RALLY: Sno*Drift: Team Paradox final notes

Team Paradox, RallyRhybuddRacing MGBGT at SnoDrift rallies Just the very thought of rallying an MG in northern lower Michigan in January is enough to make one chilled. A lightweight rear-drive car is not the ideal setup for racing on...

Team Paradox, RallyRhybuddRacing MGBGT at SnoDrift rallies

Just the very thought of rallying an MG in northern lower Michigan in January is enough to make one chilled. A lightweight rear-drive car is not the ideal setup for racing on ice-covered roads. But after our glimpse at success at the mud/snow bog called the Ottawa ClubRally in Houghton in October, only to have our hopes dashed by a broken timing chain in the next day's Keweenau rally, we were anxious to get back in the saddle. While winter conditions are not ideal for an MG, they are not ideal for any car, and tend to neutralize some of the horsepower advantage the more modern cars have over us. And so the decision was made, put on the thermals, get out the toe-warmers, and tape over the fresh air inlet...we're going to rally in the snow and ice of Montmorency County, Michigan.

Frigid temperatures in the week leading up to SnoDrift made us glad we had the car prep and packing done early in the week. We arrived in Atlanta on Thursday evening, only to have the starter decide to pack it up. The car was eventually started and tech and registration were completed. Very icy conditions were noted to be lurking just under the light snow covering of the back roads. The car rode up on Hakka 1s, a good all-around tire but not our first choice for glare ice - we decided to stick with them, but let the pressures down a little more, based on the advice of Dave Parps from Greer Enterprises. Awaking to a zero-degree Friday morning, we found the starter still not to be cooperative, so we swapped it out for our newly rebuilt spare unit....and that was the only bit of mechanical trouble we had throughout the weekend.

The Sno ClubRally was centered in Lewiston, south of Atlanta. Organized as three special stages followed by service, then the same three stages in reverse, it ran from mid-afternoon well into the evening. We started on the Hakkas on the car. As we waited in line at each stage start in the first half, we let out more air pressure, in some crazed and desparate attempt to find traction. Starting 43rd on the road, behind something like 25 AWD cars, the stage roads presented nearly glare ice to us. Finally at the service we gave in and replaced the Hakkas with the Blizzaks, starting with low tire pressures. The Hakkas give a much better road feel and are preferable on mixed surfaces including snow, but the Blizzaks are superior on glare ice. The second half of the rally was even icier than the first, since now the roads had been gone over twice...Joe Andreini, scoring chief, noted that nearly all competitors had slower stage times on their second time through in the evening. Team Paradox, however, knocked about 30 seconds off their total time, attributable probably to the tire difference. Driving technique? What seemed to work best was an exaggerated late apex technique, using a little bit of lift-throttle to rotate the car. My usual early turn-in with LFB to move the car just would not work on this surface, the traction was so limited. Early countersteer was the mantra of the day.

Saturday's Drift ClubRally ran out of Atlanta, ending in Hillman. We found the road conditions to be much the same as on Friday, and stuck with the Blizzaks. Interesting stages, with long straights, more yumps (it is an interesting experience to land from a yump onto ice...will the car stay straight?), and twistier bits. Our only near-spin of the weekend happened on a series of linked turns on SS12; a quick reversing and we were on our way without having left the roadway. Glare ice....most difficult to drive on, since once loose on the surface, it is unpredictable where (this) car is going to hook up again. The final stage of the evening would have been a real treat, since it was run only once and therefore had the best surface. However, heavy snowfall slowed everybody down due to visibility limitations. Team Paradox has adapted well to stage notes, though, and turned in a very respectable time despite the blind drive.

We found our first success in having completed our first two-day event in nearly a year. Several DNFs due to breakage in 2002 (not inherent to the car, rather resulting from the learning curve about what works and doesn't work when prepping an MGB for rallying) resulted in a rather spotty season, and we were most relieved to find out the car was not permanently jinxed. Secondly, we finished the two ClubRallies with nary a dent nor scratch. It looks like our prep for the next rally (100AW in February) will be a thorough cleaning and inspection, set valve clearances, and install the gravel tires....good deal! Third, no frostbite. Finally, it is of course always gratifying to finish well. Two seconds in class, and a respectable overall showing in the ClubRallies (top third in both) isn't bad in our ancient machine on ice. Looking at overall stage times, we would have placed third in G2 and 19th overall in the ProRally had we registered for that competition (same stages, just a different registration fee!). Being the only H Class car at the rallies, there was no Historic Class competition this time.

The rally MGB is off and running for yet another season. We're determined to make a hard run for a repeat G2 CenDiv championship this year, as well as really pushing developement of a successful Historic Class. This is the car's fifth season, and it seems to be holding up well. Team Paradox always welcomes visits from MG and vintage rally enthusiasts attending rallies. Next stop for the Team: Salem MO, Feb. 21-22 for Trespasser Wil / 100 Acre Wood rallies and the Historic Class ShootOut. Keep an eye on the website www.rhybudd.com for continuing updates.

-phil smith-

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Series SCCA