We signed up CLM 570 for the Alpine trial 2015 against all advice. The rally starts and finishes at Annecy in the French Alps each day and twists and winds over spectacular mountain colls and passes. The roads are frequently single track and some are just a black line on the map. Even in our family BMW I would hesitate to drive some of these roads, CLM 570 has vague steering and drum brakes so we were very nervous.
In the end the driving was fine and the car behaved itself. We did have two hours by the roadside on the pre race day with a mystery electrical problem. The ignition timing, fuel mix and spark plugs were all changed and something made it work but we aren't really sure what. The plan is to fit a more robust starter motor. We also need to carry a spare rotor arm.
The rally itself was quite spectacular as Gerard Brown's photos show (they are his copyright so please don't pinch them). we adopted the approach of staying mainly in second gear on the hilly bits so that we had lots of grunt on the way up and engine braking on the way down. With the brakes we used a stab and release system whereas in a modern car you would probably continually feather the brakes - but the drums would overheat and fade if we did that. We also adjusted the brakes every evening. Only once did we have to reverse on a hairpin bend, and the car always felt secure.
Unfortunately our Brantz wasn't working and this, together with poor navigating put us 29th out of 45 cars. By day three however we were getting the hang of things.
The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.
Friday, 18 September 2015
I've only just got these pictures from Gerard Brown of the Flying Scotsman - they are his copyright so please don't pinch them. They were taken before our gearbox failure led to a broken half shaft and the rear wheel falling off on day three.