Sunday, March 6, 2016

Emirates Desert Championship R5

Having two weeks between UAQ and R5 of the EDC gave me enough time to get the engine out for a rebuild, with new piston rings and valve seals needed to keep the oil where it belongs - inside the engine.  Or so I thought! Nanjgel extracted the engine and handed it over to Fadi at Al Numairy for fettling.  But the clutch was clearly on its last legs - we'd avoided replacing it last time the engine, but now we had to bite the bullet.  Marks 4WD had it in stock and couriered the unit over in plenty of time.  However the parts Al Numairy needed didn't arrive until Thursday - and with R5 of the EDC was due to start at 0830 on Friday, we had a race against time to be ready.  Nanjgel only got the engine back around 1700hrs, but their guys worked late to finish the job, finally handing the Beast over to me at midnight - bless them!

The fifth and final round of the EDC was held on Friday at Lusaili, and for once my trusty co-driver was there to guide me around the course.  But disaster struck as we were lined up awaiting the start - the engine died, and the battery was flat!  So it's out with the jump leads, and the nearest car was the green Patrol of my arch-rival Ali Al Ketbi.  But the engine refused to jump-start, so we resorted to a tow-start, which did the trick.  (How many F1 competitors would do this for their nearest rival?  Would Mercedes help out Ferrari?  But in rallying it's different, and people help each other.)

So we started a bit late, and the engine was coughing and spluttering - the battery obviously hadn't got enough nads to power the fuel pump and the ECU, never mind the fans (which I'd already turned off).  But as we continued, the alternator was gradually filling up the battery and after the first few km it was running cleanly, and I was able to turn on the radiator fans again.

On the second lap, I felt the steering stiffen and smelt burning rubber.  'That', I thought, 'will be a failed serpentine belt.  How fortunate that I have a spare 6PK2040 in Sheila's door pocket!'  The reason the belt had failed turned out to be that the idler pulley bolt had worked loose - fortunately not quite loose enough to fall off, but loose enough to lose the belt.  So after some slow spannering we were back on track, a lap down on Ali Al Ketbi.

This was not a day for heroics - I didn't want to over-stress the rebuilt engine, and I only needed to finish to guarantee an overall 3rd place in the auto championship, and 2nd in T1.  So we took a measured approach and it paid off - eventually we caught up with Ali as he pitted with a shredded tyre.  So after three 2nd places in the earlier rounds of the EDC, we finally gained a T1 1st place trophy, and took 3rd overall auto.

Now we have one more event next Saturday - EMC R3 in RAK - before the preparation for the ADDC begins in earnest.  (Photos courtesy of Tim Ansell.)
The tortoise that beat the hare

Finally a 1st place



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