Friday, Sept. 20, 2002

The Targa teams began to leave Gander at 8 am, but two cars were not among them.

The supercharged Mustang V8 of Rick Squires and Albert Kenny was nearing the end of a head transplant which had begun at 8 pm the night before. Squires had apparently over-revved the engine as it was suffering from stretched valves. The work was completed about 9:30, too late to compete in the morning's stages, so they met the group at the lunch break.

Churchill takes his licks

Churchill signs another autograph while a young fan looks on.

Another late starter was Jerry Churchill, whose Viper refused to start. The problem was eventually traced to a fuel pump, which was replaced and the mighty V-10 fired up again. Churchill hurried to catch up to the rally, a little too much perhaps as the RCMP clocked him at 188 kph. The arresting officer was lenient, however, and the fine was only $140 CDN.

Today's course took us north, with stages through Norris Arm and Botwood, then on the only road to Leading Tickles, a small fishing community. That solitary road was closed to regular traffic for the competition. The fastest cars were able to reach speeds up to 230 kph (140 mph) on the straights.

John Cassidy had a moment near the end of the stage when a tire on his ProRally Subaru blew and he spun onto the gravel shoulder. A few feet either way and he might have had to return to Clarenville on the back of a tow truck. Fortunately he did not hit anything and limped the last km. or so into the finish.

Lunch in Leading Tickles was strictly local fare. The options were:

  • Jiggs Dinner - a boiled dinner with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and salt beef as the meat;
  • Fish and Brewis - salt cod, soaked overnight to remove some of the saltiness, and cooked with hard bread (hard tack).
  • Fish and Chips - fresh, not frozen, North Atlantic Cod, battered and deep fried, with skin-on french fries.

Premier Roger Grimes

Premier Roger Grimes (center) dines on Fish and Brewis in Leading Tickles.

The main tourist attractions in Leading Tickles are whale and iceberg watching. The rocky coast reminded me of parts of Maine, Oregon or even Minnesota along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

After our three hour stay in Leading Tickles, the road was again closed to traffic and the Targa cars raced south. The remaining two stages were the other two that had run in the morning, in reverse direction.

Our car, the 1976 Porsche 911 Targa, let us down on the first of the day's stages. The engine suddenly died on a corner. While we quickly ascertained that the problem seemed to be a distributor cap that had fallen off, it took awhile to get the car re-fired, long enough that we reached maximum lateness. Consequently we did not run the morning's three stages and took a 30 minute penalty.

We did run the three in the afternoon -- without penalty -- and should be able to complete the event. One concern is the inside right constant-velocity joint, as the boot has ripped and grease is leaking out. With assistance from Rick Baye of Porsche North America, the boot has been packed full of CV grease and we should be good to go for the final day.

A couple of other web sites with stories on Targa Newfoundland:

  • Jim Kenzie of The Star is posting daily reports.
  • Click on the Sports page at The Telegram from St. John's.

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