Since the last rally which was the 2015 WBMK Ceres rally we had a lot of sitting around to do, rallies were cancelled one after the other, postponed, postponed again, it made me quite mad, but looking back at it I’m able to find a few positives in it, next year we will focus on enjoying life and not rush for the next event.
There we go I said it, there is more to life than just working and rushing for the next event.
A few odds and ends
Since the Ceres rally we went for a fun day at a RPT Sprint, after which we discovered that we are starting to tear the front track rod mountings, luckily an easy fix since I know my way around a welder.
Seeing that we had so much time before the next rally it were decided that it is a good time to get the dust caps fixed on the hubs, this time around decent caps were machined with a very rough thread to just screw them on, the final piece works a charm.
Since Ceres we went thru two steering quick releases, the metal on aluminium just is not strong enough, JOES Racing Products Steering Wheel Quick-Releases 13400 is the product I’m referring too, maybe good enough for the average looking to make his street car cool, but not for anyone else. Luckily for me I lost a few kgs around the gut and are now able to get in and out of the car much easier, thus I designed my own solution. The steering wheel is mounted rigid, well almost, well only if you fasten the bolts, the steering wheel angle can be adjusted with 3 x 8mm bolts, clever hay. The whole steering column assemble now uses a 13mm spanner and a 2 imperial sized Allen keys.
The night before the Ceres Rally the DASH2 started losing data intermittently, well this was caused by a non-stranded wire that broke within the loom, probably due the high vibrations within the car. I managed to source some high quality wire and descend Deutsch connectors, while busy I installed a switch in the serial data stream that cuts the ground between management and display, this is very needed during mapping as both the display and laptop uses the serial bus, which cause chaos, solution, switch the stream off to the display and happy mapping.
Talking about mapping, we have spent hours on the road, behind the pcs, in order to learn and understand the whole mapping process better, this required lots of effort from my brother and also Ian Oberholzer from Rezlo Auto Works which assisted us over the copper wires. What an interesting process, especially if you are working with decent management with very good logging and analysis capabilities.
The main goal of the mapping exercise were to activate the cams a lot earlier, well between 3500-4200 rather than 5000-5200, this would help keep the car on-cam between changes, seeing that we don’t have money for a short ration gearbox. I must admit, it was a struggle , but the end result is much better, throttle control and driveability much improved on the gravel.
Now it is just a matter of time and money before I can build a decent solid diff that would aid the changes in the mapping.
Next time around we just need to invest in a inverter in order to keep the laptop powered.
Something that the car needed from day one, well a better one, I always knew I should invest in a strong unit, but with all the work it always took the back foot, seeing that we had to retire the Ceres rally due to this, the sump guard became the most important part to design and build before the next outing.
A few hours later and I figured out all the angles and my brother managed to create one of his special AutoCAD drawings ready for some attention at the laser cutters. Since I waited for the parts to be delivered, my attention automatically drifted and all of a sudden I’m looking at buying my own high frequency AC/DC TIG, I managed to find a bargain after my usual price haggling and purchased my very own machine.
Once you have tried some Alu welding you have a deep appreciation for those that have actually figured out the art and science to weld alu at aircraft quality levels. Saying this, I’ll try my best to learn, but when it comes to parts that is made from thin materials and needs to look good, I will stay pay a professional.
I managed to weld my sump guard on my own, well with the help of a few YouTube classes, it did not take long to realise welding 10mm Alu with a machined designed for 200A is a big no no, as it took 2 melted torches to get this thing done.
All in all I’m satisfied with the end result.
The guard is so strong, I had to reinforce the front metal work in order to justify this things strength, no help having a strong guard but every time you use it you sheer bolts from the chassis. The guard now bolts to the car with four 8mm bolts at the front and two at the rear, again 8mm bolts, standardising. The rear sports recessed bolt heads and the top a polypropylene spacer that takes the gap between guard and cross member, now the team can jack the car without worrying about any damage.
Besides the steering rack going in again for an oil leak I managed to spend a few hours in making a set of clevises to replace the racks ends. Timing was perfect seeing that the old rack ends started to show signs of play, the biggest motivation besides the elimination of rack ends is the fact that the front end can now use all the travel, previously the rack end inner ball to carcass stopped us from using all the travel, now it is free for all.
Seeing that we had two rallies approaching that needed some upgraded lightning, I decided to spend some money on cheap Chinese LED Bars, there not the best when it comes to focused light per lumen, but for the price and the frequency they will be used, they are perfect. For the majority of the forward lightning a 180W 800mm long Bar mounted just above the bonnet level where used and then two smaller ones mounted below the top one on a slide in order to adjust the angle, these two small ones is just to light up the pavements and walls. These things make so much light, I can understand why the authorities does not like these on day to day vehicles, you can cause accidents with these.
Toyota Cape Dealer Rally
We managed to prepare the car about 3 weeks in advance, thanks to Jean and Ruan for the assistance, it made a big difference, after the day of prepping we ended the day with a huge braai, shared a few stories and I had a last to-do list to finish, luckily only small items.
Well what can be said about this event if you’re used to regionals, first of all it is a different world, the basics is more or less the same, but that is it. From the first piece of information/email it was quite apparent that this is much more professional than most regionals, first of all, the event actually took place on the set date. Everything where done in a very professional manner, from maps to general information. The notes, I loved these things, they are actually created using a clever little box full of gyros and GPS technology, linked with a video and you have a very attractive interface to use and study a set of base notes, I love it.
The Rally consisted of 4 days for us.
Day 1 – Wednesday – The Big Pack
Drop the rally car for a wash followed by the motorcycle and bakkie for a wash and polish at the local carwash. Once the motorcycle were done I had transport to go to Ruan in order for the two of us to collect our sponsored bakkie from WBHO that we could use for the weekend, thanks WBHO.
On the way home we collected the trailer, thanks Car Boat and Truck, then stopped to buy all our drinks that we will need over the next few days and you will be surprised at the amount of fluids consumed on something like this.
We moved on and collected the rally car from the carwash, once home we only had to finish the small bits like adding sponsor decals, apply the last layers of RainX, pack the bakkies, yes we used two and load the car. Oh yes, somewhere between all this we actually collected the bakkie from the carwash, but that detail is a bit hazy.
Rally tyres were fitted to the rims that will be used, and then a very used set of tyres fitted for Friday seeing that we will only be racing on tar, no special tyres for us.
I took the time to add some decals of the sponsors to my helmet seeing that every little bit of exposure helps.
Day 2 – Thursday – Recce & Scrutineering Day
An very early start to the day for us and the car on the trailer on our way to Malmesbury, once we arrived at the showground’s we un hooked the trailer, waited in line for our documentation and set off to recce our first stage, all of this being quite new for us seeing that it would be our first national rally event we will be competing in. Seeing that we had access to the recce videos from the Monday we had an idea what to expect, thus armed with a set of provided base notes we set of on our first pass of the stages.
We focused on making the notes quite safe, thus slow, but we wanted to finish the rally. After the first pass of the stages we started noticing all the cuts that started appearing as the big boys marked their territory.
During the second pass the waiting around before the stages started to get longer and longer, the end result a very long day and a lot of km behind the wheel, still a lot of fun, really enjoyed the whole National thing, could get used to the way of doing things.
Seeing that we were lucky enough to be some of the last to scrutineer, we decided to drive back to Cape Town to take a rest and have something decent to eat before returning to Malmesbury to take the car thru scrutineering, a very clever plan, seeing that we would have had to hang around for about 4 hours doing nothing.
As usual the car passed with flying colours, just got some lip in regards to our racing suits, apparently there are different rules for locally produced suits vs the big name imported units, something that is not written in the rules, but that is Motorsport South Africa for you.
We arrived home just after 10, sleep was becoming a thing of the past.
Day 3 – Friday – Tar Racing
Seeing that the racing started a little later, we managed to sleep until 7am, what a treat. We finalised the last few bits and bobs and headed off to Killarney racing track to setup our service area. Again we had the opportunity to do a 2 pass recce of the stage, luckily for me and Ruan we know the complex quite good and have nick names for all the corners and service roads.
Drivers briefing was quite a laugh, but you could feel the tension between the big boys, while the rest was just happy to be abale to compete alongside them, knowing that if they make a mistake we will be able to say we finished and they did not.
A lot of waiting around happened, the rally started for us on the ceremonial start ramp at Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Tableview, after which we moved back to Killarney for our first stage.
The first stage went past and it was quite fun, never in my wildest dreams would I have though an old rally tyre had that much grip. Stage 2 was more less the fun as one, except we started seeing some damage against the walls and cars parked here and there with damage. It became quite apparent very quickly that a decent handbrake for tar is needed. Once we arrived back in the pits we saw it was Leeroy Poulter car behind us sporting a lot of damage to the rear, all make sense, he and the wall met each other hard.
Once we were done with service we had to drive the cars to Cape Gate shopping mall thru peak traffic, that made for some interesting looks from the other cars.
We had a repeat mickey mouse stage in front Toyota Cape Gate. As we lost a lot of time due to an accident on our route to Toyota all of the back markers more or less lost the opportunity to walk the stage and had to go thru it blind, a little unfair I would say, but that is life if you rally on a budget.
The new lights we fitted worked a treat, but the handbrake quickly moved to the top of our next modification list, what a frustration.
All in all we managed to keep the car in one piece. We had to parc ferme the evening and took the car home for a decent service, it was quite entertaining having other people work on the car at home while I stood around watching and fiddling with the computer, normally I’m all alone working on the car.
Day 4 – Saturday – The Real Rally
Up and about early the Saturday morning with a leisurely drive to Malmesbury showground’s for day two, gravel and more gravel.
At the start of stage 5 – Langgewens, we actually had this weird peaceful feeling to the whole affair, it was quite nice, as we lined up to the start of the stage we were met with quite deep ruts, something that would shock us later as we discover a S2000 rally should be renamed to “road destroyer” damn they think nothing of a good quality piece of road. About 1 km in we passed a rolled Golf, not a good site to take in right at the start, but we pushed on and soon it became apparent that this stage would become one of my favourites, the only downside was the fact that we caught the car in front of us within the first 15km and had to sit in its dust.
On the last stage of the first 4 stage loop we started noticing a slight vibration coming from the front left, we managed to get back to the service park injury free.
During mid-day service we traced the vibration to a loose wheel bearing, a new development issue. We also managed to ding the right rear wheel. With our tummies filled and newer rubber all round we set of for the second loop, 1, 2 stage, service, then again 1, 2 stage service, I like this 2 stages after each other before returning to the service area, not nice for spectators, but it helps a lot with the standing around and waiting, something I’m not very good at.
During this loop we noticed some very very aggressive cuts and started using them, but the thing that really caught us was the way the stages deaerated, a small hole became one that would swallow a hole wheel, these S2000 sure know how the destroy a road.
We had more and more fun out on the stages, passed more than a few of the big names, thinking that we will now finish in front of them, but we were in for a surprise as South Africa rally rules is very screwed up.
As the speed increased, the amount of braking did also and a new issue showed its ugly head, our front callipers started binding, all fine in the stages, but once we reached the end, the heat soaked the aluminium pistons causing them to bind, we had two instances that we had to wait for them to cool, the last one our time was limited to get back to parc ferme, that we had to use the water from our freshwater bladder to cool the brakes in order for them to loosen in order for us to drive on. This sealed it for us, the modifications will include a serious rethink in regards to brakes. We managed to ding another wheel on the same spot on the same right rear corner, lucky I don’t think.
All in all we had a blast, some of the best fun in the car to date. Besides the crappy rules that allowed all the broken down S2000 and S1600 to finish before us, even thou they did not even reach parc ferme, it was a very memorable event and we will definitely be back, even if the crappy rules are still very crappy.
Thanks to all involved making this event possible.
CCMCC ALL Tar Rally
Just as the name would suggest, a rally that is held on tar only, not really our thing, but we know the track well and thought it could only be fun, our motto being, do not destroy the car as concrete is harder than fences.
We gathered some of our oldest rally tyres, some of them with more than 3 events done, strapped them to the wheels and we were ready for some serious side ways fun, since we learned that rally tyres are more fun than can be described on tar.
The first stage was on the Friday evening, quite glad I went thru all the work in getting the LED lights mounted for the national as the combination really works nice on the faster stage, would still like to see what they do on a fast gravel stage.
Just look at the amount of light these make in an lighted area:
At the end of the stage we only had a few minutes to remove the lights and check what is needed to do on the car the next morning as we had a service after parc ferme opened.
Again the wheel bearings was an issue, something was causing the bolts to loosen, the cause will be found.
Saturday morning back at the track we waited for parc ferme to open, once the car entered service we quickly helped to check the bearings and get the rest sorted, the rubber we left as is, we wanted to see how far we could push them.
After each stage we just started having more and more fun, kept everything controlled and started climbing the leader board, as everyone want to win and push harder and harder until they either hit something or break down. At the end of stage 6 we had to pull off the road after the finish to cool the brakes, luckily we had 10lt of water on-board just for that, in less than a minute we had them cooled and on our way to the service area.
The only thing that got to me on this event was the fact that after each stage we had to service, that is a lot of standing around and practise to get strapped into the car.
We managed to finish the day with one set of very knackered tyres, our first class win, 4th overall and unofficially 1st on rally tyres, very proud of this achievement, but more proud of the fact that we drove the car home.
Again thanks to all involved in making this event possible, and especially thanks to our service crew and family members for their support. Just their dedication in getting our tummies fuelled is testament to the fact that they also enjoy these events.
Thanks to all the photographers for the stunning photos.
More Pictures – 2015 Toyota Cape Dealer Rally & ALL TAR Rally
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