Monday, Sept. 16, 2002

Today turned out to be rather stressful for our team -- Scott Giannou and myself in Scott's 1976 Porsche 911 Targa. It began by attempting to fit the sensor for the Terratrip. This was an ongoing task, having begun several days prior but put aside for other ... more important ... tasks, such as making sure the intercom worked. With the assistance of Gary Ball, a suitable bracket was fabricated, then modifed several times, and eventually the display showed that pulses were being generated.

Then the cable that connects the intercoms disappeared. We still have no idea where we might have misplaced it.

Finally at 11 am, the cars were supposed to leave Mile One Stadium to begin the first of two "Prologue" stages to determine seeding for the first day of competition on Tuesday. However, the start was delayed about 10 minutes as the Premier of Newfoundland dropped by to wish rallyists well on their visit to the province.

There was a light rain as we headed north out of St. John's. A mere 17 kilometers and we were at the start of Prologue 1, an 8.95 km section through a semi-rural community. Despite the rain, many homeowners sat in their front yards and watched as the 24 Targa competitors and 11 TSD Trials teams made their way past.

Then it was off to a two hour lunch break at Beachy Cove Elemetary School, where rallyists were greeted by the full enrollment of 1st through 6th graders cheering and waving pom-poms. While the rally teams lunched in the school gym, students got a chance to see the cars up close. As the drivers and co-drivers made their way back out to the foggy parking lot, they found pieces of paper and pens thrust in front of them and most spent nearly an hour scribling their autographs for admiring young fans.

C.J. Jones Falcon Kids pictures of Targa Newfound cars
Chip "CJ" Jones' Ford Falcon delights the kids at Beachy Cove Elementary School The students at Beachy Cove provided their pre-event interpretation of what Targa was all about.

Prologue 2 was about 20 km back toward St. John's and then along the coast. Though less than 7 km, it still presented a challenge with plenty of never the same curves and elevation changes. A Sunbeam Tiger fell prey to the wet road surface and slid up an embankment, but neither driver nor co-driver were injured (though they went to the hospital for a checkup... just to be sure).

Two Australian teams, both veterans of Targa Tasmania, are quickest. The AWD Turbo Porsche of Mark Saxby and Martin Rees was the clear standout, setting fast times on both Prologues. The mighty Mustang of Len and Gayle Cattlin was 2nd, despite running autocross tires on the slippery roads.

Several teams who look like contenders for overall were obviously sandbagging, as the slowest teams will start first. Slow in the Prologues means better road position on the first day of competition. It may work to their disadvantage as well, as they could catch slower cars on the stages, which would cost them time.

There are eight stages scheduled for Tuesday, but the final one of the day, the longest at 32 km, will be shortened due to a misunderstanding with some businesses that front the intended course.

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