Friday, February 19, 2016

Swept The Podium at KWRC Rallycross

Last Saturday, on one of the coldest days all winter, the three of us attended the Kitchener-Waterloo Rally Club Rallycross at their new venue - Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga. The event had a new format for rallycross proposed by Jeremy Norris of RPR Racing - two stages, and a transit between them. This meant that competitors were split between the stages, and got twice the seat time! Brilliant!

We decided to run our Bridgestone Blizzak street tires instead of the Yokohama A034s. The track consisted of a thoroughly frozen field with a very thin layer of snow so we didn't need the aggressive tread of the Yokos. Plus we didn't really care about our results for this event, so it was best to save the Yokos for MLRC where standings counted towards the season championship. This was a good choice - the Blizzaks had very decent grip on the icy surface, and didn't wear nearly as much as the A034s would have.

Being one of the coldest days of the year, the course marshalls stayed in their cars as much as they could. At the driver's meeting Jeremy made it very clear that they did not want to be running around in the freezing cold picking up cones, so an aggressive 10-second penalty would be given to anyone who knocks one down.

Thing is, after our last MLRC rallycross I decided that I should be a bit more aggressive on my first run so as not to loose too much cumulative time. I tried that approach on my first run and before I knew how slick the surface really is, I understeered straight into a cone. Sorry marshals! The cone demoralized me so much, I made a few other crucial mistakes on that run. And on my next run I went so hard into the stop box I barely managed to stop in time. It is then I accepted that I won'd be making it near the podium that day, and I should just have some fun and enjoy the seat time.

From the passenger's seat, Danil's technique seemed to be much cleaner than mine. His corners were nice and tidy, without being overly aggressive and I actually felt calm and relaxed in the car with him at the wheel, which was new. I kept telling him that if any one of us would make the podium, it would be him. But he didn't believe me saying that I'd make up my 10 second penalty easily and still have the fastest time in the end.

Herman seemed to have watched way too many of Ken Block's Gymkhana videos the night before. Either that or the presence of several people with video cameras at the track, but the things he was doing with the car were just hilarious! At several points per run with Herman driving I had the feeling that the car is way beyond recoverable, and we're either spinning or going wildly off course and taking out at least a dozen cones. Every single time, he proved me wrong by magically bringing the car back in line, and initiating yet another silly maneuver for the next corner. You can forget going "sideways" - on some corners were actually going backwards, with all 4 wheels clawing at the frozen ground towards the apex, and even then he managed to keep the car on course! Danil and I physically hurt from laughing uncontrollably after every single run.

By the end of the day we had so much fun we couldn't care less what our run times were. But on my last run on course B, the timing marshal got out of his car into the freezing cold, ran up to me, and showed me his stopwatch - a 2:01. I had no idea what the times were like, so I looked at him puzzled. Is that good? His reply - I'm pretty sure that's FTD (fastest time of the day)! Wow, we did not expect that. Did that mean we actually had a chance?

We were now really anxious to get to the final driver's meeting and hear the results read out. The suspense killed us, but as the times were read out we knew that we had it - Herman in 3rd, myself (with two 10-second penalties) in 2nd, and Danil in 1st. What we didn't realize at the time was that not only did we sweep the podium in our class - we also had a 1-2-3 finish overall, beating all of the turbocharged cars! In a stock (apart from a race seat and skid plate) Impreza Wagon on street tires! Just goes to show, relaxing and having a bit of fun actually pays off.


  1. Good job! You guys are going so fast now, You might actually force us to step up, make sure we have a good car and good technique to try and catch you!

    I also had a few moments where I was looking out backwards thru the side window and still on the gas to get the car going in the right direction again.

    1. Haha. Thanks Guy!

      The car we run is pretty much stock. Having good tires is a huge help (we ran almost new Blizzaks at KRWC), and having a race seat means we can actually focus on driving rather than fighting to stay in the seat. But those are the only necessities, I'd say.

      Are you coming to Bancroft on Sunday?