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Day 4 and 5: All Thumbs


If you have been following along with us, you will be wondering if it can possibly get worse after Day 3.

Well, you won't believe it, but it did.

Day 4: Thumbs down

Heading into Day 4 we had survived the fire, but lost our steering. We were also worried about our gear box.

Without power steering the car takes inhuman strength to turn a corner and we had about 250 corners to make over the next 2 days.

One of the fast stages in the morning took us into the fishing village of Garnish for a series of diabolical acute corners up/down hills through town. We made it about 75% of the way through town when the car transitioned from gravel to pavement snapping the wheel back in Richard's hands. During the violent snap back, the wheel made contact with Richard's left thumb clearly braking it. I heard the crack loudly and clearly. However, it didn't even slow us down. Rich sucked it up and finished the corners before heading out on the high speed section. We made good time and only took a few seconds on the stage.

Heading into Fortune we met Laura from our crew and taped up the thumb with a tongue depressor for support. We headed to the short in town stage before lunch intending to limp through with the broken digit.

We were fast off the line and powered through the first corner. On the next acute left turn the wheel snapped back and broke the thumb again! Ouch. We kept going and in the next straightaway one of our intercooler pipes came loose robbing us of all of our power. We had to idle through the rest of the stage and didn't make our Trophy time for the first time in 2 years. A clamp that we had tightened the stage before came loose again. After all the battles we had fought, a fire, no steering, bad gearbox, over heating, and a broken thumb, the thing that knocked us down was a $0.25 pipe clamp. Unbelievable.

At least we finished the stage and were still in 2nd place in the Open Class.

After lunch, and a fix to the clamp with the help of some of our fellow competitors we repeated Fortune and did much better second time around. The rest of the stages on Day 4 were just a matter of surviving without power steering. We had managed to locate a possible replacement steering rack from another team so Rich was dreaming about Day 5 with his steering back. We rocketed through Marystown for the last stage of the day and were happy to get to the pits with only a twice broken thumb.

The crowds at Marystown are large and love Targa. We were swarmed by Red Bull and DC lovers and spent a long time giving out cards and talking to people that knew more about our car than we did! Then we got the bad news. The replacement steering rack wouldn't fit. We would face Day 5 without any power steering. That was a big blow as Rich was dead tired from fighting the car through 9 stages on Day 4.

At least the team had come up with one innovation, the Burton Thumb Protector (TM). They had taped up the hole in the steering wheel so that it would not snap back and hit is thumb anymore. We would put it to the test on Friday.

Day 5: Almost made it.

Day 5 starts with a long transit and then two fast flowy stages before lunch. We did well in these early stages as turning at speed isn't too much of an issue. After lunch, was a different story. The stage in Brigus is a demon consisting of a series of small laneways at acute angles to one another often blind turns on the crest of hills.

We were both sure that the car wouldn't make a few of the turns and we were correct. At the first acute left, the steering snapped back so violently that we a) didn't make the turn and hit the wall on the outside of the turn, and b) Rich broke his thumb for the third time. We bounced out of that laneway onto a long stretch before a tricky turn onto a laneway and a narrow wooden bridge. Rich couldn't make the turn so we launched off the course down about 10 feet into a gravel parking lot through a fence. We did a quick handbrake turn and launched back onto the course narrowly missing the fence on the other side.

2 turns later the car stalled and wouldn't start again on stage. The marshalls rolled us to the side after some confusion and let the other cars through. We were done in Brigus, at least we thought so at the time.

We got on the phone and tried a few things including removing a sensor. With the offending sensor removed we couldn't make boost, but at least we could get the car moving. We missed the next stage in Marysvale by 1 minute (bummer because there is a good jump there) and proceeded to the second to last stage. The car was running slow, but at least we could make the final stages and finish the race.

We ran the next stage at a snails pace for us, but still made our Trophy time. It was hilarious to be going so slowly. We both laughed at how easy the race is at the lower speeds that most of the cars can manage. We like it much better going mach 3.

In the long transit to the last stage Richard had an epiphany that maybe a turbo pipe had come loose in our little off-course excursion. We checked, with the help of the Fourstar team and sure enough, the outbound intercooler pipe had pulled off. We repaired it and were back to full power.
We blazed through the last stage and were glad to be done. What a battle.


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