25th April 2004 Disastrous start to Paul Tod Stilo Campaign South Wales Rally team Paul Tod Rallying's 2004 Fiat Stilo campaign got off to a disastrous start at the Pirelli International Rally in Gateshead on the weekend when a gearbox ...
25th April 2004
Disastrous start to Paul Tod Stilo Campaign
South Wales Rally team Paul Tod Rallying's 2004 Fiat Stilo campaign got off to a disastrous start at the Pirelli International Rally in Gateshead on the weekend when a gearbox failure saw the MII / Haywood Demolition Stilo unable to start a single stage on the second leg.
The rally, which is the first round of both the British Rally Championship and the Fiat Stilo Rally Cup, saw six Fiat Stilos at the ceremonial start in Gateshead's Baltic Centre, and the team's hopes were high after a successful test of the car a few days earlier.
The first three stages on Friday night were run in the dark over some extremely fast tracks in Kielder Forest, and it became obvious early on that the team had a problem.
"We weren't sure what to expect from the other drivers," Paul explained, "so we were never going to push the pace on Friday night. There were some nasty ditches, big jumps and some rough and deceptive corners on those stages, so we just wanted to finish the first leg, and see how the others were doing. When we saw how much time we were dropping compared to them, though, we started to worry a bit!"
This was the teams first international event, and the unfamiliar format was always going to cause them some disadvantage, with other crews having some experience of reconnaissance, pace-noting, and even of the stages themselves.
But on stage 3, a whining in the gearbox indicated a problem. They limped back to Parc Ferme in Hexham, where the cars had to be parked for the night, and tried to cure the problem in Service next morning, but the box finally expired at the end of the run out towards the day's first stage, jamming in 3rd gear.
"Of course, we're absolutely gutted. We were carrying an in-car camera, and were hoping for some good footage, and it's never good to go out of a rally through mechanical gremlins. But on the positive side, we have found some weaknesses that we can work on before the next rally, and this disappointment makes us all the more determined to get the results we need. Worryingly, one of the other competitors also had a similar problem, but Team Hi-Tec, the championship organisers, have taken our gear box to discover what was wrong, and we are confident that the problem will be cured."
The team's next rally is the second BRC round, the International Rally of Wales in Dolgellau on May 15th / 16th