Targa Rally 2016

Hi Everyone !!

Tue, 11 Oct 2016
Targa 2016 - Prologue

Having worked for Targa 2015 (click for details), our special stage timing team is once more working for Targa 2016.

As has been my custom for almost 10 years I shall do this prologue (showing our intentions) then each day do a write up as to what we have actually done that day.

As always we will need two vehicles one for the Flying Finish, and the other one for Finish Control.

Chalkie (the Estima) has been set up with the equipment for Flying Finish. Townie (the Townace) as the Finish Control van.

We have installed the 25 W Fleetlink Radio in Townie (with magnetic aerial)

We have (with some difficulty) installed the TIMY gear, and roof mounted aerial in Chalkie for use at FF. At the moment it occupies the front passenger seat.

The following people have been allocated: Dale, Zac and Kris at FF, Warwick, Rimu and Philipp at FC. James and Sophia are also joining us just for the weekend.

Rimu will take Chalkie from here on Wednesday night, collect Zac at Pipiroa Road at 5 p.m. and head for our first night at Otorohanga,

Meanwhile, I shall collect Philipp and Kris in Townie when they finish work, collect Dale from Tirau, and also head for Otorohanga.

We do 2 stages on Thursday and end up staying at Raetihi Thursday night.

On Friday we'll do another 2 stages and stay at Taihape Friday night.

One stage on Saturday, south of Taihape, then to get to our stay at Napier we shall need to drive over the Napier/Taihape rd (Gentle Annie). We'll stay at Kennedy Park Holiday Park Saturday night and I am hoping we can all go out for dinner that night!

Another stage on Sunday then quietly head home on Sunday afternoon.

There will be trackers in each of our two vehicles, if you want to follow us then let me know and I'll give you the website address, ID and password.

If you know of anyone else who might like my daily write-ups, do feel free to pass them on or let me know and I'll add them to the list.

On the other hand if, for any reason. you do not wish me to send them to you, again, just let me know and I'll remove you from the list.

Day One - Raetihi

Here we are at Raetihi.

Last night, as planned, Rimu and Zac headed over in Chalkie, I collected Philipp and Kris and we then got Dale from Tirau and all met at roughly the same time at the holiday park at Otorohanga.

Against my better judgement I took the boys out to burgers at McDonalds - I do NOT like drive-thrus.

Out of the gate at 6.30 a.m. this morning for our first stage on Old Te Kuiti Rd. A bit new to our newbies, and even the old hands just a little bit rusty. But apart from having some six or seven 'missing' cars at one stage we did cope.

We all knew that getting to the next stage would be tight! Not helped by our managing to flatten the battery of Chalkie, my jump starter not having enough grunt and then having to grovel under Townie to get jumper leads onto its battery. But success at last. But by the time we left SS2 we were already due at SS6. - No Toby I didn't get the tracker into bright red either.

SS6 had a considerable downhill between FF and FC but no real problems except that we eventually found out that our TIMY had not actually been transmitting the whole stage. A replacement unit has been found for us to use tomorrow.

A two and a half hour drive to get to Raetihi, we have eaten at the local takeaway place and checked out our 1st stage tomorrow - so it will be another out the gate time of 6.30 a.m.

One down three to go !!!

Day Two - Taihape

Well we are at Taihape (Rusty Nail Backpackers). Fish and chips for tea.

Out the gate at 6.30 at Raetihi this morning our first stage about 10km away. A short stage but very twisty and bumpy!

Our flying finish van (Chalkie) was within sight of FC - the only real drama was that there was a real downhill run towards FF and one particular car came down the hill so fast that Chalkie, despite being positioned well off the road, was in real danger of being badly damaged or even written off. This was really frightening !!!

Once more the wind was 'right off snow'. Philipp was doing road cards and I was waiting for his bare legs to turn blue. I was freezing and I actually spent most of my time in the van (Townie).

Once cleared we headed off to our next stage out the back of Fordell near Whanganui. This required driving the Paraparas. Kris drove Chalkie and Rimu drove Townie!

Even though it was an almost 2 hr drive we did manage to get on site almost exactly on time. By now the two 'teams' are shaking down quite well.

Dale and his crew, - Zac and Kris - get the TIMY sorted out and place the necessary signs.

Rimu and Philipp meanwhile get FC setup together with all the blockmarshall equipment assisting them as necessary.

This was a much longer stage(nearly 40km) which meant many more things could go wrong. It was also the first stage where it was raining. Once more Philipp had the outside job !!!!

This stage our handheld radio (for vital communication between between FF and FC) ended up with a flat battery. This despite their having spent the last night on charge.

Chalkie was VERY low on fuel - and we had to drive the stage to get out but by having the vehicles in tandem we made it. Just!!!

It also meant that none of us (on any network) had any cellphone coverage I was able to receive texts from time to time but replying or sending out was completely out of the question. Stopping at one point through the stage got me one 'bar', but still not really good enough !!!

I had a couple of 'issues' though. Zac being his normal demanding self, and Rimu playing what he calls music (but what is really just noise) on his phone to the detriment of radio conversations. HOWEVER both are performing their duties admirably (I guess I should say brilliantly) so I really have no cause for complaint.

I am expecting James and Sophia to join us later tonight. Meanwhile I can hear the teenagers playing up enjoying themselves !!!

Tomorrow we have to be on site just after 10 a.m. and it is only a short distance away. Restaurant Indonesia for the troops tomorrow night!!!

Day Three - Napier

Here we are at Napier - staying at Kennedy Park Holiday complex. We have just returned from our night out at Restaurant Indonesia.

Last night I had considerable problems with some of the teenagers, who were yelling and screaming till the early hours of the morning, then quietened down to just talking at the top of their voices for the rest of the night. Their excuse? We are younger than you!!! I was NOT impressed, and am still not!!

Anyway James and Sophia joined us today and as hoped James did 'stage time calculations' and Sophia actually wrote up the board - it does seem that competitors do appreciate it.

Mind you, it was another occasion with the wind right off snow - oops there actually was snow for a brief time. Cold again. Not actually as bad as last year but maybe that is because Phillipp was the road card person !! (I was pretty snug in Townie).

We all stopped at BP Taihape and had our usual 'coffee and pie', then joined the queue of officials, service vehicles, recovery vehicles (and I guess general public) to drive through both Gentle Annie stages to get to Napier. Rimu drove Townie, Zac drove Chalkie.

As I said restaurant Indonesia tonight - we are out the gate at 8 a.m. in the morning for our last stage of the rally.

Home tomorrow night!!

Day Four - Back Home

Back home safe and sound !!

As explained last night we all went out for dinner and I am happy to report the boys' behaviour was very much better - in bed by 10.30 or so rather than 4 a.m.!!!!

Out of the gate at 8 a.m., pie and coffee for breakfast, on site for our last stage of the rally at 9 a.m., the appointed time.

Dale, Zac and Kris at FF, and Warwick, Rimu and Philipp at FC.

At finish control we also had James and Sophia doing sterling work!!

With sufficient people for the last two days we were able to 'do a board'.

This is not standard for Targa, it is standard for WRC and even for lesser Rally NZ Events.

With the longer 'slow down' length with Targa, what it meant was that James could hear the actual finish time radioed by Zac, then was readily able to 'guess' the start time, do the calculations in his head then give Sophia the nominal stage time which she wrote on our pre-prepared board and had it available for competitors to see.

What was quite exciting was that often the stage time was up on the board even before the car actually arrived at Finish Control!!

And SOMETIMES, before leaving, competitors could actually see the time of the car behind them!! Well done James and Sophia.

Once cleared just after 1 p.m., James and Sophia headed back to Wellington, Rimu took Dale and Zac home, and Kris, Philipp and I stopped at DB Taupo for a soak in the hot pools then a burger at Burger King at Tokoroa.

I still have a van full of gear which I need to get back to Targa later in the week.

Don't forget Silver Fern Rally in about a month !!

Tue 18 October 2016
Targa 2016 - Epilogue

So, the rally is all over. A number of things; A bit different this time..

We had 4 experienced people (or six if you include James and Sophia for the weekend). Plus our 2 newbies - who turned out to be great.

In Summary:

Day 0/1.

Rimu collected Zac after work and headed for Otorohanga. Warwick, Philipp and Kris collected Dale and headed there too. Stayed at Otorohanga Holiday Park. McDonalds for dinner. Out the gate 6.30. next morning timed the Hangatiki stage, then the one out the back of Piopio. Once cleared headed for Raetihi. Stayed at Raetihi Holiday Park. Fried Chicken for dinner.

Day 2.

Out the gate 6.30 again. 1st stage just down the road towards Ohakune, then a long drive to the next stage near Fordell, out the back of Hunterville. Stayed that night at Rusty Nail Backpackers, very nice if several of the teenagers had actually behaved like civilised beings, Fish and Chips for dinner - and a few beers. James and Sophia drove up from Wellington to join us at this point.

Day 3.

Out of the gate 9 ish (just as well as there had been VERY little sleep) just one stage today - the same one that Zac and his team had done last year. It was cold again and believe it or not what we thought was rain was actually snowflakes !!!

Not for long but very soft snowflakes. Having James/.Sophia enabled us to do a board. After the obligatory 'pie and coffee' at Taihape we joined the queue of cars to go over Gentle Annie (Taihape/.Napier Rd). Like last year we stayed at Kennedy Park Holiday complex. I would vote it our best accommodation on the whole event. Restaurant Indonesia 'dinner for eight' - Enough said.

Day 4.

Out of the the gate at 8 for our last stage of the Rally. Glengarry, with our finish at its junction with SH5. Once more we did a board - much appreciated by competitors. This meant that once cleared we could head home to Tirau/Ngatea/Pauanui and James/Sophia back to Wellington.

IN SUMMARY - Epilogue 2

The GOOD !!

ALL our 'out the gate' times were met. Therefore all our 'on site' times were also pretty much met.

The two newbies fitted in very well. The whole team did, in fact, perform brilliantly.

As far as I could determine there was not a single actual mistake made on our part.

Any technical issues were not of our making but with goodwill and assistance from everyone involved were resolved satisfactorily.

Doing a board impressed competitors no end.

Now the NOT so Good.

Despite performing their duties adequately, getting concentration and quietness (to allow radio communication) from the boys was difficult to say the least.

The language from their mouths and their phones left a lot to be desired.

The local boys behaviour on the Friday night was simply unacceptable in any civilised society. Yelling and screaming till the early hours of the morning then talking at the top of their voices till almost daybreak was, as I said not acceptable. I do understand that alcohol played a part but not as much as the girls they had picked up. A real blot on the copybook of those who should have known better.

However overall well done team.

It looks like this year we only did just over 1200km.

Regards to all

Warwick Sykes
#3 Post Chief
Targa Rally 2016