We are now in Branson, Missouri for even number three in the WERock series.
We arrived at the comp site at 9 am on Saturday morning to check courses and get the running order. We are first up on A2, an area made up of extremely large rocks on the edge of the quarry wall. We got up through gate one and gate two with very little trouble, but then the rear dropped down hard and smashed the rear ARB line causing it to leak. With only a front locker, we got the front and rear axles hung up and timed out. In came the crane of shame to pick us up off the course because of how stuck we were.
Right away, we were up on A3. This is an up and down section on the edge of the woods. We tried a different line than others by going up the left side. Unfortunately, that didn’t work so I backed down and went up the right line through gate one. Then it was around to gate two, a steep side hill drop off. I slid into the down-hill cone. We took the gate three left cone on our second try through. With not a lot of time left, I head up into the woods to the gate four drop off. With only 20 seconds left on the clock, I took the drop off too fast and endo-ed to the finish gate only to time out before I could exit.
Matt did a quick check over of the rig and noticed that the temp gauge was reading a little hotter than normal. We checked the hoses and the radiator temp seemed okay, and figured that the temp sensor got smacked. We were up on the course right away. In hind-site, we should have taken break down time and let the Jeep cool down.
First on course A4 is a side hill through gate one and then over a large rocky section. We noticed a small amount of coolant leaking from the overflow which by now, is full. Bruce shut off the overflow valve to keep it from leaking. The next gate is a steep uphill bonus. The Jeep crawled right up the bonus, but at the top, burped out a large amount of coolant and we were called on a fluid penalty. We limped the rig off the course and back to the trailer to fix the overheating problem.
After allowing the Jeep to cool and topping off the radiator, we were headed off to A1. A1 consists of five normal gate and two bonuses. We chose the normal line through gate one instead of the bonus. I backed down through gate two to line up for the gate three bonus. We made the steep climb through the gate three bonus with no problem. We then went up and around a large rock formation. We chose to back through the next obstacle which was a tight crack in the rocks. We were then lined up for gate four. I had to drive high on the left hand wall to make sure we cleared the down hill cone. With a little bit of quick driving, we were through gate four and heading off towards gate five. With a little use of the skinny pedal, we got up and over, through gate five and then out the exit. We are tired for the best score of the day on A1.
It is the end of the first day and unfortunately due to the mechanical problems we are sitting in seventh place. Looking at the scores, we should be able to move up if we have a good day on Sunday.
Our first course on Sunday is B2. We are third up on this course, so we are able to watch some other competitors run first. This course is similar to A2 from the day before but running in the opposite direction. Gate one is an off-camber steep climb between the rocks. After several tries, I was able to get the front tires up on the rock and burn the front over to get through gate one. We got down through gate two clean. Then it was back around the large rock in the center of the course, up top through the rocks, and then down through gate three. Gate four is a tight squeeze and I take the right side cone as I drop down the four-foot drop. With a quick front dig to the right, we were headed for the exit gate. I had to stop and back up because there was a large rock in my path. When I shifted it back to drive, there was a loud noise from the front end. Bruce tells me to stop and get out and look at the rig.
Matt and I inspect the front axle to find out that the upper control arm mount sheared off the axle allowing the front differential to roll forward. When this happened, it broke the front driveshaft. Both front shocks broke off at their lower mounts. The broken yoke from the shaft cut through the lower radiator hose causing the engine to lose all of its coolant. After inspecting the damage, we made a decision that we were finished for the rest of the weekend.
Matt and I are currently working on getting the Jeep back together as I write this. We expect to be back together and ready to go for Dayton, Tennessee in August.
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