Sunday, November 2, 2008

28th October – UAEDC Day 2

Days 2, 3 and 4 are rated as the most difficult of the event. Our start on day 2 is inauspicious – only a few km from the start I manage to drop the Patrol into a Patrol-sized hole, and can only watch as all the remaining autos pass us by. From our 15th place start, we’re now flat last, and still trying to dig the truck out of its hole. Finally, with the sand ladders in place and the tyres down to 12psi, she comes free – just as the sweep team arrive! Sadly one of my new MaxTrax has buried itself in the dune and we don’t have time to hunt for it, so I ask John Mitchell-Ross to waypoint the spot, so that we can come back another day and recover it. We carry on, but the stress of the recovery has taken its toll on Sheila and she requires a quick chunder-stop soon after. This rather sets the tone for the day, and we manage to get stuck again at a point where several cars are already stuck and a sweep team is sorting it out. Thankfully John Tan gives our recovery priority and we’re out quickly, only to get stuck a few hundred meters ahead – I’ve accidentally put the transfer box from 4-low to 2-high instead of 4-high! But now it’s stalled and although the starter turns it’s not catching. I check the fuses controlling the ECU, pulling each one out, and they look fine. But when I replace them, the car fires up – it’s a miracle! Our final stuck is on a soft side-slope above a farm fence, where I manage to stall the engine, and I have to leave the engine to cool before the starter will turn over. More time is wasted getting the sand ladders out and deflating the tyres to 8psi, but finally I manage to reverse it through a barbed-wire fence, with one tyre off the rim. Replacing the wheel and disentangling the barbed wire takes more time, and when we finally reach PC4 we’re told that the final stage has been closed 15 minutes previously. We are despondent as we head home on the tarmac, we are the 21st vehicle to arrive and the first to be time-barred, and we make the mistake of not visiting the finish to get our card stamped. This omission will cost us some 5 hours of penalties – had we done so, we’d have ‘completed’ in limit time and got only 15-minute penalties for each of the missed waypoints in the final stage. It’s a mistake to learn from.

Back at the bivouac, it’s time for more repairs to the inner wing, as well as replacement of the steering tie-rod. We end up as 27th on the day, it’s a disappointing end to a difficult day – but we’re still in the race.