I’ve spent the last week and a half somewhere new for me: Newfoundland. Rob Trollinger and I went there for the Targa Newfoundland rally. I’ve always been interested in that event, partly because of all the viral videos that pop up online each year of the spectacular action, but also because of the nature of the event. It’s five days of driving across a large island province, covering nearly 1,000 km.
Rob is a great friend and client, and he had asked me if I’d be interested in participating with him in his Porsche 911. Of course I said yes! The Porsche is a race car, not a rally car, but we figured it would work just as well.
We didn’t really have any expectations going in, other than to finish clean and to have a bunch of fun. Driving high speeds on narrow, tricky roads can always have the potential to not end well, so it was key for us to adapt quickly. Not all stages were high speed. Some were actually set within a town, and there were curbs, sidewalks, picket fences and even houses lining the road.
From the first days of being in Newfoundland, I knew the rally would provide us with breathtaking scenery and some really special moments on the stages. As the week progressed, Rob and I were able to develop a rapport as driver and navigator. We shared both of those roles, and we enjoyed the challenges of each. Sometimes, as a navigator, the job went beyond not getting lost on the road: you couldn’t get lost in the stunning views, either!
The event wasn’t all smooth sailing for us. On the second day, we had bone-chilling temperatures with blustery winds and driving rain. Since we were in a race car, we had no windows and no heater. They were challenging conditions to drive in, especially since we experienced all of those elements inside the car!
Not all of our challenges were induced by Mother Nature. On the third day, we had to MacGyver a fix for a hydraulic chain tensioner. We called Goldcrest Motorsports, who built the car, and they came up with a solution, then FaceTimed us to show us what to do! We lost part of the day for that, but when we started the engine back up, everything ran wonderfully, and off we went.
We also lost the starter, so whenever we wanted to start the car, one of us had to get out and push! But the true Targa camaraderie came through, and other competitors helped whenever we were lined up at the start of a stage and in need of a push.
With the final days being sunny, though still cool, we kept honing our rally skills and were able to really start challenging both ourselves and the roads we were on. We were able to overcome some adversity and managed to finish cleanly, which was our goal. We even finished third, which was much better than we anticipated for our first rally!