Saturday 29 December 2012

Rally - Baillie wins

You don't get rally finishes much closer than this. Stuart Baillie and Lee Hastings tied on the same time after 8 stages on today's Grant Construction Knockhill Stages, while Stuart Walker closed down the gap to 4 seconds for third place.
But this sport can be particularly cruel. Rally leader after six stages, Ross Hunter was declared OTL after a heroic effort which involved changing the engine in his Peugeot 205 at the lunch halt. The fastest man on the stages all day, it just proved that speed and talent are not enough in this sport.
As it was Baillie and Hastings tied, with Stuart getting the win by virtue of a faster time on the first stage of the day, after which his Subaru lost third gear. Stuart Walker was an early leader till a couple of offs due to brake problems but once these were fixed he was back on the case and closed the gap down to finish third.
Another driver losing out on a possible podium finish was Lachlan Cowan in the Fiesta. He caught a car on the final stage and in one of the most ambitious overtaking manoeuvres of the day, slid wide on the Knockhill quarry bend and plunged axle deep into mud. He had actually tried to overtake on the outside of the bend, but couldn't see the tyre markers on the blind side. Just when he had committed himself, he spotted the tyres and had to take avoiding action, dropping 3 minutes as the Marshals pushed him back on to the track. Dohhhh!
Ricky Wheeler finished top 2WD car in his Escort with Graeme Schoneville top FWD in his Honda in  8th place and there was another stirring performance for tenth place by Ian Forgan in his Ford Ka.

Leaderboard after 8 (of 8) stages:
1, Stuart Baillie/Alan Cowan (Subaru impreza) 40m 13s
2, Lee Hastings/Brian Findon (Subaru Impreza) 40m 13s
3, Stuart Walker/Julie McGuire (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) 40m 17s
4, Colin Gemmel/Cameron Fair (Subaru Impreza) 40m 31s
5, Ricky Wheeler/Gordon Thompson (Ford Escort MkII) 40m 38s
6, Billy McClelland/Helen Brown (Mitsubishi Lance EVO3) 41m 04s
7, Alan Gardiner/Billy Gower (Ford Escort MkI) 41m 04s
8, Graeme Schoneville/Michael Hendry (Honda Civic) 41m 06s
9, Stephen Lockhart/Julie Lockhart (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO7) 41m 19s
10, Ian Forgan/Kathryn Forgan (Ford Ka) 41m 38s

Rally - Hunter still going

With 6 stages gone, Ross Hunter has managed to hang on to his lead in today's Grant Construction Knockhill Stages, but there is trouble afoot.

During the lunch halt, the Hunter team descended on the car like a swarm of midges. The engine was goosed and they would have to fit the spare, otherwise Ross was out. Changing engines in a FWD car is not for the fainthearted and certainly not to be attempted out of doors, with no pit, hydraulic lift or hoist. Nobody told them. The new unit was out and the old engine was re-installed in 38 minutes. Now that's impressive.

Ross then took to the track in a scintillating display of controlled cargression passing cars hand over fist as he was running last car on the road at this point. So for the moment, Ross is still the Provisional rally leader, provided the Time Cards bear this out. The organisers are checking the Time Cards at this very moment. It's just a bit too tight to call at this stage.

Stuart Baillie has displaced Lachlan Cowan for second place despite the Subaru having lost third gear but Lachlan hasn't given up yet. He's only 4 seconds behind, but Stuart Walker is catching up fast having had his brakes sorted and he's now fifth, just 2 seconds behind Lee Hastings.

Leaders after 6 (of 8) stages:
1, Ross Hunter, 32m 42s
2, Stuart Baillie, 32m 56s
3, Lachlan Cowan, 33m 00s
4, Lee Hastings, 33m 04s
5, Stuart Walker, 33m 06s
6, Ricky Wheeler, 33m 14s
7, Colin Gemmel, 33m 26s
8, Graeme Schoneville, 33m 41s
9, Alan Gardiner, 33m 41s
10, Billy McClelland, 33m 48s

Rally - Hunter leads after 4

With 4 stages gone, there is a new leader of the Grant Construction Knockhill Stages at a wet and drookit Knockhill Race Circuit today.

Ross Hunter in the 2 litre Peugeot 205 has snatched the lead and this despite snapping a driveshaft on the third test and he had a wee bit of a misfire on that last one which is now being checked out.

Early leader Stuart Walker spun off and dropped over 20 seconds on the fourth test when the Lancer ran out of brakes and the boys are working hard on  that just now.

Lachlan Cowan is upholding FWD honour just 8 seconds behind Hunter, although Lachlan had a wee fright on that last one when the Fiesta started missing, but he was only short of fuel! Even so Stuart Baillie in the Subaru is only 2 seconds behind him.

Walker has dropped to fifth behind the Subaru of Lee Hastings and is now 26 seconds behind Hunter, but with four stages to go and no sign yet of a break in the weather, who knows?

So why is Stephen Lockhart running with number 50 on the door of his Lancer? Easy. His Mum Julie is 50 years young tomorrow - and this is her birthday treat, navigating her wean around Knockill's weather flavoured delights. A box of After Eights might have been cheaper!

Leaders after 4 (of 8) stages:
1, Ross Hunter, 19m 53s
2, Lachlan Cowan, 20m 01s
3, Stuart Baillie, 20m 03s
4, Lee Hastings, 20m 11s
5, Stuart Walker, 20m 14s
6, Ricky Wheeler, 20m 19s
7, Graeme Schoneville, 20m 34s
8, Sean Robson, 20m 35s
9, Des Campbell, 20m 36s
10, Colin Gemmel, 20m 37s

Rally - Walker leads after 2

Knockhill Race Circuit is hosting the first round of the 2013 Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship today and what a gey dreich place it is at present. Dawn didn't so much break, as just seep over the horizon at 8 o clock this morning. Then half way round the first stage, the heavens opened as a drenching squall swept across the track, followed by another shortly afterwards - never did a roll and sausage taste so good in the Knockhill cafe!
Anyway, top seed, John Rintoul is out. The Lancer slid off the wet track on the first stage and got stuck up to its oxters in glaur. He had to be towed out of the sheuch and although the car us undamaged, he's out of the running.
In other words, there's a wee shock at the top of the leaderboard after the first two stages. Stuart Walker is leading in his EVO9 which as one wag observed is something of a surprise since: "He's usually on fire or crashed by this time!" A little unkind methinks.
Ross Hunter is holding second place in his hybrid Peugeot 205 just one second clear of the Impreza of Stuart Baillie.

So far it's not a day for rear wheel drive. Ricky Wheeler has been off once and nearly off once more although at least he's still in the top ten. Quintin Milne has got bags of understeer and Alan Gardiner is struggling to get grip too. George Bryson's problem was rather different. His Escort ingested some wire 'caging' from the air filter but he managed to fish it out of the intake where it was jamming the butterfly valve.
If Rintoul was the first retirement then young Richard Stewart was the second although his was rather more definitive than John's - a con rod made a bid for freedom trough the Corsa's block!
Leaders after 2 (of 8) stages:
1, Stuart Walker, 7m 06s
2, Ross Hunter, 7m 10s
3, Stuart Baillie, 7m 11s
4, Lachlan Cowan, 7m 19s
5, Lee Hastings, 7m 21s
6, Colin Gemmel, 7m 25s
7, Ricky Wheeler, 7m 26s
8, Sean Robson, 7m 28s
9, Des Campbell, 7m 29s
10, Billy McClelland, 7m 29s

Friday 28 December 2012

Move over Pirelli

Once upon a time, garage walls and tyre fitting bays were festooned with girlie and glamour calendars. Sadly no longer. Political correctness has seen to that.

Another tradition that has mostly disappeared is the annual gift of a calendar and or diary from manufacturers and trade suppliers. Bribery and corruption fears have seen off more expensive gifts like chocolates and bottles, but calendars and diaries were always sought after.

Maybe that’s down to changing times and technology with everyone connected to online diaries and carrying smart phones that remind them of appointments and keeps them connected with colleagues.

Whatever, I have received just one calendar this year (thanks Peugeot) and no diaries, but there is one calendar I would like to grace my walls. As a lover of all things mechanical and practical I would like a copy of the JCB calendar which is now available through their dealerships.

The theme this year would appear to be based on paint. Primarily the shade of yellow that decorates JCB’s vast range of machines.

Sadly, the backhoes, diggers and crawlers do not feature so prominently on this year’s calendar, which is a great pity, tending to concentrate on a rather diverting splash-fashion show.

I’m sure, like me, we’d all like to see more of the machinery. Alongside are three of the six pictures from the 2013 calendar which demonstrate what I mean.

A great advertising opportunity wasted, what do you think?

Monday 24 December 2012

Christmas Greeting

Santa’s had a fight with Cameron, Clegg and Miliband
It’s political correctness gone mad with moves underhand.
Instead of discussions, debates, and exams
MPs were watching ‘Apprentice’ and ‘X Factor’ programmes

Square eyed and befuddled they then did conspire
To revoke Santa’s licence and make him retire.
Monopoly they cried, he should face competition
So they plotted to create a new job description

No longer will Santa be the solitary choice
He will have to compete with new men and boys.
They all want the job with just one work day a year
And the rest of time off to play and drink beer.

If that sounds like a job you’d all think you’d like
Then I’ll need to be smart and get on my bike.
I have the right shape and can bellow ‘Ho Ho’
And know world geography with my level at ‘O’

But to win this one contract I’ll need to be smart
I’ll replace deer and sleigh with a horse and a cart.
Reindeer can cause damage with their sharp pointy hoofs
My horse will be grounded so no damage to roofs.

I don’t need a chimney and will enter by door
And leave the kids’ presents under the tree on the floor.
So look out Rudolph and Blitzen and all of the rest
I’ll have just ONE horsepower, but it will be the best.

I’ve relinquished the day job to take up the reins
For this one night tour to bring joy to the weans
So, to hell with the pencil, the notebook and lap top
This Christmas Eve will resound, to the clippety clop!

Merry Christmas - and a safe and successful New Year
And remember one thing - when on stage, 'gie it laldy'!

Friday 21 December 2012

Rally - Star turn Tommy

Tommy and Jim
The bane of most journalists’ lives is press conferences. Unfortunately, they are a necessary evil. In the worst cases they are hosted by people who have nothing to say, and then go on for 20 minutes to prove it. In others, the hosts simply read out the Press Release which they are handing out in print form or on a USB stick.

These ‘conferences’ are usually followed by a question and answer session, but few journalists ever ask questions in front of their assembled rivals from other news outlets – they don’t want the opposition to know their line of thinking.

In fact, the real business is done after the conference when individual journalists harangue the assembled experts and guests privately, away from professional eavesdroppers and the company PR staff who try to shield their designers, engineers and marketers from the probing questions of the press. 

There are exceptions. Take yesterday for instance. The organisers of next month’s Glasgow start for the 2013 Monte Carlo Classic Rally hosted a wee reception in the city to announce details. On January the 26th, Glasgow will join Copenhagen, Reims and Barcelona as one of the host cities for the formal start of this event which first ran in 1911, and has run every year since, apart from the war years. 

The conference in the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green yesterday was hosted by one George Donaldson, a man whose enthusiasm knows no bounds, and he welcomed words from chief organiser Douglas Anderson, host city representative Scott Taylor and one James McRae Esquire who was also in attendance.

Tommy still has his rally plate
But the star of the show was Tommy Bryce. He competed in the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally driving a 2.5 litre Riley. The car was owned by car dealer Herbert Feldman who owned Pegasus Motors in Glasgow and the enterprise was sponsored by Strang the Jewellers with Joe Strang inviting himself along for the ride as part of the deal. 

As for Tommy, he got the part of driver simply because he looked after Herbert’s cars as Herbert did a bit of hillclimbing and sprinting in those days too. Anyway, it would appear that Herbert entertained little notion of driving all the way to the south of France. “It was a real thrill when he asked me to do it,” said Tommy, “for a 24 year old mechanic who had never been out of Scotland being asked to drive to Monte Carlo, it was the chance of a lifetime.” 

Naturally, Tommy did the bulk of the driving, and at one point: “We were well down, south of Paris, the other two were flaked out in the back and I was still at the wheel. At one point I drove down a long line of marker cones with the Riley astride them, just so the thumping noise would keep me awake!”

It must have been some adventure, and of the over 400 entrants, the 'Glasgow' team finished 204th from a  start number of 200. No bad, eh? 

And you know what, that was one of the best press conferences ever. Tommy made my day.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Rally - Knockhill is Go

Two years ago!
Entries close (officially) tomorrow for the Grant Construction Knockhill Stages on December 29th with Border Ecosse Car Club already having received enough to ensure the event will run. So if anyone hankers after a pre-season blow-out,  there will be 8 stages totalling 30 miles for 225 quid.

Last year it was cold, damp and dreich, but the fun was fine, although two years ago the circuit was more suited to reindeer sled racing, and that provided a totally different, but hugely enjoyable challenge.  As for the weather conditions on next week’s event? Who knows?

Regs and Entry Forms can be downloaded from:

Monday 17 December 2012

Race - Flash for Honda

More good news on the home front with the announcement that Honda Yuasa Racing is sticking with the same driver line-up that did the business in the BTCC this past year.

Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal will again spearhead the team's challenge in the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after coming first and second in the Driver's titles and winning both the Manufacturers and Team prizes in the new Civic this year.

Operating out of Pershore, Worcestershire, Team Dynamics under the leadership of Steve Neal and Team Manager Pete Crolla, built and tested the Civic to the new NGTC rules in record time with Matt winning at the Brands Hatch opener at the season start. Matt has now won three championships with Honda and Gordon scored his first title win this year.

Commenting on the past season both Gordon and Matt had a special thanks for all the fans who they said gave them the strength to fight every step of the way. Gordon said: "It's been a long road for both of us and without the fans who have endured some very wet races this year, we could not have achieved this success. Their support has been amazing."

Honda UK and title sponsor Yuasa Battery Sales (UK) Ltd will continue their winning partnership next year.

Rally - New 208 R5

Peugeot’s new 208 Type R5 broke cover over the weekend in southern France when Bryan Bouffier took the wheel on the car’s first proper gravel shakedown.

After the 4 day series of test runs Bryan commented: “The car felt good out of the box. I was happy with its overall balance and I was comfortable behind the wheel. It seems to be a strong basic car and I particularly liked the turbocharged engine which delivers plenty of torque. That makes it easy to use, and that’s a big asset on loose surfaces.”

The 1600cc turbo engine develops 280 bhp at 6000 rpm, although the rev limit is set 7500 rpm, and develops 400 Nm of torque.

The four wheel drive system is managed by a 5 speed ‘box with dual disc clutch and has two self locking differentials.


And the price? Speak nicely to Santa.

Road - De-Fuser

It’s a male thing. It’s a gadget and it’s simple to use. On that basis it will appeal to the vast majority of us.

This fuse tester from Gunson will be a godsend when the rally car dies mid-stage and you can’t find which fuse has blown. 

The device has adjustable pins which can be used on mini, standard and maxi sized automotive fuses and if the fuse is good a wee ‘LED’ lights up to let you know it’s OK. If the fuse needs to be replaced, then turn the tester around and use it to extract the dead unit, and you don’t even need to take your nomex gloves off..

Price will be around ten quid, which sounds a lot for a wee bit of plastic and an LED, but think of your high blood pressure in times of stress.

Gunson part number is 77121 if you’re out hunting for one.

Friday 14 December 2012

Road - Fun Fitting Mazda

It was Mazda's turn to visit the Scottish motoring journalists yesterday and amongst the five new models on hand was the latest incarnation of the Mazda MX5. With only 124 bhp and a nought to 60 time of nearly 10 seconds, it doesn't sound very appetising.

But this wee gem weighs just a smidgeon over a tonne and goes like a stoat on a skateboard. With the hood down and the heater going full blast it was as much fun as a firecracker in a gunpowder factory.

The thing to remember is, it's a sports car, not a racing car. And for sheer driving pleasure, it will make your tootsies tingle - that is provided you can get in. This is not a car for the vertically challenged or the pie-enriched belt buster, but it's well worth the effort.

There's a full appraisal on the website:

Rally - Big and Blue for SRC

The Scottish Rally Championship has received a welcome Christmas present this month in the form of a brand new title sponsor for next year. One of the UK’s biggest haulage and logistics companies – ARR Craib, based in Aberdeen but operating throughout Europe, has become involved in the national series.

Full story on the website at:

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Road - Cut Price Navara

Nissan has brought out a new version of its Navara double cab pick-up with a starting price of £17,995 (plus VAT!)

This new version uses the standard 2.5-litre dCi common-rail diesel four-cylinder engine in 142 bhp trim with 350 Nm of torque and is capable of up to 39.8 mpg on the combined cycle, and it will still tow 2.6 tonnes. 

To keep costs down, the front bumper is finished in body colour rather than a two-tone job, while the grille struts are painted rather than chromed and conventional wiper blades are used in place of the flat blades found on higher specification versions. Similarly, the interior door handles are finished in black rather than chrome. It doesn’t sound much, but with a few other savings tweaks in the Spec Sheet, it shaves just over a thousand quid off the previous entry-level double cab cost. 

Called the Visia the new variant’s specification includes part-time four-wheel drive (with hi and lo ratios), air conditioning, central door locking, six airbags, a CD player and Bluetooth connectivity.