Armed Forces Rally Team

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Armed Forces Rally Team

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Armed Forces Rally Team

The Armed Forces Rally Team run 6 military Land Rover Wolf XD vehicles in the British Rally Championship as well as competing

internationally on the Almere Rally in the Netherlands and Rally Reykjavik in Iceland (see complementary article). In 2006 the

RAF maintained a large presence in this Tri-Service team both as competing crews and in the vital service role.

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Team selection is held annually in January

at Long Valley, Aldershot where the MOD

Trials & Development Unit has an excellent

gravel circuit. Those keen to join the team

are invited to either drive or co-drive team

instructors around the stage while being

scored on their abilities. They are also tested

on fi rst aid and mechanical knowledge and

are interviewed on camera. In order to be

considered for a place on the team it is

necessary to have either been successful

in the BAFMA Navex series or proved your

worth and commitment by turning up at

various events in support of the service

team.

The team’s activities are classed as

Advanced Driver Training exercises and

are underwritten by the Defence School

of Transport; thus members have on-duty

status and are able to claim travel and

subsistence. The vehicles are all standard

military Wolf XD Land Rovers, which have


een stripped of all unwanted military

ancillaries and hence weight. They are

sprayed white to present a ‘non-threatening’

appearance for the benefi t of recruiting/

sponsorship purposes and fi tted with roll

cages, racing seats, a fire-suppression

system, lighting pods, anti-roll bars and

up-rated shock absorbers. There is also an

internal intercom and a radio for comms

with the service team and the other team

vehicles. The steering wheel is smaller to

save the driver’s elbows and the handbrake

is modifi ed so that the driver can reach it

while strapped in.

The 2.5 litre diesel engine remains

standard and somewhat quiet. That said,

they have been known to be fi tted with the

authorised modifi cation normally reserved

for the up-armoured Wolf, which increases

BHP considerably (quite a beast). And whilst

the external appearance of the vehicles

is strictly controlled, drivers are allowed

to personalise the interior, which can be

anything from pink in some cases, to the

more conservative Wedgwood blue. Drivers

are also allowed to attach their unit colours

to the tailgate, as pictured.

Successful RAF members of the 2006

team included Flt Lt Steve Partridge (driving)

with Sgt Jim Eaton (co-driving) and MACr

Flo Shouls (driving). Cpl James Dempsey

and SAC Chris Hare also co-drove on several

events. Flt Lt Craig Teasdale joined the team

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management and other Service personnel

included Sgt Jon Stubbings, Cpl Dudley

Walker, Cpl Jon Blaine, Cpl Duncan Lilwall,

SAC James Ward, SAC Dougie Goddard,

JT Lennie Lenthall, SAC Anton Bainbridge,

SAC David Jones, SAC Keith Wiley, SAC

Paul O’Neil & SAC Phil Riley. If you are

interested in fi nding out more about this

type of activity you might wish to contact

Flt Lt Steve Partridge on 95261 Ext 7220. In

addition, the BAFMA have a useful website

which can be found at www.bafma-online.

co.uk.

Sgt Jim Eaton

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Rally Reykjavik Serv

In July this year I was asked if I would like to attend Rally Reykjavik in Iceland as part of the service crew for the

Armed Forces Rally Team. I normally work at the bottom of a deep dark hole at Northwood HQ, and don’t really

get to see much of the world fi rst hand; thus I jumped at the opportunity and said, ‘Yes of course I’d like to go!’

A couple of weeks and one upset wife later I found myself at Reykjavik Kefl avik International airport. We were

housed in a Hjalparsveit Skata (Mountain Rescue) hostel to minimise cost, which was nicely situated 20 minutes

by bus from Reykjavik town centre. We were informed later that evening that all smoking was allowed but should

be done at least 20 metres away from the building as there was enough gunpowder stored in the workshop to

start WWIII. Thankfully the mountain rescue workers were also expert fi rework operators and were preparing for

the end of rally celebrations later that week.

The fi rst couple of days were fi lled

with a mixture of spare part sorting and

fuel can fi lling with plenty of time left

over to go and have a good look around

town and find where the cheapest

expensive beer was! Reykjavik is a lowlying,

sprawling city and I was amazed

to fi nd that none of the locals have to

heat their water, preferring instead to

let Mother Nature superheat it prior to

its being piped to huge storage tanks in

the middle of the city. The water does

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smell a bit sulphuric which made me gag

the fi rst time I showered in it, but after a

couple of days you get used to the smell

and don’t notice it.

The next three days were very busy

as the rally got underway. I was given a

green Land Rover full of vehicle spares,

fuel and a REME fi tter and told to drive

to the fi rst service area. This involved

taking the ‘Landy’ into town and waiting

for the cars to return before refuelling,

cleaning and checking them for damage


vice Report

prior to their going back out again.

As an Intelligence Analyst I found

this rather taxing so I let the REMEs

lead the way while I helped with

re-fuelling and cleaning. This work

ethic was fine until a few Land

Rovers came in with minor damage

and there weren’t enough REMEs

to cope. I was given a spanner

and told to remove the rear shock

absorber. I set to work hoping it

would look something like a mini’s

shock absorber (which I am slightly

more familiar with); luckily it

did, albeit somewhat larger,

and I am pleased to report

that I was able to remove

and help replace it in quite a

respectable time.

The next day the rally

moved further inland which

meant driving cross-country

to the service area, which

was easier said than done

as Icelandic roads are no

more than well-travelled

paths across the lava fl ow.

During a particularly

bumpy section I managed

to rupture one of the

benzene fuel cans (for the

team Subaru), which

gave the Land Rover

a particularly toxic

and unpleasant smell.

The service area was

overlooked by Hekla

Mountain, over which

the stages ran, and which

is surrounded by ancient

lava. The scenery was

truly breathtaking and I

found it a pleasure to be

working in such beautiful

conditions.

The RAF crews, which

included Flt Lt Steve

Partridge, Sgt Jim Eaton

and MACr Flo Shouls, were

doing well and had suffered no major problems. On the last day of

the rally we drove very early in the morning, in convoy, to a place

near a lake. It was a freezing cold so I spent the majority of it

curled up in the back of the Land Rover, only coming out to service

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the vehicles. In the afternoon we

were back in Reykjavik for the fi nal

service followed by an evening

of prize-giving and fi reworks. The

crews picked up some prizes and

we all received a nice glass to take

with us as a memento.

On the fi nal day the team took

a well-earned rest. We visited the

Blue Lagoon, a geothermal bathing

spa situated in the middle of a lava

fl ow on the South West peninsula

of the island. The water is actually

the outflow from a geothermic

PowerStation. This sounds bad but

the water is actually very clean and

incredibly hot (like kettle water)! Around

the pool are boxes which contain a

natural exfoliating silica mud which is

applied to the skin (it stings a bit) and left

there for a few minutes. After washing it

off your face it feels as though it’s been

scrubbed with scotch bright but in a

painless kind of way if that’s possible!

This mud also covers the bottom of

the pool but a brief examination of the

stuff revealed more human hair than

I care to write about; needless to say

we had great fun getting people to rub

that into their faces and then actually

looking at what it was.

Although the pace of life during the rally was exhausting, the

team had a superb time and I gained experience unparallelled by

anything so far. I hope to continue to help as a member of the

team and even return to Iceland next year.

Dudley Walker

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