“Know thy enemy; know thy self.” – Sun Tzu – battle strategist and tactician.
That might as well be the theme of any rally race. The enemy is equally the terrain and the second-guessing of one’s own instincts. Ride along with Wolf Rally Team, comprised of driver Rob Weir from Ohio, where he works for Subaru of America, Inc. and co-driver Dan Norkus, from Oregon, a fighter plane mechanic in the Air Force and recent veteran of Afghanistan. They – and the rest of the field – were prepping for Maine and New Hampshire’s two-day New England Forest Rally, Round 5 of Rally America’s 2012 National Championship. The end goal of the recce: Leave no stone unturned; or rather, unanalyzed – a highly strategic course examination as they tailored the rally’s stage notes to Weir’s driving style.
Stage notes are exactly what they sound like: detailed notes on every turn of each stage, given to all competitors for the recce. Norkus thumbed through his spiral-bound copy, which looked like an alien mix between bingo and the periodic table of elements, minus any squares.
A number of teams drove Subaru vehicles for the recce. The team’s Outback was particularly well-suited to New England’s rough roads and hilly terrain with its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and the brake’s hill-holder function.
A long line of cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks carried fellow teams on the organized recce drive. It was almost comically fitting, then, that the slow-venturing caravan kicked up dust clouds so thick we could’ve been in the middle of a Sahara sandstorm.
The recce process: Drive to the starting points for each stage, where rally workers then release the teams to travel the routes at restricted rates of speed while mapping.