Thursday 28 July 2011

Rally - Help the English!

Scottish Rallying got a fright a couple of years ago when th Forestry Commission was threatening to sell off forests - with no guarantee about public access after their sale, and therefore forest rallying was under serious threat. The idea was scrapped - for the time being. 

Now it's back, this time in Englandshire so I would urge all those of us up here to support the campaign down south to make the Government think again. This is a threat to national rallying across the four nations, although there are some cynics amongst us who think that there is a campaign to pick us off one by one!

Apparently, the Government only consulted one leisure organisation about their proposals - the Ramblers Association!

If you can read this wee story then you have access to the consultation group. To submit feedback to this consultation, simply send an email to:, detailing your name and answering as many of the questions as you wish.


The panel is asking the following questions:
Q1 – What do forests and woods mean to you?
Q2 – What is your vision for the future of England’s forests and woods?
Q3 – What do you feel to be the benefits of forests and woods to:
 a) you personally;
 b) society as a whole;  
 c) the natural environment; and
 d) the economy?
Q4 – We would like to hear about your suggestions of practical solutions and good practice which can be replicated more widely.
Q5 – What do you see as the priorities and challenges for policy about England’s forests and woods?

So please, do it now, or at least before the weekend is out. Send your response to:

Further information is on the defra website:

Friday 22 July 2011

Air - Enstone Flying Club

I was down at a 'press do' near Chipping Norton in Englandshire yesterday and came across an old airfield just outside the village of Enstone, where the Enstone Flying Club has a base, and what a fabulous wee set up they have there.

It's a private club with a growing membership, but they have embarked on a fundraising and technical exercise to build a dozen 90% scale size replica Spitfires. The idea is to form their own aerial display team and travel the country doing shows.

Apparently there is a nutcase, sorry enthusiast, in the USA who originally came up with the idea of the Spitfire kit, but naturally the kits use modern materials and technology. The guy obviously has more money than sense 'cos it takes a lot of bread to get this sort of thing certified to fly!

For instance, the engine is a V6 Isuzu unit. Now the smarter readers amongst you will have counted six exhaust headers on the engine cover of the Spitfire in the piccy, but that's a cunning ploy to mimic the real thing. Told you the guy was nuts, sorry, an enthusiast.

Now I know it's got nothing to with rallying, or motoring (apart from the engine), but what the heck, it looks bloody marvellous - although it doesn't sound anywhere near as tingly as a Merlin!

Want to know more? Click on:

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Road - VW Caddy Bluemotion

I've just handed back a 1.6 litre Volkswagen Caddy Bluemotion to the VW Press dept - quite reluctantly! Over the course of three days I covered nearly 1,000 miles (well, 875.6 to be exact) on everything from single track roads to Motorways and at no time did the fuel consumption fall below an average of 50 mpg.

This was the 102 PS (100 bhp) version with the 5 speed gearbox. And why not a six speeder? Because that’s not what this van is about, it is more of a mobile toolbox than 'overtaking lane hogger'. The 'Bluemotion' tag means that it is optimised for fuel efficiency, so it's no GTI either!

Despite that, it's first run was mainly Motorway, all the way from New St Even's Town to Prodrive's test track at Warwick, and back. On that 525 mile round trip, the Caddy averaged 53 mpg. It should have been a lot better than that, but I got fed up sitting at 60, and the speed kind of crept up to 70 mph (and beyond!) so who was I to hold it back? Besides, there was work to be done in Warwick so I didn’t want to dawdle.

On my return home I immediately headed north to Aberdeen where it is dangerous to exceed 60 mph – only because of the profusion of cameras and camera vans on the A90 and frequent, very large tractors!

And just for a change, on the return home I headed south via Banchory and over the sinuous Cairn O’Mount road with its vertigo inspiring climbs and hair raising descents. Considering how hard the wee motor had to work I was surprised to record 51.54 mpg on that 250 mile round trip.

Although the gearbox had to be used to get the best out of it on the Cairn O’Mount climbs, the 1.6 litre engine was more than up to the task, so there was little concession to the Bluemotion technology in real terms.

The remainder of the mileage was tootling around locally and with a little bit of concentration I was easily exceeding 60 mpg. The only drawback is that the Bluemotion badge adds 400 quid to the price, but that could be easily recouped with fuel savings over the first year depending on use. But even for a burly six footer, it's a crackin' wee van.

Monday 18 July 2011

Rally - Albar Kames Trophy Rally

We all got drookit yesterday at Kames. Although we were a bit lucky too, as the worst of the showers blew over the track between the third and fourth stages and the rain slackened off a bit for the final runs. Colin Gemmell won the Solo Driver event in his Subaru with Alan Gardiner/Alan Todd winning the Accompanied Driver event in his glorious MkI. Billy McMillan went home in the huff when he got penalised on the fifth run driving Bernie Rooney's BMW. He spun so far off the track that Bernie reckoned he needed a SatNav to find his way back on again and even then he had to follow a Corsa to find the Finish. Despite the weather, it was good crack - full report on the main JaggyBunnet website tonight.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Rally - Tweed Valley Stages Cancelled

Next week's inaugural Tweed Valley Stages Rally scheduled to run on Saturday July 23rd has been cancelled due to lack of entries. The organisers had received a lot of local support and despite being part of two local rally championships still didn't get enough entries to cover their costs. It's a shame, it would have been good to bring the Tweed Valley tests back into play especially that long, fast, blind, downhill right hander in Elibank which is flat - but only if you dare!

Road - Lexus CT200h

I hate cars that are smarter than me! And this week, the petrol-electric hybrid Lexus was in danger of falling into that category. The first time that the message 'Steering wheel turned too far, please return' popped up on the central display I was amused. The second time it happened, I was annoyed, the third time it happened I got pretty angry. The fourth time it happened, I reached for the Handbook to find out how to switch the bleedin' thing off!

Another thing I don't like is the CVT 'gearbox'. Of course, this being Lexus, it works well, but that doesn't mean to say I like these sort of transmissions. They always sounds as though the clutch is slipping.

Apart from that, I like it, and like it a lot. It's roomy inside, with an excellent driving position, and I could see myself wafting around in one of these when I'm old and doddery. Sporting it is not, and this despite three modes on the transmission - Eco, Normal and Sport.

On this particular car, the term 'Sport' is relative. Less hungry Jack Russell, more pensioner over-fed Labrador. But as I said, the term is relative, because it does perk up the sparks and allows safe overtaking. Just don't buy it if you hanker after a 4-seat Caterham, it's more of a motorised 4-poster.

Apart from its smartness, it's cunning too. In Eco and Normal mode, the dash display is highlighted in a soothing, calming blue background, but switch it into Sport and it turns angry red. The three stage Power meter on the left also disappears to be replaced by a glowing red and white rev counter. Nice touch.

I did over 200 miles in the car yesterday and apart from the early glitch, ended up liking it more, the more I drove it.

Friday 15 July 2011

Rally - Kames Time Trial

East Ayrshire Car Club has got just over 20 entries for Sunday's (17th July) Kames Trophy Time Trial at Kames in Muirkirk, so if you've got nothing better to do and the weather is stopping you working in the garden, why not get wet at Kames instead.

It's not a proper stage rally as such, but it's good crack and you can pay at the gate which is great for club funds.

And if it is wet, then it could double the fun, especially with the likes of Bernie Rooney being let loose in a rear wheel drive BMW 325 - he needs bump stops on his steering rack! And if it's too wet to see anything there will still be something to do - lie back and listen to Robin Hamilton's Metro 6R4, that'l be worth the trip alone.

For nostalgia fans, Alan Gardiner will be there in his Millington engined, sequentially gerboxed, MkI and Martin Elsdon will be bringing his big MkII.

I reckon it will be a right hoot. The first run is scheduled to start at 09.30 Hrs and it should be all over by mid afternoon.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Rally - Rally of Scotland

Entry Forms for the Rally of Scotland, scheduled to run on the 7 - 9 October, have now been placed on the event's website (see below) but take a deep breath before you look at the prices if you fancy having a wee shottie!

Fees for the International bit start from £1860 and go up to £4,200, but the National Rally is a bit more affordable. If you run with the organisers' stickers stuck to your car, the Entry Fee is £575, but if you don't have room for the event sponsors' decals because your car is already covered with your own, then the price is a mere £840.

In all fairness to them these prices include 20% VAT, or look at it another way, put on the stickers, pay the 575 quid and you'll get 82 miles of stages for your money. Starting to sound a wee bit more attractive, eh?

And here's a wee bit of a scoop. If you think this is the final RoS, it might not be. Although the original deal was for 3 years, and the event hasn't quite lived up to its money-spinning intentions, the IRC could be wanting to come back next year - and with an earlier date in the season!

It all depends on how well this year's event runs and is received, but in a bid to attract more speccies, the outrageous 'Olympic-style' ticket pricing has been discarded in favour of a pay-at-the-gate simplified system.

Entry Forms available at:

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Rally - Tweed Valley Stages

Entries for the new 'Tweed Valley Stages Rally with Clelands' close at midnight on Friday 15th ahead of the event which is scheduled to run on Saturday, July 23rd.

If you fancy doing it, then get your entry in quick. Apparently entries have been slow to come in so the organisers are getting a bit nervy.

Clerk of the Course, Ian James, said: “Lots of drivers have expressed an interest and asked for details but many are in the habit of waiting until the last week to enter. If there are people who have not booked yet, or if their car is not quite ready, get the entries in now and the inaugural event will take place as planned.”

Ian added: “There is an extra attraction for two wheel drive cars in this rally. These will be running at the front of the field, so Historics and similar, such as BDA Escorts or Manta 400s, are likely to win the two wheel drive category.”

With the cancellation of the Abbey Hotel Forestry Stages in County Donegal due to run on the same day organisers are hoping that Irish crews may be attracted to Scotland instead.

The Entry Fee is £470 for 6 stages totalling 40 miles, and they are all bloody brilliant stages!

Regulations are available at:

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Government Accused of Highway Robbery

The Government loves bad news. Timed right, really bad news can be used to hide other bad news. For instance, what’s the betting that this week’s report published by the ‘Institute of Advanced Motorists’ will not get the headline coverage it deserves? For example, who remembers the Edinburgh trams ongoing scandal that hit the headlines yet again a week ago?

The headline in the IAM’s new report entitledMotoring Taxation And Public Spending’ states that only 38 pence of every pound that motorists pay at the pump is for fuel. That means 62 per cent of the total cost is fuel duty and VAT.

Apparently, the percentage of tax paid at the pump rose from 47 per cent in 1980 to 75 per cent in 2000, although it fell back to a ‘mere’ 62 per cent last year 2010 as a result of increases in the price of oil.

In 2010, petrol at the pump prices increased by 27 per cent while diesel rose by 18 per cent. Already this year the petrol prices are up by 8 per cent and diesel by 12 per cent.

And there’s more. The government spends only about one-third (£12,752 million) of its total tax revenue from road users (£43,885 million) on roads and local public transport.

Now here’s the thing. Since 2002, the government has spent more on rail infrastructure than road infrastructure, although rail is used for only 7 per cent of all passenger travel.  In 2008 the government spent £4,807 million on road infrastructure compared to £5,567 million on rail infrastructure.

Shifting freight off the road and on to rail is a good thing, but look at the cost. Pot holes are increasing in size and depth, incurring more pocket-emptying damages by us motorists. Already over a million motorists have given up their cars due to rising fuel costs. Add in this additional pothole damage expense and even more will have to chuck it.

Oh wait a minute. I get it. If there are less cars on the road then there will be less wear and tear on the tarmac and less need for expensive maintenance. But then again, the Government will generate less tax – so they will have to put up our taxes again.

Ye cannae win eh?

Monday 11 July 2011

An Introduction

I've been running a website at, dedicated to the sport of rallying (in Scotland), for over two years now, but recently a growing number of people have suggested I should start a Blog or a Twitter or even a Facebook!

Well, it took a course of night school classes over two Winters to learn how to build a website so new technology is not one of my strong points. Besides I don't think I'm very important in the great scheme of things so who would read a Blog by me?

Anyway, I've been thinking about this for a wee while and I've decided to give it a wee shottie.

What set me off was a bit of bad news this morning. I got an email telling me that Bill Boddy had died at the weekend.

I didn't know Bill personally but he was one of the people who fired my initial enthusiasm for motor sport and inspired me to take up journalism in the first place. That's because he was a founding Editor of the monthly 'Motor Sport' magazine (the green one).

Along with the weekly 'Motoring News' (as it then was) and 'Autosport' magazine, motor sport and particularly rallying has remained a life long passion, and Bill's inspirational writing was part of that. Other people who inspired me to take up journalism include the late Ross Finlay, a wonderfully gifted writer, and Eric Dymock, an equally gifted story teller.

But if I had to name a favourite motor sports writer it would be Pete Lyons. His F1 reports in the weekly Autosport magazine in the 70s were compulsive 'under the blankets' reading by torchlight on Thursday nights when I should have been sleeping!

I can never hope to emulate these guys, but read on anyway. This will be as good as it gets!