Major stretches of the Trans Canada Highway through the park are being repaved. They just happened to be at the stage of the process where there was tar everywhere.
All the cars picked up a layer of tar and stone chips completely covering the tires' tread, between a quarter and three-eighths of an inch thick.
This affected the balance of the wheels.
Would the increase in tire diameter affect the odometer readings?
The upside maybe was that we did have negative tire wear!
But still, it was not a Good Thing, because obviously and most important, it would have a seriously negative effect on grip.
On this transit we happened to be driving behind Mark Rittenhouse in his pristine Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. Like us, he started doing that weaving back-and-forth thing you see on pace laps and full-course yellows at races.
In those cases it's to keep the tires warm; in this case the hope was that it would shed this layer of crap.
At the start of the Lethbridge stage Mark felt confident he had taken care of it.
The rest of us - not so much.
My co-driver Brian Bourbonniere went to the officials and suggested they should mark the road as 'Condition 2'. Usually, that means the road is wet, traction is compromised, and we get to run to slower target times to compensate.
Brian argued that in this instance it was the tires' traction that was compromised. They agreed, so we had a bit of extra margin.
We took it very easy on this lovely little stage, but the car felt very squirrelly over the crests, the back end wanting to step out at the least provocation.
That would be rear tires with limited grip.
We made it.
Ironically, Mark was the first car to actually go off. He and two other cars spun on exactly the same corner, with varying degrees of consequence - nothing too serious.
Ironically as well, before the start of the stage, it was Mark who said, "We put the Tar in Targa!"