Sunday, January 13, 2008

Monte Carlo Countdown: Start -19 Days

Maping of Night Loop
Mad Dog is burning the midnight oil doing the mapping for the MCH

There's now less than three weeks before the start of the rally and the pressure is starting to gnaw at me. I've booked my flights to the UK and back. I've booked the cross channel ferry (let's hope we won't have any high jinks of the kind we had in 2005 on Le Shuttle). I've booked most of the ancillary accommodation. That just leaves a few bits and bobs to organise and that side of things is done.

On the car preparation front, Bill has rebuilt the engine and gearbox and PRX 720B is up and running and is working more or less OK but needless to say there are a few bugs to sort out. The front brakes are apparently leaking despite new seals; we'll need to get the calipers sleeved. Bloody useless things, just 43 three years old and they're knackered. You can't get quality products anymore. I sent the Twinmaster off to noted Halda guru, Neil Huband, for a quick service and he's just informed me that the internals have seen better days and it needs a full overhaul. More expense, I suppose but at this stage, who cares.

Technical and safety improvements to the car include modern FIA seats that hold the seatbelts securely (there's nothing  like a nosedive into a mountain wall to become acutely aware of one's mortality -see how WRC ace Petter Solberg did something very similar at almost the same spot the week before us in 2005). In addition, the period correct Lucas fog and spotlights have been replaced by a set of monster CibiĆ© Oscars. Sadly those jokes that Americans love to make about Lucas electrics are largely true. Despite investing quite a bit on refurbishing the old Lucas SLR 700 "flame throwers" they just didn't perform well enough for a modern rally and now will only be used for shows. Finally the tyres have all been delivered. We have a set of six studded Hakka for the snow and ice: hopefully these will be a huge improvement over the wretched Colway M/S whose demise will cause me to shed no tears. In addition we have another set of six Yokohama intermediates for mixed conditions. Hopefully that will be enough and short of getting full works-level sponsorship I don't see what more we can do in that department.

The major task that remains for me is to complete the mapping and pace notes, Hopefully that will be done by next weekend by which time I should have completed our roadbook. Must go now, the Carte Michelin are calling...

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