Ready For The El Chott Rallye 2013

We’ve been busy making final preparations for the El Chott Rallye over the past few weeks. Finally it’s time for us to leave for the scrutineering in Voghera, Italy. We’ll be heading out early on Friday morning.

Erg Racing Tatra N2

The best way to follow us during the rally will be from our homepage here, where we’ll try to post regular updates whenever time and network coverage permit. We’ll also be posting on Facebook when possible, although Twitter may be the most reliable because we don’t need data roaming, we can post via SMS whenever we have cell coverage. We’ve updated the Twitter sidebar on the right so you can access the latest messages right from here.

The El Chott Rallye website will also have regular updates, so dont forget to check there for pictures and video. They also have a satellite tracker that will be active starting on Sunday, October 27 for all participants. Our truck number is 508.

Thanks again to all those who helped make it possible for us to participate in the rally this year, especially our sponsors including ZZ Kustom, Euro4x4parts, Fox and Randoequipement.

Read the next post in the series or go back to the start.

A Seemingly Endless Number Of Details

Planning a rally is a great deal of investment, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time. There are a seemingly endless number of details that can’t be left until the last minute.

A few weeks after we got back from the Breslau Rally, we made an inspection of the Iveco service truck. We had driven over 4,500km to Poland and back, so we wanted to make sure that everything was ok. During the rally we had had some trouble with the clutch. Sometimes it was difficult to put the truck in first gear, a problem that only got worse after we had to do some maneuvering on sandy ground. We decided to take a closer look and ended up changing the clutch; the release bearing was worn.

Iveco Clutch

Since it was the first time we’ve done this kind of maintenance, we enlisted the help of an experienced acquaintance who is in charge of servicing a fleet of heavy construction vehicles. The procedure didn’t turn out to be that difficult. We accidentally pulled off a sensor bracket while removing the transmission and had to re-weld it, but otherwise everything went smoothly. The job was finished in about six hours.

Once we were satisfied that the service truck was in good condition, we started to work on our checklist for the rally. While most of our friends were on vacation, we stayed home, working during the weekdays; planning for the rally consumed most of our evenings and weekends.

The biggest part of the first upgrade on the Tatra had been done in Koprivniče early this year, but there were still a number of things we wanted to do without waiting until the last minute. We installed a fan on the oil radiator to improve the engine cooling and mounted a small winch on the truck bed for hoisting the spare tires.


We placed a number of fasteners and holders in the cabin and box for the spare equipment and tools we might need during the race. Everything needs to be secure so it won’t move around, but it also has to be quickly and easily accessible. To protect the headlights, which might be damaged in the dunes, we fitted a plexiglass plate onto the front bumper.


Finally, we made a console for the navigation equipment and satellite tracking unit, and installed the wiring for the electrical connections. Once the console was ready we installed the GPS units and Terratrip rally computers and checked that everything was working properly.

Although the test drive in Slovakia went well, we still wanted to improve the front suspension. The shock absorber we damaged during the testing was most likely defective, but twelve days of sandy tracks and dunes will be more demanding than the testing we did. Over the last few weeks we reviewed all the options for upgrading the suspension and decided to replace the front Sachs shock absorbers with Fox 3.0 Piggyback units. These are 80 mm diameter triple by-pass shocks. The only problem would be fitting them in place without having to modify the mounts, which are sized for metric and not US customary units. We contacted Fox and were pleased by how helpful they were and how easy it was to work with them. They sent us the technical drawings of the shocks and end caps so that we could make sure they would fit. We chose the end cap that worked best for us and designed a set of ring adapters that would allow us to install the shocks on the existing mount and keep the current Sachs shocks as spares.

Once we were convinced we could mount them properly, we confirmed the order and Fox scheduled the build. In total, it took about a month to build and ship the shocks. During that time we were able to finish the design of the adapter parts. We used the DraftSight CAD software and gave the resulting technical drawings to a local company that makes precision machine parts. Both the shocks and the adaptor rings were delivered last week. We spent the weekend installing them and taking the Tatra out for a short road test. We’ll post more details and pictures during the week.

Except for a few remaining details such as mounting the onboard cameras, the only thing left now is to review our checklists to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything and then start packing. We leave in just under five weeks.

Our Sponsors

We’re happy to introduce the sponsors whose support has helped make possible our upcoming participation in the El Chott Rallye.

ZZ KUSTOM test color euro4x4_3D_RVB_ang fox-1c-black-3in LOGO HD RANDO VECTO

ZZ KUSTOM has been providing installation and custom fabrication of 4×4 offroad vehicles since 2004. Specializing in rock crawling, Jeep and Hummer, ZZ Kustom participates in 4×4 competitions in Europe and abroad and recently took second place on the podium at the King of The Valleys in the UK. They also provide racing rental and assistance services via ZZK Racing.

Euro4x4parts imports and distributes 4×4 parts for trade and individual clients throughout the world. Their catalogue features parts for more than 98% of the 4×4’s found in Europe. More than just an online store, the Euro4x4parts team are “4x4dicts,” with a long-term commitment to serving clients through their professional experience and knowledge gained on the field. Euro4parts attends offroad meetings and competitions in and beyond Europe.

For over three decades, FOX has been a leader in the design and development of high performance shock absorbers and racing suspensions for snowmobiles, mountain bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, off-road cars, trucks, and SUVs. Founded by motorcross racer Bob Fox in 1974, who set out to improve his racing performace by designing a better shock absorber, the company remains close to the racing community, and works closely with athletes to better understand their needs in competition. Fox shocks are used by racers on winning vehicles from Baja California to Dakar.

Specializing in travel and adventure equipment, the members of the Randoequipment team are experienced overland travelers with all types of motor vehicles. Their catalog has a large range of equipment for furnishing all types of vehicles (4×4, Quad, Camping-Car) including boats and especially for demanding conditions.

We’d like to thank all our sponsors for their support. We’ve also created a dedicated sponsor page, which you can find in the header bar at the top of the page.

First Rally For Erg Racing

It’s official! We’re happy to announce the Erg Racing Team’s first rally. We’ll be taking part in the El Chott Sahara Rallye of Tunisia. The Rally takes place during 12 days in October and November along a route of almost 2,000 km of special stages, and 1,000km of liaison.

We’ve already got our number: 508.

With just six and a half weeks to go, we still have lots to do to make sure everything is ready on time. More announcements and information are coming soon!

Read the next post in the series.

Off Road Tatra Testing Video

After a short delay, the video from our off road tests in Slovakia is finally up.

We should have news about our first rally soon.

Off Road Tatra Testing

Unfortunately, last week was rather demanding so it’s taken a little longer than we expected to get the photos up from our trip to the Czech Republic.

Our week started with a few days in the workshop. We helped with some technical modifications, installing an additional temperture sensor on the cylinder head in the engine and checking the position of the deflectors that control the air flow for cooling. We made some last-minute checks and adjustments, aligned the steering, and tested the lifting bags that we’ll be using instead of a jack during the rally. During the first days at the workshop, we had a chance to take the Tatra out on the prooving ground to make sure everything was ready for the off road testing.


We also completed a number of special arrangements in the cabin: we installed electricity for all the rally equipment, changed the screws in the seats, checked the fixtures of the safety harnesses and replaced the FIA cabin security cable closures so they are easier to remove when the cabin needs to be tilted for work.

On Friday we left for a day and a half of realistic driving tests on an off road training ground in Slovakia. The field was a real “paradise, ” one of the best training grounds we’ve seen. The terrain was mostly sand with long fast tracks for speed, a few hills for practicing ascents and descents, and technical sections with lots of bumps and dips for checking the suspension and handling.




We had two objectives. Primarily, the testing served to verify the configuration in conditions similar to what we’ll encounter in a rally. In addition, the test drive was also a training for us to learn to use the new equipment (like the CTIS) and get accustomed to how the Tatra handles with the changes to the suspension and the new settings.

The Tatra is one of the most efficient vehicles we’ve ever driven. We were impressed with its capabilities in the sand. We were also surprised by the CTIS. The ability to change the tire pressure in a matter of seconds is not just a nice-to-have, it brings a decisive advantage.







At the end of the day on Saturday, we had logged over 200km without a major problem. Sometime in the afternoon we noticed that one of the front shock absorbers had been destroyed. We’re not sure how that happened, but we suspect it might have been defective. We’ll have a few spares with us when racing in case we need to make a replacement. The only other casualty of the weekend was a broken headlight.



All in all we were quite pleased with the results, coming home with a configuration that will be solid for our first rally and confident that we’ll be able to use it. We also had a great time and met some wonderful people during the week. We already have some ideas for future upgrades to the Tatra, so we hope to have an opportunity to go back again soon.

With luck we’ll have some video from the tests up by the end of the week.

A Taste Of Things To Come

We’re enjoying the warm spring weather in the Czech Republic. This afternoon we went for the first few turns on a special track to take the Tatra in hand and start getting used to the new configuration.


Being so close to 110 years of Tatra history is exhilarating, but this is just the first taste of what’s to come. Tomorrow we’ll be installing some equipment in the cabin and visiting the Tatra Museum.

Bringing The Tatra Home

We’re off to the Czech Republic tomorrow where the fully reassembled Tatra is ready and waiting for the first off-road tests since the overhaul and installation of the Central Tire Inflation System.


The drive to Kopřivnice is over 1,300km and will take about twelve hours. Once there, we’ll spend a few days in the workshop and then head out for testing before bringing the Tatra home.

Pictures and video when we get back.


Some photos from last week’s test drive, the first since the Tatra was reassembled.

Tatra First Test 1

Tatra First Test 2

Reassembling The Tatra

We got back from the Czech Republic the weekend before last. We spent a week there to see how the work on the Tatra was going and to help out a little in putting it back together. We were glad to have the chance to learn more about the construction and modifications, which may also help if we need to make repairs or adjustments during the rally.

In addition to installing the CTIS, the upgrades also involved a few improvements to the suspension, including the air bellows that are part of the pneumatic suspension. The original Tatra 4×4 bellows were replaced with a smaller lighter version designed for the Tatra 6×6, which has eight bellows on the two rear axles. The Tatra 4×4 has only four bellows on the rear axle. Comparatively, even though the Tatra 6×6 can haul a heavier load, each of the bellows on the Tatra 4×4 are designed for a heavier load because there are only half as many to support the total weight. Since we’re preparing our Tatra for racing, we won’t be carrying anything heavy, and we can afford to change the bellows to the lighter 6×6 version, which is more reactive and should make a smoother ride during the race.

nouveaux coussins dair

While we were there, the engine was remounted.

mounting motor 1

mounting motor 2

We also mounted the front wheels.

front wheels mounted

It’s usually hard to see the front axle because of the skid plate, but because it hasn’t been remounted yet, the newly painted axle is easy to spot.

front axle

The CTIS has been completely installed and tested in the workshop. The air pipe on the hub will be protected by a cover. It has a vane so that it can be isolated and so the tire can be inflated normally in case of a problem.

CTIS wheel closeup

This is how it looked when we left.

back wheels mounted

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay for the first tests this week, but we’re planning to go back for some offroad tests soon.