Day 18 – Idaho Falls to Elko (Nevada)

Not a good day for us today as we broke down three times with fuel problems.

I have just returned from the car park where together with the rally mechanics team we rebuild the fuel pumps and drained 60 litres of probably dirty fuel.

We left Idaho falls this morning for a three hundred km run in very high altitude and with building temperatures. The car seemed to take the endless long stretches of empty roads with ease and we reached the control points well in time.

Then just in the run up to the late lunch stop at Duck Valley the car started to sputter on a long uphill stretch of road. The Alti meter read 1910 meters and then the engine died altogether. No more fuel in the electronic pumps. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Various rally competitors stopped and offered help but after a short wait and releasing some air from the fuel tank, the car started right away and on we went to the lunch stop where we parked it in the shade and let it cool down.

Fuel vaporization because of the heat (boiling fuel) was one diagnosis so we thought we would be okay for the afternoon.

After lunch on to the only regularity of the day a 68 km speed average section through a mountain pass over 15 km and with at least four stop and go control points. We managed to do all this without fail and although the penalties were not as small as we would have hoped we maintained our overall spot in the rally.

By then it was really hot and we drove with the top up to shelter against the bright sunshine. Another 120 km to towards our night stop in Elko with 2 ½ hours before the clock deadline seems an easy task.

After 45 km the engine died again. We stopped opened the bonnet and took of the fuel cap and a few minutes later we were on our way again. A bit more worried though and 15 km further down the road we stopped again but now it would not start anymore. Image a single lane highway in a desert and deserted only with some rally traffic who stopped and offered help.

I called the rally ‘ sweeps’ mechanics and quite soon they arrived diagnosed my experiences, took the two fuel filters apart and noticed them being very dirty. 
Dirty fuel, dirt in the fuel tank or still overheating fuel.
After cleaning and rebuilding the filters we were on our way and we calculated how much time we had left for the last 45 km to Elko. When you arrive later then your allocated time you get time penalties in minutes.

I will not tell you what we did to get there but we did and Grace clocked exactly at 17.48 our last minute within our allocated time.

Outside the hotel I was fending off an irate Harley biker who I had overtaken at a T-Junction on the outside to get to my destination. He followed me to the hotel and threatened to call the cops but quieted down when I apologized and said that my wife had given me the wrong direction at that junction. Grace has forgiven me already.

Tonight the mechanics and I got to work and drained 60 litres of fuel out of my tank. There was lots of dirt in it and they rebuild the fuel pumps again. Then fresh fuel so we hope that tomorrow there are no more problems but we will not be sure if we have really cured the problem. Tomorrow another hot and long day with one test so we are going to sleep now.

Tomorrow night in Reno for a well deserved rest day.

Good night,

Mick and Grace