‘Bush mechanics’ describes the practice of repairing ailing rally cars using only the tools carried on board or raw materials found close by such as rocks or posts. It often requires a degree of ingenuity from the driver or co-driver: WRC legend Colin McRae was famed for his skills as a ‘bush’ mechanic, once using a rock to straighten a piece of damage suspension, while on this year’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal Evgeny Novikov was able to secure the final podium spot when he used a combination of plastic ties and tape to repair his car’s broken throttle pedal.
While all Ford Fiesta R2s used in the WRC Academy are built and maintained to the highest possible standard and subjected to additional strengthening for the Acropolis Rally, the punishing roads that make up much of the competitive route are littered with rocks and other hazards that even the toughest cars can’t withstand.
The ‘bush mechanics’ training session, hosted by Ford World Rally Team technician Darren Mason, covered instruction on assessing the level of damage that may have been caused, the time that may be lost, how safe the temporary repair is deemed to be and whether or not it would be realistic to continue in competition or retire.
“The Acropolis Rally will present the crews with the most difficult conditions the WRC has to offer and the combination of heat with the abrasive terrain will test them to the limit,” said Mason. “Thinking outside the lines a little and being inventive can sometimes be all it takes to get out of trouble. Every situation will be different, but a few simple ideas can go a long way: be it securing major components in place with straps, keeping water in a cooling system by engineering temporary radiator repairs or sealing a crack in the oil sump with a bar of soap.”
WRC Academy frontrunner Fredrik Ahlin said: “The training was really good and has actually already come in useful for us as we broke a spring platform on the damper of our recce car yesterday and, for sure, the training will be a big help on the rally too.”