Written by Louise Leakey on . Posted in Rhino Rouge Blog

This years event was a long way north in the stunning foothills of the Matthews range, in the Kalepo hills. With dry sand rivers, thick thorn bush, and a backdrop of stunning hills, looking beautifully green after the rains. A total of 108 million shillings (US dollars $1.2 million) were raised by all the 65 teams who took part in this years event, which will be put towards the fencing of Mount Kenya and maintenance of the existing Abardare fence. Furthermore 4 million shillings (US dollars $45,000) will go towards community conservation projects in the immediate Kalepo area. As promised Car 17 has a short write up with photographs to share with you and would like to thank you again for your continued support of our team in this event. We were camped in some thick bush by the sand river, a lot of clearing for the tents but a wonderful setting for all our kids who amused themselves in the sand building sand models and playing touch rugby. We received our coordinates and carefully plotted our route for the next morning and managed to get to bed before midnight this year, having loaded the GPS units and had a good look at where we were heading on Google Earth. An early departure with the dawn, it did not start too well for us as we spluttered and coughed our way to our starting checkpoint at Little Red for 7am. The whistle blown, the other teams set off leaving us with our fuel pump on the ground and our spanners laid out. We finally conceded it was an electrical fault rather than a problem with the fuel pumps. Borrowing a spare battery from a lovely lady’s car as a back up, we decided to set off to try to get a couple of checkpoints behind us. The driving was very difficult, as she would stall constantly. Riding the clutch and struggling with the simplest of slopes we stopped to fiddle with the wires several times with little effect. Lots of good cheer with spanners and electrical tape and several cars stopped to give us advice or try to assist the damsels in distress! The Americans Car 10 had rolled ahead of us and once they had righted themselves, they still gave us fifteen minutes of their time to follow some wires, create a lot of smoke, and burn several fuses. As we spluttered into our second checkpoint, we proceeded to spend the heat of the day over the car engine in the midday sun. Finally real assistance arrived from Team Dik Dik having driven all the way up from Zambia to compete. With their advice we took a wire and bypassed the alternator altogether and the engine took to life again to great cheers! We were finally off, after three and a half hours of delay. Thank you to all the teams who stopped to help us. The quote appropriately sent to us by Russel Neylan of the Rhino Rouge Reserves- “As the tapestry of life is woven…stitches come undone and so as we mend the tatters we have the opportunity to improve our designs” We found ourselves caught in a tree, which pushed in the windscreen but fortunately did not break it. We charged through thick bush, crossed sand rivers and used the sand ladders very effectively to traverse the steeply eroded sand gulleys and to keep our nose out of the ditches. The car is a machine! We had given away our fuel to a team who needed this not knowing if we would carry on earlier in the day and then found we had to borrow some from another competitor ourselves, cutting a funnel from a bottle and rushing to the end. Eventually we managed to miss only one of the 13 check points and we had an excellent day, arriving back into our start post Little Red with one minute to spare! No injuries to report this year except for a few thorns and bruises from flying around inside the car or ducking away from flying branches. And we even saw a stunning, huge bull elephant and many little Dik Dik too. Thank you so much for your backing….we greatly appreciate this. You have Car 17 raise an amazing $22,000 dollars this year and hopefully secures the car a place in next years event. The Rhino Rouge reserves will charge in the car again and they promise to fix the wiring and get the alternator going again! Team 17 Scrutineering                  

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