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Report GTC 2018

If we are to believe everyone, the first time is always a bit special. Fortunately, the conditions were ideal, plenty of sun, bone dry and assisted by a very experienced co, Isidoor Smets, who stepped in last minute for Luc Geenen. Add to that a super nice car, 4 super mechanics and mega coach / cooking mom and numerous sympathizers, in short the perfect ingredients for a fantastic rally.

At Breda Airport we were immediately presented with a heavy portion of unpaved, the sand had not been black we would have imagined ourselves in the Dakar, not really BMW friendly terrain. Just before we could get back on the tarmac, our BMW had an extremely hard time not digging in permanently but fortunately we got back on the paved part just on top. Unfortunately, the luck was short-lived because just before the finish the throttle controller found it okay and went into error resulting in engine in idle and a throttle that refused any cooperation. Just parked next to the track everything reset and we could still finish. Not really the dreamed of the beginning scenario but given the goal was to gain experience we were not so worried about the times.

On to Nieuwmoer the first “real” kp. In the first part on the company site that had been transformed into a mini circuit for the occasion, I did not really find my way. The overdose of barrels, pallets and ribbon turned out to be heavy on my stomach and the BMW also behaved badly by regularly pushing the nose in the wrong direction. Fortunately, this behavior changed completely once we were off the company premises. The rest of the test went much better until again the trotthle controller got cures. There was no other option than to reset again. History also repeated itself several times on Rucphen. That way it was impossible to stay focused and the first loop was not very productive.
On the service, we then seriously restricted the responsibilities of the throttle controller in the hope of being able to dispense with the numerous reset scenarios.
In the queue for loop 2 we heard that Hans Weijs and Bob de Jong had been swallowed up by the Airport unpaved and the race management decided to cancel the KP, a decision that we were not at all sad about. The tours on the tarmac were okay but the piece of dirt was really too much and in no way an added value.
Then directly to Belgium for a 2nd time Nieuwmoer and again I choked a bit on the parking part, once off the parking it went much better and especially the accelerator kept working which was a big relief.
We felt for the first time that we were doing useful km’s. And that feeling also kept repeating itself on Rucphen where, apart from a few hesitations, almost everything went well. This time no more clumsy throttle but now it was the pilot who started to fail.
Despite the ditches of water that I had worked in in the meantime, my left leg found it necessary to still have the moisture content a bit too low and treated me to a mega calf cramp in the middle of the KP. Apart from this painful and time-consuming interlude where the concentration and focus was completely lost, we found this a very nice KP. The feeling and absorption of the perfectly read notes got better and better.
The ride to the 2nd service was therefore much more relaxed and also the service people were better attuned to each other so that everything went super smoothly.
In the meantime we were eagerly looking forward to the “dark” part where we got Rijsbergen and Achtmaal on our plate, 2 kp’s that already charmed us during the explorations.
Due to my lack of experience, I had of course forgotten to stick tape on the windscreen, resulting in another predicament on Rijsbergen. On the super beautiful dirt (and we are not talking about that narrow dried-out sandbox behind the campsite) my vision was temporarily reduced to zero by the low sun and my left hand was given an extra task, namely playing sun visor. Not ideal but it was quickly forgotten, we were having a great time and the rhythm certainly improved.
Before the start of Achtmaal we glued a few strips of tape to the window to avoid similar situations as on Rijsbergen. Because the start still did not work, we had also decided to leave in the meantime like the average bompa launches who leaves for mass on Sundays. Again location (or image) wise far from the best choice as the start was right in front of a VIP grandstand with masses of people. But it was more efficient than all our previous attempts and that image does not interest us much at the moment. We have a strict plan with strict goals and that’s all that matters.
After the ridiculous start in Achtmaal, the rhythm was good and there was little sign of a hell. The line was continued, it was super amusing and I digested the perfectly read notes better and better until in a heavy freinage in front of an artificial chicane after a straight line of 600m a problem arose with the driveline with immense vibrations as a result. We did not immediately realize what was going on but it was immediately clear that there was no question of driving further despite the fact that everything was still neatly in zen place at first sight and the shifting was still perfect.
End of match. Very unfortunate because we could certainly have used test km’s and especially not to have driven in the dark was sour. Unfortunately, this is inherent in a mechanical sport.
Nevertheless, we look back with great satisfaction. The car certainly has potential. Even though I still lack tons of experience, I am absolutely sure that it will be fine, it is a matter of time and km’s. Except for the first loop we had a lot of fun so on to the next one being the EBR at the end of September.
Thank you all very much for supporting us because without the numerous help driving would have been impossible.
As far as the status of the BMW is concerned, the damage also appears to be very good, only the centering pin of the output flange of the gearbox appeared to be broken off.
A problem that we ourselves have contributed to by a bad design of the flange. We are going to completely abandon the concept with the 1-piece cardan and reassemble an original 2-piece cardan to avoid similar situations in the future.
Aldoende one learns 🙂

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