Happy Rallye Day - Medulla @ 11:20 am

The last I posted, we were preparing for the arrival of the new axel. The old axel was removed after midnight and hauled onto the service truck by 7 men, who even together, needed all of their strength to lift it. Alois and Josh discovered that the joint or collar where the axel connects to the truck was broken and when they removed it, it lay in 3 pieces. Made of cast iron, we needed special equipment to do the repair and Michael from the Dutch team from across the way used his stick welder to get the job done.

Traffic and other delays for the delivery truck kept Alois and Josh waiting until 5:15am for the arrival of the new axel. This left them less than 5 hours to install it and get Jay to the starting line by the 10 am cut off time. Installation went very smoothly, with the help of some Red Bull and support from Maura who stuck with them until morning. Their work continued to the last minute and unfortunately, just beyond. Seventeen minutes late, we didn't make the start of the first phase of the race. Josh said, "Oh well, we wouldn't have done anything differently." The job was still done in record time and we'd be in good shape once Jay was able to start at phase two, unfortunately at the end of the line with any others who didn't start or finish the first part of the race that day.

The rest of the team, including myself, were headed to our next camp, just west of Dresden in Poland. Just after we arrived that evening, we got a call from Jay.

We all waited anxiously, as a call from our driver in the middle of a race isn't usually a good thing. He gleefully reported that things couldn't be going better. He finally felt like he was racing. He was hitting corners hard, set into his seat by the smoothness of his acceleration and his trust in the suspension.

The next call we received was from another member of the press who informed us that an accident at one of the checkpoints caused the attendant to rush to the aid of the competitors involved. Since there was no way to know who had passed during his absence, the organizers had decided that they would call it the end of the line, cutting short what was expected to be the longest day of the entire rally.
Film crew gets a view from overhead

Today at the drivers' meeting, the results were posted. We learned that we had climbed up from to #98 among the 136 remaining contestants. Three days ago we would start at the bottom of the list to find our ranking and each day since we've moved up to find ourselves looking for ourselves on page three. More than half of the 300 who started were gone. The most prominent piece of advice we received, early on in the race was to take it slow at the beginning. Many competitors make the mistake of pushing too hard early on and breaking their vehicles, never giving them the chance to reach the final days where real speed matters. We've reached that point now and are in good shape to give it our best go possible. Couch got some good sleep last night and Tobius studied the Day 6 road book, highlighting each of the key directions all through breakfast. The film crew finally got their chance to ride in the helicopter which circled the starting line as we waiting for Bam Bam's turn. They are following overhead and will continue to until they loose him in the trees.