Geoffrey Gallagher in the Lancer arrived lurchingly at the Control in third gear: “It’s the only one we’ve got,” he explained, “and it’s all we’ve had for the last 16 miles.” And Steven Ronaldson has the grace to look sheepish when he appeared at the Finish of Leg 2, the Metro looking distinctly tattered around the edges but still bellowing triumphantly through the stages: “I went off last night. I was driving when I should have been listening.” He’s also got a broken spring on the clutch pedal so he’s having to pull it up with his foot to press it.
Dave Thwaites is running better today but got off to a bad start when the Escort broke a driveshaft on the start line of the first stage last night and he had to run through the next one like that. He also lost the wipers for those two stages. Stephen Thompson’s Nova has been stuck in 4th gear since Torloisk and this is his second gearbox of the weekend having borrowed one from John Paterson when his broke last night. Another in gearbox trouble was Dave Holland in the MkII. He lost third and fourth gears, and on the long one today only had second or fifth: “So it was either 30 mph or 120 mph,” he said.
Steven Paterson broke a driveshaft and bent the rear beam in the Nova and Bruce Edwards reckons his Darrian is two inches shorter than it was at the start: “It’s worn all the fibreglass away at the front end!”
Stewart Davidson summed up the afternoon best: “That’s the best rallying in the world in there. Those stages are ace.” And this from a bloke who had a bottle rolling about the floor of the MkII: “I couldn’t reach it, so I had to keep kicking it out of the way so it wouldn’t get stuck under the pedals.”
And so to food and rest ahead of the final mad dash round the island tonight. The schedule is so tight there will be little chance to speak to the drivers at service if they are to be caught at the Final Control, plus the fact they will be rallying in places that radio and telephone signals don’t reach. Sop that’s it from here for a few hours.
As for the weather, that will take care of itself. But will it be wellies or sandals, sunhats or umbrellas. Who knows, and given the nature of the spectacle that lies ahead, who cares?