Let’s start with the aftermath of the Klipdale Rally, on return home I had to get the car cleaned, especially since the inside was covered with dust. We did not have any dust issues on any one of the stages, just the open sections when opening the windows to allow some fresh air in, any way some time will have to be spend looking for some better solutions. I actually thought cleaning the car was fun, seeing that with each pass of the high pressure hose a clean patch of car emerged.
Before any work started on the car, I finished welding the container I had bend for the trailer to transport 3 spare tyres in, seeing that I always have 1 tyre in the car as a spare I only needed space for three in the container. Once this was done the trailer and container returned to Car Boat & Truck for some TLC. The whole trailer was given some love all round and fresh paint.
Some of the biggest things that we noticed at the Klipdale Rally as being issues was the refueling, rear suspension hitting threw the bump stop rubbers and bolts coming loose. I was quite determined to try my best to get these three fixed, since my father gave me 4 of these lovely red cans, they are very strong and stack able, but useless at throwing fluids without causing a mess, one was the perfect candidate for an experiment. Not just was the container a issue, the fact that one person had to hold two funnels while a second poured was just unnecessary. I solved this with a nice long 20mm hose fastened to the cap, seeing that the container now could move 20mm of fluid, I needed to allow 20mm of air moving inwards, which was solved with a decent breather. A couple of plugs to keep dust out while not in use further and the container was done and performing exceptionally fast.
On the suspension front I added another bump stop rubber and swapped the 225 lbs/in spring for something a little harder in the form of 300lbs/in, these are 10″ long units compared to the 12″ that came out, but once I’m happy I’ll order a set of 12″ units.
Next on the list was the bolts that came loose, I have never thought that a heavy duty spring washer and nut would come lose until the rally. After talking to a few old hands and researching the net to bits, I dove in and bought literally a handful of each size flanged nuts, what makes these nuts special is their teeth that keeps it from coming loose. The other marvel that the net produced was a thing called a Nord-Lock washer, basically two washer on top of each other, the outsides having teeth like the flanged nuts and the insides having cams at a very specific angle, you read all about it at: http://www.nord-lock.com/nord-lock/wedge-locking/washers/introduction/
Here is a good video showing their performance:
These Nord-Lock washers aint cheap, but in my experience worth every cent, these can be sourced from the Bearing Man Group. We started with the rear suspension components that does not require frequent removal, on them the nylock nuts and washers were removed and replaced with a single flanged nut and 277 Loctite. Then on items like the CV bolts and front lower ball joints we immediately opted to use the Nord-Lock washers especially on the CV as they did not have a bolt & nut configuration.
While we were replacing the CV bolts ( we never re-use a Allen cap bolt on a CV that uses a 6mm Allen key or socket, if you do, be warned, it will bite one day.)and installing the Nord-locks we realised that the side shafts were sticky when rotating, well it did not take long to realise that we destroyed two inner CVs. We stopped replacing nuts and washers and I started stripping and cleaning CVs, I hate this type of work, everything you touch is full of grease. After having a nice and long look at the CVs, well the pieces it became quite apparent that I opted to use Spirex CVs on the inside due to the fact that I had to re-drill the holes from 8mm to 10mm and never replaced them with better quality units. The one you could actually see grinding marks on the inner cage suggesting that it is a recon unit and not a new unit as it is being sold, beware of these cheap pirate part manufacturers.
Before replacing them I first went threw a exercise of dry installing them and spacing the CV on the inner and outside to see if spacers would help, but at the end of the day, these normal off the shelf units are just not designed to be used with 22 degree shaft angle. The solution for now will be to use decent limiting straps as the cable broke on the rally and that is why the CV broke.
After this we had to cancel our appointment at Dynotech for a few pulls to determine were the motor makes power. This being a huge thing currently as the motor is very unpredictable due to the fact that once the cams activate on loose gravel the rear steps out. The dyno runs will help in choosing away forward, either by removing the N1 cams and installing the stock units or activating the cams earlier in order to smooth the power delivery, thus could mean a few lost kilowatts, but for now 20 less kilowatts that is more predictable is worth all the lost ones. This will be continued.
The Tuesday after Easter Weekend I collected the car and trailer from Car Boat & Truck that made sure everything was in perfect condition for the rally. Seeing that my bakkie were booked for a holiday with a friend attending the annual AfricaBurn, I collected the roof rack that I build from the galvanizers. Once back the big pack started, this time round it was not just rally equipment, but also the tools needed to install the roof rack and solar panel on the bakkie. We all know you cannot go without cold beer in the wicked Karoo sun. We arrived at our holiday destination in the wee hours of the morning and went straight to bed.
I only had a roof rack to install, mount a solar panel and do the last prep on the car, how long could it take, I had 3 days and even packed some magazines as I was sure I was going to become bored, boy was I in for a surprise. It turned out that time was against me, a 3 day holiday with a few hours of worked turned into a slave drive to get everything done.
The end results was a finished roof rack, 85W solar panel charging the battery thru a MPPT charger which in turn makes sure the fridge in the back is keeping the beer cold. The car were fully prepared including replacing the nuts and washers on the front suspension with flanged nuts and Loctite or Nord-Lock washers. Newly made limiting straps and all the suspension bolts marked with a paint marker.
Our Terratrip Geotrip 303 GPS rally computer and helmet Hammock also arrived and needed fitment, the hammock went in quite easily, the ODO took a little longer seeing that a little wiring had to be done, luckily this unit uses a GPS to determine distance and speed struggling with speedo probes were not needed.
Looking at the weather, some serious water fell in the area the week before the event and the forecasts suggested 1mm of water for the Saturday starting at 2am and stopping at 8am, at the coastal areas that is what we call mist, boy was we in for a surprise, as Ruan and I left Pearly Beach the heavens opened, the gravel roads to Bredasdorp was so wet that I had to tow the car at 60km/h otherwise it started floating around. While I was trying to keep the rig on the road it hit me that I forgot to pack the gazebo thru the mad rush to get out of the city. A very big fail on my part. Not only were we going to be wet, but we were going to be really wet without a gazebo and struggle with a pissed off service crew.
Luckily for us just after we arrived it started clearing up, dis helped a lot with the final preparations. We went thru the normal pre-race documentation and briefings, waited for our start time to arrive in order to strap ourselves in and leave parc ferme to travel to the first stage. As we drove along the country side roads we realised that this is going to be some very new as there were still a lot of standing water. Seeing that this rally is the fastest one for the year, speed and slippery mud does not mix, we didn’t know what to expect, we just had to follow our game plan and that is to gather km in the seats and get the car thru the rally in piece.
One thing in general that was different on this rally was the way the organizers Witzenberg Motor Club decided to run the rally, stage 1 & 2 directly after each other, service, stage 3 & 4 which is repeats of 1 & 2, lunch service, stage 5 & 6 at a new location, service and then repeating 5 & 6 again as stage 7 & 8. This setup were very spectator friendly and thought us a few new things about the game, the one nice thing about this was less waiting and more driving.
Welcome to the 2014 Witzenberg Bredasdorp Rally
83km of stage distance, 122km road section
We took it easy, just settling in and getting used to the notes. Ruan marked all the crest that we could take flat out beforehand which helped quite a bit to help settle in, never the less, it did cause the hair on my back to stand upright from time to time. The stage was quite wet but here and their started to dry.
Wipers, never used them on the car besides roadworthy, after this stage I started making all sorts of plans to add a second wiper washer switch for Ruan and changing the wiper switch out in order to activate it via switches, one for Ruan and one for me in reach and not at the back of the steering wheel.
As we stopped at the time control we heard the front suspension making all sorts of squeaking sounds when turning the steering wheel. We looked at each other and he just said we made it here without steering issues we will be fine and we started the stage, at service we will ask the team to have a look. We need to look at some sort of way to communicate with the service crew without removing our helmets. One thing that worked much better was the camera remote location and just the sequence in which I started the ECU, GPS Loggers and finally the cameras. The new DL1 Sport GPS logger from Race-Technology arrived in the meantime that would make this process even easier seeing that I can start the logging on the ECU, GPS logger and camera by pressing one button.
In the service park we had a gelled crew consisting of my father, brother, Jean van der Westhuizen and Andrea. It actually felt that Ruan and I were in the way, thus I started concentrating on relaxing. The car was dirty on the outside, but boy it was very dirty on the inside below the seats. The rear wheels used the wheel arches to pump the muddy water over the door seals and into the car, luckily we packed the elephant toilet paper which cleaned the mess. The squeaking noises turned out to be the muddy water all over the components, Mike came up with a brilliant idea just to spray the moving parts with some lubricating oil which fixed that one.
Stage 1 repeat, this is going to be nice, well the speed was better, understanding the pace notes and interpreting them better and then all of a sudden we entered a left 3, changed gear and between the time my hand moved from the gear lever to the steering wheel the back stepped out on a muddy patch, countered, countered and went farming, luckily we did not cause any damage or got stuck. This was supposed to be lesson one for the day when it comes to muddy patches.
Everything was getting dryer and just a lot more fun. Besides the fact that we had to show the spectators at the one spectating point that we can also do a 360 everything was fine and we were quite relaxed about the conditions and ready to tackle the rest of the stages.
Lunch time, charge cameras etc. Damn the car was dirty, less mud in the car, but that is due to the stages being dryer. Jean eventually mastered the refuelling rig and Ruan just had to show us how a pregnant man looks like.
Stage 5 – The roller-coaster
The stage started out dry, but as we started moving more to the mid-point it started raining again, at some stage some serious water was falling, we dropped into a valley and it were wet. We got a few warnings and all of a sudden we hit a very bad piece of mud, luckily the speed was low but still too high and we were flung from the one side to the other, all I can remember is fence, safe, fence, heart rate thru the roof, continue. Just after this we passed a two cars in a short period of time. We pushed on further and all of a sudden Ruan shouted and showed all sorts of gestures with his pace note book, we were about to hit trouble and then I saw it as I saw over the blind crest, sudden left 9, do not overshoot, these people were quite serious about this, managed to get rid of the unnecessary speed, overshoot slightly and made it. I think it is at this point that both of us tried figuring out if our pants are still clean and handed in our resignation. This sport is fun, but seriously dangerous if you only miss one pace note.
Luckily we did not now the roads in the area and the only directions we had was to the next stage. The surface still wet, but being a little higher meant less muddy spots and just more enjoyable. Probably the stage with the highest speeds, we managed at the one point to get up to 150km/h, if it wasn’t for the big ditch before the turn leading to the long straight stretch of road higher speeds was on the cards. A very enjoyable stage, just what we needed after the previous one.
Since everything was still intact, no way to check if the bolts moved seeing that everything was covered in mud, dirt and stones, the crew checked everything over, filled us with fuel and set of for the spectator point at stage 8.
The repeat of the roller-coaster, given Ruan clear instructions to warn, shout, swear at me if it seems to him that I’m not slowing down at our two heart attack zones, this time around no rain and it turned out to be a very enjoyable stage. Who would have thought what difference a few millimetres of rain can make.
Were we going to see dust on this stage, well at some points it could have been possible. As we moved thru the spectator point I decided to go over the ditch on the left hand side this time around as I had a picture in my head that it would be better, well just before we hit it, I saw it is very deep on our line and changes my line, a big no in the rally world, we hit it very hard, as the car settled after the knock I immediately noticed the car feeling strange and the steering wheel moved, we had a case of bad alignment at least, all the strange thoughts started creeping around in my head as we continued on the high speed straight. Just as we approached the braking zone we noticed a drunk spectator on the route, somehow he must have entered the route, luckily he was travelling in the same direction as us, which is a start, secondly he was competing in his own rally and trying to out run us. Even though we were limping home with a car with some suspension issues, speed was good enough that we lost time behind this future star, Ruan instructed me not to pass as we do not know what the oke was going to do.
Luckily the other spectators managed to wave the star down and we could pass, maybe it was a good thing that this happened as it forced me to take it easy and the car back home.
Ruan on the other hand went quiet, no pace notes just mumbling and all of a sudden I see him pulling out his phone, dialling, attaching the phone to his helmet (the new Iphone mount) and waiting for the other party to pick up, no answer I thought, maybe I’m going to get some notes, no, he redialled, this man is pissed off. I was driving on what I saw, until we got to a right 8 I almost did not see that I instructed him to navigate. We managed to get to the end, instruct the marshals of the future star and rove back home to parc ferme.
From their everything went smoothly on the road back and made it to our second rally finish.
We have some work to do before the next one, fix the front suspension, think of a better wiper/washer system, install the new data logger and maybe mount a decent hands free kit for Ruan, that way he can atleast keep his hands on the pace notes.
Thanks to the farmers and community for allowing us to use their area, Pierre van der Westhuizen from Witzenberg Motor Club for organizing this brilliant rally.
A special thanks to my team (Pieter & Mike Mathee, Jean van der Westhuizen, Selina Botes and Andrea) and friends that attended.
More Pictures – April 2014 – Bredasdorp Rally
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