Two rallies completed, both we were able to finish, on paper all seemed to go well and as planned. A few big lessons learned like wipers is more important than a spare wheel, muddy water is transparent as it can magically appear under the seats and the interior of a rally car gets very hot after a hour in a race suit and 35+ degrees of nice Overberg sunshine. Well we were about to learn our biggest lesson and drop a pot of ink on that paper stating that everything went as planned.
Fixing the damage
Seeing that we bend both front lower control, arms going thru the furrow on Stage 8 of the Bredasdorp Rally, we had to build new ones and improve them a little as time was limited and a total redesign was out of the question. The bend parts were removed, did I mention it took quite a bit of tricky maneuvering of various cutting tools to get rid of them. Once this was all done I could TIG weld in the new bits, seeing that I learned quite a few tricks from the last roll cage that we build, I managed to get in with the TIG torch in positions previously impossible. Another piece were added to strengthen the part that bend without affecting the position of the ball joint. This time round I painted them seeing that I could be working on them in the near future again.
Next on the list were the addition of a brand new Race-Technology DL1 Sport GPS data logger. The fancy part to this logger is its ability to log everything the AX22 were able to log + the data send from the ECU. Swopping the two loggers were the easy part, adding a switch on the steering wheel to activate the windshield washer pump turned out to be a little more complex than originally planned as all of a sudden relays had to be added seeing that the current draw of the pump would have been too high for the wiring to the steering wheel.
The GoPro mountings were also changed for frame mounts which would allow the 12V-MicroUSB power supplies to be connected to the cameras for a continues supply of power to them, another thing removed from the service list during the lunch break, no more charging cameras before or during an event. Something small, but you would be surprised at the amount of thing that should be remembered/done before an event. These new frame mounts would also facilitate the use of the rear 30 pin bus connector on the cameras for the newly planned witchery the team are busy with, this being adding external audio to the units, power, start/stop recording via the GPS Logger, etc. Interesting things to come, and as always, we will share all the info, just to upset some out there that wants to make money from every little thing.
Additional washer piping were added directly to the wiper arms to help with water directly in front of the arms, the idea behind these are that if I can get enough water on the wind-shield the use of the wipers could be forfeited in some instances, but these will also help clear muddy water if used in conjunction with the blades. Seeing that time were limited I fastened the pipe to the blades and made small holes in them, not ideal but a start. Since then I learned that I need drain back valves on these and that I need to find a better way to direct water in the correct positions on the screen.
Bits & Bobs that did not help
Car Cover, my mother being a genius at operating a sewing machine were called upon for some help, food and board was exchanged as a means of payment and she managed to make a custom fit to my specification cover for the car, this thing will help keep the stones away from the car especially to events, as added feature I asked for some reflective tape to be added to add some colour and make the car more visible in the dark when towing it.
Paper Towel Stand (Elephant Toilet Paper), Paying R400 bucks for a paper towel stand just seemed way to expensive for my liking, thus I decided to build my own, way over engineered, but why not, at least this one folds away flat.
On the management side we lowered the first activation point by 200rpm and increase the gap between the cams to 600rpm, hopefully this will help.
As the prep work were done we had to do the alignment, during this we had to adjust the steering wheel to be straight again, luckily I did all the adjusting of the steering wheel, more about this later. We had to remove the rear part of the exhaust to adjust the rear ride, seeing that the exhaust rubs the tyre on full compression I deemed it a very good idea to keep it removed and fit a bend to direct the gasses to the ground, only down side to this was the fact that the pipe excited at the bottom of the car. Hopefully the car sounds a little more like a rally car seeing that the car now only had one box left.
I must admit, packing for a rally is becoming easier and easier every time I’m doing it, this is probably due to the fact that my packing list is adjusted every time and I have a dedicated set of boxes only for rally spares, fluids, etc. The majority of these boxes is just placed in storage until the next event.
The weather for the event looked bad, a lot of water came down the week leading up to the event, travelling towards Ceres the morning, the mist was quiet thick and a few heavy showers fell, as we approached the mountains surrounding the Ceres the skies cleared and it seems that the weather were going to turn out to be in our favour. The start of the event were at Ceres Toyota, we off loaded the car and the team made quick work of completing the final prep work and getting the car thru scrutinering and into parc ferme, as we drove the car I felt something out of place on the steering, but just could not put my hand on it.
Seeing that the rally started quite late , we had a lot of time standing around chatting, all the time I could not figure out why the steering felt so disconnected. We started the rally and as we drove out to the first stage I realised that the steering wheel flange was coming loose as I only nipped the two little 5mm Button Heads when we did the alignment, I knew for a fact that this is going to rattle loose and cause some sort of head ache in the stage. Once we stopped at the stage, we quickly jumped out, Ruan adjusted the tire pressures while I tried to fasten the only 2 out of 8 button heads, with the column switches in the way I was unable to fasten them with Allen keys as the set in the car did not have ball ends, lesson learned. I ended up using a pair of pliers as it was the only thing able to fit in the tight space, the fact that the button heads were stainless did not help for grip, well I managed to get it fastened enough that I felt at easy about the whole situation, the rough 25km stage that laid in front of us on the other hand did not help.
Due to the start of the stage being delayed, our steering fixed and the sun starting to come out we had time to test our new hydration system which worked a treat.
The first section of the stage were quite tight, made a little mistake on a right hander and then it opened up as we travelled next to the main road on the wheat fields. The one thing that were quite obvious were the fact that once the cams activated the exhaust note were loud as hell in the car, luckily Ruan anticipated this and adjusted the intercom volume on our way to the stage. I must admit I like the sound of the exhaust, but it will have to move to the rear of the car as it should be, exiting under the car makes it way to loud on the interior.
The first part of the stage the notes were very good, as the stage got rougher and Ruan started having small issues, luckily for him and unlucky for us the steering started coming loose after only about 8km, this put me of as I had no confidence, after this the driving were bad as I had to concentrate on keeping pressure on the steering wheel to add tension on the bolts, I knew if even only one came undone we had some serious issues on our hands. I decided just to take it easy, get thru the stage and fix the damn steering, my singe biggest mistake of the whole season. Lesson learned, if you start with something, finish it before moving on to the next item, if that is impossible, make a note on the To-do list.
Concentrating on keeping pressure on the steering got to a point that I concentrated more at it than the road and we hit a furrow quite hard and bend the left lower control arm, Yes again. This broke my mood for the stage completely, the “rhythm”, “feeling” and the will completely went out the window. I went into survival mode and basically coasted thru the stage, while figuring out in my head how to fasten the 8 bolts on the steering without stripping the complete dash. As my plan was made, the stage opened up, what a relief, about 5-7km to go on easy ground would be a bonus to nurse the car to the end as the service park were basically next to the stage end.
And……. it went south, we went through a slight ditch, nothing mayor compared to what we went through previously, we just heard a rubbing sound coming from the right front, my initial thoughts were that horror strut through the bonnet picture, we pulled off the stage onto an opening, switched the car off and immediately got the “OK” board out, assessed the damage and saw the stub axle broke, snapping one of the caliper mounting bolts in the process, this were the end to our rally.
Luckily for us the Clark of the Course allowed our service crew into the stage to recover the car seeing that the stage would be repeated. The team made small work of loading the three legged car onto the trailer, even though it took us the better part of a hour or two, later we learned that the stage were delayed due to a huge accident. Once back at the Service Park the relevant documentation were handed in, service area packed up and Selina and I left for home with my tail between my legs, seeing that the rest of the crew Cape Town were in a faster car they could at least watch a stage. Once back home it was the same ordeal just in reverse to get the car of the trailer and back in the garage, luckily we had enough lights, man power and girl power that fed us coffee.
Needless to say the rest of the evening were used to consume vast amounts of mixed beverages trying to figure out the best way forward as clearly we had an issue on our hands.
More Pictures – May 2014 – WBMK Ceres Rally
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