DirtFish Shop Manager, Tony Torchia Races at Pacific Forest Rally

Uncategorized | November 08, 2017

DirtFish Shop Manager, Tony Torchia last raced during Olympus Rally and was able to take 12th place overall in the national standings. This time, Tony gives us a full recap of his experience while racing at Pacific Forest Rally held in Merritt, British Columbia! Read below for the whole story:

The Pacific Forest Rally (PFR) was by far the most difficult rally I’ve competed in to date. On the first day, recce went according to plan and the roads were completely dry. However, on the second day of recce, which included the Swakum and Kirby stages, things weren’t so smooth. The further north we traveled the harder the snow fell, and it began collecting heavily on the road. We nearly went off the road twice in our Recce car because the road condition was so poor. Due to the poor conditions, the organizers decided to cancel the northern-most stage and ran the southern stage twice.

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Heading into the different stages the tire choice was a toss-up. Half of the field chose snow tires while the other half went with gravel tires. Snow tires would provide better grip in the snow and ice sections; however, they would have a greater chance of being punctured by the sharp rocks on the roads. Gravel tires provide great grip and puncture resistance but offer little to no grip on the snow and ice. I made the decision to use gravel tires.

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The first half of the stage went very well. Unfortunately, once we reached the sections that were covered in snow and ice, we were slowed to the pace we had set in the recce car. On stage 2 we had to stop for a competitor who had crashed into the trees. The only thing we could see of their car was the light bar on the hood pointing towards the road.  Fortunately, both the driver & co-driver were unharmed. Once that had been sorted, the final stages of the day were canceled due to the deteriorating road conditions.

Saturday morning felt similar to Friday. With the tire choice very much a toss-up, we could see snow on the hills surrounding the first stages of the day. Knowing there would be snow on the stage, I made the decision to transit the forty minutes to the first stage with gravel tires on the car. I also chose to stow two snow tires into the rear seat area of the car and secure them with ratchet straps. Upon arriving to the stage, we found extremely snowy roads in front of us. Before stage start, we installed the two snow tires onto the front of the vehicle and kept the gravel tires on the rear. After completing the stage, I felt like I had made the correct tire choice. We had exceptional grip everywhere! After getting a feel for the terrain, I was able to predict how the car was going to handle on every surface and turn that we encountered. After the second completion of that stage, we put the gravel tires back on for the forty-minute transit in order to not burn up the differentials because of the difference in size between the snow and gravel tires.

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Following our service, the remaining stages were much lower elevation, so we were confident in using a proper gravel setup. The Spius stage was eighteen and a half miles of fast and flowing corners that were mixed with fun technical downhill sections. With a new gravel suspension setup dialed in, it was great to finally be able to push and see what my car was capable of. The first pass through Spius felt great with zero car issues. My co-driver and I were able to find a lot of confidence in my driving. On the second pass through Spius, we pushed hard to really see what kind of competitive pace we were able to achieve. This was also a great way for us to find improvements in ourselves, our pace notes, and the car. By pushing harder and making a few minor changes, we were able to cut a whole minute off of our time through the stage over our previous time through.

All in all, we started twenty-ninth on the road out of thirty-three cars and we were able to move up to thirteenth overall in the national class. We are looking forward to making further improvements within our team and car to break into the top ten!