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Day 3: More shakin' less bakin'


We're back and still shiny side up. It is Day 3 and we have survived the morning. We are in the middle of a 200 km transit after lunch, so I am using the time to write a little about our last 2 days.

Let me catch you up.

We started Day 2 a little down after making a couple of mistakes on the first and last stage of Day 1. Those mistakes moved us up in the order with the slower cars. Not good. We were sure to catch a few cars so we exercised our right to move back a few cars and found a team we were comfortable behind. We knew that we would catch him, but that he would be easy to pass.

The day started well with a few fast stages. We cleared them easily and headed to our nemesis, two long stages (30 k and 25 k). Last year we took almost 2:30 of penalty on these 2 alone. This year we intended on doing much better. The issue is that on these stages we needed to average over 150 kph to make the time. That, and it was raining!

We raced hard and cleared the way out to Leading Tickles (yes a real place). The car and Richard were amazing with a little help from the gps. We also managed to reach another of our goals, namely beating a few of the professional teams.

After a great lunch of Moose stew and local berry pie we climbed one of the local hills to get a 360 degree view of amazing north Atlantic coastal scenery. On the way out we were doing well but the engine started to really heat up and our power drop off. We caught Judd late in the stage and hd to do some fancy driving to stay ahead. Lots of late corners and brakes. We survived, but the car was clearly not right. We were able to find a hole in the exhaust that robbed us of our turbo's boost. It couldn't be fixed in time for the next stage so we forged on.

We drove the next 2 stages cleanly and then had a break during which we planned how to fix the hole. While we were waiting for the next stage Richard and Lance removed our skid plate and we found another team with a welder. We ran the stage, zoomed to the support truck and wrapped the broken pipe with a piece of scrap steel and some pipe clamps. It couldn't be welded.

The next stage at Glenwood was short and fast, we drove well but took a little time. As soon as we finished the stage smoke started rolling out from under the hood. Sure enough we were on fire. Nuwan acted quickly, grabbed the extinguisher and got it out. The plastic fans and housings had melted because of the high engine temperature caused by the broken pipe. Uh oh.

Instead of quitting, we decided to run Gander, one of our favorite stages and the last one of the day. It is a very popular stage with lots of spectators. Imagine driving as fast as you can through a subdivision!

There was a pretty good chance we would be on fire at some point in the stage so Laura handed me the fire extinguisher just in case. As she did the pin fell out at my feet. Whle trying to get it back in I managed to set it off in the car!

Rich drove hard in Gander and only manged to miss one turn (it was getting dark and he is blind at night). As we were catching up to Lance and Guilio near the end of the stage apparently we were on fire (so the spectators tell us). There were 2 ft flames out the back of the car!

We finished the stage and executed a rolling manoever to open the hood and hit it with the extinguisher. Very exciting. Basically all of the wiring and plastic in the front of the car was incinerated. Luckily it was the last stage of the day. We limped the car back to our pits with me running beside it armed with the extinguisher.

We grabbed a beer and headed through the woods to watch the last few cars finish the stage. Very cool to watch from the sidelines.

We were able to procure enough parts to get the car back together, so we left it in the hands of our crew and crashed for the night. They managed to get us going again by 5:30 am and then were on the road again at 7 am. Tough night.

Day 3. The car is running cool now, but a new issue has shown up. Our gear box is pooched. We have run 4 stages so far, 2 clean, 2 with a bit of time. Yesterday's problems are behind us, but the tranny is killing us. It is a war of attrition now. Will it last, should we swap it tonight? Time will tell. There is lots of racing left.

As Day 3 wore on the tranny got worse and worse, but Rich got better at managing it. We had a great stage long stage which we cleared by over 45 seconds. Very fast. Unfortunately, Steve and Paul weren't so lucky. They crashed their Mustang, flipped it end over end, hitting a van in the process. They were both OK, but shaken up. The end of the race for them.

On the next stage, basically a reverse of the way out, we managed to face trial #4 of the race (so far we have battled fire, transmission, heat) the loss of our steering. At 200 kph we managed to lose the ability to turn left. Kind of important. But, do we quit, no way. Frank passed us in the Group B Audi and we followed him home fighting every corner for over 20 km at speeds up around 180 kph. And, against all odds we cleaned the stage!

We rolled up into Clarenville, a fast in town stage, without the ability to turn left. With no other option, we elected to run it. Rich battled the car, but didn't let up. It was ugly, but we managed to finish and beat the time by 2 seconds. Crazy!

It turns out that the fire cooked our power steering fluid and the rack, as well as our transmission fluid. The good news is that we have our tranny back, but we are operating on manual steering for the next 2 days. Wish us luck!


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