FEV are one of the very few manufacturers homologated by the FIA to supply the new CO2 powered gas fire extinguishers, which replace the old AFFF (automatic film-forming foam) type. They are family run British company which has been supplying the motorsports industry for many years., Their local distributor is Gulfsport, who supplied several systems immediately prior to the DIB. One of the same batch as mine went to buggy-driver Khaled Al Jafla, who I bumped into as I was heading to Gulfsport on Sunday,to report what had happened. We chatted about the event and wished each other good luck for the ADDC.
Once inside Gulfsport's office, I saw why Khalid had been there. His extinguisher was sitting on the desk, and had exploded during the event, exactly like mine. It now turns out that a third unit exploded in Mexico.
In the past week, FEV have stopped production of this system. They have recalled all the 300-plus units they have supplied worldwide, and their FIA homologation has been cancelled. Once they get to the bottom of the problem and redesign the system, they will have to re-apply for FIA homologation.
Their situation is about as bad as it can get. They have just lost their entire installed base of these latest-generation systems, which will obviously be replaced by their competitors, and the damage to their reputation will be hard to repair. Despite the problems they've caused, I can't help feeling sorry for FEV.
We're lucky, by comparison - a replacement system from SPA will be one of four to be shipped at the end of this week. It should arrive on Monday, giving us the rest of the week to install it before Friday's ADDC scrutineering. Given that some competitors were caught out by the FIA's new firex regulations, it's entirely possible that they could be caught out again - as things stand, if they opted for the FEV system, they will fail ADDC scrutineering.
The Beast is back at its second (or is that first?) home, Nanjgel. A new front wing is replacing the one that took the brunt of my impact with Mansour's Prado, and a few other jobs are on their list. A new heavy-duty front halfshaft is coming in from the USA, at a specially discounted price - even though I told them the break was caused by a bent axle tube! Big thanks to the guys at www.JustDifferentials.com
A new T-shirt design to commemorate our 10th successive Desert Challenge has been produced - mainly by me, with help from Parvez, the graphic designer at Magic Touch. Lists are being prepared, stuff is getting organised, and we have the team finalised. Sadly our long-time engineering guru Richard Bailey can't be with us this year, and will be sorely missed - and not just for his impressive tool collection. Rick Carless and Jason Lyness will now be joined on the spanners by Phil Cravens, who has been angling to do the ADDC for a while, His experience as support for saloon-car endurance racing, alongside Jason, will be invaluable. Kate Stedman joins us again from the UK, to help share the housekeeping and logistics load with Sheila, and keep Rick company in the chase car.
10 days to go. So much still to do...