Project Mazda3 Part 2: Wintertime Fun

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RallyArmor has developed a set of larger polyurethane flaps for the 2014 Mazda3 that really help cut down on the amount of crap that gets flung up from the tires.  We’ve found that the RallyArmor folks really do their homework when it comes to making the installation simple and well-documented.  So when we saw that these were available, we ordered a set in black with low-key grey logos. Sure, we could go for that bright red rally-poseur look, but we’re just in it for the protection.

 

The front flaps installed without even needing a jack. Note the stainless screws.

The flaps installed very easily in just under 45 minutes with just a few holes that needed to be drilled in the rear plastic fender liner. The set includes plastic U-Clips that slip over the factory mounting points for the fender liner. The flaps then install using stainless steel screws that thread into the U-Clips.

We installed them outside in about 10 degree weather, so we were pretty aware of how long it took for us to put them on. We like how RallyArmor uses stainless hardware and plastic clips for a corrosion-free installation.  While we had the fender liners temporarily removed for the job, we took the time to spray the inner portions of the fenders with a rust-inhibiting treatment from CRC Industries.

 

Some CRC Corrosion Inhibitor was sprayed behind the fender liners to help our Mazda3 survive.

Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) Rallies

So, besides dodging yahoos on I-90, what are we doing for giggles with this car?  We’ve got several months before the first autocross, so we went looking for something else fun to do.  How about a Time-Speed-Distance rally?

The Northeast Ohio Region of the Sports Car Club of America has been holding their Ohio Winter Rally for nearly 50 years.  Held in the sections of far-eastern Ohio, which is prone to large amounts of lake-effect snow, the Winter Rally is renowned for both its history and the its treacherous roads.

 

The roads for our TSD rally were mostly hard packed snow and great for driving fun. 

The event sounded liked a great way to get out of the house on a Saturday, so we asked our brother-in-law to play Rally Navigator for the day.  Chad has been to a few high-level road races as a spectator and watches F1 and WRC on TV, but has never done any competitive events himself, but he’s smart, crazy and willing to sit a car for 5 hours, so what the heck.

 

The navigators running back from a Control Checkpoint to get started on the next leg. 

Many of the concepts of the TSD rally are used in modern Stage or Performance Rally, as the teams have to transit safely on public roads from each closed “balls-out” section of the event.  The goal of a TSD rally is to get where you need to go at exactly the right time.   In this case, “exactly” can be a matter of fractions of a second over 150 miles of route instruction.   Your times are measured against the Rallymaster who devised the route months prior to the event. 

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