It’s not quite as wet in Wales today as it was yesterday and a strange orange globe was spotted in the sky at times generating some mild warmth. It was all too much for Donnie MacDonald and Andrew Falconer who were leading the Scottish contingent on the National Rally Wales GB overnight. Lying sixth overall at this morning’s re-start, the duo tipped their Evo9 off the road in Hafren, and although they were both OK, they were out of the rally.
The 20 km Hafren test was in a pretty foul state with slippery mud and quite a few holes and ruts to catch out the unwary.
MacDonald’s disappearance put the ‘Inglis twins’ into the top Scot position but Alistair nearly got carried away when he entered the ‘spectator bowl’ on the 2.5 km Sweet Lamb stage and got the Evo5 all out of shape when he saw the crowds! “Do you get penalised for shortcutting?” he asked afterwards following an awkward landing after the jump, following which he straightlined it to pick up the road again.
Malloch Nicoll and Bob Lumgair nearly went end over end in the Evo9 on the same jump, but John Morrison and Peter Carstairs were a bit slower through there as the Evo9 had lost its clutch on the previous test but they were still struggling on.
Carl Tuer and Rob Tuer emerged unscathed despite catching a front rim on a stone but the MG’s tyre was OK.
Nicoll had a puncture on the final 17 km test at Myherin but didn’t need to stop and Morrison had to get a push in the clutchless Evo9 in to the Final Control: “It went on the first stage today and that was hard,” he said, “We had to make sure we got every hairpin right, otherwise we were in big trouble. If that hadn't happened, we could could have had a big push.”
Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield won the National in their Impreza WRC but Alistair and Colin Inglis were well chuffed with fifth overall nearly six minutes behind the winners. Morrison and Carstairs finished 11th, Nicoll and Lumgair were 22nd with the Tuer brothers in 26th place in their MG ZR S1600. Wayne Sisson and Barry Groundwater both failed to finish.
After 15 stages John MacCrone and Stuart Louden were inside the top 30 on the International event in 28th place overall. And despite promising a sensible run, the Fiesta overshot a hairpin in Sweet Lamb – in front of the crowds. Typical! At the end of the next stage in Myherin, MacCrone commented: “It's fine, we're just cruising. Lots of sideways. It was a lot of fun. That stage is something else! We've just got to get through it and make sure we get to the end. We're in no-man’s-land with no-one close behind us.”
Meanwhile up at the front, Kris Meeke has moved into fifth place, and lucky to be there. The MINI team mechanics performed miracles during midday service in Builth Wells trying to fix a broken engine mounting. It had broken on the way to the first stage this morning and needed a substantial amount of work during the 30 minute halt to get it fixed.
Meeke’s rally engineer Teena Gade explained: “We ended up replacing all the front suspension because it’s quite easy to do in one hit, along with the steering rack, because that can get some damage as the engine moves. Obviously we’ve replaced the link that was causing us the problem. And because the engine moved we’ve lost some parts in the turbo wastegate system. It’s caused the hot exhaust gases to blow around the engine bay so we’ve ended up melting some components in there. We’ve had some touching up to do on the wiring and the catch tank. We’ve also replaced some exhaust bits we can get to. We’ve also replaced the propshaft because the engine moved so there have been a fair old number of jobs. We didn’t need to change the gearbox and hopefully the car should be as good as new.”