Leg Five – Sept 16

Day 5: Staying Alive

At 5:45 AM this morning, I sprang to my feet and looked out the window, face pressed to the glass like a child on Christmas morning, only to see curtains of driving rain blowing in the wind.

It came as no surprise to anybody involved with the Targa Newfoundland rally, however, that Hurricane Maria would be upon us today. The leading edge of the storm arrived in the wee hours of the morning after being upgraded to a category one storm.

Expecting to run a stage or two before the storm arrived, we left the Marystown Arena 20 minutes early to transit to the start of stage 5-1 (Little Bay East) some 60 kms down the road. This area (the Burin Peninsula) was hit hard last year by hurricane Igor with road closures, power outages, flooding and other effects leaving many people stranded for days.

With wind gusts of up to 120 km/h, low visibility and 80 to 100 mm of rain in the forecast, Targa organizers took no chances and cancelled the first two stages of the day.

As I write this, the parade of Targa cars is making its way back to the St. John’s area along the Trans Canada Highway in sideways rain in hopes of getting in a stage or two. However, with the storm still 300+ km way and bearing down on the Southern Avalon, conditions are only going to get worse.

With hundreds of white-knuckled kilometres yet to travel in hurricane weather today on route to the finish line, some are calling for the cancellation of the four remaining stages in Carbonear and Brigus.

Not us! At present, we are in 10th place in the Modern category just one second behind the blue Mustang GT of Julie Halleran and Chad Giles.

Before leaving the arena this morning, I wished them good luck and to be safe today. No matter what happens today, the priority is not to make base or even our trophy times, it’s staying alive.

***

It’s 5 PM. The weather held out long enough to run the final two stages twice each.

We’re now on the way back to St. John’s to meet up with the parade of Targa cars as we all cross the finish line where those still running will all collect Finisher Medallions in front of the big city crowd.

That’s not all. Jacques and I have accomplished every goal we set out to: a) finish all of the competition stages; b) finish them all under trophy time; c) finish ahead of last year’s class winners; d) cross the finish line in one piece; and, e) have fun doing it!!!

For an added bonus, the sun is coming out so the finish line should be full of people. Aiieeeee!

[Originally published on Autonet.ca]

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