Saturday, 24 June 2017

Rally - Thorburn wins Argyll

Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton have endured a couple of barren seasons over the past two of years, but it all came good today. Lying second going into the final stage of the ‘Dunoon Presents the Argyll Stages Rally’ a blistering time earned them their first outright victory since the Malcolm Wilson Stages way back in 2015.

“I didn’t think that was going to happen after the first stage,” said Euan, “We punctured a front tyre and dropped 17 seconds to Jock.”

Running first on the road wasn’t a big advantage though: “I was the route marker,” said Jock, “the first 3 miles of the stage was just grass with two black lines through it. It was wet and it was slippy, it was like driving on green snow.” Even so, he managed to take another second out of Thorburn on the second test.

Thorburn hit back with fastest times on the next two stages and when the fifth stage was cancelled it all came down to the final test high on the hill overlooking Dunoon. The orange Subaru went into the stage with a 4 second advantage and came out with a 4 second deficit.

“It was drier than the first run through that stage this morning,” said Euan, “and the grip was more consistent. Plus I got the finger out and had a real push.” The Fiesta finished the stage 8 seconds quicker than the Subaru and victory was his.

Armstrong was lucky though: “We hit something and it broke the exhaust manifold. Even so, Euan was flying.”

In third place was Shaun Sinclair: “I was quite pleased with my time on the final stage. I was only 2 seconds down on Jock – then I saw Euan’s time. I don’t know where he got that from. He was on a different planet.”

Mark McCulloch was fourth: “I was just too slow this morning,” said Mark, “I had set the suspension up for the first stage but it was all wrong for the second one! Still I’m happy with my result, just not my times.”

Mike Faulkner finished a fighting fifth having slipped off the road on another slippery grassy section of the third stage: “We punctured on the first stage,” said Mike, “but we spun on the third test.  We just got two wheels on the grass over a crest and that was it, we were off the road and on the grass.”

Steven Clark rounded off the top six with Duncan MacDonald top 2WD runner in 13th place overall just 23 seconds clear of Mike Stuart.  “The rear tyres were down to the cord at the end of the first stage,” said Duncan, “but they didn’t go down.” Mike Stuart was lucky too: “We were off big style in the first stage and bent all the link bars on the rear axle.”

And that was the story of the rally. The first 3 miles of the first 10 mile stage hadn’t seen a vehicle for years and was wildly overgrown plus it was wet turning to mud, then there was a good section of road followed by a badly repaired stretch  which caused a string of punctures. The organisers consulted some of the drivers and the Stages Commander wisely deciding to cancel the afternoon’s return visit. And therein lies forest rallying’s biggest problem, you can only go rallying on the roads that Forest Enterprise allow clubs to use.

If Argyll is to return to the glory days of Scottish rallying then clubs must be allowed access to better quality roads.

Top Ten:
1, Euan Thorburn 32m 38s
2, Jock Armstrong, 32m 42s
3, Shaun Sinclair, 33m 09s
4, Mark McCulloch, 34m 02s
5, Mike Faulkner, 34m 33s
6, Steven Clark, 34m 37s
7, Simon Hay, 34m 50s
8, John Wink, 34m 58s
9, Stephen Lockhart, 35m 06s
10, Michael Binnie, 35m 25s

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Rally - Argyll Rally

It's 14 years since we last heard rally cars howl in Cowal, and they will make a welcome return this Saturday for the 'Dunoon Presents the Argyll Rally'. Full Entry List, Timetable and where to buy Programmes now in the on-line mag.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

McRae Gravel Challenge

Coltness Car Club have released details of their planned 'McRae Gravel Challenge' scheduled to run on  Saturday the 23rd September. This will be a low-key affair to mark the tenth anniversary of the loss of their hugely supportive and much revered car club member. This one-off event is not intended to rival that huge memorial event in 2008. This will be a more private gathering run by the Club, although all rally fans will be welcome.

Some folk have asked about the photograph. That was taken in August of 2001, the year of Foot & Mouth Disease in Scotland and in northern England. Rallying was pretty much banned right across the country and the Coltness event was no exception. Initially the club was told that both Lanark (Rally Start & Finish) and Lockerbie (Service) agricultural markets were closed because of the disease and the forests of Dumfries & Galloway were out of bounds.

That was what prompted club members and rally organisers to look further afield for venues and with the Hackle Rally no longer, there was mileage to be had in the central Highlands.

Initial approaches to Perth & Kinross Council and Tayside Police were extremely encouraging and to promote the deal Colin travelled up to Perth with a couple of other club stalwarts to have a look at the route and meet the Provost. And that was why the Lanarkshire based event moved to Perthshire.

Chancer that he was, Colin was all set to jump into the Provost's XJ6 and take him for a hurl through the woods. It didn't happen, just.

As for the other hairy character, if there was one man who made the Colin McRae Stages Rally what it was, it was Big Jim. He's taken a step back from organising these days, but he'll be around in September. Already, Tunnock's are planning an extra run of pies ahead of his trip north.

For more info on the McRae Gravel Challenge as plans progress, keep an eye on the Coltness CC website. 

Regs & Entries will be available soon:

Rally - MacNificent Mull

Jim and Charlotte McDowall were over in Donegal at the weekend and were well pleased with their 53rd overall in this seriously quick and technical event. And even better pleased with the social life although Jim did his best to shield his daughter's innocent eyes from the local wildlife. Anyway, he had some space on the Subaru's bonnet so came up with a sticker to fill the gap. Nice one Jim! 

Maybe we should get some more printed and send them to our MSPs and MPs. And another thing. Lee Hastings and Alistair Wylie were over in Donegal too but I don't see their names on the finishers list. I hope it wasn't too sore!

Maybe we should get some more stickers printed, what do you think?

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Rally - Kirkaldy's Kingdom

Brian Wilkinson chats to Alan Kirkaldy

Who'd have thought it? Sunburn at Crail! The weather started off pleasant, but by lunch time the Marshals couldn't have sat on the tyre bales for a rest, or they'd have stuck to them. Trouble was, there was such a cool breeze blowing off the North Sea that many didn't realise they were burning up under the sun. That meant a lot of red faces heading homewards after this 40th Kingdom Stages, and not because of embarrassment.

No such problems for Alan Kirkaldy and Cameron Fair though, the red Escort Mk2 taking its third straight victory on the trot. Even a puncture on the fifth test didn't cast any doubt on the eventual outcome. The Inglis brothers were second, but farther from the leaders' pace than they would have liked, while Gordon Morrison and Calum McPherson were an awfy lucky third.

Sitting in the queue to start stage 8, Gordon turned the steering wheel to move forward and there was an audible crack. The bottom balljoint had broken just as they were about to tackle the 100 mph straights of Crail.

Having almost forgotten what a rally finish looks like this year, John Rintoul was fourth in the Mitsubishi ahead of similarly mounted Taylor Gibb and there was a marvellous result for Ross McCallum, hustling the MG Maestro round into the top six for the first time.

Euan MacKay scored a marvellous result too in such dry and fast conditions, the 1600cc Peugeot 106 scoring a class win and a top ten finish.

John Marshall was an early retirement when the Subaru rumbled over a tyre marker. It broke the exhaust and the manifold and Tristan Pye retired his Subaru with gear selection difficulties at Leuchars. Rob Snowden went out with gearbox failure in his Escort and David Newall's top ten run was curtailed by diff failure in his Escort.

A nice touch at the weekend, was the winner of the first Kingdom Stages 40 years ago, Brian Wilikinson, being asked to flag off the cars on this special anniversary with Brian remarking that much has changed since his days!

Top Ten:
1, A Kirkaldy, 94m 10s
2, A Inglis, 95m 38s
3, G Morrison, 97m 18s
4, J Rintoul, 98m 38s
5, T Gibb, 99m 06s
6, R McCallum, 100m 44s
7, B Watson, 101m 10s
8, C Gemmell, 101m 19s
9, E MacKay, 101m 28s
10, I Sanderson, 101m 42s

( Full report will follow in the on-line mag in due course )

Friday, 16 June 2017

Rally - Granite Stages report

That's the main rally report from last month's (yes, I know!) Granite Stages at Leuchars now in the on-line mag. Using the term 'last month' makes it sound much worse than 'two weeks ago' but life is a tad hectic at Castle Bunnet these days, which begs the question, is Relentless better than Red Bull for reversing mental decrepitude?

Thursday, 15 June 2017

From Prodrive to Colnbrook

The MSA has a new Chairman, Alan Gow is stepping down and taking up the position is one David Richards Esq. Will this be good for the sport, will it be good for rallying? Time will tell, but given what he will have to deal with I'm sure we all wish David well in his new role. By gawd he'll have his work cut out this time.