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Faulkner Woodpecker13bWith the end of the 2013 Rally season now in sight, the BTRDA regulars once again, headed into Wales for what had the makings to be a fantastic weekend of rallying! The weather was warm, with a light breeze to blow away any lingering dust that would otherwise hang in the trees removing the possibility of visibility issues the crews experienced last time out on the Nicky Grist Stages.

The rally followed a busy week for Scott and the team, as Chris at C1-R Motorsport had fitted a new turbo to the car, but had not had the chance to rectify the fuel pressure issues that had caused their retirement on the previous event. With a new pump fitted on Thursday night, the fuel pressure problems seemed to remain; leaving Scott scratching his head as to what the problem may be hours before they had to leave!

With the help and knowledge of Wayne Sisson at AMS, the car would be fired up Friday morning once a small grommet had been adjusted, leaving the team ready and raring to tackle the stages that lay ahead the following day! Scott and the team were chasing a solid finish on the Woodpecker Stages to keep the chances of a good championship result in their debut season alive.

The rally started badly for the team, setting a stage 1 time nearly 35 seconds slower than their Group N rivals. Scott, bemused at the news of the slow time said;

“I have no idea what is going on!? I think I’m driving like a pansy – I didn’t feel I was as slow as the times suggest though! Maybe we have a problem?”

Faulkner Woodpecker13aStage 2 took the crews into the classic Radnor forest; an infamously fast and flowing stage, previously used on the British round of the World Rally Championship. The time that Scott and Dom set through SS2 was equal 20th fastest, moving the Mitsubishi crew up 16 places to 23rd overall heading into stage 3.

However, as Scott launched the car off the start line of stage 3, all was not well! On full throttle, the car would develop a bad misfire causing Scott to slow right down and put the hazard lights on mid-way through the stage – in case the car behind was to catch up with them.

“I don’t know what’s wrong!” exclaimed Scott at the end of the troublesome stage. “We are down on power and the car has a misfire – we have service now so we need to see if the problems can be fixed, fingers crossed it is something simple like a sensor or a wire!”

With 30 minutes for repairs in the Ludlow Racecourse-based service area, the CAB Auto team set about investigating any possible causes for the misfire and loss of power. With no obvious route causes, Scott and Dom headed out to stage 4 after service – a rerun of the previous Radnor Stage. Scott tested the engine on the way out of service to try and reproduce the misfire; however the problem seemed to have disappeared.

“Now the car seems good I’m out to beat my first stage time through the stage!” said Scott in the queue for the start of the Radnor test.

The stage started well for the pair, as they would attack the rerun using knowledge gained from the morning’s pass. However, on an uphill section about three quarters of the way through the stage the troublesome misfire would return – this time the symptoms would prove terminal as the engine dropped on to 3 cylinders and a tell-tail plume of white smoke could be seen behind Scott’s Mitsubishi. He immediately pulled the car to the side of the road, where, for the third event in a row, the team would be forced into retirement due to a mechanical failure.

After the event, Scott had the engine stripped down for inspection. This time though, the fix will not be so straight forward as the previous mechanical problems. The damage done to the engine is enough to require a complete new unit from Mitsubishi; and at a price of £6,000 it is not containable within the team’s budget for the season.

Scott said; “I’m absolutely gutted! I can’t believe we are in this situation after the Team’s efforts, hard work and good results at the start of the season; we were even leading Group N at one point! This proves that the championship is all about consistency and reliability! I’m not giving up though; I will try as best I can to find more support for the team to get a deal together for a new engine. I’m not giving up!”

Scott, Dom and the entire CAB Auto Rally Team will be searching everywhere for extra sponsors in the next few weeks in an attempt to get an engine in time for the final round of the BTRDA Championship; the Cambrian Rally, in October.

Further to this disappointment, there were plans in the pipeline for Scott and the team to contest the prestigious Rally GB in November; the final round of the World Rally Championship – based in North Wales. These plans are also side-lined if a new engine can’t be sourced in time.

Images courtesy of Gasmark Media and Paul Commons respectively.

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