As we arrived home after the Toyota Dealer Rally we parked Datto and replaced all the rally equipment with camping equipment. The next morning before first light we set of on our road trip to the Kruger National Park, a quick dash thru Swaziland, a steep climb up the Sani Pass and a colourful drive thru the Eastern Cape back home.
I would just like to say one thing about this trip, all the people in the world that thinks Table Mountain is this beautiful thing surely haven’t been to the Drakensberg, never in my life have I seen mountains in our country better looking than the Drakensberg, magic and a slight touch of wizzary is the ingredients for those mountains.
The Morning as we were driving up, I made a comment to a family member that told me we should be careful in the rally car that, I’m safer in the rally car than on the mountain bike, if only I saw the irony in that statement, during the week back at home, a friend and myself visited a MTB trail we haven’t been to in a while, on our way down I ran out of talent over a table top jump, broken my left cartilage, right AC joint broken, my first stitches on my right eye brow from the helmet cracking on 8 places, cuts and bruises all over, a haematoma on my right leg (at least my physio gave me some nice Viking art for that) and lastly, no damage to the MTB, what a relieve.
Obviously the above caused some issues working on the car was very difficult as my one arm was in a sling, at least I kept my mechanical side sharp for a month or two by assembling my own MTB, there is something special building and riding your own specced bike, even maintenance on it is a nice affair as you learned all the tricks needed.
Seeing that we realised that we needed a better hand brake on tar and that we have a little heating issue on the front brakes, we decided to upgrade both front and rear brakes. Allot of effort went into searching for the best options, lastly we settled on a new pair of Wilwood DynaPro 1.75″ Stainless Steel pistons units for the front coupled to a set of 298mm curved vane rotors to help with heat dissipation, for the rear we went for the same size 298mm rotors, this time normal straight vane and used the old front callipers. The above seemed like overkill, but hopefully it would allow us to use a slightly cheaper brake pad compound which could net a huge money save in the long run.
Seeing that the front was already radial mounted callipers, it was the obvious to start with them, with a little time spend on AutoCAD to design an ideal adaptor plate between hub and rotor that defined the necessary measurements in order to get the offsets correct, I was able to make some quick spacers in order to mount the calliper to test clearance between the wheels, all was happy.
It did not take too long to machine the required adaptors once my arm was out of the sling, drilling all the holes on the other hand was quite a task seeing that I needed my very weak right arm to operate the milling machine. After all the drilling I chamfered the sides in order to allow the maximum amount of air to be vented thru the rotors.
Packed the bearings with grease, installed some new oil seals and the front end was done and dusted.
The rear was a matter of much much more time and effort will be needed, especially since the old rear callipers were lug mount, this meant a whole new mounting must be designed and also a hat to mount the rotor.
After some careful option consideration we decided to go against everything we believe and not start from scratch, but rather use the old rotor which spigots 100%, cut it down to size and mount the new rotor to it, all in all it turned out to be a brilliant plan, just the machining took ages.
Mounting the calliper took some CAD (Cardboard aided Design) work, a lot of clamps some marking, drilling, tapping and time, I wouldn’t bore you with the details. Due to the increase in piston count and increase size of the pistons, we had to swap the master cylinders from 0.625 units to bigger 0.750 units in order to increase the amount of fluid and decrease the pedal travel as I like a very high stiff stroke, that just sounds inappropriate.
We were invited to put the car on display at the KykNet Ekspo and take some passengers around a little track at Apollo Bricks, it was a nice day walking around all the vendors looking for new camping ideas, but the track was very dusty and chewed up tyres like never before, also the speed was very low, which meant testing the brakes at very high temperatures was not possible, but at least we had an idea that the new handbrake setup is working very good.
Witzenberg Motor club held their annual awards ceremony at the beginning of the year, we managed to get some trophies for our efforts for competing in the Regional championship, but also some for the National NRC2 championship, something which is very strange to me, only competitors with national licenses were allowed on the podium, but those of us with only regional licenses are allowed to score national points, very silly in my opinion, but let’s leave it be as I personally think rally scoring is a freak in joke in our country, again, how on God’s green earth can a competitor that did not make it to parc ferme finish before those that actually finished the rally.
10th Overall Driver
1st Class S4 Driver
10th Overall Navigator
1st Class S4 Navigator
9th Class NRC2 Driver
9th Class NRC2 Navigator
We haven’t really planned to do an event this early in the year, but seeing that we did it last year and really enjoyed the good quality roads and higher speeds, we just could not pass on it, then there is the little fact that this is the location of our very first rally, which mean the event is close to our hearts.
The prep work on the car was quite easy as nothing was broken, the shocks was taken apart, cleaned lubed and put together again, new grease and oil seals on the hubs and the normal bolt check, cleaning, alignment and washing. We had quite a laugh at the state of the tyres that was still on the car since the All Tar, just goes to show that you don’t need the best to have fun.
As usual the morning started very early as we decided to travel to Klipdale the morning of the event in order to save costs. On arrival it was still quite damp from the previous weeks rain and we thought the weather will be nice and cool, boy were we in for a surprise. Documentation and scrutineering went by without any issues, the team did a great job in getting everything setup.
Within the first few kilometres we realised that we were a lot faster with more commitment thru the corners, which is a very positive sign for us as it proves that we are concentrating on the correct order of things. Before the event I decided to use a heart rate monitor just for the fun of it and at the end of stage 1 we just had to look at it as we nearly lost the car going over the flying finish, my heart rate went from an average 146bpm to 178bpm in milliseconds, the whole incident happened so fast we could not immediately put our finger on what happened. I don’t know if it is a good thing to have your daily scare on the first stage in order to slow you down or just to motivate you to look closer and concentrate harder. The crew had quite a giggle once we arrived at service and told them the story with so much laughter we could hardly get a word out. We decided that we will service after the first stage as the brakes were new and un tested and would stick to the old tyres until stage 4.
During stage 2 things just started gelling better and better, we took it easy over the very rough stuff and pushed on the more flowing stuff. For this event we tested a few changes in the way we make notes which turned out to help a lot, it saves time in making the notes and helps a lot with confidence, but we did not finish the stage without 2 incidents on the brakes, the rear was very snappy once you jump on the brakes, after some brake bias adjustments on the fly this seemed to get better and better. Back in the pits I had quite a long time to think about the brakes as we told the service crew it is ok they could stay out in the stages spectating as we will service ourselves, coming back to the brakes, the rear was so snappy due to the much bigger rear setup, also the reason why we almost lost it at the end of stage 1, after that scare I was prepared for it and could drive around it until I could put my finger on it and rectify, seeing that I’m not one for fiddling without knowing why.
As the day went on, we asked the service crew to come and service during the mid-day break in order to make us some food and help with tyres and refuelling. Again we had a good couple of laughs regarding the mistakes we made, at the end of the day the biggest one went to Ruan for forgetting to call a left 9, luckily we had enough space, but due to the language used I had to throw away the video footage as he was truly lost and felt very bad, I never laughed that hard during a stage nor after. The dumbest went to me for not engaging the clutch when pulling the handbrake in front of all the spectators at a hairpin right, dump ass. The last 2 stages was the best of them all, seeing that I made only a few mistakes and committed to everything Ruan told me and just had a blast. Our hearts went out to all the officials and marshals on the day as we saw temperatures in the car in excess of 43 degrees Celsius.
At the end of the day we ended with our best ever gravel results:
4th Overall, 9 seconds behind the podium
2nd Class S4, 9 seconds adrift of our 1st gravel class win.
Very happy with our progress, almost almost getting to the point where we can remove the Learner sticker in the back window, for now we will continue to learn and be grateful for all the support and hard work from friends and family.
More Pictures – March 2016 – Brake Upgrade & Klipdale Rally
Return to Datsun 1200