We had a relatively good start and caught some competitors early due to some good driving in some of the testing areas. Navigation is difficult at times but getting better. About halfway at the first check point we had to change a flat tyre. We used the top winch around a tree to lift the car which saved us some time, but still took fifteen minutes to get going again.
Around the halfway point we joined in a massive mudbath with cars stuck everywhere. Some creative thinking had us winching top and front to try and pass the cars while hanging at an absurd angle around the edge of the quagmire. We made relatively good time compared with others and continued along the course.
Half an hour later we passed a swamp to one side and were heading up the hill when we saw Nico in his buggy stuck axle-deep in the thick mud. He looked totally exhausted and asked for a winch out, because his battery was dead. We reversed and obliged as other cars passed us.
But a few minutes later heading out of the riverbed the engine started losing power. We pulled over and checked for diesel leaks, or even being out of fuel. But we couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary and attempted the hill again. The engine spluttered and had no power at all. We crawled up a section and even had to winch a certain point to reach the top.
By now the motor was running lumpy and delivering a small amount of power in short bursts and then nothing. We stopped and checked the fuel filter, but this was covered in mud. So we phoned Rinze (our mechanic) and he reckoned a plug in the bottom of the filter would help.
We scrounged around and found a twig, wrapped it in tape to close a hole where a screw should have been and added a couple of cable ties to keep it in place. We continued on down a hill, however, flooring the throttle wasn’t giving any response anymore. So we decided to retire and ask for the rescue tow service. Only four kilometres from the finish!
It was now half-past seven, and the ‘tow truck’ finally arrived. Only minus its own clutch which had given up as they arrived! We had enough power to follow them back to the base camp and got back at about 20h30 to 21h00. A different fuel filter is on the menu as well as the top-winch is being repaired. It also seems that an injector is broken.
Hopefully, we can then join in the ‘Team Trophy Day’ tomorrow. What a day!