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Rally Team Update - Mark Jennings-Bates & Big O Rally Car Prepare

by Mark Jennings-Bates

This past weekend, Jackie and I spent time doing recce at the Rocky Mountain Rally in Invermere BC.

It was an opportunity to re-kindle some long standing friendships, network with the fraternity of rally drivers and teams and most importantly run the recce portion of the event.

At the same time, the event was tinged with disappointment because as a team we had hoped to be prepared to enter the event which is the 2nd rally in the overall Canadian calendar.

A few months ago we had a technical director look at the car and raise questions about the roll cage that was welded in. The roll cage according to today’s regulations does not conform because some of the bars are 1/4” too thin on the diameter.

The interesting aspect is that the cage appears to be a high spec FIA rally cage that is built with T45 alloy, one of the strongest steels you can use for roll cages, hence the thinner diameter. What was missing was a certificate to prove the cage was built in to the car. After myriad phone calls to Europe and the factory in Japan we learned more about the car but failed to dig up a certificate relative to the chassis.

We do now know that the car is number 00022 off the manufacturing line in Japan and was built as a “gutted” and presumed homologated Group A tarmac rally car. In other words it has some good genes.

Having technically failed with the technical director we are left with no choice but to rip out the existing cage and install a brand new FIA cage from the UK. The good news is that once installed and welded correctly, it will keep us safe.

The weekend went smoothly with many people expressing their disappointment at us not competing. The good news is that Jackie did exceptionally well at recce in her new role as co-driver for the team. The notes were written and tested and proved really quite good on the second pass, the only chance we get to check them before going through at full speed.

I have to admit to being a terrible spectator. I cannot watch friends race their cars from the sidelines when my intent was to participate.

What I did witness was slightly more stiff competition than the last time I entered in Canada. Not only has the equipment improved but the driving has taken a leap forward too.

I am hopeful that even though we will be running one of the oldest cars in the top ten, that we will be mixing it up in the top 10 in Canada and in the regional events we should be hustling for the podium.

I am very confident in Jackie’s abilities and the co-drivers that we are friends with are incredibly supportive, offering to help her wherever they can.

For yourselves, your clients and friends, you can follow our progress at any event live on the RallySafe App that you can download from your phones app store. You will be able to see current speeds, positions and location.

I am very confident in the support of BigO Tires and our other partners and all of the business owners at Big O who share a comment or like a post and believe me, during an event, that can lift the spirits in the times when you are digging deep and not seeing the results you want.

That is what makes BigO such an interesting group - the ability to help each other while embracing competition at the local level. Onwards and upwards. See you in Merritt.

Written on June 5, 2018 by
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