After the electrical perils of the TAC rally, this time we were more determined than ever to make it to the end of the rally. The BMW got a thorough check-up supplemented with a few updates that had been planned for some time.
First of all, with the battery cable break still fresh in the memory, we preventively replaced all battery cables. Not only the type of cable has been changed, but also all cable eyes have been replaced by one’s with a 3-fold crimp. In the category updates we have adjusted the software of the accelerator pedal sensor so that it is now 100% compatible with a Bosch setup. The throttle controller is now finally satisfied with a perfect response as a result and especially without the super annoying safety errors that sporadically arose due to a very small mismatch between pedal and throttle position. The super light LiFePo4 battery has also been moved and is now permanently in our company in the back seat behind the navigator. Because we have a fairly complex cooling system, none of the original tubes wer usable and initially we used a series of standard Samco silicone bends with the necessary connectors and associated hose clamps to become a kind of custom shaped watertube set. Because of these frequent connections, the BMW sometimes suffered from a slight form of incontinence, especially after cooling down there was regularly some cooling water loss. Because TENA for BMW does not yet exist, we scanned all hoses in 3D and made drawings to have everything made to measure. The new custom made silicone tubes were just ready for the Sezoens rally so from now on no more embarrassing moments because the BMW is completely leak-free again.
So far the updates to the car.
Because it was going to be our first introduction to the Limburg gravel for both the BMW and the driver and with the retirement in the TAC rally still fresh in mind, the strategy was determined very quickly. Zero tolerance in terms of taking risks and grinding down as many race kilometres as possible.
Friday night had been rainy which was ideal for the unpaved roads but partly due to the fairly low morning temperature some places were still a bit damp – especially between the trees – it did not seem like a bad idea to go for a safe choice of tires at this point. The supersoft tires at the front and soft at the back had to give us enough grip to start the morning loop.
SS1 Goolder went without any problem, although a little too cautious but we were not here to prove ourselves. The BMW behaved exemplary, the atmosphere was extremely relaxed and we were having fun from the start.
At Veldhoven we had a similar experience. This test was a bit more technical with a few tricky situations but we were never tempted to increase the pace even though there was more than enough margin.
SS3 De Hees was next in line. During the recognitions we were not really charmed by this special stage, not really a super challenging route and especially
the gravel part to the finish could be catalogued earlier in the section : “camel road”.
What initially seemed like an easy stage turned out to have quite a few surprises in store. Because of the 3 loops, so much gravel had been thrown on the track and the cut’s had changed so dramatically that Isidoor had to continuously rewrite the pace-notes. It almost seemed like a different route compared to the recce.
In addition to these real-time adjustments, this SS also ran smoothly.
The conclusion of loop 1 was pretty positive. We were completely on schedule, the car was in good condition and we could enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and especially the first steps on the dirt.
So we drove with a good feeling towards service 1.
A service that went almost stress-free. No hassle with alternators or belts, just the standard checks that were completed in no time. The BMW was in top shape, and still full of energy, quite reassuring because we feared a bit that our LFP battery had experienced a coma moment in the TAC and maybe couls suffer some permanent damage.
Due to the cable breakage, the battery was discharged quite deeply and with this type of battery this can cause an irreversible chemical reaction (read cause irreparable damage)
Fortunately, our energy source turned out to be fully recovered.
So we could leave with peace of mind towards Steenbergen, the only stage without gravel. Here same scenario, relaxed at the finish and besides some small mistakes a flawless stage. Natural working point number 1: “braking too early” remains a bit of the common thread through all our stages. For the time being, I persist in the anger and brakes far too early, but because we did not want to take any risks, we could reconcile ourselves with that for the time being.
On to the last classification stage of round 1 Gerdingen. From the start of the rally I was really looking forward to this stage, which I already enjoyed during recce. Also the longest stage of the rally and in my opinion also by far the most beautiful.
Service 2 seemed to be a repeat of the 1st crafting time. Completely relaxed assisted by an increasingly powerful sun. Actually blue sky no trouble ahead.
Last minute before we had to leave the service area a break in the front left top mount of the suspension was detected.
Trouble in paradise. We all looked for a creative solution but soon it became clear that it was impossible to finish the race with this, even a MacGyver fix wouldn’t be a solution.
Retirement was the only option.
There is only 1 word to describe the feeling, F***.
But we can’t blame ourselves, the car was in mint condition at the start, we were very well prepared and we strictly adhered to the tactics and drove a sensible rally with one goal: drive as many kilometers as possible. Pity.
Of course we should not forget that we are still on the road with a fairly new car where some problems still can appear, but all issues that we have been experiencing lately, are a bit unusual Unfortunately, we have to accept. It is and remains a fact, the R-Box BMW is still growing and that is sometimes accompanied by unexpected growing pains.
Still, we hope he matures soon.
All known infections so far have been carefully programmed into the BMW’s immune system and of course we will also vaccinate as much as possible to prevent any new problems in the GTC and the next rallies.
A new version of the failing part is currently on the CNC machine and has undergone a serious reinforcement treatment. The ALU7075 material has been replaced by 25CrMo4 so that we can also add the Safari rally to our program if necessary.
First of all, a big compliment for the organization. Super fun rally to drive unfortunately often wrongly labeled as to avoid because of the typical gravel. In any case, we certainly found it an added value and if it is up to me, it will be permanently on the R-Box calendar anyway.
Nevertheless, Bocholt edition 2019 is not necessarily the rally that we want to remember for a long time, but this is of course entirely due to our retirement. We really need rally kilometers to become more competitive because the limits of the car are still very far away.
We don’t really like gambling so the only option that remains is to drive as much as possible with the right goals in mind. That takes time and we were aware of this. But because of this 2nd retirement in row, the learning process is slowed down a bit, which is actually our biggest concern at the moment. Every disadvantage has its advantage, Johan Cruyff once said, because we discovered the failure on time, it did not cause any additional damage to the car.
Hopefully our luck will turn in the 2nd half of the season and we can still drive important kilometers so that we will be a bit more competitive next season.
CU at the GTC