The bad news - my very good friend and colleague Marc Lachapelle crashed his Subaru WRX STi on the very first prologue (or practice) stage today.
The good news - it looks like the car is going to be fixable and will be back to start Targa Newfoundland Monday morning.
The best news - both driver and navigator are fine.
Details are still sketchy - I don’t want to report rumours or speculation, and until I get a chance to talk with Marc or his navigator Keith Townsend, I’ll just tell you what we do know.
The car crashed heavily into a concrete wall during the Flat Rock stage. Townsend was up and out of the car right away; Lachapelle was knocked unconscious for a few brief moments, was taken to hospital for observation, and subsequently released with a clean bill of health.
I of course know all too well what that means, having done pretty much the same thing at Targa last year.
Knowing Marc as the conscientious, dedicated professional - and terrific driver - that he is, the biggest injury he will suffer will be from beating himself up over this. Even if it proves not to have been his fault, he will still feel he has let the team down. He’s just that kind of guy.
But if you’re going to have to repair a damaged car overnight, there is no team better equipped to do so than Stewart Ho and the Subaru squad. They have a full team of rally-seasoned veteran mechanics, a host of spare parts, and the facilities and support of Capital Subaru, the local dealer.
I know we’ll see Marc and Keith at the start line tomorrow.
As for our new Targa MINI Challenge car, we got through the two prologue runs in Flat Rock without incident.
It’s impossible to measure because the course is different from previous years hence we have no times to compare, but the new twin-scroll turbo car FEELS a lot faster than last year’s supercharged car.
It also doesn’t feel like the Toyo tires are getting as much grip, but that‘s probably because we are arriving at the corners at a higher rate of knots.
We’re taking it easy while we get used to the new car; it is going to be a LONG week, and we plan to be around at the end this time, just as we have in six of the seven previous Targas.
It is foggy here tonight and looks like it might rain tomorrow. But it will be the same for everybody, and there are only (now) five cars in our division, so if we keep it on the island we should be good for at least a podium finish!
I am trying to get lots of sleep; I’m doing this post, then hitting the sack! (It's 10:45 now; up at 6:30 tomorrow...).