Thursday, 27 February 2020

Road - A good day

Some days are better than others. Today was one of the good ones. Jaguar was in Scotland with a selection of the latest F-Type models for members of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers to drive and assess.

The mid cycle model refresh outwardly shows changes to the nose, tail and light clusters while the chassis has been tweaked based on feedback from the SVR. The V6 engine has been dropped in favour of a new 450PS supercharged V8 while the 575PS supercharged V8 has been retained.

Naturally the job was to drive them all and appraise their merits ahead of the 2020 Scottish Car of the Year awards.

On one of the jaunts I stopped at Polkemmet Country Park to take some pics. So there I was, crouched down on my hunkers, trying to be creative with the camera when a big black nose poked its way into my lens. It belonged to a Labrador, all wet nose, big eyes and wagging tale. Its owner, an elderly, tall, but stooped, white haired gentleman approached apologising profusely.

There was no need of course, it was just a lovely, big black lump of canine friendliness. But the chap asked what I was up to, not in an officious nosey way, but curiously interested.

Then I found out why. Although he had arrived at the Park in a beat up old Shogun he told me that back at home he had a 1992 Jaguar XJS V12 and a 2002 S-Type R amongst his collection of 5 cars. He was also a long time member of the Jaguar Driver’s club, hence his interest.

So I filled him on the spec of the car I was driving and answered as many of his questions as I could. I nearly missed my lunch!

That capped a lovely day out in the snow (!) with some of the UK’s best examples of British engineering and automotive excellence.

Personal favourite was the 450PS AWD car. The grip was phenomenal and the performance ferocious - even on dry-ish roads. We-ell, somebody's got to do it!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Rally - Pacenotes Magazine

The February issue of the Northern Ireland based 'Pacenotes' Rally Magazine is on sale now and there's a cracking guide to all of the 2020 main UK rally championships. Not just the various Irish and Northern Irish series' but both the Scottish forest and tarmack championships, the BRC  and BTRDA competitions, and also the Protyre and Historic championships plus the three main Manx based events.

It contains a full and comprehensive rundown of all the dates, events and information you need to plan your year and well worth the cover price of £4.50 alone - or 5.25 Euros if you've still got some left in your holiday fund!

Elsewhere there's a memory stirring feature on Citroen's early days in the World Rally Championship with the Citroen Visa (Yes, seriously!), Michael Orr's personal insight on this year's Dakar and reports from the Christmas Cracker, Christmas Stages, Grizedale Stages and Jaffa Stages rallies plus the historic Killarney Rally of the Lakes.

Just don't make the mistake of thinking this is an Irish magazine. It's a British magazine covering events and personalities right across all corners of the UK and Ireland.  And if your local newsagent can't find it, there's always a subscription to be had.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Rally - Knockhill Stages

Alan Kirkaldy made it look easy. Second fastest on the opening stage of 8 he was fastest on the next one and then just kept on going. Over a minute clear at the half way point he finished over 2 minutes clear of Donnie MacDonald by close of play.

A wet, slushy track and a snow capped Knock Hill greeted competitors on their arrival, and there was no warm welcome from the mercury either. If you had a thermometer, the liquid stayed well hidden in its wee bubble at the foot of the scale! The sun and blue sky did make an appearance in the afternoon, but the temperature stayed firmly in the permafrost zone.

Given those freezing conditions, Alan and Donnie did their bit to cheer up the huddle of human icicles in the shelter at the Hairpin. Forget ‘racing lines’ these boys looked as though they were auditioning for the title of Drift King Scotland as they tyre smoked all the way in, round, and out of the tight uphill bend on SS7. A little bit of magic to crack frozen cheeks into a smile.

Kyle Adam was first 2WD car home in 3rd place just ahead of John Marshall debuting his new Skodaru. His total mileage in the car prior to today was a 3.5 mile run out at Race Retro on Friday.

Robert Marshall was 5th actually tying with 6th placed Andrew Kirkaldy who lost out badly in the slush in the first stage and spent some time in the sheuch on the 7th.

Joe McKeand was a sensible 7th ahead of the top 1600 runner Des Campbell who stole the show with Steven Hay in the 1600 Corsa until the engine suffered a mighty bang in SS5. These two were fighting for podium places early on till the track dried out, and before the Corsa made a passable impression of the nearby Mossmorran complex with a flare-out and smoke. Lots of smoke.

90s star Jock Threadgall made a one-off appearance in Nigel Atkinson’s Lancer to celebrate his 60th  birthday and finished 9th ahead of young Harry Chalmers. Mention must be made too of the 11th placed runner, Michael Cruickshank’s 1 litre Micra. Think flea on the back of a cheetah.

Scott MacBeth was holding 2nd place till a turbo pipe blew off the Lancer in SS6 and Trevor Gamble retired his Fiesta R5 when it started overheating.

The real star of the show? Shona’s Mars bar cake – not so sure about the chocolate banana cake though!

(Full report and all the embarrassing details will follow in the on-line mag later in the week)

1, A Kirkaldy/C Lees (Ford Fiesta R5) 40m 36s
2, D MacDonald/A Falconer (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 42m 53s
3, K Adam/S Brown (Ford Escort Mk2) 42m 56s
4, J Marshall/S Crawford (Skodaru) 43m 03s
5, R Marshall/L MacDougall (Subaru Impreza) 43m 12s
6, A Kirkaldy/P Carstairs (Ford Escort Mk2) 43m 12s
7, Jope McKeand/C Shanks (Subaru Impreza) 43m 27s
8, D Campbell/C Forsyth (Peugeot 206) 43m 44s
9, J Threadgall/K Atkinson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 44m 53s
10, H Chalmers/E Muir (Subaru Impreza) 45m 07s

Friday, 21 February 2020

Rally - Mull Targa

Entries for the Mull Hire Classic Rally on the Isle of Mull on Saturday the 14th of March close on 28th February. That gives anyone not yet entered a week to get their act together - like a certain 'garageista' in Larkhall (part of the Coltness Bears contingent) who is still threatening to prep (i.e. get it MOT'd and taxed) a 2004 BMW 318 which he just happens to have in stock!

There's a Scrutineering session on the Friday evening, but for the better organised the rally could be done in a day provided you get the first ferry out (Oban or Fishnish) and last ferry back (Lochaline). There will also be a Saturday scroot session before the 10.00 am rally start. First car home is expected around 4pm but that's only for those who don't get lost or waylaid! 

This 'Targa' style  event is open to any vehicle that complies with either Section R.18 or Section R.19 of the Motorsport UK Technical Regulations.

It's basically a simple affair, no roll cages are needed just MOT, Tax, road tyres and Insurance. 

The 100 mile route will include up to 3 Regularities (on private or public roads) and up to 14 timed special tests totalling approx 11 miles on private land. The minimum entry has already been exceeded although there's still plenty of room for more cars and folk to take part.

Cheating will be frowned upon, so that means NO ancillary device capable of measuring and/or displaying any data other than distance or time. Trip meters capable of showing average speed will not be permitted unless that function is suitably disabled and Electronic Speed Tables will not be permitted either.

However it would appear that one intending crew will be comprised of three folk. This is allowed In Targa Rallies where up to four people can crew one car provided there is indeed four seats - and safety belts for all occupants. Naturally this does not apply to Mazda MX5s or their ilk.

Taking advantage of this generous competition rule, said Bears seems to think there is safety in numbers and they are contemplating a third member. Whether this is for additional mental input or ballast, one is not sure. Considering the fact that neither driver nor navigator can count or know their left from their right, this could be considered a wise move, but knowing who the third member is likely to be there would appear to be less room for improvement and more scope for argument. It's a pity, but in-car cameras and recording devices are not allowed!

Other than that, this is rallying at its simplest. The last time this event was run, Bevan Blacker won the Rally in his Peugeot 106 while Geoff Dean was second in a Suzuki Ignis Sport - which he had bought for 150 quid then drove it from Yorkshire to Mull, competed, finished runner-up, and drove it back to Yorkshire again. And they have the cheek to call us Scots thrifty! Now there's a challenge for anyone out there, eh?

Entry Forms are here:

Thursday, 20 February 2020

2020 Rallying is go

The 2020 Marshall Construction Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship gets under way this Sunday with Border Ecosse Car Club's Grant Construction stages Rally at Knockhill. Eight stages are planned with the first cars getting underway at 08.31 Hrs.

Full entry list here: