opportunity to do reconnaissance so Kieran and I headed up on the Wednesday in time to register, tech the car and sleep before doing recce on Thursday.

We managed to complete recce very early and relaxed at our shared lodging overlooking the mountains of West Virginia and worry about an incoming storm and what it might do to the condition of the stages.

The rally started around midday on Friday but with enough time for us to resolve problems with our rally lights. Only two of the 4 are working so we’re scrambling to get them fixed. The rally starts with the first runs through the very slippery 4 mile Holly Bush stage followed by a favorite from earlier RWV events, Turkeybone North (over 8 miles). Several cars had trouble with the conditions on Holly Bush but we managed to get through without incident albeit at a slower pace than desired. A return run back through Turkeybone was fun but the rally met with some trouble on the reverse of Holly Bush when the Zero Car had a mechanical breakdown. Combined with spotty communications and they decided to cancel that stage and have us transit through.
I was somewhat relieved since the stage was extremely slippery and being only 4 miles unlikely to have a big impact on our position.

After service back at the top of Snowshoe, we headed out to run the very long Plum Creek stage. At nearly 24 miles in length it requires constant and uninterrupted focus from both the driver and codriver. Kieran and I enjoy the longer stages and this one is expected to run into the night requiring use of the lights. In fact we started at dusk - the worst time of day for me to get my eyes adapted. You can see in the in-car video that I’m sometimes switching the lights on and off on stage as the lighting conditions change.

Saturday starts a little earlier. The long Plum Creek stage has been split into two shorter stages (Low Water Bridge and Straight Creek)
with another 10 mile stage (Middle Road) inserted between them. Middle Road also featured a crazy 3 mile stretch at the end running on a narrow abandoned railroad track with some serious pot holes to navigate. Before returning to service there’s a hill climb stage on tarmac heading up to the service area. Fortunately the car is running well and there’s not a lot to do in service but check and refuel. We do have some tire wear and are now running on some used spares.

After service we head out to run the same set of four stages again: Water Creek, Middle Road, Straight Creek and the hill climb. We discover that we’ve destroyed a rear tire near the end of Middle Road and have to stop to change it on the transit to Straight Creek. We do that and arrive in time for the stage start but now I have no spare tire to run that 15 mile stage and the hill climb so I must choose my line carefully to preserve the tires.
We’ve been running a close competition with Robert McFadyen all day and he’s been inching his way up the scoreboard to catch us. I am certain that he’s now beaten us as we run the final stage of the day, the hill climb into Snowshoe. On the penultimate corner we come across Robert with his car disabled on the inside of the turn!

We successfully complete Rally West Virginia 2012 in 6th place - with the additional satisfaction that it is the USUK Racing Ford Focus’ 40th rally event!