The inaugural Missouri Ozark Rally took place on Feb 2, based out of Missouri’s newest State Park. The Echo Bluff state park graciously hosted the rally and the fickle Missouri weather cooperated to provide incredible racing conditions. Ten cars entered the rally, meant to be a shakedown for the upcoming Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. There was only a single road closed for the rally, used four times. This road featured four low water bridges each with a few inches of running water for an extra challenge. Cars ran twice in one direction and then twice in reverse after a single service. There was also an un-timed “super special stage” at the location of Parc Expose in the town of Eminence, MO. We started the rally 3rd on the road, certainly the highest starting position we ever received, and were thrilled to compete for an overall podium.
After the excitement of realizing our new car’s true pace at the Show-Me rally, and the disappointment of the loose turbo issue, we wanted to find out exactly how our fix of using stronger studs and locking type nuts would perform. Unfortunately, we found out quickly as halfway through the first timed stage we noticed the same issue occurring. The problem happened just after the first water crossing, so we are considering the possibility that rapid cooling of the joint could cause this issue.
We continued limping the car and tightening the nuts in between stages. Our crew added some Loctite at service to assist, but at the end of the event, the issue persisted. The water would prove to be an equalizer, however. Several cars had issues with the frequent crossings – one of our main overall competitors lost a few minutes on stage after ingesting too much water. We were able to hold onto third place overall at the end of the day, and second place in the 2WD class.
Now we have the task of preparing the car for 100 Acre Wood and finding a permanent solution to the turbo issues that plague this car. We are working with a local shop to determine the best way to keep it securely attached over the course of a two-day rally. Some specialty positive-stop locking nuts on the turbo studs should resist backing off. Bracing from the down pipe should help keep the exhaust side from flexing so much. On top of that project, the car will be getting some EBC Red-stuff brake pads to improve the braking performance. Supplementary lighting both inside and outside the car will help us better navigate the night stages. A bit more water proofing for the engine bay, front-end alignment and general once over on the car should finish the necessary preparation.
The National 100 Acre Rally, on March 15-16, is set to be one of the largest in years and will possibly set an event record for number of entries. Over 80 cars are currently entered. Ken Block, 7-time event winner, is on the entry list, in addition to David Higgins, Oliver Solberg (son of WRC champion Petter Solberg), and many more. With over 30 cars competing in the 2WD class, we have a monumental task ahead of us to achieve a good finishing position. The bar is set high even for regional competitors, and we will do our best to try to clear it.
Photos by Rob Benowitz