THE OFFICIAL LOW DOWN ON THE OAXACA RALLY 2012
So guys, by now most of you know the fate of John at the Rally. The official report and after watching the in-car from Speed Vision, it was plain to see. Midway through the first stage John actually passed Ricardo Trivino on the side of the road (he had a hose blow off the turbo and would later get it put back on and re-started without missing a stage)
, and after this decided to back off a bit and play it safe with his main rival already beaten. You could see John adjusting the air vents on the roof intake to get more cooling in the car for him and Mike, as well as a noticeably slower approach to the stage. However he went into a first gear Right hander through a larger puddle of water and that's when the problems began. Firstly the car started to bog, a clear sign that the engine had taken in water. Then shortly after the was a lot of smoke entering the cabin from the driver's side. Apparently the force of the water must have broken a fan blade which stuck in the radiator eventually busting it. But when it stuck the fan motor loaded up and overheated the wiring causing the burning. The fan was hard wired as a safety from the last event and the switch near the wheel began to smoke badly. They made it to the end of stage 1 a minute back of the leader, only to struggle through stage 2. The problem was that the Rally took you through stages 1-6 before the official service, with a re-fuel stop at the end of 3. Only John and Mike were able to work on the car with the tools on board which did not include a spare radiator. The re-fuel stop was after stage 3, and any hope of at least reaching the crew for some advice at this point was ended with car not being able to restart after stage 2. By this time there was little compression in the engine, and the boys threw in the towel. It was a bitter reminder of the ups and downs of motorsport and that smallest mistake can cost you big.
In the end Carlos Izquierdo (who placed 3rd in the first round) won, with Trivino fighting back to claim 3rd spot overall. Although disappointing, it is clear that John and Mike have the potential to do very well in this series but they will have to rely on all of their combined experience to avoid the little instances such as a puddle of water that could end your day. By comparison the water was no different and actually smaller than the Bogwalk water splash in Jamaica. He could hit the water the same way for 100 times and probably get through it unscathed, this was just his luck on the day.Overall experience:
The trip was very tiring -
Wednesday - You travel all day - 3 flights and as you are going in between Mexico and the US, security is tight.
Thursday - making a grocery run as well as rental car pickup and other running around to get supplies for the Rally while the crew works on the car. Thursday night is for the meet and greet and social evening with the rest of the Rally at the Hotel.
Friday - John and Mike do pace notes all day while the crew takes the car to balance, align and camber, scrutineer, and then take the car to the ceremonial start.
Saturday - Rally all day - prize giving in the evening with dinner and after rally lime
Sunday - Fly home all day
Besides the hectic schedule and the disappointing result however, we got to be part of a Rally that was as close to a WRC event as we know, in terms of the logistics, the rules, regulations being enforced, the scrutineering and the overall ambiance of being in completely foreign territory. The good thing is that the TTRC and the other regional events can be happy that we do put on great events even by comparison if they are not up to the FIA competition rules being applied at every junction. All our regional events have more competitors, and there are something things that we have great advantages with, one of them being the distance between hotel, stages, and transitioning which is very long.
All the competitors stayed at the hotel where there were proper updates being typed and posted, signed off etc. Things like changes in route and time updates were posted in both Spanish and English. The scutineering was done by an FIA trained Rally scrutineer who went through the car like he was a border patrol officer looking for contraband. They did not weigh the cars however which i thought was lacking. Turbos, gearboxes, diffs, and just about everything that could be sealed and locked was. Helmets, suits, gloves, shoes, and even underwear was checked for compliance and they even took photos of the tags to hold on file for an expiry date data base for all the drivers.
The ceremonial start was similar to what the TTRC did in 2010 in the Savannah. However we did not have the backdrop of Mexico's oldest church and cobblestone streets. This gave you the feeling of a world event of sorts, but it was probably to do with the atmosphere and the foreign language making you feel like a fish out of water. The surrounding ambiance was brilliant. The launch ramp with the event banner is what you would expect to see at a world event and it was a fantastic start to the event as i am sure was the intention. John and Mike as foreigners who don't speak spanish were given a escort back to the hotel by the Federal Policia who were excited to be part of it. Extremely warm welcome from everyone in Mexico.
The service park was a gas station parking lot where each competitor has to fend for themselves. There are no assigned areas, or tents provided. You find an area for yourself, cordon it off and you go from there. You must provide a mat or tarp to cover the floor against spills much like we do at the Stadium. However the neat thing was watching all the Rally cars go to the gas pumps to re-fuel. I was amazed thinking every car ran on pump fuel only to find out that the only approved fueling point was the pumps. The cars had to line up in regular traffic haha.ON FIA
So there's a lot of talk on other forums about the FIA, TTASA, and Trinidad and Tobago. I have been to many an FIA meeting (invited, NOT stormed as is often accused), and this was my first time to a FIA NACAM event. Although Barbados and Jamaica are FIA sanctioned this event was actually run in conjunction with permanently employed NACAM officials. Here is a little bit of how it really was.
- They did not care that the TTRC or me for that matter was not officially part of FIA - we were competitors and guests from a foreign nation and they opened their doors to us for whatever was required. Never once did we hear the words 'you are not FIA so we can't talk to you'. The international sporting code requires the FIA to 'ENCOURAGE MOTORSPORT' and this was what was done. Thanks to Ricardo and Carlos for being so genuinely supportive to the TnT and Jamaican crew.
- I went also in the capacity as a photographer (wannabe tuner photographer haha) and when John was on the ramp, the media personnel (FIA/NACAM accredited) actually let me through the barriers and ensured i got to a good vantage point to take pictures. No cost, no pass, just them making sure that Trinidad gets the front row seat - again Encouraging and promoting motorsport.
- I struggled to pick the FIA/NACAM guys out in a crowd. There were just regular guys with no chip on their shoulder about being in charge of anything. No shirts with 100 emblems or any effort being made to look like super VIP's. They made it easy for us to talk to them, and were very interested in Caribbean rallying. 'How do we get more people to come here for 2013, how do we come to you, etc etc. They acknowledged our local challenges and gave some advice on motorsport governance but this was not the main topic of conversation, rather it was how do we make rallying better in the region. They listened and asked my opinions - and I AM NOT EVEN FIA. It didn't matter - they know that Rally Trinidad, Jamaica, and Barbados are great events and that was enough of a resume for them. Yes FIA sanctioning is the way forward, it is not the be all and end all of motorsport. What is important is putting on a good and safe event that everyone could enjoy.
There are loads more and so many great stories. I will be posting a video of all the interviews and action later this week which tells more about the rallying, the stages, and the competition.
If you like traveling and can afford the time and the expenses, i would encourage anyone to make the effort to go with us to Costa Rica. The experience is unforgettable and you get to a first hand taste of how FIA/NACAM actually runs events, and not what is sometimes forcefully applied locally. That and you get to feel like you are representing TnT like in football or T-20 cricket. John is fast becoming a local celebrity and even when walking around the start or during the event, you could here people shouting 'SENOR POWELL' followed by a friendly smile. A little TnT and Jamaican pride, more so the proud feeling of the little Caribbean islands kicking some ass.PHOTO COURTESY ANTONIO SANCHEZ FLORES SPECIAL THANKS:
- to John Powell for helping me get there and for everything else
- to TriniTuner for lending me the camera gear - big up tuner - and yes taking pics is hard so thank your friendly Tuner and Zorce photographer next time you see them
- to Peter Clark from Jamaica for helping with the team and the translating, and Mr. Fennell Jrfor keeping the jokes flowing regardless of the challenges
- to FIA/NACAM guys for welcoming us the proper way and showing us what it's all about
- to our guide and driver Marco Antonio - you're a boss
- and of course to the well wishers and local supporters - keep the good vibes flowing