Monday, December 14, 2015
Fujairah Rally 2015
The final round of the Emirates Motorsport Club’s UAE Rally Championship took place in Fujairah this weekend, and it really was something completely different for Newtrix Racing.It comprised two mountain stages, Farfar and Mamdouh. each run twice. (This Farfar was not, as I expected, in the land of FarFarAway, so we did not have Lord Farquaad to flag us off, nor did we have to avoid refugee fairy-tale creatures on the track.) The villages of Farfar and Mamdouh are close to the newish E84 highway which connects Fujairah with the Sharjah-Kalba Road, and lie on an ancient network of stony mountain tracks. These are a far cry from the gravel plains of recent events, with many hairpin bends, sheer drops and rocks of every size and description wherever you look. Disaster lurked in wait for the unwary around every bend.
Our Friday recce was punctuated by several incidents. First, the Monit tripmeters would not give a reliable distance reading, which turned out to be a simple fix – the sensors were too far from the bolt-heads on the prop-shaft they were supposed to be sensing. Then a sudden a violent shaking overcame us, unrelated to the near-death experience of close proximity to unprotected sheer drops. This turned out to be a loose front control arm, again a simple fix. Then the electrics died, courtesy of a loose battery connector. So our Friday practice session ended up as only two run-throughs in the Beast, which we decided to leave on its trailer in Fujairah while we went back to Dubai for a friend’s birthday party.
The next day the shorter Farfar stage proved uneventful, and we finished in a reasonable time. But Mamdouh saw us pass three rally cars in varying stages of disrepair, with Michel Saleh’s Impreza eventually managing to restart and finish the stage behind us. At 18mins 14 secs we weren’t among the fastest through Mamdouh, but we kept it in one piece and no service work awaited us at the halfway point.
Second time round I shaved a few seconds off my time through Farfar, and felt more confident to attack Mamdouh. We finished in a very respectable 17mins 14 secs, beating Ali Al Shawi’s best time! However it was the only stage where we did beat him, and ended up 2nd in T1 and 5th overall.
The final event of the day was the end of season dinner and championship awards, where again we failed to feature on the rostrum. We ended the season 2nd in T1, 6th overall, and Sheila came 5th in the co-drivers standings.
With my deteriorating hearing, I was finding it impossible to hear Sheila through the crappy intercom in our new Bell helmets. So after a bit of experimentation, I decided to remove the entire (vastly superior) speaker and mike system from my old Peltor helmet, and re-wire it into the Bell. What a difference! It just remains to do the same upgrade on Sheila’s helmet.Next event will be the first round of the 2016 EMC UAE Rally Championship, on 15th-16th January.