This morning was an early one; and the final one this week that I’ll leave the hotel in civilian clothing. The three prologue stages begin tomorrow and that means racing suit, Hans device and Peltor helmet.
Today was registration day for the 71 teams entered in the 10th anniversary Targa Newfoundland. For this, we all headed to the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s to receive our competitor packages, pass tech inspection and hang out at the all-day car show.
As expected, tech inspection was a cinch and our car and safety gear all passed with flying colours. A few of the scrutineers even signed our car, pledging to drive safe and sober, to help us raise awareness for MADD Canada’s school assembly program. No doubt we’ll get thousands more signatures throughout the week.
We’ve been in practice mode for a couple days now as you’re probably aware. Today, didn’t offer us much seat time and with the day’s schedule packed so tightly, we almost didn’t get a chance to run the odometer check loop.
We’re not using the factory odometer this week. Instead, our car is equipped with a rally computer that tells me our distance traveled, average speed and even timing information. It’s not that complicated, however, if it’s not calibrated correctly, it could lead us astray instead helping us find our way.
I’ve never used one before Targa school, so I wasn’t completely confident that I had done the calibration correctly. The practice stages we ran are fairly short in comparison to the many others we’ll encounter this week and the computer seemed to be working well enough. Being new to this, however, I really wanted an experienced veteran navigator to verify my numbers.
Who better than 22-year veteran navigator and previous overall Targa winner Brian Bourbonniere? He’s told Jim Kenzie where to go for several years and will try to win it all again in their impressive Open class 2009 Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works car. And, after Kenize and my driver completed their safety seminar, Jacques and I followed them out on to the odo check loop to see how far off I was.
The loop took us through the first prologue stage (Flatrock) and it turns out my calibration was bang on. Twice Jim stopped on route to let Brian come to my window and see how things were going. He was amazingly helpful and showed me the true spirit of Targa – helping out a fellow competitor. And, in addition to a wealth of tips and tricks for getting our car to the finish line, perhaps this was the most reassuring: “What might seem incredibly daunting today, will become easy in a day or two.”
And, that’s exactly what I needed to hear.
[Originally published on Autonet.ca]