ST. JOHN’S (August 16, 2013) – After a decade of competition in Targa Newfoundland, the father-and-son team of Brian and Matthew Oldford have experienced just about every kind of emotion that competitors can experience in Canada’s longest and toughest motorsport challenge: from the elation of a hard-won victory to the devastation of a car that let them down.
And last year they found out what it was like to crash out of the event when they were considered a contender.
Given their choice, father Brian and son Matthew, of St. John’s, would prefer the feeling of winning, and are keen to get back to it in Targa Newfoundland 2013.
After two consecutive years standing atop the victory podium in the Modern Division, Brian and Matthew were odds-on favourites to score a repeat victory in 2012. But that was before an innocent mistake on the first day of the rally sent their potent Subaru off the road at high speed. While both men were unharmed, their Subaru suffered devastating damage.
“Whatever happened, happened really fast,” explains co-driver Brian. The team was on the fast Gooseberry Cove stage – a stage they had driven numerous times before – when they missed a fast corner and left the road. “Where we went off, in previous years we had been able to read the tree line to get a sense of where the road goes,” Brian says, “but a local had cut down some of the trees, so the road looked straight and we went over the crest flat-out.” But the road turned and Oldford’s Subaru didn’t.
“I actually never saw the corner,” Brian adds. “I was busy counting us down to the next corner. Then all I saw was alders flying by the window.”
“I don’t think I want to try that again,” he says wryly.
Brian has been a Targa competitor since 2003 as driver, co-driver and entrant. He drove for the first few years before teaming up with son Matthew, who showed a real skill behind the wheel. They had developed an Acura Integra they drove to a best finish of second place in Open Division before building the Subaru. And although it suffered extensive body and suspension damage, the car is back together now. “The car should be competitive,” Brian says. The fact that both men escaped injury is testament to the stout construction of the car and the stringent safety requirements of Targa, he says.
Are they concerned with crashing? Matthew is definitive on that point: “I’ll never do that again!”
Owned and operated by Newfoundland International Motorsports Limited, Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally recognized Targa motorsports events in the world. The 2013 competition starts in St. John’s on September 14 and concludes back in the capital on September 21. The 12th annual rally will cover more than 2,000 kilometres of the challenging, twisty roads of the central and eastern portion of Newfoundland, including up to 450 kilometres of closed-road, flat-out Targa stages.
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