as some sections were extremely rough, including one large dip that caused both of us to graze the ceiling.

The next section included another dirt road and a few paved transit sections and the instructions were simple tulip diagrams with numerous speed changes. Now it had become a leisurely drive in the country on a clear night and was quite enjoyable. The fourth section had a table of mixed up directions which had to be sorted and put in order, but the roads were pretty good and the transits were long, so we had no trouble staying on route or on schedule. The last section had a new twist in its instructions – the distances started at 14.7 km and ended at zero! So I reset the odometer to 14.7 km at the beginning of section and adjusted it to run backwards, so it counted down to zero as we approached the finish. This disabled the average speed function on the computer, so I just drove at the speed limit and Gary calculated our arrival times at various points along the way.

Our scores at the checkpoints were all pretty good, except for the first one, where we were about 45 seconds late. We had assumed that the average speed at the beginning of Section 2 was the same as the finishing speed for Section 1, but this turned out to be a mistake. In fact, I think it was meant to be the average speed for the whole rally, which was given on the last page of the instructions! At the other controls we had scores of 0.2 (twice), 0.1 and zero. At the finish we got caught by the above-mentioned overall average speed issue, so we checked in two minutes earlier than we should.

We finished with a score of 3.2 over the entire 112 kms, which could have been 0.5 if we’d figured out the overall average speed trick correctly. But it was still good enough for first place in Expert class, so we’re not complaining. There were only seven teams competing, but at least there was one completely new team in a new Subaru. They made it back safely and had a great time.

Video is available at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7g5EynpfnQ

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