Steve Cressey in the Escort was looking puzzled at first Service in Craignure: “I always enjoy Mull, but I didn’t enjoy that,” he said, “I’ve had the car for 18 months – and never driven it in the wet. And Mull is not the place to learn.” The car also has new springs and anti-roll bar and: “I just haven’t got confidence in it yet. It’s a baptism of fire,” he added.
Alistair Inglis is in trouble in the Lancer: “There’s a red light showing on the dash and we think the head gasket is leaking. The boys are going to tighten down the head and we’ll try a couple more stages to see how it goes.”
Grum Willcock in the Manta was a bit more graphic: “I’ve never been so scared in me life! It’s TOO slippy.”
Dave Miller has a wee oil leak in the Subaru, but it’s just above the turbo. Alan Gardiner wasn’t happy with his Wets on the MkI and was seen swapping back to Dunlops: “There’s just no grip on these new tyres I was trying, plus my gear indicator light has stopped working – and the engine is overheating.”
Donnie MacDonald in the Lancer was beaming as usual, even though he claims not to like tarmac: “I had a HUGE moment on a Left 4 on the first stage on cold tyres,” he said, “but I got away with it. I really want to finish this so it’s just a matter of getting through tonight and seeing how we’re place for tomorrow.”
Billy Bird has a vibration in the Chevette’s propshaft, but it was easily fixed at service: “Guess who forgot to tighten the bolts,” he said sheepishly.
Matt Tarbutt was off in the first stage in his Peugeot 306 Maxi: “There’s something not right with the car,” he explained, “we’ve got snap oversteer on right handers. We damaged a rear wheel and tore the bumper off. Then we had a full 360 degree spin in the second stage, but got away with it. But we really NEED to find the cause of the problem.”
And Chris Paton was looking angry. The man who has competed on 41 out of the 43 Mull Rallies so far is now ‘team managing’ a youngster by the name of Matthew Kesson doing his first Mull in Chris’ old 1600 Nova: “I’m going to strangle him,” said the caring old git, “He was 49th quickest through the first test - and I told him to take it easy.”
And the busiest men at the rally tonight? That must surely be the boys on the tyre trucks. Queues were forming as they tried to supply and fit new tyres and change others already on rims, with puzzled drivers not knowing what to do for the best. There was so much sweat flying, there was a rainbow over Craignure – in the dark!