His return to the sport of rally-car racing didn’t go quite as planned for Kelowna-based champion Mark Jennings-Bates.
Racing with wife Jackie for the first time, Jennings-Bates was stopped on the penultimate stage of the first day due to a broken tie-rod end.
“We were doing really well for a new-to-us, untested car, a brand new co-driver and a rusty driver like me,” Jennings-Bates said. “We were reseeded half way through the day in 10th spot and had been setting some solid top-ten times in the morning’s stages. Sadly, the rough nature of one of the stages took its toll on the car which ended up with us breaking a tie-rod end and being sent over a steep bank.”
The team had hoped to finish in the top 10, but knew they were in for a challenge considering the new technology and growing field of competitors.
Nearly 40 teams entered Invermere.
The sport involves teams of two piloting cars through challenging dirt road courses.
Co-driving is a complex process of writing shorthand notes and reading them back during the event at a precise pace that allows the driver to attain the fastest possible time through each stage.
“Jackie did amazingly well. Not only did she read the notes almost flawlessly, but her math was correct between stages which meant that we did not incur any penalties,” said Jennings-Bates.
The team ended up being pleased with their pace and now have work to on their car to prepare for the Pacific Forest Rally in Merritt, B.C., in September. The goal will be to solidify their top ten times and get the car across the finish line.
For Jackie, the day was a rapid introduction to rallying.
“Mark had promised to warm up to the car and to my style of delivering notes, but very quickly realized that everything seemed to be coming together well so he started to push,” Jackie said. “The speed and looseness of the driving doesn’t bother me, but I was nervous all day long about making an error in the timing which could cost us a significant penalty.”
The Big O Tire rally team will be busy making the Valley Mitsubishi rally car stronger for the fall event where they hope to bring home a solid finish.
This story appeared in print on page B2 of The Daily Courier on June 5.