Two mistakes. After six days of late nights bent over the route book with calculator in hand, long days of non-stop rallying and lengthy transits, we've covered over 2,200 kilometers, raced 41 stages and made two penalty-worthy mistakes. There simply aren't words to convey the spectrum of emotions that accompanies the Targa Newfoundland, and the Flyin' Miata crew experienced its fair share of highs and lows throughout. While Wednesday saw both teams leading their respective classes, Thursday had nasty surprises in store for both the V8 Roadster and the supercharged NC.
Due to a transcription error, I fouled the finish time for stage 4-5, Garnish. We were supposed to cover the 13.25 kilometers in 8:43; I directed Brandon to the finish in 8:51, which landed us three seconds of time-over penalty plus another four seconds of interim time-control penalties. That seven seconds alone knocked us off of the podium, but the last stage of the day, Marystown North, saw an additional 7 seconds tacked onto our time after we missed the first turn and were forced to turn around.
Related GalleryFlyin' Miata at the 2011 Targa Newfoundland
Likewise, the Targa Miata suffered a master relay failure that saw the machine sidelined on the same stage. The DNF cost Keith and Janel Tanner their Targa Plate for completing every stage of the event and dashed any hopes of taking home a first-place trophy at the same time. Final scores aren't available as of writing, but there's still a possibility that the Tanner team will go home with a podium finish. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Brandon Fitch and myself. Right now, it looks like we'll go home fifth out of a field of 12 cars.
That's a solid finish given our complete lack of time-speed-distance rally experience and the fact that we were complete strangers less than two weeks ago, but it still hurts to know that we were so close to seeing the podium.
We weren't the only teams to suffer bruised egos on Thursday, either. As you've likely heard by now, the yellow Ferrari Enzo FXX participating in the Hot Tour division was forced into a water landing by some loose gravel on Marystown South. You can check out the gallery for a few photos of the vehicle bobbing in the bay. Fitch and I arrived on scene approximately one minute after splashdown and lent our tow rope to the recovery effort before continuing on.
Most, if not all of our progress in the 2011 Targa Newfoundland can be attributed to the guidance of Hammerhead Motorsports. When they weren't busy holding the new kids' hands, Brent Leyton and Richard Billard in the number 1019 Miata were laying waste to stages left and right. Pending official results, it looks like they'll go home with third place. The Hammerhead Motorsports guys are supporting a number of charities this year, including the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario, Young Adult Cancer Canada and The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. You can learn more about their team and their causes by heading over to their Facebook page.
For now, everyone in the 2011 Targa Newfoundland needs sleep and a shower, and not necessarily in that order. Keep your eyes peeled for a more comprehensive recap in the coming weeks.