Melted coil, broken motor mount, blown strut, narcoleptic co-driver. We did it anyway...
Kris Gove – August 2013
Yup, the car just went dead. No power. Rolled to a dead stop. Transmission oil filled the air, the car wouldn’t start and we were alone in the woods with more competitors due to scream by in a matter of seconds. I told my co-driver, Matt Albie, who is brand-new to rally, to grab the triangles and bang it to the first blind corner. I tried starting the car again, but nothing. That weird oil smell filled the interior and I thought the transmission blew and somehow killed the engine, or the clutch went – or both.
But after looking under the car, there were no leaks, the wheels were still on, the diff still mounted up tight. I had just changed the trans oil, so maybe that smell was just it bleeding out of the breather? Matt came back from his run.
Two other competitors flew by us during the scramble.
“Let’s look under the hood!”
Pins off, hood on the roof, Matt starts rooting around the engine bay.
“I found it,” he said.
Just as he said that, Fast Sweep showed up, lights flashing. Then as we worked (well, as Matt worked and I passed tools), more sweep trucks showed up. Lights flashing, radios blaring through the forest, tow ropes dangling from their mounts, like tongues licking the lips for their first tow victim. The pressure was on. MPL (Maximum Permitted Lateness) was fast approaching.
We worked faster.
We had hit a rock so hard, it knocked the coil off of the inner fender well and dropped it right on the headers. The heat melted through half the coil wire and sure enough, killed the engine. But Albie, no stranger to cars, particularly the E30 BMW, went straight to work remounting the coil in the empty under-hood factory battery tray using only the trunk-mounted factory tool kit that came with the car 25 years ago.
I jumped back into the driver’s seat, turned the key, sure as sh*t the car started! We threw all the tools in the trunk, slapped the hood back on, strapped in and took off to the end of the stage, hazards flashing.
We completed the stage within the limits and went to work again during the turnaround to clamp down any loose ends. Dan Fouquette, running his first ‘official’ rally, supplied us with much-needed tools and bailing wire. Scott Sibya, co-driver for Neal Liddle’s Rhode Pig, provided electrical tape for the wire and plenty of zip ties. Many thanks to these teams!
Zipped, clamped, taped and ready to roll, I was going to limp it out of the forest, for this was the last stage of Day 1. But Albie thought it would be OK and wanted to go for it. It didn’t take much arm-twisting and we blazed out of the woods as fast as I dared take my antique BMW. We arrived safely and without incident at FTC (Finish Time Control).
We completed Day 1!