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Having finished the 2002 RIQ in dead last place in our Honda CRX rally car, I wanted to see what it would be like to tackle the event in our updated 2.5L Subaru Impreza all wheel drive car.

Having put in a fair performance at the 2002 Maine Forest Winter Club Rally in early December, and then having some winter instruction at Team O’Neil in New Hampshire, we felt we were ready.

We attended Team O’Neil as a team(driver/co-driver) as we had asked Tim for instruction so would could better make pace notes. Tim obliged and asked Marc Goldfarb, an accomplished and experienced co-driver, to instruct us as well.

We wanted some more experience on how to perform recce and make our notes as RIQ 2003 would be our first opportunity to do so. The driving experience for me in the snow was humiliating and humbling, but that was good. The pace noting experience was invaluable.

There was one day of recce, and we were advised that teams could run each stage twice. We were up earlier than needed after a good night’s rest. Some of the stages were nearly closed due to recent snow and many recce vehicles got stuck. We performed recce in co-driver Dave Getchell’s Subaru Impreza RS, affectionately named, “Nigel.”

We completed the day and felt good about out notes. We felt they were consistent across all stages, and we had both come to a common language to use when describing the stage to each other.
We were joined at the event by our stalwart crew, consisting of Eric Wages, Margaret Michaels, Duncan Matlack and George Hartz.

The rally itself was memorable for a couple of things. We caught a WRX on stage after they passed us while we were pulling out a fellow competitor. After we passed them, we had a lurid sideways slide for more than 75 feet down the road. Keeping my foot on the acclerator, the Subaru came round and we continued. We had a great chase with a Matrix on one stage, nearly catching them. I’ve learned in the snow not to get too close to other competitors-don’t ask!

We ran over parts of Lauchlin O’Sullivan’s Lancer, the red front bumper bits contrasting nicely with the pristine white snow. Apparently the Subaru Canada and the Mitsubishi factory teams engaged in a snowball fight in the service area that was a spectacle!

In the slippery and dangerous Hippodrome stage, we were paired with an Audi TT, and were laughing like schoolboys as we were neck-and-neck across most of the course. We were sure that our little Subaru wouldn’t be able to keep up with the TT, but it surprised us(and the Audi crew!)!

The event ended with us not finishing in last place, which was a victory for us! Snow experience is hard to get in the SCCA ProRally series, with the SnoDrift rally being the only true snow event and being quite some distance from Maine.

We’ll be back in Quebec again in 2004, to enjoy this first rate event once again! If you haven’t rallied in Canada, don’t put it off!

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