We’re used to turning engines round quickly at mountune Racing - motorsport’s notorious for tight deadlines after all, but hearing the plight of rally-ace Louise Cook, we knew we’d have our work cut out on this one!
The call went something along these lines; “I need your help, my engine’s misfiring and cutting out, we’ve checked it and it’s got 3.2mm of end float and I’m supposed to be on a ferry to WRC Finland on Wednesday!”
Alarmingly, 3.2mm of end float was about 3mm too much, suggesting there was going to be a bit of a mess waiting for us in the bottom end… oh, and this was Thursday, so we literally had a day to identify what had failed, what had caused it and, to give Louise something back she could still make the rally with… nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.
Louise is competing in an R2 Fiesta which uses a 1.6-litre Sigma Ti-VCT, fitted with the homologated upgrades from MSport, comprising largely of steel rods, forged pistons and wilder camshafts.
On arrival Thursday night, the sump was removed from Louise’s engine and as expected, the thrust washer had disintegrated with a section of the crankshaft effectively acting as a bearing – the result? A swarf-filled mess.
As luck would have it, we had a brand new standard Sigma engine sat in our stores so a plan was hatched overnight to retain the head from the original engine and rebuild the rest into the new bottom end.
Friday began in a bit of a blur as two of our highly-skilled engine builders stripped the original engine, cleaned all the carryover components through a multi-stage cleaning process and then with everything prepared, the rebuild could begin.
Putting engines together is second-nature, so the build itself went off without any major issues and by mid-afternoon we were in a position to call Louise with the good news, “Your new engine’s ready if you want to come and pick it up?”
After realising her dream to get to WRC Finland was still well and truly alive, we were promptly joined by a beaming Louise and Stefan (her co-driver), armed with a transit van and an obvious sense of urgency.
The guys spent the weekend getting the engine fitted back in the car together with a host of other new transmission parts (collected in person as far afield as Belgium), which left them with just a day to fire it back up and run it in before heading to Finland.
We’re pleased to say they made it after putting in numerous all-nighters and at the time of writing this, Louise and Stefan are about to return to professional rallying for the first time since winning her class in 2012!
Good luck from all of us at mountune.
mountune – keeping dreams alive, since 1980.