Devastated Davis's Driveshaft Disaster
Maidstone's rally driver Stefan Davis and co-driver Craig Burgess were on a season high after gaining 3rd place in the 1.9 Scholarship on the Swansea Bay Rally. The added bonus of having there excellent performance being filmed and broadcast on Sky Sports programme Rally Fever was also fantastic.
Round 6 of the Scholarship was the Trackrod Rally, a forest rally based in North Yorkshire. This was also a round of the British Rally Championship which is always high profile following some of Britain's biggest rally stars through the stages. The build up to this rally had been the best yet, and the whole team were 110% optimistic about gaining the points they required to reach their season goal of 3rd in the championship. "It is amazing to think that after the bad time we have had with mechanical difficulties that we would be in a position to achieve what we aimed for this year" said the 25 year old.
SS1 Pickering Showground - The crew set off into the first stage. This was a short but very high profile spectator stage. All was going well until half way through for a moment Stefan struggled to select any gear, though he did eventually find one and off he went.
SS2 Cropton - This was the first real stage 10 miles of forestry track through the North Yorkshire forest. All was going well until about 8 corners in, a hairpin left, disaster struck. A bang and rattle from the front of the car and a massive fight with the steering wheel meant bad news. A driveshaft had snapped, the crew were running on one wheel drive. Some might say that two wheel drive is hard enough compared to the four wheel drive used in the top class rally cars, but one wheel drive should definitely be kept only for motorbikes. The car still drove so the crew would never give in, and at speeds of 90 mph on the loose gravel this made life very interesting with the steering wheel being wrenched for side to side. The crew inspected the damage at the end of the stage but with another 7 miles of forest stage to go before service where the rally team volunteers of John Bond and Joe Collins could get their hands on the car to fix it, the situation was looking bleak.
SS3 - The crew limped through the stage having some big moments under braking for the corners. They managed to get the car back to service where the boys worked wonders, fitting the driveshaft in double quick time and giving the car a full spanner check and re-fuel in only 20 minutes.
Though the crew had lost 5 minutes to the rest of the field there was a massive relief to be back in the rally. The crew decided that as final position was almost impossible that they should push as fast as humanly possible for the rest of the day and try and set some fastest times. Then disaster struck, on the way to the forth stage the driveshaft snapped again but this time they lost drive. An emotional Davis franticly jumped out the car and spent the next 20 minutes trying to ram the shaft back in to place. He then found that the actual problem was that a freak breakage of the gearbox casting is what had broken where it mounted into the car and the engine had dropped, hence straining the driveshafts. The crew went over time limit and were out of the rally. As if on cue the heavens opened and they spent the next two and half hours waiting in the rain for the service team to come and find them and tow them out as well as doing a mile hike to find a mobile signal, ah the joys of rallying.
The next round is the final round of the 1.9 Scholarship and is arguably the best yet, an international rally in Holland. This involves a completely different level of commitment. A days recce of the stages before the rally and Stefan making his own pace notes for the first time ever. Stefan is desperate not to miss out on this level of experience and there is no reason why he won't be competing for a win on the tarmac roads of Holland. Though it is sad to think that he may well have to forfeit the rally if he is unable to attract any financial support.