Monday, October 5, 2015

Down to the Wire

Well, the Painless Performance wiring loom arrived, and shortly thereafter the repaired Monit tripmeters from New Zealand.  Monit, bless them, had not only replaced the PCBs on each unit, but also clearly given me new cases for them as well.  So the only original bit was the screen – effectively they had saved me about £800.  Any company that serves their customers that well – on 7-year-old equipment – deserves a massive vote of thanks.

And so Jason and I (OK, mainly Jason) set about re-wiring the Beast.  Nanjgel had already modified the rear wings and installed a pair of Hilux rear light clusters, which look really good.  Jason did the clever stuff – like figuring out where all the wires go, and what extra bits we needed.  I fabricated and painted a couple of replacement dash panels to accommodate the new switches and indicators, mounted some relay bases in a weatherproof enclosure and generally shouted encouragement from the touchline. 

The job ended up being rather more of a challenge than Jason had anticipated.  The loom and fuse box is designed around American wiring practice, which (it turns out) is not entirely compatible with non-USA vehicles.  Being unable to persuade the ECU to come to the party cost us a couple of days which we could ill-afford, before Nanjgel’s electrician finally came to the rescue.  However, around midday on Friday we decided it was sufficiently ‘finished’ for the following day’s event, and we blatted off to Siyouh to recce the stages in Sheila’s Prado.

The Mobil 1 Rally is the 4th round of the Emirates Rally Championship, organised by the EMC.  It comprised two gravel stages, each run three times, in an area where we’d previously competed.  Saturday was almost certainly the hottest and most humid day in the last few weeks, which made the event hard work.  Starting 16th out of 17 cars, we completed the first two stages around midday, and on returning to service were shocked to discover that we were leading T1, by a massive one second margin from Ali Al Shawi.  (Ali, who was already leading the T1 championship, has spent the summer upgrading his Chevy Silverado to multi-link suspension and pruning back the bodywork to pickup-style to make it even more competitive, was pretty shocked as well.)
Low flying
On the second go-round we extended our lead on SS3, before losing it all on SS4 where he went quicker and I pushed too hard and made a few errors.  So after four stages we were 5 seconds adrift from Al Shawi.  We pulled back a second of that on SS5, and did our fastest lap of SS6 – but it wasn’t enough to catch Al Shawi who was a massive 14 seconds quicker on the final stage.  We ended up 18 seconds behind him, 2nd in T1 and 6th overall – which coincides exactly with our overall standings in the championship.  17 cars started, 11 finished.  Shk. Abdullah Al Qassimi won the event in his Ford Fiesta, and Sheila once again took home a ‘special trophy’ for being the top lady finisher!

There is still work to do on the wiring.  Despite the repairs to the Monits, Sheila still found them unreliable, with both the trip meters and timers randomly re-setting.  However, the next couple of events are the opening rounds of the Emirates Desert Championship, which I can manage without a co-driver.  The amount of oil the engine consumes is also a concern – I got through at least half a gallon in two top-ups.

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