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I knew we had to install a thermostat in the car, but didn't get around to it prior to heading up to Quebec. We then end up doing it in the hotel parking lot, risking our ears, fingers and respective noses to exposure in the gale force wind, sideway snow and then finally stinging sleet. BTW, the car never leaked a drop of coolant the whole race and we were quite toasty inside! :-)

The stuff at the end of SS1 was on a downhill section. I was too fast and started sliding. No way to stop-brakes no good-accelerator no good. Up and onto the snowbank. Out come Nate and I and the shovels and traction mats. We huffed and puffed and were finally rescued by a caring Mazda 323 driver who tugged us out. Come to find out we were just around the corner from the finish! Talk about heartbreak! :-(

SS2 bit. We race into the stage only to stop behind a line of 6-8 cars sitting on the hot stage. Turns out the Datsun 510 couldn't make it up the ice precipice. No surprise. Then, a service van gets stuck. Then, the tow vehicles can't tow us up! We end up getting towed all the way from the bottom to the top on the back of a Ford pickup, with both vechicles clawing for traction. Studs would be nice.
The rest of the stage was long-really long. Rough in sections. Nate made a few comments about how DMS would be nice on the car! ;-) This put us behind the rest of the day. We went back to service and then returned for a repeat of SS1 and 2. I wasn't looking forward to SS2 and by the time we got there, it was pitch black. We pulled up to the line of cars waiting to start and a Neon driver told us he tried to make it up the hill 3 times and was thinking about turning back. The line started moving and I thought that if others somehow made it up and got a time on the stage, we'd be screwed if we didn't, so we crept towards the start line.

Big trouble. While sitting waiting for the start. The rear brakes had frozen, so we were dragging the back of the car. Nate and I knew that if they didn't free up, then we'd be screwed trying to get up the hill. I punched it and the ass end dragged for a good 50 yards and then the brakes freed. We made a good run up the hill, but the VW in the road made us go wide and we made it just a bit farther than they did. An Austin Power type sliding multi-point turn later and we started downhill-hoping that another car wasn't making a full speed run up.

Back at the bottom, we waited a bit-to make sure no one else was coming back down after a failed attempt. We floored it and Fireball courageously clawed his way up the hill. Nate and I shouted encouragement on the way up.

The rest of the stage was pretty cool. We were pumped about actually making it up the hill and not having to spend the night in the woods! Nate was un-buckled and I was feeling like I could maintain a pretty good pace. I told him to buckle and we'd find our place in the route book later. The moon and stars were out and we were in the middle of nowhere pushing as hard as we could. Pretty cool stuff. Seemed like it was us against the night...

Then, we started to see snow hanging in the air. I thought it was snowing, but then we saw bright lights in the forest ahead on the next hill. Another car! The hunt was on, and I was pretty excited to have something to chase! We caught the car(VW) and he pulled to let us pass. I couldn't stop and the road wasn't exactly wide enough and I hit him with my right front end. Sound of breaking glass, but we didn't car. We waved to him as we passed and motored on. His lights soon faded from the rear view mirror.

Came over a crest a little further on and lost it. We spun into a snow bank, but I didn't think we were stuck. Car wouldn't budge and Nate pushed us out. Just as I'm sideways across the road, we see the VW's lights. I'm thinking we're going to get T-boned and get the car parallel with the road ASAP. The VW passes and Nate jumps in. Off I tear, Nate trying to get the belts on again(I promise to get cam-locks for the Subaru Nate! ;-)). We again catch the VW, but I decide to just hang with him. I was kind of hoping he'd make a mistake and stuff it, but then again, I wouldn't really wish that on anyone in the middle of the night in Quebec.

We're both going pretty good and then he spins in the road just in front of us! I finally see why-there's a car across the road just around a 90 right! He stops and it looks like the give the team some hand warmers and we both press on to the end of the stage.

We make the long transit back to Service, where we find Eric and Margaret still shivering. We check the tires, wash the windows and then fuel, this time not spilling a bit! Even the fireman tries to help us out!

We head off to the next stage-cancelled. We transit to the next, missing a turn and following the guys in their Mirage as they ask directions at a local store. We make it to the stage first though, and it's also closed. Another transit and this time all the way back to the Hippodrome.

We get to the Hippodrome and they're already finishing the first 5 lap stage. We've missed it! They put us in line to run the second and final stage there and we head out. The press release says there were 8,000 fans in the stands(inside) and I was nervous about screwing up this final stage. We finish the first lap and the inside track is sheer ice. I tag a snowbank and stall the car. It won't start! I tell Nate that we have to finish or we're out of the rally!

He doesn't want to get out because there are other cars entering the corner and it's too dangerous. We're gesturing and yelling to some workers at the corner that we need a push! They finally come over and open up a gated eare to push it in where a disabled Justy sits. I'm bummed that they won't let us out and worried that Fireball won't start. He does and Nate tells me they're letting us back on the track! With four laps to go, we pray that nothing else goes wrong. All of a sudden, we realize that we're the ONLY car on the track, and I'm just praying that we're on the 5th lap so we can end it as I felt pretty embarassed at that point! We finally get around and pull off and we're done!

We're pumped and really excited to see Tom and William on the podium for their respective class wins. We then get to drive up across the podium and it feels pretty sweet!

We head back to the hotel and order in pizza at midnight. We check the rally website the next AM and see that we've been time barred for MPL! We're pretty pissed as the time issues were not of our doing. All I could think was that they didn't cancel the 2nd stage because it would mean throwing the national guys times out, so they didn't.

We go to the Hippodrome to buy some souvenirs, downhearted that we didn't get a finish after a grueling day, and I ask one of the scoring people if the Regional results are final. She says they will be in about 15 minutes. I ask her to pass a note along to the rally head to contact me so I could ask some questions about the timing issues.

We wait around to see what the final results will be, but then the Commissioner of the rally is there and wants to speak with us! He tells us that they are working on a way to make some fair decisions about those of us that got stuck on SS2. He thinks we may officially finish, but isn't sure.

Unsure, we load up and head back to Maine, driving some treacherous roads back down through Quebec and Jackman. Once home, I fire up the computer and see we've finished. DFL, but we finished! :-) Sweet....

This was my first winter event and it was really difficult and required a different mindset than a gravel event. We needed to go quickly when we could, but be extra cautious in turns and downhill, when the rear of the car got light. The Hakka 10's were okay, but I have to think that they would have worked better on snow than the ice. SS2 at night with the colder temperatures seemed faster with more grip. Maybe it was just the darkness! ;-)

I have to give huge and heartfelt thanks to Nate for strapping in with a driver he didn't know, and Eric and Margaret for getting roped into servicing for us by default. They literally made our finish possible! Thanks to the unknown Mazda team that pulled us out and the VW team we smacked. They were very forgiving.

I'd also like to thank the organizers of the Rallye De Quebec for a super event! Talk about bang for your buck! Go and rally in Canada!

Two products that we really needed for the event were supplied by AMSOIL synthetic lubricants and GoTreads, makers of traction mats. Thanks to Ken Beard at Susquehenna Motorsports for getting us the Terraphone intercom in time for the race as well.

One last thing-you i-Club guys rock! :-) Thanks for all the well wishes congratulations on our last place finish! It was cool knowing you were checking the results as the weekend progressed!

Cheers! John

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