Friday 3 August 2012

Rally - Speyside in the sunshine

Tasting the air at Tormore Distillery
Crivvens, it’s been a while since we’ve seen rally cars in the woods. Not since the Scottish in June, but the Scottish Rally Championship circus is gathering in Elgin tonight after the mid season, summer monsoon holiday break. Prior to the resumption of high speed hostilities tomorrow, 63 Car Club were hosting a Media/Sponsors day in Whiteash forest where a number of the good ol’ boys had gathered with their cars to give the guests a hurl.

On the drive north this morning, it was hard to believe this was Scotland. There was a big yellow circle pasted on to an azure blue sky as I drove north in this week’s road weapon of choice, a Vauxhall Combo Sportive. Now don’t go thinking ‘Sportive’ means ‘sporty’. It doesn’t. It refers simply to the top spec trim level of Vauxhall’s latest compact van.

The 1300cc diesel was not designed for thrill-a-minute motoring but it’s a surprisingly brisk wee thing once you get it moving. However, the big bonus is the sheer plushness of the living area. It’s roomy up front with an excellent seat and a really nice driving position. The only thing I could criticise it for is the skimpy arm rest on the left of the driver’s seat and the fact that the window sill is too far away to lean the right arm comfortably on the door, plus the sill profile is not conducive to sticking the arm out of the window, undoubtedly a design oversight for a commercial vehicle.

The thing about these ‘sponsor days’ is that competitors get a chance to give their cars a shakedown for little cost ahead of a rally. Taking advantage of this was Bruce McCombie who had his Subaru’s gearbox rebuilt after the Scottish: “It was rebuilt at Buckley’s but when they finished it two days ago, the hydraulics wouldn’t pressurise properly,” said Bruce, “so the boys weren’t happy with it and put in young Dommie’s gearbox out of the yellow car, so that’s what I’ve got for this weekend. It’s the same box as mine and it feels fine.”

Chris Collie had a lot of work done on his Mitsubishi after the Scottish too with Wayne Sisson in attendance this morning: “The gearbox has been rebuilt and it’s got new front brakes,” said Chris, “plus it’s got a new clutch and flyhweel.” Barry Groundwater chimed in: “Aye we ken fine why that is. I sat beside him at a sponsor’s day the other week and I was impressed. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone flat-shifting a five speed synchro ‘box.” Chris had the grace to look sheepish at that point.

Keith issues a call to arms - and ears!
Not so lucky was Alex Pirie, he’s looking at a bit of extra work tonight. The Corsa hit a rather large depression and smacked the sump this morning. It’s cracked and losing oil, and he’s just hoping there is no further damage.

Anyway, the session was curtailed due to the stage surface breaking up but not before Keith Robathan enthralled the watchers - and the listeners, with the unmistakable bark of a MkII in full flight bellowing and echoing through the woods like a bad tempered bear with piles and trying to get rid of last night’s vindaloo.

So that’s it till tonight with Scrutineering in Elgin and Sign-On at the Town Hall. And if you fancy going out for a gander, programmes should be available at the Town Hall.

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