Targa Miata
December 10, 2013 - Farewell, Gander.
The Targa Newfoundland organizers have announced the biggest change to the route in the event's history. The rally will no longer head for the Gander region. This means the loss of many of my favorite stages: Leading Tickles, Port Blandford, Bobby's Cove, Pleasantview - and of course, Gander.

Leading Tickles (which is known by different names depending on how long the stage is in a given year, and which direction you're going) is a rockship blast through the woods on a curvy road with patches on patches. You have to be on top of your game, and if you're in a well set up car with good suspension it's magic. It also has consequences, this is the stage that took out the factory MINI in 2008 in a high speed crash that left car parts all over the woods. Oh, it also has the best stage name in the event.
Bobby's Cove wasn't super-challenging, it was just smooth and very fast. That's the stage where I passed a 30 km/h speed limit sign doing 179 km/h, always a favorite moment.
Gander, of course, is one of the famous stages. It's 5 minutes of mayhem, a flurry of identical left-right-left corners as you rampage through a fairly nondescript subdivision. It was ferociously difficult to finish without penalties, and always a highlight of the race for fans and competitors. Even just standing by the road and hearing the half-dozen cars currently on course roaring away out of sight behind the houses was entertainment.

As a result of these changes, the event is now more compact, with slightly shorter transit times. That's nice, but it will be a shame to lose what was arguably my favorite day of the race. The time schedule has also been tightened up, with registration and odometer check on the same day as the prologue and the awards gala on Friday night after the last day of racing. The first change means less time to deal with potential scrutineering problems and less time for the navigators to work on their books, the latter means Friday will be a very, very long day.

Take a few minutes to honor a couple of the greats.
Leading Tickles 2011

Gander 2008

The photo is from Gander in 2011, taken by Zach Bowman.
entry 1117 - tags: news, route, gander, pleasantview, bobbys cove, leading tickles