Monday, 7 May 2012

Round 2 - Kuwait Rally

After we returned home to Bahrain, we discussed the suspension bolts problem and it made no sense to order the same nuts and bolts from Porsche Weissach. Chris Walles had been working on solving this problem and popped up one day at our workshops with several bags of high tensile aircraft bolts, washers and lock nuts from Gulf Air.
Rob bolted these on our car and setting the torgue correctly, they really looked the part. Chris asked what the torque setting required was and he stated they could go several magnitudes higher than what Porsche required.  After some testing these aircraft nuts, bolts and washers, they solved that problem.
In fact if anything these nuts and bolts were now going to be the last things to fail as they latterly proved so strong and of such superb quality, we never had to change them again throughout the entire season!
There was still the major problem of the cast aluminium trailing arms to deal with, which we could not solve so easily. These arms were from the Porsche 930 turbo road car and homologated into the Porsche (954) 911 SC RS and there were no steel versions as these were much larger than any earlier 911 Carrera ones. There was nothing for it, but we had to carry on using the aluminium ones Porsche had supplied. We ordered in some spares, which Rob and his team built up with bearings and hubs, so they could be changed promptly on a rally.
The week before the rally, the Chris & Gordon went ahead to practice and do their pace notes. A couple of days before we followed as the supporting team driving across the Bahrain-Saudi Causeway and then north up the highway through the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and into Kuwait.
An amazing thing to see as we drove north was a vast never-ending convoy of heavy military transport trucks on the road, mile after mile. These were the Western governments arming Saddam Hussein at the time against the Ayatollah’s Iranian regime, which was considered a real danger in the region.
The rally took place during the Iraq/Iran war and every night, the sky on the horizon rocked and was lit up and flashed with heavy gunfire, followed by the noise of the guns. It was all a bit unnerving at first, but we reassured ourselves as we were in another country albeit only a few miles away across the desert.
When we arrived at the hotel I could not find Chris or Gordon. I was told they were still our practicing and so I left a message for Chris to contact me on his return. The next day Chris showed up at breakfast minus Gordon Turley, who was apparently sick, so Chris had got a stand in co driver from the Bahrain Motor Club who he knew called McCormack someone I had never heard of.
Chris and this stand in co-driver McCormack, had a lot of trouble learning the route as they were not used to each other and had left it far too late as they had only been in Kuwait for two days before we arrived. I was quietly furious that Chris had not informed me earlier, but we were where we were, so there was nothing to do but to support them to the best of our ability.
Additionally the war going on a few miles away must have been a major distraction as for all the entrants and I was quietly concerned. Another problem as amateurs, like many others, was our driver and co driver had full time jobs, so time was always at a premium, another big difference between us and the professional Rothmans Porsche Rally Team.
In any event we did very well with Chris Walles and this McCormack chap coming in a respectable fourth place overall.
Unfortunately Saeed Al Hajri and John Spiller’s Porsche 911SC RS had to retire with a broken rear trailing arm, which actually snapped in half, ending up as two pieces! Saeed definitely drove the car harder than Chris and this was showing.
Rob, Bob and I had been working on solving the rear trailing arm stress problems and we had come up with the idea of fitting rose joints to the pick up points. After this major failure to Saeed’s car and quietly over a drink, Dave Richards and I discussed the legality of fitting rose joints to the pickup points instead of rubber bushes to allow the arms to move better. We both decided to fit them for the next rally and as no one would know, just keep this modification internal. We had to get on top of this weakness in both cars as a matter of urgency and rose joints would definitely help.

Round 2 - Kuwait 23/24 Feb
Driver/Co Driver
Saleh / Samia
Toyota Celica
7h 02m 25s
Al Zaffeiri / Ashkenani
Nisan 240 RS
7h 20m 36s
Al Beirami / Zaid
Nissan Violet
7h 33m 52s
Walles / McCormack
Porsche 911 SC RS
8h 38m 47s

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