21st September 2017

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So, I have been entrusted in helping The Mechanics fix the cars. My role is to sit in the driver’s seat and watch the dashboard to see if a light comes on. Obviously when technical, mechanical stuff comes up such as turning the key or revving the engine, the Mechanics take over.

Surprisingly, one of the three cars alternators still work, therefore every few hours the car batteries are switched between taxis to try and  give them some charge. If the battery dies, the car dies and we stall immediately and starting them again is a little tricky…

When driving we have to use as little electric as possible, therefore we can’t use indicators and have to try not to brake. Apparently brake lights are twice as powerful as normal lights so it’s better if we use the handbrake. Or it just gives us a good alibi for crashing in to the taxi stopped in front of you, which also works as a brake. Not sure if the locals and especially the local police, really appreciate our necessary but unorthodox driving style though.

Headlights are an obvious no-no in the game of Russian roulette as to where we will be driving when the engine dies. Unfortunately, in the last few countries we have been in, it’s a legal requirement to have your lights on 24/7.

When stopped by the police our grasp of the language wasn’t good enough to explain the technical situation but with a little charm we got away with just a 40 Euro fine. The dilemma then is, do we keep our lights on and risk immediate breakdown or lights off and another chat with the nice policemen?

No electrics also means not using windscreen wipers in the rain, although not a huge problem as we only have two and a half wiper blades working amongst the three cars because some plonker keeps running over the cars and breaking them. So far it has rained every day of the rally.

Also one of the cars has a cracked engine head although this seems to be fixed by special engine head superglue. We are down to one working fuel gauge amongst the three cars, which makes driving easier for two of the drivers as at least it’s one less thing to worry about.

One of the cars has a dodgy starter motor that needs to be smacked in the right place by a hammer, three times, whilst being jumpstarted, to make it work. Which makes it so much more interesting when told to switch your engine off when the police pull you over for a friendly chat…