Days 5, 6, and 7 are done in the Veszprem area, more or less the same track, each day about 210 km of dirt roads; it is pretty fast going but every once in a while it gets very bumpy, the car gets airborne, and you have to slow down else…. On Day 5 Robby Gordon was doing very well and had a chance of winning the stage but broke his rear wheel bearing due to the bumps and lost a full hour fixing it.
The 6th day starts very well for us, we have more confidence and the events of Day 2 are all but forgotten. The end is in sight and we are starting to think we might actually finish this race. But only 18 km into the stage Nadav is going quite fast on a hard-surfaced, bumpy track. He gets into a 90 degree left turn and halfway into the turn we both realize we are too fast. The deep ruts, left by the cars and trucks over the last three days pretty much dictate the car’s trajectory in the turn. the Desert Warrior is sliding through the turn with both left wheels in the air… for a split second we think we might pull it off, but… the car rolls over, rather slowly, it seems, on its right hand side, won’t stop because of the momentum, until it ends on its roof, 4 wheels in the air…
We are hung by our harness, feet up, helmets pushed against the roof. Very odd feeling, the air is filled with debris as if a bomb just went off, you can see some engine oil dripping on the smashed windscreen, but it drips in what seems like gravity deifying direction, from the hood to the roof. It is all a bit surrealistic and hard to believe that, so close to the finish line, we might have just ended our journey.
A few seconds to catch our breath, to realize we are both well and unharmed, and now open the latch that holds the harness, drop on your head/helmet, and push through the crashed door out.
A bunch of spectators who strategically picked this turn help us to our feet. Important lesson: whenever you see spectator near the track, slow down! they are there for the drama, and we just supplied that to them in spades!
But they are very helpful and energetic and help us roll the car back to its wheels. As the rest of the cars and then the truck zoom by, throwing clumps of dirt into the air and almost roll over in the very same turn, we try to put the car back into shape; the air snorkel is completely smashed so I just cut it off and leave it there. the windscreen is broken but seems to hold together (we put goggles on in case it will break as we drive); duct tape is used liberally on many fiberglass panels, but other than that not much harm done, the engine starts so we are back in the game!
The whole crew kicks into action, replacing the windscreen, applying duct tape on each and every panel to hold the car together, refilling a whole bunch of fluids, and, within what seems like just a few minutes, we are ready for the second special of the day. We are sure to drive much, much slower now. Our motto from now on: “get home safe with us and the car in one piece”. Two close calls in one short race is more than enough for first-time amateurs :)
And so we make it through the rest of Day 6 and Day 7 without any further drama, and the podium at Lake Balaton is a bit anti-climatic. Still, we made it through our first rally race! We are ranked 53 out of 55 cars that finished, and ahead of 39 that didn’t finish.
So…, until next time, Arrivederci!