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So who can tell me the real story behind the downed tree on stage 7/10? I heard a rumor that it was due to some upset spectators. Anyone care to comment?

Also, I was a little upset at the way the start control for the stage handled it. I was told by another co-driver that the tree was down and it was barely passable. No one in the timing car told us a thing, and when I finally asked the stater his response was, Yes there is a tree down at 9.2 miles but it's been so mangled that it doesn't matter. Truth was that the tree was across the road at the exit of something like a Left 4 that went into a right 4 and there were still 6" dia. 2' long pieces all over the road. It was a big concern to us, and others. We got lucky enough to avoid most of it, but otherwise it would have been costly.

Keith
 

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I worked the 7/10 finish, at the exit of the control zone during 7 then flying finish timer on 10.

There were some local residents not far from that spot but we had posted a couple marshals there. The people there were reported to be somewhat intoxicated and by the end of the running of the stage a few had begun harassing the marshals. It is possible a couple of them moved down the stage thru the woods and pushed the tree onto the road but our people couldnt say that was the case and they didnt see the tree or anyone that way.

When we got word of the (tree/log) from competitors, our radio operator communicated that back to the start. I couldnt tell you what was done or why the stage wasnt stopped. I know some later competitors indicated it was there when asked but was not a huge issue for them. I know by the time the stage was completed, the sweep indicated it was no longer a problem (the cars must have pretty well pounded the wood to shreds by then) and there were no people in the area. We had a discussion with the Forestry officials where we also communicated other concerns (next paragraph) and they went back spending quite a lot of time looking around but I dont think they came across anyone either.

We grew quite concerned for worker safety down that way because of intoxicated people coming out of the woods to the gathering during the stage 7 running, giving our marshal a hard time then leaving. The father of several of the workers refused to allow them back on the stage for 10 with the possibility of these people being dangerous as well as drunk.

We didnt have the people gathered there before 10 began but we shifted work around. I went down to time the flying finish.As I sat in the dark (initially by myself) we ll awar from others before stage 10 began I can tell you the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end every time something in the woods went bump. I am 6'3", 230 pounds, grew up wandering the woods and have military self defense training so was I a little prepared. The young workers down there during the running of 7 were female about half my size, age and as far as I know had no previous experience or training in this area so I can imagine how they felt as it grew darker near the end of 7.
 

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Keith,

Here is what we believe about the incident:

1. I recall being told at SS7 start that there was something on the road about mile 9, concerning branches or something, but that it had been removed.

2. When we were in the 4L that you mentioned we saw some bits of wood, like from a rotted tree that had fallen but had been removed.

3. When we exited the 4L heading for the 4R, there was a rotted log about 8' to 10' long lying perpendicular across the road. We just had enough space in the left ditch to squeeze by at reduced speed. No way we could have stopped in time. The position of the log 'seemed' too neatly across the road to have been kicked out in to the road by a prior car, but that is a possibility.

4. We adamantly reported the problem to the finish control. At first they wanted to argue that is was not an issue, but finally realized that we had seen a real problem and said they would radio it back to the start.

5. You were running only a few positions behind us, so you and your dad were well into the stage when we reached the finish, and so could not have received the warning.

6. Duffy believes he saw some folks lurking in the woods near this location as we went by.

7. It is our belief that there were some disgruntled folks in the woods who may have done this. It is possible that the rotten log was kicked out into the road by a prior car. We can't prove it either way.

8. Thanks goodness it was not a 'fence' of rocks like the African natives have been known to throw across a road!!

9. There are idiots everywhere. Sounds like we have them spectating, as well in a few of the rally cars.

Mark B.
 
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