The slogan of the Elephant Charge is “Dust, Sweat & Gears”, but for Team Autoworld it was "Dust, Sweat, Gears and Buffalo beans"! Our skipper and team driver, David Findlay, shares the adventures of Team Autoworld at the Elephant Charge 2013 held last month in Zambia.
This year the Elephant Charge Rally was held approximately 100km out of Lusaka towards the Lower Zambezi Valley surrounded by steep escarpments, deep valleys full of trenches, streams to cross and lots of buffalo beans. Buffalo beans are vines that grow in most Zambian valleys. These beans look like a pea pod and when the vine is disturbed the pod releases very thin fiber hairs that can lead a person to scratch his skin off! All the Autoworld team members could describe how these beans feel after the race!
Our team members are all outdoor enthusiasts. We found every excuse to have a practice before this year’s race where we could get our adrenalin rushing before the official race!
Team members from left to right before the start of this year’s 2013 Elephant charge: Johann (navigator), Aderlai (short distance runner), David (driver), Dave (long distance runner), Andy (short distance runner), Owen (long distance runner)
The whole purpose of the Elephant Charge is to raise money for wildlife conservation and education of future generations. Team Autoworld has supporters from all around the world and our suppliers are one of our biggest contributors! An arrangement was made with all of our suppliers that based on the monthly Autoworld purchases the relevant suppliers would offer discounts against these purchases. This incentive is a win win for both the suppliers and the Autoworld team and has been a total success. This has been the fund raising strategy for the last 3 years and has resulted in the following amounts being raised each year:
· 2011 - US$10,670 (K58,685)
· 2012 - US$25,368 (K139,524)
· 2013 - US$35,321 (K194,270)
The 2013 Elephant charge was the most successful year ever with a staggering US$172,000 (K946,000) raised by all the teams.
As much as we tried to get through the dust, wipe the sweat off and change the gears (DUST, SWEAT & GEARS) it was dust, sweat, gears and buffalo beans for us and no sign of completing the race!
We had our last 1.6km to complete the race and we heard a sound that we did not want to hear coming from the rear axle of the car! Unfortunately our diff gave in... All our dreams were shattered. A sad moment it was. We waited 12 months for the race, we worked tirelessly on the vehicle and the team was full of energy, but it was really not our day.
From the total number of 17 teams only 3 cars & 1 bike team completed the race. The course was a tough one. We learned a lot from the race. Despite not finishing the race we have learnt a lot about the capabilities of the car. Due to the lack of roads on the map we were forced to take the car over escarpments we would have probably avoided and this only gave the team the experience we need to be number 1 in the near future! We've also discovered how painful buffalo beans can be if you “charge” through them...“ouch”!
The Bush Workshop
As an official sponsor to the Elephant charge 2013 Autoworld had the usual workshop set up to help any teams needing mechanical help. Unfortunately no “diffs” were in stock at the time of our mishap! The workshop consists of general tools and equipment such as a welding machine, generator, compressor, grinding and drilling machines to take care of just about any problem the teams may need help with. At the workshop we have a qualified welder, auto electrician and mechanic. Items such as lubricants, batteries, additives, and recovery equipment are on sale at the small stand.
Onward and Upwards
Our company Chairman, Noble Findlay, lifted all hopes for Team Autoworld when he generously approved a new set of front & rear diffs for the team for 2014! We can start to dream of climbing hills again and working towards finishing the 2014 rally and this time, bringing a trophy home!
Special thanks to Noble Findlay for sponsoring the team and giving all the support needed to take part in the race, our suppliers for their generous donations to the fund and last but not least the team members along with their families. There was never a dull moment of the race. Even when the diff blew, we still remained a team in a “diff-icult” situation!