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Snowman Rally - Saturday 19th February 2005

The Snowman Rally is based in Inverness and this was the event's 50th aniversary. There were 8 stages planned for the day.

The morning started bright and cold but as we got towards the start of stage 1 it started to snow. Fortunately it wasn't too heavy and the roads stayed clear. The first stage turned out to be very slippy and the crew were quite cautious which cost a bit of time. As we approached the start line for stage 2 it started to snow again. This made the second stage quite slippy as well although the stage was completed without any problems.

A service halt was next and Sam and Brian didn't have too much to do. Stage 3 was cancelled so it was staright on to stage 4. This was a rerun of the first stage but the passage of cars and the increased temperature made much more grip available. The stage was going well until about three miles from the end when a rear puncture slowed progress a bit.

Stage 5 was next and it again started well. About half way through the stage the crew noticed a noise coming from fourth gear. The rest of the stage was completed without using fourth but a lot of time had been lost.

At the next service we drained the gearbox oil and refilled it. The decision was taken to continue even though it was obvious that something was seriously wrong inside the box.

Stages 6 and 7 were completed without too many problems. A lot of time was being lost by nursing the gearbox but it didn't seem to be getting any worse. We were a bit late out of the previous service halt which left us running in amongst slower cars. On stage 6 we caught the car in front which then wouldn't get out of the way breaking the number plate and denting the intercooler in the process. Fortunately nothing too important got broken.

Next was a service halt but there wasn't much more that Sam could do to help the gearbox. Only stage 8 to go but unfortunately the gearbox gave up on the road section going to the stage. It suddenly started to smell hot and then got noisy and then it seized completely within a couple of seconds. That was rally over and we had to phone for Sam and Brian to come and collect us with the trailer.
A quick investigation showed that whatever was rattling about inside the box had cracked the gearbox casing and all of the oil had ran out. Once that had happened the gearbox overheated and seized.

It was a disappointing start to the season but at least we have a spare gearbox and the car should be ready in plenty of time for the Border Counties.

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