By Mark Talbot
Following the Pirelli there was some panel beating required on the near side rear quarter of the 106. After a trip offshore there was only a few days to get this sorted before the event. We managed to build a new inner arch and knock the side into something near and hoped that would be OK for scruitneering. The more I looked at it the more I was determined it was actually stronger than new albeit a little less flat with a few pop rivets here and there. With the event being local we drove the 106 down the night before where it sailed through scruitneering with no issues. We left home rally morning and as our house was closer to the stages than the service area and left the trailer at home and just drove down in the car. We got to the first stage in good time but had a long delay before starting. After not driving the car for a few months and feeling a little rusty we weren’t exactly up to speed after the long delay. Despite the first stage being relatively short we were flagged down four times due to other cars being off the road which also cost us a lot of time. The second stage was much longer and allowed us to get into a better rhythm. That was until the brake servo pipe came off in the inlet manifold and we lost the servo assisted brakes. We managed to keep up the pace but had to brake earlier and with much more pressure to get the car slowed down but even with the throttle closed, air was rushing into the intake making the engine rev. Half way through the stage we had pretty much caught the car in front but in the excitement under-‐steered round a 90 left and went into the ditch where the car rolled onto its roof! We spent a minute upside down whilst the marshals and spectators got us the right way up again. The car started straight away and we were thankfully on our way again, all without the car behind catching up.
We put the brake servo pipe back on best we could on the road section before stage 3 and cautiously continued worrying when it might happen again and unexpectedly have reduced braking performance. Stage 3 went pretty uneventful other than a little moment 50 yards before the flying finish where trying to go too fast round the last corner resulted in the back end almost in the ditch and costing more time than if I had just not tried so hard.
The soft tyres were not holding up so well on the rough roads and warm temperatures and after stage three the fronts were losing chunks badly. With not enough spare wheels we swapped wheels from front to back in hope they would last on the last two stages. On stage four we ended up in a ditch again on our side. The same side of the car but Embarrassingly it was the same corner that we were upside down at in stage 2 although in the opposite direction! We lost a good few minutes here as we were out of the car and assisting the same marshals and spectators as before pull the car out with a rope. We got back on our way eventually but had forgot to plug the intercom so communicating was an issue for the rest of the stage. All this rough and tumble was taking it toll on the 106. At the remote stop before stage 5 the starter motor stopped engaging so after a bump start had to keep the car running for the rest of the afternoon! The bumper was hanging off throughout stage five and got itself caught up in the passenger wheel. It was like driving with the handbrake half on and you could hear the tyre rubbing through the bumper and the smell of burnt rubber wafted inside the car with the massive amount of dust throw up from the roads.
We finished stage 5 but although out of the forest were not out of the woods. The car was only running on three cylinders, the engine was getting too hot and we couldn’t switch it off in fear it would no start on the motor and the bumper had worn the rear tyre bald. We snapped the bumper off and threw it in the back and set off back to Rosehill. We finished the rally and didn’t come last so despite everything have managed 4 finishes in 4 rallies now but the car now needs some TLC before it will be out again!
Thanks to John Ross for servicing and chasing and to all the people that helped us get going on both occasions!