Staples2Naples 2009 Wrap Article
We always start in the Maxon Motors car park and this year was no different. It has a great view of the Alpine lake just south of Sarnen, with the mountains all around you. If you have never been to Switzerland, then when the sun comes up around Sarnen – you are in for the treat of your life. Absolutely stunning scenery that many miss on the way in Switzerland as the sun has long since set. The house lights high up in the sky during the night, give no clue as to what the day brings.
Day 2 on Staples2Naples is about driving. Serious proper driving, and we take in some of the best roads Europe has to offer today.
A couple of teams were having car problems. Maybe 'problems' is too strong, but they were unsure of the abilities of their car that day, and wondered if there were alternate routes.
At StreetSafari, we have driven these roads many, many times on events, and we even drive them for fun ourselves. We can write you a map with alternate routes all day long for some of this stuff. Many people don't value the experience that we offer on these events, but when you are hand drawn a map of Switzerland and northern Italy with instructions of where the steep roads are, and the whole map is customised for you, that's where going with an experienced driving events company really stands out.
We drew several maps that morning, including one for the Bedford, for obvious reasons.
The day went to plan as we expected. Well, kinda.
A worthy mention to the Spongepants Bob team with a modified Volvo and rather interesting front spoiler. The spoiler had been acquired from a 'tasteful' Corsa, and modified to fit a Volvo, which meant an 8inch section added to it, and then the whole car had been painted up as Spongepants Bob.
Team Spongepants Bob. Note the tasteful Corsa spoiler. Now scrapped.
As themes go, it was actually quite whacky, and we can only theorize to exactly what they were ingesting when that particular plan came to them. However, execution of said plan was pretty good overall.
Day 2 usually weakens the cars. Some cars will already be having trouble by Switzerland, but Day 2 usually signals the weakening of the field. You won't get many failures, but cars will be having issues by the end of the day, that will finish them off on Day 3.
Well, that is what is meant to happen.
We lost one car that day, and that was it.
Team Bumble Beemer looking pleased to have made it this far.
If it makes you feel any better, it was raining 20 minutes later....
Excellent turned out Maestro.
Nice Pug 405, denying a London minicab driver a perfectly horrible car to ply his trade.
Tom Pangbourne on his 4th event, looking for a win! Again.
BMW on its 3rd StreetSafari event.
The Peugeot 405 estate kept threatening to break down, but it soldiered on throughout the day without batting an eyelid. But it did have an interesting fuel leak though. It says something when even the guys in the Bedford are looking out for you.
High Alpine lake near Sarnen.
Chip fat Pug making its way up Brunig Pass.
Gotthard Bahn in the high Alps near Andermatt.
Team 845 lost in Andermatt.
Yes, that is a grill on the back of the Golf, and it was a permanent fixture.
The only vehicle having any real issues seemed to be the Bedford, unsurprisingly. Their problem wasn't getting up the mountains, but coming down. As the team enthusiastically told us, going up wasn't a problem as they had loads of torque just no power. They ambled up the passes at 15mph.
No, the problem was coming down the mountains with 4 drum brakes. Oh yes, drum brakes all round. Apparently, with 2-3 tons of weight and the forces of gravity, were a small problem for those brakes. If they went up at 15mph, they went down even slower! But what's a bit of smoke between friends?
Everyone always thinks that when their brakes start to smoke when coming down a mountain, its the brakes themselves that are somehow combusting.
Its not. Its much worse. You are in fact seeing the wheel bearing grease evaporating. Now, for your wheel to go round, you need grease. If there is no grease, the wheel doesn't like going round and eventually falls off. And there you have it – why smoking “brakes” are bad.
Under no circumstance urinate on your white hot brakes either. It may well be funny to affixiate yourself in plumes of ammonia, however, more importantly you are about to shatter your disc brakes with the sudden temperature difference.
We have also spoken to a doctor about this as we were genuinely intrigued about urine being used on hot discs, and apparently subjecting urine to high temperatures can create a geasy residue. So that's another reason not to pee on your brakes. Trust me, that random fact was a pub quiz trivia question!
Be warned, people.
In fact, one team who were struggling during the day was in fact the organisers. Yup, we were having some self inflicted problems of our own, which started the day before the event.
Whilst nipping to Tesco the day before the event, the brakes went “graunch”. Graunch as in metal on metal sound when braking. To the trained ear this would indicate low brake pads. Just before an event – well – what's the worse that can happen.
Two days later we're in the Alps, and brakes are an essential part of the day.
What pad material was still left on the vehicle had left the previous day. We really were metal on metal for the day. This wasn't going to be good. By the end of the day it was bad. Didn't start well admittedly, but by St Moritz this had become a real problem as the brakes were starting to bind.
We took it very carefully down Bernina pass, and then onto Aprica. Somehow, our hotel managed to find the owner of the local Fiat Service Centre, which happened to be 300 yards from the hotel, and persuaded the guy to open at 830am on a Sunday morning.
Can you imagine a main brand service centre in the UK opening on a Sunday morning at 830am? We can't.
Our stopover town, Aprica, had also been hosting a full on proper rally that week, so it was something of a clash of colours when our group hit town. Which group was more memorable? A bunch of beaten up rally cars, or a bunch of beaten up painted brightly bangers from the UK?
Random road in Switerland
Heading towards Julier Pass
Heading towards Julier Pass
Heading towards Julier Pas.
Top of Julier Pass, heading for St. Moritz