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London Cape Town: Throttles on MAX

by John Glynn. Pics by Gerard Brown/Enduro Rally and Turbo’s Boys in Egypt

The number 45 911 of Joost van Cauwenberge and Jacques Castalein is demonstrating relentless pace on the London Cape Town. Down to 7th after a penalty for non-standard dampers, the Porsche is now back up to 3rd overall and setting some blistering times. I should point out that the damper fitment was discussed with the organisers before the off: the top dogs knew what was on the car but waited until Nairobi to apply a one-hour penalty.

We discussed the damper options with the organisers before the event,” says Richard Tuthill. “While we knew our modern-style dampers would eventually incur a time penalty, our experience in Kenya (Safari Rally winners) told us it was worth it. The car’s reliability and the speed it can carry over this terrain vindicates the choice. It has backfired a little, as the organisers have now cancelled some of the rougher sections of the event to protect lesser-prepared cars, but the Tuthill 911 is still running a strong pace and giving the crew a consistent package they can trust.

The official rally reports always make for interesting reading and this was part of the last one: “The rocky mountain climb saw Alastair Caldwell split his fuel tank. He slowed just enough to give Jane Edgington her finest moment so far: driving a Maestro in an overtaking sweep past the Porsche on a timed mountain climb. The Blunt Subaru was slowed by overheating, while the Cauwenberge Porsche 911 was a remarkable sight lifting a front wheel while hanging the back out...”

The 911 duo are clearly revelling in the conditions and who could blame them? Driving one of those magnificent Tuthill Porsches across such epic terrain – in the bigger picture of a rally from London to Cape Town – must be a magnificent adventure. Add speed and talent to the equation and get yourself up to a competitive position? It’s what heroes are made of. I envy Joost and Jacques something rotten, but possibly not as much as Hayden and Alastair in the amazing 912.

The organisers’ note on Alastair and Hayden’s fuel tank is correct: Hayden filled me in last night with a text. Though there is work to be done on the 912 (no idea why we haven’t named that car yet), the boys are also loving it and holding a steady seventh overall – just a few minutes down on the Belgian Landcruiser 80 series (one of four 4x4s in the top seven). As the proud owner of a sturdy Landcruiser 80, I’m all for the Toyota taking it to the top five, but the 912 deserves a top five place for what it is going through. Hayden’s texts describing events just keep getting better:

Another gruelling day, followed by midnight in the car park making running repairs, upgrades and routine maintenance.

We got a huge amount of mud injected into the gap between the now badly battered floorpan and the equally battered rear skid plate. The net result was a jammed throttle – about 20% after a quick stop to investigate it was clear that it was not a quick repair – so we jumped back in and drove the balance of the second and all the 3rd World Cup sections using the ignition switch for the throttle control and co-driver for gear changing. We got pretty proficient, only dropping one additional minute on the third section once AC nursed the throttle to about 80% stuck open.

We burned too much time making a modest repair in the final road section and had to really boogie (78+ AV) to make the end of day without penalty, this push was at the expense of another RF strut insert that melted in protest. So we have modified the skid with some local Dodoma sheet metal and replaced the RF insert. We will see what tomorrow brings…

We still have no driver window, no passenger door latch and this afternoon the wipers suddenly turned on and gave us a breakdance display before stopping in the upright position – a mystery for another night.”

Next day:

Day 21 casualty was the fuel tank. We are constantly suffering loss of front ride height due to yielding aftermarket front torsion bar (supplier name deliberately not revealed). The bottom of the tank has been relentlessly pounded, even though it is well protected from abrasion and piercing by the front skid plate.

About 15km in to the first road section we started to smell fuel. The 95 litre tank was full, so we took the calculated risk to proceed when it appeared to be a modest leak. Ultimately we made it to the end of day, leaking about the same amount as we were burning.

First to end of day control, tank out, AC walked up the road with a local boy to a banzai welder who brazed up 3 cracks. Tank back on before the last car was into TC. Cranked in front ride height again and we were off.

First car thru the border to Zambia, we have 360km to the hotel, then back to items on our long job list – then last night added wipers when we discovered the rattle on the dash, days ago, was self disassembly of the wiper motor from its bracketry! Harsh event, great exposure to system weaknesses!

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