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Member Article: The Rally – Part IV

Day 3 – Eulo to Cobar

A shorter day today with only 497km, but 438 of these were on unsealed roads. Today also included a quick passing through Hungerford, a town with a pub. So of course, a stop for a quick drink was made by about 400 of the 500 participants. Again the locals got to see a brilliant site of hundreds of shitboxes stopping and came out for a look.

The unsealed roads contained some pretty sharp rocks. Unfortunately too many. Late in the morning we got our first puncture, so we radioed the group to pull over so we could change it. Putting two of our spares in the rear footwells meant that they were easily accessible without needing to remove anything else. But it also meant the dusty punctured tyres were put back in there getting the car even dustier.

The tyre was changed relatively quickly, we did a driver swap and we were on our way. About 20 minutes later the car was funny again, so we radio’d again that we had a problem and were pulling over to check. Sure enough we had our second flat tyre so radioed again for everyone to stop and change they tyre. Both front tyres had now been punctured. Despite needing to unpack the boot to take this tyre out of the tyre well, the tyre was swapped at a similar speed to the first one given we had a better system. The car was repacked, and we were on our way.

We did have another spare in one of the footwells, but that was also our back-up spare tyre, with the least tread.

As we were accelerating from the stop the car started to feel funny again, so once again we radio’d that we were stopping. We hadn’t even made it to 60km/h. We got out, checked and now we had our first flat tyre on the back. That was quickly changed (we really knew what we were doing now), the filthy dusty wheel off the car put back into the footwell.

And this was where we had our only mechanical issue in our buddy group that wasn’t our car. Although it was kind of caused by our car. After stopping and starting so many times, Rusty Wrecks wouldn’t restart while it was warm, but after a brief rest, it started.

Somewhere along the way that day we pulled over (I can’t remember why, probably a driver stop). A guy probably in his 30’s was parked beside the road in his ute. He was a local farmer who’d come out to see all the cars going past. He made honey, and gave each car a jar of honey from his farm.

Later in the day we went through Louth, which had another pub. Given the distance we were traveling, we didn’t pass as many pubs as we expected. Most of us took the opportunity to eat our packed lunch, and Rusty Wrecks took the opportunity to see if they could fix their starting issue to prevent it in the future.

As we got closer to Cobar we decided we should see if we could get some replacement tyres. The tyre place was staying open a little longer due to an influx of shitboxes. The rally has its own tyre supply and repair trailer (Air Support) who have a limited supply of replacement tyres, and the ability to repair tyres. We had limited confidence in them having 155 wide tyres. The Cobar tyre shop said their computer said they had two tyres to fit our car.

We arrived a bit later and were told that unfortunately while their computer said yes, their stockroom said no. The tyre fitter came out and looked, and explained that they didn’t have tyres that small because no one else out this way drives a toy car. He was able to help us out with 175/65R14 tyres, as opposed to the 155/65R14 that were standard. So they were put on the back and he set about seeing which of the three could be repaired. Two had sidewall damage and he thought the third could be repaired, and after repairing the hole, found another one on the sidewall.

Not only did Cobar have three petrol stations, each petrol station had multiple pumps. This meant almost no queuing even for the later teams, unlike the last two nights where the single petrol station town had one or two pumps.

We arrived in at camp to check in, only to find out that our reputation had made it to camp, and we were now well known as the team that had three flat tyres in less than an hour. At the time, I questioned it thinking it was way more than an hour. But upon further discussion later that night, I realised it was much less. Given we only managed to get two tyres, we also took a walk over to Air Support, to see if they had any tyres that fit. They only had 4 x 14 inch wheels left, and the narrowest was 195 wide.

We were camped at the Racecourse, which seemed to be a bit of a common occurrence. At the camp we had professional catering, with nice silver warming trays for all the food almost too fancy for us. There was also a bar which probably did better business than any horse race ever had there. Cobar was warm. At ten o’clock at night it was 31 degrees, making sleeping a struggle. Sometime between two and three o’clock I was awake and decided to see if there was a queue for the shower. There was one male and one female shower at the racecourse. Normally you’ve just got to expect that showers will be a rarity and just be prepared to smell for the whole rally. Fortunately, I was the only one crazy enough to be up for a shower at that time, so I was able to have one.

Words and Photos by Daniel Borton

Paul Hollingworth

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