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Targa Finishes a Day Early for Georgia Racing and Trinity Chiropractic

Monday, November 04, 2013

Targa Tui GirlAfter an encouraging second day in the Targa with Jim and Rhonda familiar now with the processes and routines required before and after each special stage (racing) and on the tours between stages, hopes were held for continuing improvement on day 3, which was scheduled to run from overnight stop at Palmerston North, through 6 more special stages and on to Havelock North.  Jim was scheduled to drive the first half day as before with Rhonda navigating and then roles reversed for the afternoon.

Special stage 1 went very well with a good time being posted.  That was followed by a Service Stop at the famous Tui Brewery, allegedly guarded from intruding males by the gorgeous and statuesque  Tui girls.  Crashed TargaThere was one there – see accompanying photograph – who dwarfed Jim and Rhonda but was much friendlier than the ones appearing in the television ads.

Special stage 2 was a fast flowing drive through hilly terrain with frightening drops to canyons below on one side.  The adrenalin was flowing and Jim’s driving was fast but a bit on the erratic side.  This stage was followed a very few kilometres later by Special Stage 3 for the day (Stage 16 out of 25 for the whole Rally.   This leg was one of 22 kilometres.

Ten kilometres into the stage saw a fast downhill straight with the car probably at the allowed maximum of 200 Kph approaching what turned out to be a long downhill bend to the right.  Jim left his braking too late and the left hand wheels went off the tarmac half way around the bend and followed a shallow trench (with no continuing control) until driving straight into a bunch of poplar trees.  The car was stopped head on by one and its neighbour fell across the bonnet and windscreen of the car, breaking the screen.  Interesting experience.  Car at a 30 degree angle down a bank with the fallen tree preventing access from the driver’s door.   Steam from the radiator.  Both Jim and Rhonda uninjured.  These harnesses and neck braces really do work.  Rhonda quickly got out of the car and took a warning sign, ran back up the road to the start of the bend and held it up for further cars.  Rally organisers’ vehicles arrived quickly on the scene.  Jim was out of the car by this stage.

One of the Rally vehicles towed the car back on to the road and made sure it was then located on the verge.  After medical people satisfied themselves that there were no injuries, the entourage moved off, leaving Rhonda and Jim to wait for Robbie and the support vehicle.  From there a call to the AA located a local (actually 100 kilometres away) tow truck operator and arrangements were made to have the car collected and ultimately tracked back to Auckland.

Although the front is not pretty, the car is in apparently good shape.  No damage beyond the front bonnet apart from a side mirror which has disappeared.  Both doors opened as normal.  Wheels undamaged.  When the car is back in Auckland, chassis alignment will be checked but not expected to be an issue.   New front guards and panels, bonnet and windscreen will be ordered and then the car repaired.  Some other planned changes will also be made.

A review with Robbie suggests more track day instruction and learning a better judgment on braking distances at speed will be in order.  Although trite, it is amazing how much required braking distance increases exponentially with increased speed.

So a disappointing end to the Rally.  Not unique however in this respect.  See the video of the leader at the end of the first day, a Nissan GTR, rolling 6 times and ending up on its roof in the middle of a paddock:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/multimedia/tv/sports/85898.html

Really it has to be accepted, and it was, that the Targa Rally is potentially very dangerous.  Which is why of course the safety requirements for cars and participants are to such a high standard.

Leaving aside the disappointing end to participation in the Rally, Rhonda and Jim enjoyed the experience immensely.  It is unbelievable to have a closed road with no oncoming traffic and being able to use the full road to drive at real speed in a car that has been prepared and equipped especially for that task.

The Targa organisation was first class and the many officials and volunteers did a great job.  The competitors were friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make the Georgia Racing first time entrants welcome.   Will be back next year.