Sunday 8 January 2012

Rally - Dawn over Knockhill

Now there's a sight you don't see every day, dawn breaking over Knockhill. It was very mild early this morning, but it's now cold and there's a smirr of rain in the air. 

Arriving at the circuit in the dark this morning ahead of the Grant |Construction Stages Rally, it was very mild and the paddock was already full of cars and vans and abuzz with excitement and anticipation.

The Knockhill staff were at the gate handing out welcome packs to everyone with a brochure, discount voucher and stage maps for the day's activities and there was the welcoming smell of tea and bacon butties wafting across the serried ranks of badly parked rally team entourages!

Somer of the buildings had taken quite a battering in last week's storms but Stuart Gray and Ian Forrest were remarkably upbeat and repair work on roofs and gable ends was already well underway but still well pleased that the facilitirs had borne the brunt of such a fierce storm so well. In fact on the way up to Knockhill this morning there was more evidence of damage with trees down and branches scattered across roads so the fact that the circuit is open for business is testament to the team's sterling efforts at Knockhill.

Anyway, with 2 stages gone Doug Drydon (Subaru) has taken a 2 second lead over Michael Glendinning (Subaru) with Jim Sharp (Subaru) a further 8 seconds behind.

Mark McCulloch is 4th, second time out in his new Proton 1600 giving it a shakedown ahead of the British Rally Challenge which he will be contesting this coming season. He did the Christmas Stages two weeks ago in the car and finished 17th but wasn't happy with the handling, so he's changed the suspension and is much happier today.

Last year's winner John Rintoul (Mitsubishi) lost nearly 20 seconds on the first stage this morning with a 'hoor' of a spin on the damp, greasy surface and Stuart Baillie lost a chunk of time too "aquaplaning on mud" and wiped the front bumper off on a tyre marker, so they both have some serious time to make up.

Bruce Hay is a remarkable 5th in the Nova ahead of Ian Forgan in the wildly oversteering MkII with Gareth White 7th in the wee Citroen from Ross Hunter in the Peug 205 so it would appear to be awfy slippy out there especially for the more powerful cars - and it's still raining.

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