Day – 7 to Zacatecas
Yesterday was the final day of this crazy adventure and we started out strong. After two speed stages we’d actually closed the 13 second overall gap between us and the Mustang in 10th place. Beating him for the day would have meant a top ten finish and first in class. Well, our alternator decided that it wasn’t meant to be. As we lined up to start the third stage of the day, smoke started to come out of the edges of the hood, clearly indicating something burning or about to burn in the engine compartment. We pulled out of line and shut her down. Mark got out and quickly figured out that our alternator had seized and the burning was the belt. So, no alternator, no belt. We could live without an alternator but the belt also drove the water pump and that keeps the motor cool. Not possible to go very far or fast without water circulating through the motor. So, we had two options: go for the speed stage and drive slowly using gravity (it was a mostly down hill stage) and risk a dangerous situation with other cars coming behind us, not to mention messing up their times, OR, wait until all the cars had gone by and try the gravity approach then. And that’s what we did. (Our time on that speed stage wasn’t the slowest for the day!) When we arrived at the bottom of the hill, Eric, Flo and Brian were waiting for us having been pre alerted to our problem by our fellow competitors. They quickly changed the alternator but unfortunately the spare belt we had was too small and had to be forced on. It held for another 50km or so, including another speed stage and then failed. We were then towed to the nearest auto repair store to hopefully buy a new belt. Once there the nicest old lady in the world sold me a belt and Mark and Chewy from EuroLatino (who had graciously pulled over to help us) put it on and we were on our way again. However, we’d lost so much time that we missed the last three check ins and speed stages which meant that we’d lost the day. We went into Day 7 with a big lead in our class but it wasn’t big enough to cushion against losing the whole day so we didn’t place in our class. While very disappointing, it didn’t stop us from celebrating with all of our friends, old and new, in the streets of Zacatecas. I’ll post a little recap and final thoughts later today or tomorrow or whenever this hangover wears off.