Well, it's been a while, let's see how this rally thing goes...
Genuinely nice guy and rally co-driver friend Pat Darrow finally finished his careful, decade-long build of a pretty sweet rally Volvo. I was lucky enough to get the call to sit in the silly seat and accompany him on the inaugural journey. It was rally, so it wnet how you expect for a new build: the car broke. Twice.
I probably should have told him that I'd only finished 3 Olympuses (Olympii?) in the last 7 attempts, but the build was so nice and the plan was so solid that I thought for sure this would make it an even 50%. Veteran rally crew were on hand to help out with service, extra hands with Volvo experience were nearby. There was even a spare Volvo lying around (more on that later). We were set to have everything go right. Rally is a fickle sport, however, and does its best to keep you from enjoying it sometimes.
Day 1 started well with the downtown Shelton crowd really appreciating the clean and shiny new build. There's a bit of a monster hiding in this build that is ready to be released when it has properly been tested a bit more, I think. The first couple stages we had to transit around or through, so didn't get to drive in anger until stage 3. That stage and the next earned solid mid-class finishes for us and the car despite losing power steering as the afternoon wore on. Unfortunately, stage 5 saw the new build hit the first major teething problem of testing: we busted an axle. After some discussion and some rally awesomeness, we borrowed the axle out of a competitor's recce Volvo, got it installed and made it out to stage 6. Rally is a roller coaster, I tell you.
I'll be the first to admit that stage 6 was probably my worst co-driving performance since... well, a long time. A number of other teams also had a rough go in the night stage and we actually saw our best finish of the day, finishing 7th out of the remaining 11 teams. Things were looking good for the next day.
The roller coaster ride ended on the drive back to the house, though, as the other side axle gave out. Despite the best efforts of the team and the will to maybe swap over the other axle from the recce car, the team decided that it was best to call the test complete and work on a solution for next time. All in all, a solid outing, but it sure would have been nice to achieve our goal of finishing... I'll get you next time, Olympus!
Photo by Stanley Liu.