Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Faster, damper, bonzer....

Today’s special silica stage would have been a lot easier on Ian and Sheila’s backs if only they hadn’t popped an Öhlins early on. Now some of you will know exactly what I mean by that, but for the benefit of those of you who believe that a) Ian is taking some sort of performance enhancing drugs with nasty side effects or b) Sheila’s done some terrible damage to a previously unheard of vertebrae in her lower spine, an Öhlins is a coilover. There. Clear as mud.
Notice the word 'WORKS'. Ours doesn't.

And a coilover is a damper with a spring around the top of it. Still not with me? Do try to keep up. IT’S A SHOCK ABSORBER!! At last, true clarity. Losing a coilover so early on in the day really put a damper on things. Well, technically it took a damper off of things I suppose but anyway, having three heavy duty and flippin expensive dampers doing their job, while the other one just sits around cleaning its fingernails, makes for a rough ride. But no matter, because our desert dueling duet ploughed a persistent passage through the simmering seas of sand which mother nature (and the race organisers) placed in their path, slalomed surreptitiously through the “Not a Service Stop”, laughed in the face of flat tyre adversity (ha ha ha, blast you, you breathless bag of bulbous blubber) just 15 kilometres from the end of the race, and thus threw down the gauntlet to their fellow competitors. Sheila picked it up again later though because she knew Ian would be wondering what he’d done with it. 

Indeed so rapid and drama-less was their progress that I would be positively short of tall tales today were it not for Chris, Enzo and Ivan. Chris and Enzo you see work in the land of ‘roos ‘n emus, supplying specialised clutches to the racing and four wheel driving cognoscenti down under. Click here www.mantic.com.au for one of those new fangled hyperlink thingies – BUT only after you’ve finished with today’s jackanory. Ian had been in touch with Chris 3 months ago regarding a specialist clutch to fit twixt the Corvette engine and Patrol gearbox. To be sure of having the car finely fettled for Qatar in two weeks time, he asked me to ring Chris and see how we could get what was needed from OZ to UAE, A.S.A.P. How professional are these guys? Not only did Chris immediately remember the details of Ian’s email 3 months ago, but, whilst building an exhibition stand with one hand, holding the phone with the other, and no doubt maneuvering a slap of cold ones toward the fridge with his feet while he was talking to me, reeled off the part numbers from memory and told me to ring Enzo back at HQ, and that they’d sort one out PDQ. Bonzer blokes to the core, and remarkably, all achieved without the sound of Kylie Minogue wailing or Rolf Harris wobble boarding in the background. (No – because they had enough flaming sense to send them to the UK years ago!) Needless to say the car will be sporting Mantic stickers in Qatar. Question is, which way up do we put them?

It's only a flesh wound. I've had worse.
Look closely and you'll see this tyre has a hole in it.

And what of Ivan the Terrible I hear you ask. Well first of all that’s not very polite, it’s Ivan the Knowledgeable. Ivan knows a thing or two about Öhlins, and after Richard removed the offending part from the car, the sweat from his brow and the skin from his knuckles, he presented it to Ivan and said “what do you make of that?”. Ivan paused, considered the damage and announced. “There’s an ‘ole in your Öhlin, but maybe Ivan other one”. Actually he said no such thing. What he really said was “It’s buggered but thanks for taking it off – now please refit it because your car needs the coil on board to stay level, even if the damper’s bereft of life and breathing no more”. Oh how Richard chortled with amusement at the thought of putting back on that which he had just undone. Welcome to the DC RB.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the almost entirely true story of how Ian and Sheila started out today in 21st place and ended up in 18th overall, 14th in T1 class. Like a community made quilt it was embroidered in several places, and sprinkled liberally with superfluous sequins, but hey, it kept you warm for a while.

So a top ten finish is still within reach. Maybe. Possibly. Perhaps. Who knows?

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