The countdown to the 2012 Tunnock’s Mull Rally is now well under way, but a weel kent face has been notable by its absence over recent days. Six times winner and top seed on this year’s event Calum Duffy is not even on the island. In fact he won’t be back till Wednesday, two days before the rally.
So where is he? “I’m in Poland with my wife Barbara at a family wedding,” said Calum. When asked about his recce, he laughed: “I did it last year!”
Joking apart, Calum was asked about his prospects this weekend: “It’s the same car as last year, but we’ve got new Reiger suspension. This will be the first time I’ve used it on Mull. We tried it on Donegal earlier this year and it felt good. We finished 4th but we had a problem when the diff shattered. We think we’ve found the cause of that, it would appear that the casing had a twist in it, so we’ve got a brand new axle in it and hope that’s cured it.”
There’s no MacKinnon in the entry list this year so will that make the job of winning any easier? Another laugh: “No I don’t think so. This rally is never easy. James MacGillivray has had his Escort rebuilt and he’s a proven winner, and then there’s John MacCrone. He has the ability to win, but his car will be up against some seriously powerful opposition.”
“John cope has been out getting some miles in the Subaru this year and if he gets a good run on the island he can never be discounted, but I really rate Daniel Harper. Put him in the same car as everyone else and he would be the man to beat, he’s the one I respect most. The MINI is a good car, but can it win? We’ll find out this weekend.”
But Calum also had a few tips for the large number of first timers to this year’s event: “Enjoy it. That’s the first thing. Don’t try to win this rally on your first visit, use it to learn, so enjoy it. And respect the stages. It can get quite repetitive in places so use that as ‘pick up’ points to improve your pace and technique. Don’t get over-awed by it and aim for a finish, then build on that in future years.”
Wise words and good advice. And here’s hoping his flights don’t get delayed or cancelled!
There will be a full preview of this year’s event in this week’s ‘Oban Times’.