As we had arrived in Lima a day earlier than expected, we had one day free before the press event on Wednesday which therefore allowed us a slightly more relaxed Tuesday than normal! However, there are always things which need to be done and so we did not attempt to have a sleep in or anything like that. In fact, even if we had tried, we can’t sleep later than 8.30am as our bodies are just so trained to wake up early every day!
The first priority was to fix the bodywork which was damaged in the crash during our drive into Lima the night before. Through one of Salvador’s contacts, we had located a fibreglass guy, and through Giovanna, the marketing director at KPMG, we had got hold of a painter that could restore the surface of the bodywork to its formerly smooth and unblemished finish.
At 8am, Toby met the fibreglasser in the underground garage at KPMG, and within an hour the bodywork had been fully repaired to its former strength, and the surface sanded down to a smooth finish. Later on in the day the painter arrived, and after combining together the right proportions of white and silver paint, applied an even finish to the repair job. The rest of the morning was spent doing the “behind the scenes stuff” like emails, website updating, blogs etc until we went over to KPMG for the afternoon to prepare for the press day starting the following morning.
While myself and Clemens were meeting with KPMG to work out the precise details about who will be doing what and saying what during the press day, Nik and Toby were downstairs playing with the wheel alignment configuration to see if this would affect the reduced range we have been seeing. Through our observation of data collected while driving over the preceding days, we had eliminated the possibility of the range reduction having anything to do with altered aerodynamics. This was initially suggested because the repaired front splitter dips slightly on the left, it’s thicker than its predecessor, and is traditionally a large source of drag (purposefully) on race cars.
We suspected that after the wheel realignment in Quito, which was done to mimic the normal race car set up, that the wheels were toed inwards too much. As such, we toed them out to as straight as they would go, and also looked at other potential factors such as tyre tread and alignment of break callipers. However, we would have to wait until Thursday, when we were due to drive out of Lima, before we could test the changes.
The next challenge of the day was to move the car into the KPMG lobby so that it could be displayed during the press event. This entailed getting it up 2 small steps and then one big flight of steps around 1.3 metres high. To this end, KPMG had organised for a flat bed truck to come which, apparently, would be able to safely deliver the SRZero into the lobby.
However, we took one look at the truck when it arrived and we had serious doubts whether it would be able to live up to the expectation. We told the driver this, but he said that he had come on Friday to check that it was possible, that he has done this before, and that it wouldn’t be a problem. We were not instilled with the greatest of confidence, and our concerns were further enforced when we measured the stairs and the truck with a tape measure…it just wasn’t going to happen!
Yet the driver still insisted he could do it, and that we must just load up the SRZero and get on with it. Naturally, we were not prepared to risk the car on something we were sure would not work, and so we told him to do a dry run and show us that the truck could bridge the stairs, but without the SRZero on board.
He begrudgingly agreed and so we headed over to do just that. I can condense the following 2 hours into a single sentence; it didn’t work, not by a mile! Firstly, the bed would not extend far enough back or high enough to bridge the stairs, so then he tried reversing the truck onto unstable little pieces of wood to try and make up for the short fall. While doing so, one of his hydraulic actuators, which he had been fiddling with earlier, starting spewing out hydraulic oil all over the smart entrance of the KPMG tower; they were less than amused!
Yet he still didn’t give up, and it was only on another reversing attempt when he went too far and took chunks out of the stone staircase that KPMG finally intervened and told the guy to go home. It was a shame it had to happen like this, but infinitely preferable than doing it with the 1.2 ton SRZero mounted on top of it! And besides, our back up plan to have it just in front of the steps (but still off the pavement) was perfectly good as well, so on this note, we finished the day and returned to the hotel for a quick shower before dinner.
We were due to meet Fernando for dinner, and he had promised us to take us to some sushi which was supposed to be unmatched. Given our previous experience with Peruvian seafood, we certainly had high expectations, and we arrived with our appetites fully whetted! Sharing a large assortment of different dishes, we had an extensive taste of what the restaurant was capable of, and the verdict was unanimous incredulity! Quite unlike normal sushi, these delicious morsels were infused with ingredients not normally found in Japanese cuisine, such as parmesan for example, and the result was truly exquisite!
After dinner, Fernando took us for a quick tour of the city, and contrary to what we had heard about Lima being a grey and ugly city, we were very pleasantly surprised. Sure, there are large areas of the city which are somewhat less than attractive, but the area along the coast and parts of the old city further inland were very beautiful indeed.
With the tour complete, Fernando dropped us off at our hotel where we all took an early night. Many thanks to Fernando for showing us a great time, and to the flatbed truck driver; sorry my friend, better luck next time!
The next day was the standard press day affair; long, tiring but always enjoyable! We had 2 presentations to give; one to the press, and the other to KPMG staff. These presentations were separated by viewing time of the car when anybody could come along, meet the team, ask questions, and take pictures with the car. This continued uninterrupted apart from lunch where we were treated to a delicious meal by the British Embassy.
This provided for an extremely interesting time as we quizzed the Deputy Head of Mission about some of the things which, with our prior involvement with the embassies along the way, we had been thinking about. What travels in the diplomatic bag? How are communications with the UK conducted in a secure manner? Do their mobiles have secret encryptions to prevent people from tapping their calls? Do they ever get MI6 agents stopping by?!
There were things which he couldn’t divulge of course, but he gave us the general gist in most cases and it certainly is fascinating area of the civil service! Peru isn’t exactly a hotbed of secret diplomatic activity though, at least as far as the UK is concerned, so the embassy here is more focussed on enhancing ties between the 2 countries through trade and investment.
After returning to the KPMG building and finishing with the press day, we had to move the car over to the university where we would be giving a quick presentation early the following morning. To ensure the car was not going to be damaged in the apocalyptic Lima traffic, we surrounded the SRZero in a convoy totalling 5 vehicles including one police motorbike. Progress was fairly slow; it took about half an hour to complete 7km, but we made it there safely at least! We drove it into the large and incredibly impressive university campus (La Universidad de Lima), and parked it up ready for the next morning.
From here, we had just one more engagement for the day; eating! KPMG took us out to a smart restaurant right on the beach, and ordered for the whole table round after round of delicious sushi. Yes we had had some the night before, but this was just as good! The atmosphere was really enjoyable as 5 of us and around 15 KPMG staff chatted away. We also had the opportunity to try something very interesting; un pisco de coca. Pisco is an alcohol made from grape which is mixed into a drink traditionally known as pisco sour. Containing lime, sugar and egg white, it is a potent but delicious concoction which we had the pleasure of trying over previous days. However, on this occasion, the restaurant had on offer the aforementioned variation which was flavoured with coca leaves!
In Peru, coca leaves are completely legal and are predominantly used in tea and for chewing. Apparently this releases a chemical (not cocaine!) which acts as a stimulant in much the same way as caffeine. This effect was not noticed in the pisco de coca, which tasted much like alcoholic green tea, but it certainly provided for a delicious flavour!
After dinner, we went out to a party with some of the girls from KPMG which Fernando had invited us to, and this concluded a long but very enjoyable day! Many thanks to KPMG for hosting us in such style, including our hotel which was fantastic, and for allowing us to use their garage as an impromptu workshop!