Friday, 31 August 2012

Rally - Trade secrets


Machars Car Club had laid on a rally shakedown earlier today ahead of tomorrow’s Ian Broll Merrick Stages Rally and there was a goodly turn out of cars and crews to give various guests and sponsors a hurl through the woods. Guests included some Forestry Commission folk and even a couple of traffic cops. It’s always nice to keep in with the boys, and girls, in the blue and yellow battenburgs.

Mike Faulkner was there and despite the professional looking outfit and well prepared car, Mike is the very epitomy of budget rallying i.e. cheap. He’s just fitted new rear brake pads and used today’s test session to set up the brake balance. “I’ll get half a season out of the rear disc pads,” said Mike, “but only 2 or 3 events out of the fronts. Some folk change all pads at every event, but we don’t.”

David Bogie enjoyed his recent trip to Stornoway in Hamish Kinloch’s MkII. “There’s only 15,000 people on the island,” he said, “but I think they were all there at the kart track on Saturday afternoon. Every time I power slid the car I got a huge cheer and they went mental when I did do’nuts.”

“I was following the Police in convoy at one point down the main road and the Police car made a sudden turn right off the road. I turned in with the MkII and the back stepped out so I just gunned it round the corner, and there was a woman standing there with a wee girl. I thought, ooops, I’m in for it now, but the woman was grinning and gave me the thumbs up and the wee girl was waving. Just magic.”

David had a few of his own sponsors there this morning and I asked him how hard he tried when at days such as these. He said about 8 tenths, no risks: “Folk who’ve never been in a rally car don’t appreciate the difference between flat out and safe, they just enjoy the noise and the ride, and a wee bit of tail action on the corners. I was down at M-Sport earlier in the year giving some of M-Sport’s guests a ride in an S2000 car, so I was on my best behaviour in front of Malcolm. This chap from Abu Dhabi climbed in and off I went. I wasn’t even up to speed and he was clutching at the seat and roll cage but grinning from ear to ear. I thought he was nervous so I only went at half speed and when we got back, he jumped out and was hugging me and Malcolm and everybody else. Some folk are easily impressed.”

Jock Armstrong doesn’t know what to do about tomorrow. Comed Saturday it will be three years to the date when he won his first Scottish Championship round. “So it would be nice to do it again,” said Jock, “but tomorrow is all about David (Bogie), Euan (Thorburn) and Mike (Faulkner), they’re in the running for the championship, I’m not, but I don’t want to take points from any of them.”

Alick Kerr has fixed his gearbox since the Scottish – with some Tiger seal! “It was just a wee crack in the casing. It wasn’t leaking just weeping, so we’ve plugged the leak and we’ll change the casing over the winter. We’re hoping to do a full season next year if we can get the budget together.”

It’s 21 months since Alick last sat in a rally car before the Scottish this year, but the plan was only to do two events ahead of a full season next year. “It’s a confidence thing,” he said, “the 4s and the 5s are the hardest to get right.”

The Honda twins both had problems this morning. Graham Smith’s orange car had a misfire and water was found in one of the cylinders. So a paper towel was dunked through the plug hole to soak up the water, then they found the real cause of the problem, one of the bolts holding the distributor cap to the metal casing had broken and was seized inside the sleeve. So the distributor was whipped and taken 10 miles down the road to Jim McDowall’s place to get some heat on it and free it up.

Graeme Schoneville’s yellow car had a similar problem with water so the Smith team gathered round with their dry cloot to fix it!

Fraser Wilson heard a knock from the rear of the Mitsubishi and changed a top link in the rear suspension. Then after the next run, found that it was actually an exhaust bracket rattling on the prop shaft.

Rachel Medich is a wee star. She drove down al the way from Aberdeen in her wee 1000cc Nissan Micra, and on Sunday she’ll drive all the way back. Her spares package consists of one spare wheel with a road tyre!

As for tomorrow, I’ll try and update the Blog from the rally but signals are hard to get in the middle of Glentrool!

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