After a mix of heatache and triumph, RalliSpec finished 2nd overall in both Cherokee Trails Clubrally events with both a first and second finishes in class (open).
Those who saw us on Thursday night with BOTH the engine and trans of the Celica Alltrac sitting on the pavement outside the car would not have believed that we would have the car up and running the following morning.
We had left Wed. night after the usual mad dash to get the car ready. The overload of RalliSpec customer work kept us from doing any testing or development on the car before the event.
After driving straight through the night we arrived Thursday morning to register. Hoping for some much needed sleep, we were thoroughly upset when testing reveled that the clutch of the rally car was slipping badly under full power. Out came the trans with only the most basic tools (a jack and a few blocks of wood) so that we could throw the spare clutch in. Wrestling with the 300lb transmission, we were unable to get the two re-mated and ended up pulling the engine out from the car in order to get the two to mate up. Things were looking bleak around midnight as one crew member was curled up around the old clutch on the ground fast asleep. Finally around 4am we had the engine and trans reassembled in the car and ready to go.
After an all too brief two hour nap we were off for the podium start of the first day's event. Things seemed to be looking good but that didn't last long as it was revealed that the Terratrip odometer was not reading properly which meant Andy (co-driver) would not be able to properly call the corners of the special stages. Despite the lack of sleep and lack of odometer we still managed a solid second place finish for the first day including fastest clubrally stage time on the first stage.
With a good night of sleep we were totally ready to dominate on the second day even without the odometer. We had a 12 second lead after the first stage over the Zimmer/Shindle Subaru Impreza. A grueling 18 mile second stage brought the hint of problems to come as the engine cut out momentarily several times in the middle of the stage. Despite losing about 10 seconds to this as well as another 15 seconds spent pulling an EVO out of a ditch mid-stage we managed to lose only about 4 seconds of our lead over 2nd place. The third stage was relatively uneventful as we pulled back those 4 seconds. The fourth and final stage, which was the grueling second stage rerun was to cost us our first-place overall finish as the engine cut out again mid stage, this time in a more permanent manner. For almost a mile we struggled along as the engine would not stay running for more then a few moments at a time. We lost over two minutes as Kennedy's Subaru passed us with about 5 miles to go. In desperation we stopped and shut the whole electrical system down and refired the car. Something fixed itself in the process and the car started and ran ok. At this point I drove at 110% for the final few miles managing to recover about 30 seconds and finish in second.
All in all we had a really good time. The stages were a great mix of really tight twisties, yumps, and fast straights and switchbacks. The car performed well despite the glitches we experienced but the decision has been made to sell it and step up to Prorally in a Group N Impreza. So if anyone is interested in a competitive clubrally car give us a call.