Driver John Cassidy and Co-Driver Jennifer Daly started Friday’s stages with a failing front differential and an elusive oil leak near the turbocharger, which continued to cause considerable smoke in, and around, the car all weekend.
The front differential began to make odd noises on the transit to the first super special Friday, and the crew feared that their event could be over that day. The crew were concerned the turbo might be failing, so it was replaced with a spare unit prior to the event start. The spare turbo was a smaller unit and the only restrictor the team had that fit was smaller than the diameter required, meaning they’d be down on power all weekend.
The crew was also preoccupied with providing partner X-Vision with some quality onboard video to help showcase their immersive video technology. Said Cassidy, “We were definitely feeling stressed on Friday. The fact that the car wasn’t running well, coupled with the very short stages and long transits, was difficult. Trying to balance some sort of pace with longevity through the day was quite difficult.”
Cassidy/Daly made it through Friday, but an issue with a computer cable meant that no video had been recorded for the X-Vision crew. “X-Vision’s Louis Charland was was devastated, but in true rally fashion, he and his crew regrouped and met us Saturday morning at 05:00 after returning to Montreal to troubleshoot the system. We were able to get footage for X-Vision on the first two stages of Saturday. Judging from the response from the X-Vision team, you would’ve thought we’d won the event!”
In spite of all the adversity, Cassidy/Daly pushed their Subaru STi throughout Saturdays’ stages. The day had it’s fair share of drama, however, when the Cassidy miscalculated on fuel load and ran out of fuel just outside of the service park in Montpelier. “I thought something was wrong with the engine-it sounded like it was detonating. I had a sick feeling in my stomach, but when I looked at the fuel gauge, I was actually relieved!” said Cassidy. Cassidy and Daly were forced to push the car about 40 yards uphill into the service park. “Jenn and I got a real workout pushing T-4 into service and the crew got theirs pushing us out of service.”
The day continued with the team slowly rising up the order to gain 4 places on the final day. “We were off the pace all weekend, but I can’t recall an event filled with this much adversity for quite some time.” said Cassidy. “We we working with a car that was not 100% from the outset, while dealing with one issue after another. The crew was busy all weekend long, which is rare for us. They got 4 hours sleep in 48.”
The event sees the team complete an ambitious 5 event season. Starting with the winter Rallye Perce Neige, followed by the Mt. Washington Hillclimb, Rallye Baie des Chaleurs and the New England Forest Rally. “To say we’re ready for a break is an understatement. The car needs quite a bit of attention. That said, we’re looking at some off season upgrades and a strong return in 2012. Jennifer and I have developed a great relationship in the car, and it has paid dividends with multiple podiums for us this season.”
The team enjoyed a successful 2011, securing two podiums and two Open Class wins en route to Cassidy’s win of the Rally America Eastern Regional Open Class Championship.
John and Jennifer want to extend a special thank you to their crew for the 2011 season: Drew Gladu, Duncan Matlack, Nathan Haskell, Jon Bolduc, Zach Sennett, Cullen Gillis, Bronson Crothers, Kevin Sennett and John Cassidy V and Craig Greenwell.
Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2011 Partners for their support:
DTECH Motorsport, http://www.dtechmotorsport.com/
VP Racing fuels, http://www.vpracingfuels.com
Triple Caution, LLC, http://www.triplecaution.us
For more information on Last Ditch Racing: http://www.lastditchracing.com
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Photos by Peter MacDonald, Copyright 2011. www.pertermac.ca
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