Monday, February 28, 2005

Bill and John's Excellent Adventure. Part 9: Denouement

MCR Plaque

Now that the rally has been over for a few weeks we’ve had time to reflect on our performance and how we can improve (win it outright?) next year. Overall it was a brilliant event but we did underachieve a little due to a combination of errors, jitters and technical issues. The lessons learned were as follows:

The Mini is fantastically reliable and tough, even when hammered by Bill for 2000 Km: we have no doubts about its competitive abilities.

Bill and I had an excellent rapport and are both similarly serious and highly competitive. Our pre-agreed “no blame” rule worked well but next year we must remember that it should also apply to ourselves. Excessive self-flagellation is tedious and unhelpful and we were both guilty of this…

Our service crew was THE BEST. No one could have worked harder or with more dedication that Jim, Juliette and Steffan. It was a privilege and honour to have these stalwarts from the Luxembourg Mini Club as our Guardian Angels. We are going to need them again next year. We think we’ll also need a spotter car that will run ahead of the pack and report back on weather conditions and share some of the service load. They may also be able to trailer the car down to Reims and back from Vals les Bains. Bill has some thoughts on this matter and I think Jim is going to be the boss of quite a big team in 2006.

The Dunlop D93J tyres were brilliant for wet and dry tarmac: we’ll need 3 more for next time. We need to rethink the snow tyres though: we believe a switch to Maxsport M&S 165 x 10 studded covers on Minilite wheels instead of the old steel Cooper S rims will be just the ticket. We’ll need a minimum of six and eight might be better. These tyres don’t last long when driven on dry tarmac.

The lights let us down badly. Considering I’d paid a lot of money to have the 7” Lucas spotlights refurbished and fitted with supposedly super Australian halogen bulbs, their performance was pretty mediocre. The 5 ½" Lucas fogs have always been poor, regardless of bulbs. And to top it off the switch failure on the Col de Turini was the last straw. So next time its going to be 4 x 7” Cibié Oscars (two fogs and two long range spots) right across the front of the car. Now before the purists start yelling at me (remember I’m one of you) I’m going to preempt any accusations of non-originality and say “sod it, we need to see at night”. Actually I’ll keep the Lucas lamps and if I ever sell the car they can go with it. I may however get the back of the Oscars (which are usually black powder coated) chromed to make them look a little more like 1960s items. I’ll also get Lee to fit Wipac switches. I’m told these are bulletproof: they also look more correct.
Front lights

Calibrating the Halda is key. I’ll send it to Neil Huband for service. Then, when the car is back together, I’ll drive it to Oxford and get him to calibrate it and to provide me with a few extra cogwheels. We’ll also make sure that in no circumstances will we miss measuring the organiser’s calibrated distance ever again. I’m still not sure whether it’s worth putting a rear wheel drive on the Halda though. They do get around the problem of inaccurate readings due to wheels spinning on ice but they are a hassle to fit and quite ugly. Also I noticed one Mini team who had one placed dead last.
Rear Halda drive

Stefano Aghem, the winner of this year’s event, and several other front runners were using BLIZZ timing average speed calculator. These are made by Stefano’s company. Not cheap at around 450 Euro but they make the navigator's job a lot easier. Essentially he/she only has to read and compare the distance against the Halda and that shown on the chronometer at 10 second intervals indicated by audible “beeps”. The discrepancy in distance must then be adjusted by the driver. The only problem I can see is that both driver and co-driver have to think in terms of distance rather than time. I suppose this is just a matter of practice though.
BLIZZ hronometer

An intercom is de rigeur.

We need to modify the seats so that the seat belts can be threaded through slots and the harness doesn’t get tangled. We were forever fighting this problem on this rally and it became very annoying.

We’ll lighten the car as much as possible next time. I might fit aluminium door skins, boot and bonnet but mostly we’ll do well to transfer a lot of our crap to the second service vehicle.

Bill and I will do a full recce. This is really essential if we are going to be serious contenders. We’ll take a week off as soon as the route is announced and drive all the regularities.

Oh, I nearly forgot. The Mad Dog Rallying logo, given with kind permission by Richard Mattei of Seattle and modified by Marilyn Connell, will be setup to make badges and patches for the team and supporters.

Obviously all of this preparation is going to cost money and thus we are looking for sponsors. A few gallant souls have suggested they may be interested in helping us out. All offers of help in this area will be gratefully received. And we can do a lot in terms of publicity for your business. Please contact Bill or me if you would like to discuss.
Bill & John graphics

Well folks, that concludes Episode 9 in the "Bill & John" series and is the last of the reports on the 2005 MC rally. Doubtless the topic will come up again in the not too distant future but for the time being I'll be dealing with more humdrum topics. In any case thank you all for visiting this humble site: by all means bookmark it and return on a regular basis. Don't be shy to leave comments either (although I'd prefer that they were polite).



gilly said...

Its fascinating to watch the evolution over the years from a team delighted to arrive in one piece to one that truly means to win.
Hope you do
Do I qualify for a supporters' badge?

Mad Dog said...

Next year we plan to have have supporters' T shirts, baseball hats. etc with the "Mad Dog Rallying" logo.

Robert Young said...

Your comments on Lucas lights are spot on. They have never made a good lamp yet. I'm sure the Works used them only for commercial reasons. Cibie Oscars would be a perfect choice. I would use two spots and two drivers rather than the fogs, they are only needed if it is in fact foggy - if you want light forget them. And you can be content with 55W bulbs, 100W make only a minimal difference. Good luck for next year.

Mad Dog said...


Your advice is extremely useful and duly noted. The Lucas spots were dire, despite my best efforts to improve them. However I'm astonished that so many people have them.

I wonder if anyone has any words of wisdom on rear wheel drives for the Halda...?