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2022 John Giddings Memorial Rally of Orange
Stages 1 and 5 - Berrillee
First competitive stage for the day, for the century for me as a navigator/codriver, for the decade for the driver and car. My first time using a Terratrip distance recorder (we had joked that only old folks like us knew why the calibration run before the event is known as a "Halda check"), a jury-rigged intercom in my helmet held together with wire ties, duct tape and double sided sticky tape, resetting the distance recorder with a foot switch instead of pulling on a knob. a new windscreen mount for the camera (the old one had died when it shook my previous camera to death), a new camera on the new mount, reading glasses that I hadn't needed last time, a turbo charged all-wheel-drive rocket underneath us. Peter Allan was wrong - it was "Everything new is new again".
The stage was 17.72 kilometres long. There were 50 instructions I had to give to the driver. This meant an average of about 350 metres between calls. As a car covers 28 metres every second at 100km/h, this would mean a call about every 13 seconds. There was, of course, the strong possibility that the car would be travelling faster than 100. I was reminded that there is a cliché about jumping in at the deep end, but it was too late to get out of the car and go home. It soon became clear that while I could hear anything the driver said he couldn't hear me for much of the time (rally cars are LOUD and helmets are padded with insulating material) so there was a bit of shouting going on. (I'll have a different intercom headset next time.) The foot switch to zero the Terratrip also suffered from a bit of unpredictability and the roadbook pages occasionally stuck together (usually when the first instruction on the next page involved a caution). Despite this we got to the end of the stage without too many mistakes and we knew that we could do it. And was I worried or frightened at the speed and conditions at any time? Not a bit.
I have to make an apology for the quality of the video. As I said above it was a new camera on a new windscreen mount. The mounting device can be configured in several ways and the way I set it up meant that vibrations in the car were transmitted to the camera. It was a bit far from the windscreen so it could pick up an occasional reflection such as the pages of the roadbook on my lap. Also, the distance from the windscreen meant that it would sometimes have difficulty in deciding what to focus on - the reflections I mentioned, mud and sunlight on the screen itself or what it was supposed to be looking at. As this whole event was a learning curve, this is something which will be a lot better next time.
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