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Wild West Welcomes Winning Ways

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

It has been a long road for the Demon Rally Team since they rolled their first rally car in Pomeroy, WA at the Olympus Rally in 2008. The team struggled with selecting a platform. Once a suitable car was found, it was completely torn down and rebuilt to a strict standard. These strict standard forced us to miss the entire Max Attack Schedule for 2009, narrowly missing a chance to compete a the Idaho Rally against some of the top 2wd teams in the nation.

Nonetheless, the team forged on, and Pomeroy was our target again. The Wild West Rally shared a lot with the Olympus Rally of 2008 and the team felt like it would be a suitable entry point for us to make our return to rallying in the Pacific Northwest. After completing the car we had a chance to put the car through its paces locally on a test course, no real concerning dramas popped up at the time, but unknowingly we were about to be very surprised.

We arrived at Pomeroy the day before the event, looking forward to setting up a single local service point and participating in the press stage that was arranged for us. We all concluded one last shake down wouldn’t be a terrible thing, considering we were racing a new car. We hit the shakedown stage and back into the service area, only to discover we had lost about a quart of oil on the short 1-mile long stage. We had experienced small losses of oil in the past, its something to be expected when you push a vehicle very hard for a long time, but a quart of oil in one mile was not acceptable, at that rate we would loose all of the oil in the engine before the end of some of the stages.

We made some small changes to our breather setup, but nothing seemed to fix the problem, the idea of withdrawing from the event crossed the teams mind on several occasions before we realized, that this was rally, this was a new car, and we were going to have some challenges before us to make the car work.

We started the first day of the event, not knowing if our over night repairs of the car really would make a difference in the oil consumption. At the end of the first stage it was right back to service, when we arrived it was more of the same, about a quart of oil was missing…We struggled to find a problem and the only thing that we could come up with was that the engine was having difficulty breathing with our new setup, so a coordinated effort by Matt Manspeaker, John Lane, Jason, Charlie, and Brendan attempted to solve our dramas.

When we finished the second stage w had a chance to check on the oil consumption, fortunately, the breather drama had calmed down. We lost much less oil, my confidence in the car was starting to grow, and I felt like we could attempt to get into a good rhythm very soon.

During the second stage about a quarter of the way through the stage, Cody Crane, one of the top 2wd drivers in the PNW and who I considered our biggest threat for the weekend in 2wd, was off the roadway. My pace continued to improve as we approached the end of the stage, when I went to shift into second gear, the linkage wouldn’t move….we ended up finishing the stage in third gear, losing a pile of time in the last two miles of the stage. We got to the end of the stage and started working on the car, as we did it overheated because the fan wasn’t running on the car. We figured out a way to make the linkage work, kind of, and headed out to stage 3.

The linkage was dropping through the floor of the car and finding gears was difficult, in fact, Don had to grab a gear for me once on stage while I was following the road in front of me…My confidence was down due to my numerous concerns of oil consumption shit linkage concerns and overheating.

We came back into service hoping that we could get all of our dramas sorted out before we had to come back out and run three more stages in a row. Sure enough, the Demon Rally Service Team was able to quell the issues with the car

For the second three stages in a row we ran 30 seconds faster per stage in comparison with the first running of the stages, while we were still encountering issues with the shift linkage, we ended up slowly building a rhythm and became a bit more comfortable by the end of the first day.

On day two we started out strong and started off with the same pace we ended with on day two I was really starting to get comfortable with the car and hearing notes from Don too. Unfortunately half way through the second stage the front motor mount broke on the car, I knew immediately what had happened, but I didn’t slow until closer to the end of the stage. Upon finishing the stage we transited slowly to the start of the next stage. I opened the hood and saw the broken bolt on the motor mount, unfortunately I also looked down and saw the fan for the radiator was completely destroyed. It was apparent to me that we would have to withdraw, however we only had one stage to finish before service, and I figured that we could transit the stage, sure enough, we transited the stage, and we did it faster than a third of the field. Unfortunately we lost about 40 seconds on the stage to our closest 2wd competitor, Cody Crane.

When I arrived at service the crew got to work and repaired all of the damage that we accrued, replacing the front motor mount, as well as replacing the radiator fan. After leaving service we finally got into a good rhythym, setting top 2 overall stage times and taking top stage times for all two wheel drive competitors.

Overall this event was a huge statement for the Demon Rally Team and for grass roots rallying. Despite all of our teething issues, we were able to successful compete with a brand new race car and put it in the top of the field consistently through the event. The Demon Rally Team finished 6th overall on day one and 4th overall on day two; we took 1st place in Group 2 on both days as well as top two wheel drive finishers for the event overall.

Big thanks goes to all of our partners, without them none of our successes would be possible. Fine Tuning, Meister Autowerks, Ralley Tuned, Spitfire EFI, JVAB imports, Product Apparel, 034 EFI, and Techtonics Tuning.

We are looking forward to big changes for next season and the Doo Wop Rally in Aberdeen, WA March 6-7, 2010.

Thanks for checking in. As always, we’ll see you there, sideways!

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Wild West Testing Begins

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Labor Day weekend brings more work, not less for the Demon Rally Team. The team traveled up to Skagit County in Washington for an initial shakedown for their newest rally assault vehicle.

The Spitfire EFI crew came down from Bellingham and Brendan from Ralley Tuned traveled up with the team for testing. Both Spitfire EFI as well as Ralley Tuned have been integral partners in developing a phenomenal engine management package specifically designed and programmed with the Demon Rally Team’s racing needs in mind.

Testing thus far has been incredibly successful. Our first shakedown of the car revealed only a few minor issues. Our main goal in the first session was to check our fresh JVAB rally suspension as well as our tuned spring package. With help from Josh Wimpey we were able to get some very helpful input on spring selection, since they had been running a similar JVAB designed suspension on their own very quick Golf. We were able to run the car at very high rates of speed over some very treacherous terrain without incident, and with incredible predictability. The suspension testing went as planned if not better than planned, we don’t anticipate a spring or dampening adjustment in the near future with our current JVAB setup. In comparison to the rabbit we have an amazing amount of travel and feeling with the Golf, hopefully that will translate into some very fast stage times at our next event in Pomeroy, Washington September 25th-26th at the Wild West Rally.

Our second testing session was successful as well. We returned to our shakedown location for another run through the Skagit County woodland, this time we chose to run the car at night to check how the car ran with a full load on the alternator with our light pod installed. While the car had no problem managing the electrical load the extra lighting taxed it with, I started to notice a few areas in the car’s tuning that needed some attention. A clunk in the strut top started to grab my attention along with the tuning issues and we chose to call it a night after only a few runs at night through the woods.

Overall it was an incredibly successful shakedown. We discovered a few minor issues that would’ve been annoying at an event but certainly wouldn’t have caused a DNF. We are well on our way to debut the car at the Wild West Rally.

Look for images and video of the car from this weekend’s testing session to be posted soon.

Thanks for checking in. As always, we’ll see you there, sideways!

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