Two - Wednesday, September 18, 2002; Clarenville / Burin Peninsula
party has a pooper
why we invited you...’‘
event as massive in scale as the Targa Newfoundland is bound to attract some
opposition from somebody. Somebody who doesn’t want the main street of their
town closed; somebody who doesn’t want their driveway blocked off for three
hours; somebody who objects to motorsport in all forms, for safety or
environmental reasons; somebody who objects to anybody having more fun than they
handful of people in the community of Marystown have provided just about the
only opposition to this event, petitioning the local council to shut it down, to
not let it disrupt the community’s life.
enough,” says Doug Mepham, the owner/driver of the car I’m navigating, and
also one of the driving forces behind the event’s creation.
a forum for them to be heard, and they should be heard. But at the end of the
day, democracy rules, and they don’t have a case.”
a country where some think that fifty percent plus one vote is enough to tear an
entire province from the national bosom, there are also people who seem to think
that one or two votes should be enough to overrule the vast majority who see the
Targa Newfoundland as a way to bring excitement, entertainment and not a few
tourist dollars to their province.
the rally’s opponents had any doubts as to where the consensus lay, they
should have come out and watched today. Marystown residents voted with their
feet - and their cheers, their waves, their horn-honks, their thumbs-ups - all
along the route.
organizers were doubly sensitive about the timed stage through this town, so
they set a very liberal time for the 6.88 km of streets, and imposed a penalty
on anyone who went under that time by more than twenty-five percent.
odd in a motorsport competition that you’re penalized for being too fast, but
the objective here was to put on a show for the townspeople, not to rip up their
lawns or tear down their hydro poles.
were all good little girls and boys; not a single car had a single incident
today, either in two passes through Marystown or in today’s other four timed
stages, although several competitors did indeed break that twenty-five percent
team, the highly-favoured Australian crew of Mark Saxby and Martin Rees, came up
with a novel way to slow down their Porsche 911 Turbo - in a couple of places
where there were lots of spectators, they stopped, jumped out, took pictures of
the crowd, hopped back in, and roared off.
cluster of spectators - same show.
achieved both objectives,” they told me. “The crowd loved it, and we still
got zero penalty points.”
mayor of Marystown was mildly miffed, though. “You guys were Christly slow
through here!” he said, implying that he had hoped to see a bit more speed.
year, they’ll aim for a happy balance.
cleverly crafted our team’s strategy to not go too fast through Marystown - he
asked me to drive. Doug is very proud of his car, and justly so - it is
beautifully prepared and immaculately maintained. He knew that especially with
him sitting right beside me, his left hand not too far from the parking brake,
that I’d not push very hard.
I did the stage in just four seconds over the minimum allowable.
in the afternoon, when we ran Marystown a second time in the opposite direction
with Doug at the wheel, we knew what the minimum time was, and I was constantly
cautioning him to “Slow down! Slow down!”, so we wouldn’t blow the limit.
the end, he was three seconds slower than I had been in the morning, a fact
I’ll probably never let him forget.
tables were rightly turned when we both tackled the long and very fast Frenchman’s Cove loop - he beat me by a resounding 26 seconds in a 7 minute
Doug, you made your point - you drive; l’ll navigate...
English, a journalistic colleague who’s pedalling a little Kia Rio RX-V
station wagon under the guidance of Newfoundland native radio man Ken Ash, and
who navigated for Mepham in the Targa New Zealand last fall, noted that while
some people like to watch others make love, he’d rather be a participant...
Same with navigating versus driving.
argument from me - but I’d rather navigate than stay home.
and I are one of six teams (including Saxby and Rees) who have so far
“zeroed” every stage in the two days of competition, so we find ourselves in
the unfamiliar position of being first overall (OK, tied...) and first in class
won’t last, but it’s fun for the moment.
routes today were all in the Burin Peninsula. Look at a map of Newfoundland; the
sort-of H-shaped blob in the lower right-hand corner is the Avalon Peninsula,
where the capital St. John’s is. That crooked finger of land, sticking out
into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the southwest, pointing right at the French
islands of St-Pierre et Miquelon? That’d be the Burin Peninsula.
stage through the communities of Burin and Mortier is the most spectacular of
the lot so far, the road dipping and diving while clinging to seaside cliff,
with picturesque views in all directions.
one advantage of navigating - you get the occasional chance to see the scenery.
Doug can look at the pictures later...
about unbelievable hospitality and aid keep pouring in to this rally. Yesterday,
the alternator on the lovely Datsun 280Z of Jack MacDonnell and Carson Rasmussen
began sending all-too-substantial amounts of alternating current coursing
through DC-expectant circuits, taking the starter motor out in the process.
the ever-so-helpful Competitor Relations Officer (nicknamed “CROW”), whose
job it is to do whatever it takes to help the cars get through the rally,
managed to locate an alternator that would fit - a GM Delco part, as it turns
Baker, who is acting as a volunteer marshal for the event, tore the starter off
and rebuilt it himself. This evening, Jack and Carson joined us for dinner with
a fully-functioning car awaiting them for Thursday morning.
“street racer boys”, Ken Batstone and Adam Sparkes, who did major unplanned
customizing to the body and suspension of Batstone’s Honda Civic on Day One,
returned to the fray this morning after an all-night banzai repair job by the
lads’ friends. The car won’t win any beauty awards, but it passed a rigorous
scrutineering by technical officials before it was allowed to continue. It
finished the day without further incident.
only less-than-perfect story in this vein is the saga of Ralph and Diane Grant
of Australia. Their own rally car missed the boat from Aus by mere minutes, but
they didn’t want to miss the event. So they flew up here, and leased a former
Canadian rally championship-winning 1982 Toyota Celica.
car certainly had potential, but apart from the demonstration day, it has never
really run right. At one point, three of the four spark plugs were oiling up
diagnosis yesterday was a blown head gasket. The car was dropped off at the
local Toyota dealer in Clarenville by a mechanic who volunteered his time; when
Ralph went back this afternoon, he was told that the staff there knew nothing
not entirely sure how all this came about, but apparently the volunteer mechanic
knew someone who worked there, and dropped the car off. The poor service manager
didn’t know the story of the car. Once he was apprised of the situation, he
too dug in to help, faxing all over the place trying to find a head gasket, and
looking for other spare bits.
of Newfoundland, but especially of Clarenville, which has really bent over
backwards to welcome the Targa.
last report, a head gasket had been located in Toronto; it’ll be flown up
tonight and the staff at Central Toyota will see what can be done...
sign yet of the Sunbeam Tiger that was crunched in Monday’s Prologue, but
rumours of its eventual return continue to circulate.
Salter, the owner/driver of the delectable 1955 Austin Healey 100S which was
pranged on Day One, is back in the rally - but not in the Healey. Slater also
owns the 1965 Morris Mini Cooper which was being campaigned in the
time-and-distance “Trials” section of the Targa by his friends, Van and June
Worsdales didn’t feel it was fair that Michael was put out through no fault of
his own - his collision with the disabled Volvo P1800 on Day One was totally
unavoidable - so they have turned the Mini back over to Michael and co-driver
Worsdales will follow the progress of the event in a service vehicle.
proves there are lots of ways to enjoy the Targa Newfoundland.
the rally, competitors and spectators alike were following the results in real
time, by logging on to “www.rallyscoring.com’‘, clicking on “Rally
Results’‘, then “Targa Newfoundland 2002'’, then following the
undoubtedly the most sophisticated rally scoring program in the known universe,
was developed by Quebecois Jean-Georges Marcotte.
rallyists are lucky to find out by the next morning what their previous day’s
hard work has earned them; in this (and any other Marcotte-scored event), the
detailed results are available minutes after your car returns to the parking
lot, not only for you, but for anyone with an Internet connection.
there has to be a change - if a scoring error is detected or changes made to any
parameter - a few clicks of the keyboard and the results are instantaneously
...proceed to next story
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