2012 Rallye des Neiges: A Great WINTR Rally!

Last weekend Adam Brodeur and I took part in the Rallye Des Neiges in Bromont, Quebec.  This was the second 2012 event in the WINTR Series.  I got up early Saturday morning and drove up to Gardner, Ma to meet up with Adam who was finishing up his Saturday stint at Salvadore Chevrolet in Gardner.  We got the car set up including getting the auxiliary headlights aimed correctly and wiring the Alfa Elite rally computer.  Adam has a one-of-a-kind car – it is a Subaru WRX that has Saab 9-2 front end sheet metal.  It is a true Saabaru.

The 4-hourdrive up to Bromont, Quebec went by quickly as we discussed past adventures.  Some day be sure to ask Adam about his motorcycle trip up to the Baie Des Chaleurs rally in New Richmond, Quebec about 6 years ago.  What a story!  I actually had a small role in the story and I know it’s all true.

Also on the way up to Bromont, I reviewed with Adam some of the notes about the Rallye Des Neiges that I had made after running this rally last year.  This Rallye Des Neiges is run with many differences from the rallies that Adam and I typically compete in.  In addition, this was the first rally that Adam and I had competed in together.  As a result, we had a lengthy discussion on what we should expect at the Rallye Des Neiges.

We arrived in good time and got some food at the Ste Hubert’s restaurant where the rally started.  We got registered and got our score sheet from Jeff Dungen the Rallye des Neiges rallymaster.  A few cars were also given an electronic signal device to put in our cars.  Jeff told us to mount the device from our rear view mirror.  For testing purposes only, a timing receiver would be setup at a few of the leg timing controls.  The receiver can read the time that the signal device in the rally car passes the receiver in the timing car.  As a further test Jean Georges, who handles the stage scoring for most of the Canadian stage rally events and a few of the American events, was at the rally to use the data to test automated scoring from the data recorded in the receiver.  This system has great promise and could revolutionize rally timing and scoring.  The receivers are small and can be installed in unmanned locations.  This can ease the need for rally timing crews as well as speed up post event scoring.  Further the accuracy of the scoring results would be improved.  From some of the rough cost numbers that Jeff told me, cost should not be an issue.

The In-Car Timing Device is Small and Light

Several years ago I published a list of the most innovative rallymasters and I included Jeff Dungen from the Sport Motor Car Club of Montreal in that list.  Jeff continues to do great work moving the sport of rallying ahead.  I will be checking with Jeff later to see how his test run worked out.

The In-Car Timing Device Is About As Large As A Business Card

The Rallye Des Neiges started out a little easier than expected for this rally, as we got the route instructions about 10 minutes before the rally start.  Typically in this rally, the route instructions are given out 1 minute before your out time.

Things went well until we got to the timing control at the end of Leg 7.  At that timing control, the other American entry, Dave and Neil Guertin from Vermont had slipped off the road.  The timing crew gave us some dead time in the control to try to pull Dave’s BMW out.  We tried, but we just could not get enough grip on the snow & ice to pull the BMW out.  We found out later from Dave that a total of four cars had tried to pull Dave’s car out, but the traction on the road was just not enough to be able to pull the car.  Dave told us later that he had to get a tow truck to pull the car out of the ditch.  To compound his problems, Dave’s front bumper was damaged when his tow hook pulled out during the ditch extraction.  Dave & Neil eventually rejoined the rally and were able to compete in the last three legs.

Dave Guertin’s Car Got Into The “Overplow” Control #6

For Adam & I, we had a pretty good rally, we took a time penalty on Leg 6 along with everyone else in the rally as the road was just a little too crooked and slippery for us to make the time.  We also got a penalty on Leg 19 for being early which surprised us.  However, in the end that penalty made no difference as we were penalty-free on the remainder of the legs.  We finished in third place in the rally.   As we drove to the finish of the rally, we noted that we had completed a continuous run of almost five hours.  Adam said that he had never had 5 hours pass so quickly!  It was a very enjoyable rally.

The winners of the rally were Olivier and Mario Collin, who also won this rally last year, followed by Ian Pavelko/David Wood.  These teams did a great job.

For Adam & I we had a long night.  We able to get away from Bromont, Quebec around 1:00AM Sunday morning and we had a four & half hour drive back to Gardner, MA.  I had an additional hour’s drive to get back home to Franklin, MA.  I was quite tired when I got home, so I grabbed about three hours sleep on the sofa and then got up to watch the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Sunday.

Despite the long night I really enjoyed myself and I look forward to going back to Quebec to compete in more rallies.  I know that Adam will be back to Quebec in the future as well.  Now he needs to have his usual navigator get a passport.

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7 Responses to 2012 Rallye des Neiges: A Great WINTR Rally!

  1. Clarence Westberg says:

    Great report. Is there anywhere to go to find our more about the timing device? Also curious as to when you are timed if it’s on the rear view mirror.

    • Hi Clarence,
      Jeff asked us to hang the device from the rear window as the device was not fully protected from the elements, yet. At this time it just was inside a small zip lock “parts” bag.

      We would have been timed when the device passed by the receiver which would have been at the mirror. For the purpose of the test it really did not matter, as Jeff was interested in seeing if the equipment worked during an actual rally. If the test worked out well, then I expect that the device will be mounted where the crews want the device to be mounted.

      I used a similar device during the Chihuahua Express in Mexico in 2010. This is a very fast tarmac stage rally based in Chihuahua, MX. We had a timing device “velcroed” on the dash. When we passed the stage finish the device in the car recorded the time. Then we we got to the finish control, the timing person would reach into the car, take the recording device and hold it against some sort of reader. Once this was over, he handed the device back to me and I re-positioned it. We were also given a score sheet that allowed us to check the time against the timing that we had recorded ourselves. This worked well, but it did require a full timing crew in position at the control.


    • Hi Clarence,

      This is a very late reply, but we do now have more info about the timing device which is an active RFID tag that gets decoded by a receiver (that was installed in the checkpoint vehicle): http://reelyactive.com/serious/index.php?content=platform

      The system isn’t designed for rally per se, however it is an economical and easy to use way to automate or semi-automate controls timed to the second. You’d want to couple this with an optic eye if greater timing precision is required.

      Thanks for your interest,


  2. I should have noted in the article that the photos were provided by Dave Guertin.

    Thanks Dave!

  3. Gary Neil says:

    ‘Doin a great job.
    WINTR series a few monts away. I need a set of times, dates and locations. Some Internet info says rally is coming in 2011 or 2012. I care about 2013. I’ve spent $thousands to get ready for WINTR series. I’ve done most of the Ontario / Quebec winter series a few years back.
    Help please. Has the series been cancelled? I need to book my days off work. I work most week ends.
    Gary Neil

    • Hi Gary,
      We will be announcing the format for the 2013 WINTR Championship very shortly. The concept will be different this year.
      The only winter rally that I currently know the date for is the Winter Challenge which will be held in Barre, Vermont on February 16, 2013. This is a very good winter rally and I highly recommend it. This year the event will start early Saturday afternoon and end around midnight or so. I have competed in this rally for the last five or six years and I managed to win this rally about three years ago.
      I will certainly be posting the winter rally dates on my website as soon as I know them. I hope to compete in a number of these events this winter, so I look forward to meeting you in person at one of them.

      See you in the woods!
      Steve McKelvie

      • Hi Steve,

        We’ve selected February 9th for Rallye des Neiges in Bromont and will be happy to include that as a WINTR event again if the date works. Gary, our other dates for SMCC rallies are January 26th and February 23rd. Those rallies will be in the Laurentians, north of Montreal and Ottawa.

        Looking forward, winter tires went on the car this evening!


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