We’ve been receiving detailed updates from Kath Downie and they are so good we thought we’d share! Here are the adventures of the Downies rally team for days one, two and three:
Day 1: Tamworth to Lightning Ridge – exploding tires and skipped legs
For the first section of the rally, we were going like guns, then all hell broke loose when one of our rear tyres punctured and shredded to bits. We lost 20 minutes or so changing it (Well we aren’t a pit crew!).
Then we were transporting to the start of the next section when Ken thought something felt a bit odd so we pulled over to hear loud hissing coming from the other side rear tyre! It was flattening at a great rate! Unbelievable! A passing rally car stopped to help us (they had a compressor on board so pumped it up just enough for us to make it the 15k back to the nearest town Manilla). Thank God they had a tyre repair place, but unfortunately there was only a lady looking after it as the owner had headed off to an auction and wouldn’t be back before noon (it was 10.30 at this stage). So we had little option but to wait.
The one spare we carried was irreparable and the other one we brought up here was on the gear truck headed for Lightning Ridge. Anyway, at about 12.30 the owner returned and fixed the second flat (a big shard of shale was firmly embedded in it) and we bought the only tyre he had of the right size in his whole place to replace the shredded one.
There was no way we were going to make Narrabri for lunch with everyone, so we let them know we would see them in Lightning Ridge at the end of the day. So off we went. We then realized we were driving very close to where the final (of 4) sections was starting, so we went to the control point where the leg started and drove that whole 180k section without a problem.
The day ended with dinner at the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club, removing the tyre from the gear truck and changing it onto the car. All is well and we are ready to start day two tomorrow!
Day 2: Lightning Ridge to St George
We had a great day! We were equal 3rd for the day!!! Yay! Still way down the bottom of the list overall but we are quite pleased with ourselves! Interesting how 12 seconds can make a difference!!
Only loss today was our amber flashing light, but we are borrowing one until we get to Bundaberg where we will get it fixed.
Emus, Roos, cattle, sheep, goats running amok all over the roads made for interesting driving – no such thing as a fence up here! Had one spinout, Ken skilfully aimed for the sapling between two large trees and fortunately missed the fence behind the sapling!
Here is a picture of the homestead we stopped at for the lunch. Very hospitable people and they put on the best burgers!
Anyway, that’s all for today…we are stuffed and tomorrow is 25% longer so will be an early night.
And the fundraising continues!
Day 3. Disaster would sum it up nicely!
Section 1 completed in good time. So far so good.
Section 2 – started fine. Lots of wildlife on the road as well as cattle and so on – had one very close call with a pig. Went into a difficult section, heard a strange noise, stopped and checked under the car and all looked fine. So we continued on…big mistake! A few kilometres up the road and the car listed to one side and hit the ground. Our rear left wheel had sheared off completely…and what’s more had disappeared! Trust me here, many people searched many square kilometers and only found one solitary wheel nut!!!!
We were ably assisted by another competitor for about 40 minutes (Kar 250 from Bendigo) and then just had to sit and wait in the heat and dust as every other car zoomed past. Then the sweep vehicles arrived and a control vehicle and out poured the mechanical geniuses! Several hours and lots of sunburn, swearing, etc later, they had removed both rear wheels and the calipers and several other bits and band-aided us together sufficiently to drive on (well crawl) to Dalby. We were trying to minimize using the brakes given one caliper was only held on with one bolt (being able to use gears in sports mode is a real help here) and as most wheels are now missing at least one stud, we stop every 100k or so to check the nuts are still tight!
As soon as I could get service I called around Queensland to find the parts we needed…a caliper bolt, several wheel studs and nuts…so…tomorrow we won’t be rallying. Instead we will be driving (slowly) to Toowoomba to get some parts from Subaru there and then heading straight up to Bundaberg to meet the rest of the rallytives. Bundaberg Subaru have some more parts arriving air freight from Brisbane for us Wednesday morning. (Wednesday was supposed to be our rest day in Bundaberg, but we have already had offers of help to pull the car apart again to fix it. So that’s where we are currently. Hopefully rallying will continue on Thursday!