Wednesday 10 October 2012

Rally - An Englishman's View

The big puzzle about Mull is the pull it exerts on ‘foreign’ drivers. For many years, English crews outnumbered the Scots and they still keep flocking over the border and heading north in their droves. This year over a third of the entry is from south of the border with the annual migration led again by Daniel Harper.

“I don’t really know,” said Daniel, “it’s the island really. I love the place and I love doing the event. I’ve been all over with rallying, but Mull is what it’s really all about. We’re there competing with friends and to enjoy it. It’s a pilgrimage, getting the car ready, the van loaded and the family packed up.”

Although he now drives a MINI Daniel started rallying in a ‘proper’ Mini: “At least the new car doesn’t give you kidney ache! It’s got about 260 or 265 bhp but the biggest bugbear has been the gearbox. We still use the original six speed Getrag casing but with all-new internals, and we have to life them.” So why not a sequential ‘box?: “It’s about 12 grand to convert it, that’s why not.”

“The other problem with the car is lack of suspension travel at the rear. It handles well enough and it’s good enough for a top 15 finish, but to get into the top 5 you really have to be on the ragged edge of the limit. It doesn’t like wet roads and standing water, but the damp is OK and it’s good in the dry.”

“ I remember doing an event in Ireland with Paula Swinscoe, and it was the first time she had rallied in a MINI. She said it was like being in a dodgem car, and having seen me driving the thing remarked to her hubby John ‘there’s a lot going in there’.”

“Part of the fun with the old car was upsetting other folk in bigger cars, and it’s the same with the new car. We tried an Astra and a Mitsubishi and we did well with them, but when BMW brought out the new MINI, thought, why not.”

“We were third last year and had it not been for a wiring problem on the Friday night when we lost 2 minutes, who knows, maybe we could have pushed James (MacGillivray) a bit harder for second.”

So no pressure for this year then?: “My co-driver Chris Campbell said to me the other night, it’s 10 years since we won it last, so it’s time to do it again.”

Easier said than done: “There’s a lot of good lads out there, but I’m here for the crack.”

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