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Targa Rally Day 2

Saturday, November 02, 2013

What a difference a day makes!   Day One of the Targa for newbies Jim and Rhonda was tough going.  Learning the processes (including putting helmets and neck braces and audio links on and off in the confines of a roll cage was tense work yesterday.  Today it was almost second nature.  Gear on before line up for start of special stage and then getting it off again as soon as possible after end of stage – it’s really hot under those helmets.  The suits are cool (in fact and to look at) despite the 3 layers of fire resistant material.

Departed New Plymouth for a short touring stage to the beginning of the first special stage for the day.  As with yesterday Jim did the morning driving and Rhonda the afternoon.  3 stages in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.   Winding roads again with the occasional short straight – Rhonda managed to achieve the allowed maximum of 200 kph on one of them.  Most tricky parts of these stages are when there is a straight followed by an acute corner on to another road.  Judging braking distance on a road that you’ve never been on before – reconnaissance is not permitted in rallying – in that situation when you’re doing 180 + is easy to get wrong.  Jim found to his relief yesterday in one such situation that the ABS brakes on the BMW really do work.

Today the driving appeared to be smoother, faster and more confident.  Whether that will be reflected in the results is another question.  However, there were a number of cars that exited today either because of breakdowns or because of crashes.  It was sobering to speed past a field to see a Nissan GTR on its roof and then later in the day a Honda Integra R on its side.  The Nissan apparently rolled 6 times and the driver was taken to hospital with broken ribs.  They were leading the Rally at the time.  At least comforting that the safety gear works pretty well.  Not so sure what would happen if one of the Targa Tour cars (who precede the rally proper) crashed.  Lots of testosterone in people who own Porsches, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and American muscle cars driving in controlled (fast) convoy (no passing) but with just standard seat belts and no roll cages.

It is terrific to drive through these country Taranaki back roads.  Lunch was at a little town called Whangamomona in the local hall.  It was like a time warp of mid-twentieth century rural New Zealand.  Fantastic.

Tomorrow, the Targa goes through to Havelock North.