Davis Delivers Despite Dramas Stefan Davis and Co-driver Pat Cooper competed in their first British Rally Championship round at the weekend, the fast and flowing Pirelli International Rally based in...
Davis Delivers Despite Dramas
Stefan Davis and Co-driver Pat Cooper competed in their first British Rally Championship round at the weekend, the fast and flowing Pirelli International Rally based in Carlisle, Cumbria. Fresh from success in the World's largest one make series in which they came joint first in 2007 the crew were looking forward to the new challenge. After a pressured three weeks of non-stop preparation on the Ford Puma Super 1600 the beast was finally unleashed to the forest for the first time.
The first four special stages were set in the darkness of night. It was the first time driving the car and the first time driving in a left hand drive machine for Davis. The lamp pod was lighting up the sky instead of the track due to the sheer power launching the bonnet to the sky, something that never happened to the humble Peugeot. The crew had never written pace notes in the forest before and were struggling to get the flow. If a new car, 240bhp going through the front wheels, left hand drive and lamps into the sky was not enough, the intercom failed half way through the very first stage. Cooper had to resort to improvisation, hand actions and shouting directed the blind rally driver. "Thank god for the Pirelli tyres" said Davis, saving him from going off the road several times around the blind bends.
The following morning, the optimistic team were back out tearing up the Pirelli stages only to experience more problems. The crew were setting top 15 times by stage 6 and Stefan said "we are nowhere near the limit of the car yet, she has so much more to give". Stefan's baptism of fire continued with low oil pressure, weird engine noises and to cap it all a two wheeling incident over a crest on stage six. Stefan said, "We would have been over in the Peugeot so I'm rather glad to be alive."
The crew went on to hit trouble over the rough stages with the self prepared super 1600 had a crack right the way through the exhaust manifold. A devastated Davis limped back to service but it wasn't over yet. The two man mechanic crew were determined to get Stefan back out competing. With much needed help from other professional teams, no less than 5 other drivers teams jumped in to help the British Junior get the car patched up. In just 20 minutes the manifold was temporarily bandaged up and welded back together. With only a forty second lateness penalty, the underdogs were back out for the last few stages.
The rally wasn't over yet, with the car sounding like a tractor, noise marshals were concerned "We crawled through the last stages and I was concerned we may be stopped on the way to the finish with the exhaust blowing so badly." The mechanics had a final ten more minutes before the car was meant to be at the finish ramp. The team re patched the manifold back together once again and sent the crew off to the City Centre for the Spectators to see, and the team to pick up their well deserved awards.
Despite dodgy pace notes and an endless list of mechanical problems, the always determined Davis kept it going and finished the rally with a spectacular result. . 2nd in class and 14th overall, a fantastic start to the season and an amazing debut in the British Rally Championship!
The team are looking forward to the next round of the BRC, the Jim Clark Rally in Kelso, near Edingborough where the public roads are closed for a few days whilst the Rally Cars take charge.