Tuesday 30 April 2013

Rally - Ingliston Gossip

That's the News and Gossip from last weekend's DCC Ingliston Stages on the website now. So why did Gordon Boyd miss the Granite, what was the real reason for Hamish Kinloch's retirement, and what's the story John McClory?


Rally - The Lord's 60th

Cake had tarmac suspension!
A thoroughly pleasant, enjoyable and convivial night-out in the big city last night. It was Jonathan's 60th birthday bash in the 1990 City of Culture in excellent company with music, song, good food and fine wine. Glasgow's musical glitterati mingled with Scotland's rallying anorakeri.

His carers had a party too
There were loads of weel kent faces under many thatches of greying hair and all on their best possible behaviour. The bold Lord was in excellent fettle too and didn't look a day over 70, I mean 60!

Not only did he have the night off, but his carers had a night off duty in the pub next door.

Rally - DCC Ingliston Stages

That's the main report from the DCC Ingliston Stages on the website now. News and idle gossip to follow!


Sunday 28 April 2013

Rally - Granite Gossip

That's the News snippets and gossip from the Granite City Rally (belatedly!) up on the website now. Report from DCC Ingliston Stages will be next.


Saturday 27 April 2013

Rally - Anderson wins

Chris Anderson scored the second rally win of his career at the DCC Ingliston stages today, having scored his maiden rally victory on the Lindisfarne last year. He took the lead after Bruce Edwards' retirement on the first stage, when the Darrian bent a bottom wishbone, and just held off the pack from the front.

Nick Runcie was second in the Saxo from Ross Fernie who was puzzled by a vibration from the front end of the Subaru for the last half of the final stage. He just kept going and it didn't seem to get any worse so was happy with third place. "I thought it was a puncture at first," said Ross, "but the tyres were fine when I got to the stage finish."

Chris was delighted with win number 2: "I really didn't expect this today," he said afterwards, "when I saw the entry with Darrians and Escorts and dry weather. The car was faultless, all I did was put tyres on it."

Alex Vassallo finished top Junior ahead of Ryan  Weston and  Alex Adams was third ahead of Harry Marchbank, the Juniors only contesting 6 of the day's 8 stages.

Leaderboard after 8 (of 8) stages:
1, Chris Anderson, 53m 20s
2, Nick Runcie, 53m 52s
3 Ross Fernie, 54m 10s
4, Ian Forgan, 54m 42s
5, Stuart Walker, 55m 25s
6, Bill Hamilton, 56m 01s
7, Chris McCallum, 56m 10s
8, Stevie Hope, 56m 13s
9, Gerry Gaffney, 56m 19s
10, Paul Ballantyne, 57m 01s

Full report will be put up on the website on Monday - or maybe even tomorrow!

Rally - Still Anderson

With 6 stages gone and two to go, Chris Anderson continues to lead today's DCC Stages Rally at Ingliston, but things are changing behind him. Moving into second place behind the 2 litre Fiesta is the 1600cc Saxo of Nick Runcie with Ross Fernie hanging on to third place in the Subaru and keeping one eye on Blue Tarmack Championship points.

Tom Morris is fourth, but the Escort  is now on the trailer, the diff has failed so he's going no further, although Tom actually used a rather more technical description of the failure with early celtic roots saying it was "ph*kk*d". (Think about it!)

That means that Ian Forgan is actually 4th in the 2 litre Ka ahead of Stuart Walker in the Mitsubishi.

Normally a front runner, Allan Brodie is struggling with his gearbox trying to select gears in the Escort and using oil.

Good news is that Richard Stewart and Robin Nicolson are both OK after their 'bump' earlier this afternoon although the same can't be said for the Corsa.

Alex Vassallo finished top Junior ahead of Ryan Weston and  Alex Adams, the Juniors only contesting 6 of the day's 8 stages.

Leaderboard after 6 (of 8) stages:
1, Chris Anderson, 38m 04s
2, Nick Runcie, 38m 36s
3 Ross Fernie, 38m 41s
4, Tom Morris, 38m 49s
5, Ian Forgan, 39m 02s
6, Stuart Walker, 39m 37s
7, Chris McCallum, 39m 53s
8, Bill Hamilton, 40m 02s
9, Gerry Gaffney, 40m 16s
10, Stevie Hope, 40m 17s

Rally - Anderson again

There's been a bit of a delay with today's DCC Ingliston Stages and that was due to an accident. One car came off second best against a stout pole and rescue service were called as a precaution. Fingers crossed that the worst the driver has suffered is cracked ribs from the harnesses, but he might have broken one.

Chris Anderson still leads with Ross Fernie in second place, but Tom Morris has closed the gap to 2 seconds on  Fernie wih 2 stages to go. Mind you he can't relax either because he's got Nick Runcie and the Saxo on his Escort's tail just 4 seconds adrift. Mind you, Nick was lucky. The wee car headbutted a big round bale on that last test and pushed the bumper into the oil cooler. It's leaking but not too badly.

Stevie Hope was another on bale bashing duty, but it was the Escort's rump that took the damage and he still lies ninth, and that was after repairing a broken rear axle link from the first stages this morning.

As for Stuart Baillie, he's out. He was lying fourth after two stages but on the second test, the Subaru lost second gear. Despite that he was quicker on the thrd test, but then the gearbox broke completely, so he's out.

Young Alex Vassallo leads the Juniors by half a minute from Ryan Weston. Alexander Adams is third, but Harry Marchbank is only a second behind in fourth.

Leaderboard after 4 (of 8) stages:
1 Chris Anderson, 27m 07s
2 Ross Fernie, 27m 30s
3, Tom Morris, 27m 32s
4, Nick Runcie, 27m 36s
5, Ian Forgan, 27m 51s
6, Stuart Walker, 28m 10s
7, Bill Hamilton, 28m 38s
8, Chris McCallum, 28m 30s
9, Stevie Hope, 28m 37s

Rally - Anderson leads

Fastest on the first stage of today's third round of the Blue Scottish Tarmack Championship at Ingliston, Bruce Edwards doesn't look as though he's going any further. The Darrian T9 limped out of SS2 with the front o/s wheel at a funny angle.

"We came over the yump and started downshifting for the corner," said Bruce, "but as it touched down it just slid on and hit a kerb. It's bent the bottom wishbone and we don't have a spare with us."

That means Chris Anderson is leading after two stages in the Ford Fiesta from reigning Scottish Champ Ross Fernie in the Impreza. Tom Morris is third despite a big spin on the grass on SS2 and Stuart Baillie is cannily chipping away in fourth place.

Gary Adam is out though. He was late at the Start Control for SS1: "The battery exploded just after we started the car up," said Gary, "so we had to take it out and fit the battery from the generator. That all took us 4 minutes over our Lateness, so we're out." It turns out they had a problem yesterday with the starter motor solenoid and although it was fitted back in OK, it would appear that a terminal shorted out and cooked the battery.

Leaderboard after 2 (of 8) stages:
1 Chris Anderson, 16m 02s
2 Ross Fernie, 16m 14s
3, Tom Morris, 16m 18s
4, Stuart Baillie, 16m 20s
5, Nick Runcie, 16m 24s
6, Ian Forgan, 16m 29s
7, Stuart Walker, 16m 44s
8, Allan Brodie, 16m 56s  )
9, Chris McCallum, 16m 56s  )
10, Ray Cummings, 16m 45s  )

Rally - Ingliston cycle ride

Stuart Baillie and Lachlan Cowan
The Marshals' Brie
When it comes to tarmac rallying , Ingliston is a bit different. For one thing, you can recce the stages on a bike before the rally and most folk do. That's something you can't really do at Mull or Otterburn, unless your second name is Wiggins. And for those who don't have their own bike, they pinch their kids' bikes! So there are quite a few sights to be seen wobbling around on wee wheels or carrying their notes in a wee basket on a pink bicycle.

Some folk do try to avoid it though. Ian Forgan was spotted riding round on his own, of Kathryn there was no sign. According to Ian: "She's stuck on the bypass and not here yet." At least that's what she told him.

I also spotted Gordon Boyd, back from a rally in Italy last weekend, so he missed the Granite City: "We got there on the Thursday and it was 25 degrees - then it p*sh*d down for 3 days." Just like home, eh.

Friday 26 April 2013

Rally - DCC Stages

There's a full Entry List for tomorrow's third round of the Blue Scottish Tarmack Championship on the website now. This is a NON spectator event due to restrictions placed on the organisers by the facility's owners. However, snippets will appear here on the Blog and a full report on the website next week.


Thursday 25 April 2013

Rally - Rally Wales GB Move

It has been confirmed that the 2013 Wales Rally GB (14-17 November) will be moving to a new home in North Wales, which also means a new route.

As an indication of how the WRC is moving, the rally HQ and central Service Park will be located on a new site being specially prepared alongside the Toyota Engine Plant on Deeside in Flintshire, not too far away from Chester and the M56, and a bit easier for those in 'the north' to get to.

The ceremonial start will be in Conwy just along the north Wales coast on the Thursday evening with the finish line in Llandudno on Sunday afternoon.

There’s no indication as yet of the four day route, but details will be announced on the 16th or 17th of May.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Rally - Granite report online

That's the main rally report up on the website for last weekend's Granite City Rally.


Here's the roundup of the Classes. It's not as comprehensive as it usually is, but that was down to unusual circumstances beyond my control.


( Gossip and News from the Granite will follow shortly! )

Monday 22 April 2013

Rally - Well squished

Some folk may be surprised that a squashed exhaust could force the retirement of an ex-works World Rally Car from an event, but that was what happened to Euan Thorburn at the weekend. His Ford Focus encountered a football sized rock on the apex of a corner, probably pulled out by David Bogie's ex-works Ford running ahead of Thorburn. "We were committed to the line," said Euan, "we had no hope of missing it, and hit it pretty hard. We were lucky to get out of the stage, never mind carry on."

So here's a picture of the section of pipe between the downpipe and the box - well squished!

On another note. In this week's newspaper, 'MN' has decided not to comment on last weekend's kerfuffle surrounding press invitations to the Granite City Rally. They're happy with the report and the pictures they've got, and are content to let the matter rest there and let bygones be bygones. Fingers crossed for next year!

Sunday 21 April 2013

Rally - Granite reflections

Looking back on yesterday, I had a ball. I haven’t had so much fun at a rally for ages. Word had spread around pretty quickly amongst the crews, service crews, marshals and officials that I had not been officially ‘invited’ and therefore not signed on as a member of the Press.

Scrutineers  pointedly turned their backs as I approached, then swung around laughing at the ‘uninvited’ guest, service crews offered cups of tea and buns and then withdrew the offer – because I wasn’t really there. Marshals ‘ignored’ me with a ‘knowing wink’ and offered to open barriers, lift tapes and otherwise offer entry to places that spectators should not be able to access, but I gratefully declined their kind offers.

It was all a big joke, a hoot from start to finish, and everyone appeared to think it was ridiculous - well nearly everyone.

However I did spend a lot of time pointing out to anyone who asked that it wasn’t a personal slight, nor was it just ‘Motorsport News’ who’d been given a body swerve, apparently NO press were invited, not even from the local newspapers.

Joking aside, I would also like to stress that I abided by the sport’s rules regarding access to places which were restricted to signed-on personnel. I would never jeopardise the safe running of an event for personal reasons.

In fact, it became quite a challenge to do my job within those restrictions, and the results of my endeavours will be in Wednesday’s issue of MN for others to judge. I have to admit, I did miss out on a few stories.

The organisers claimed that not inviting the press saved on manpower and cost. No-one was needed to officiate at a Signing-On desk and there was no need to print forms and extra materials. They also stated that their actions were not intended to put the press off and that the original message on the website was misconstrued.

For myself, being accredited at a rally is not about ‘a dangly round my neck and a sticker for the car’, it’s all about access to the competitors to gather information, getting an up to date entry list plus stage timetables and details. Being denied access to the crews, as they lined up for the start and again at the finish, made information gathering extremely difficult. Thankfully there were no such restrictions at the service area.

On reflection I managed pretty well, but that was down simply to experience and knowledge. And perhaps it was indeed fortunate that no inexperienced youngsters, or even experienced old hands, from local newspapers turned up to report on the activities of their local crews.

Where other sports welcome such folk with open arms, they would have been in for a surprise here!

Saturday 20 April 2013

Rally - Bogie wins

Well, despite the fact that I was an uninvited 'guest' at this year's Granite City Rally, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. More to the point, the competitors enjoyed the event too and surely that is the main thing. The trouble is, it's not just event sponsors who depend on press and media exposure, rally crews and teams have to justify many of their own budgets to investors and backers. Restrictions on the press can only do long term harm to the sport.

However, there will be a full report in 'Motorsport News' next week, because, had corners been cut and word counts shortened, it would have been the competitors and the rally fans who would have lost out. I'd like to think that 'Motorsport News' is above that kind of thing.

As an action packed day turned out, David Bogie and Kevin Rae put their championship title hopes back on track with a convincing victory on this second round of the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship round. Chris Collie scored his best result to date with second place ahead of Mike Faulkner who was both happy and gutted: "I'm pleased with third but gutted to lose out on second place by one second!"

Following Jock Armstrong's retirement due to engine problems, Quintin Milne was holding second going into the final stage, and finished fourth: "I messed up. I was trying to hold on to second but determined not to incur any problems. I just backed off a tiny fraction over eight of the roughest parts with sharp stones in that final stage. There was no problem with the car, I misjudged it. The pace is so hot in Scotland these days that you can't back off, or you'll lose out."

If Donnie MacDonald was pleased with sixth, Reay MacKay was delighted with seventh: "That's my first finish in a year and a half." Nice one Reay.

Provisional Top Ten after SS5 (of 5):
1 David Bogie, 42m 25s
2 Chris Collie, 43m 49s
3 Mike Faulkner, 43m 50s
4 Quintin Milne, 43m 53s
5 Barry Groundwater, 44m 07s
6 Donnie MacDonald, 44m 20s
7 Reay MacKay, 44m 53s
8 Alistair Inglis, 45m 01s
9 Andy Horne, 45m 06s
10 Mark McCulloch, 45m 25s

Rally - Bogie still leads

David Bogie continues to lead the Granite City Rally after 3 of the day's of Special Stages but sadly, Euan Thorburn's challenge was strangled on the opening test.

"We run over a rock in the road," said Euan, "the downpipe is completely flattnened and it simply strangled the engine. We were lucky to get it out of the stage, but it was going no further."

"I'm sure David (Bogie) put it there deliberately," he quipped, as he was running second car on the road behind his Focus rival.

Jock Armstrong is still second, the Subaru just 12 seconds behind the Focus: "I was well off the road in that last one," said Jock, "Kirsty called a Left 7 over a crest, but I saw it as the apex - and got it totally wrong. We were well off the road, but OK."

Quintin Milne is holding third place but look at this, the next 12 drives are all on the same minute! Chris Collie has moved up to fourth displacing Donnie MacDonald while Mike Faulkner is going like a dingbat moving up to sixth place after his earlier trouble: "We spun and stalled in the first stage," said Mike, "the rear end got a bit loose, and I had to handbrake it. It was either that or hit alog pile! We've spent so much time rebuilding this car and putting new bits on it that I haven't had a chance to do any proper set-up."

Dave Weston Jnr has dropped a place too, after "a large, small off" and Andy Horne's time loss on the first stage was explained when he pointed to the tattered rear n/s corner of the Dam Gti: "We got a puncture in the first stage. No mechanical damage, but it's made a mess of the bodywork." That's good news for co-driver Big Jim who makes the body panels for the Dam!

Many haven't made it this far, amongst them John McClory who has unchaacteristically cowped the Subaru into an Aberddenshire ditch and retired. Graeme Schoneville rolled the Peugeot 205, but is still going and young Timothy Cathcart retired the Fiesta with water in the fuel - but perhaps that had something to do with the fact that he cowped it in the burn that runs through Fetteresso!

Provisional Top Ten after SS3 (of 5):
1 David Bogie, 22m 11s
2 Jock Armstrong, 22m 23s
3 Quintin Milne, 23m 00s
4 Chris Collie, 23m 06s
5 Donnie MacDonald, 23m 15s
6 Mike Faulkner, 23m 16s
7 Dave Weston, 23m 21s
8 Bruce McCombie, 23m 24s
9 Barry Groundwater, 23m 25s
10 Alistair Inglis, 23m 48s

Just outside the top ten is the Proton Satria of 17 year old Ollie Mellors in 11th place after a puncture on the first stage and then again on the third, with Reay MacKay up to 12th in the Subaru after "a big spin in SS1."

Rally - Bogie leads

The Granite City Rally is now well under way with David Bogie in the Focus WRC leading after 2 of the day's 5 stages. David was fastest over the first stage (8m 06s) by 5 seconds from Jock Armstrong in the Subaru with Quintin Milne (Mitsubishi) third quickest, but where was Thorburn?

His Focus emerged from the Fetteresso forest over a minute down on the leaders (9m 12s), so it could be a puncture. Hopefully nothing more serious. Also, well down was 2007 winner Andy Horne in the Metro 6R4 (9m 45s) but he was back on the pace inside the top ten times on SS2.

Jock Armstrong hit the front on stages times in Drumtochty, just 2 second quicker than Bogie. Game on.

Provisional Top Ten:
1 David Bogie, 14m 06s
2 Jock Armstrong, 14m 09s
3 Quintin Milne, 14m 35s
4 Donnie MacDonald, 14m 39s
5 Chris Collie, 14m 42s
6 Dave Weston, 14m 46s
7 Bruce McCombie, 14m 49s
8 Barry Groundwater, 14m 51s
9 Mike Faulkner, 14m 52s
10 Alistair Inglis, 15m 10s

Just outside the top ten is the Proton Satria of 17 year old Ollie Mellors in 11th place ahead of the Citreon DS3 of Osian Pryce.

Rally - Denied access

Well, that was a first. Denied entrance to a public park by a very nice chap in a G4S uniform. Since there was very little directional detail in the Granite City Rally programme I turned in at the orange arrow and since there were no other signs on display, this was obviously the way in. "Not so" said the security guard and he kindly directed me to the public car park in the public park.

On arrival, the Start area was very securely fenced off , no doubt due to the need to protect the Provost from the anticipated great crush of spectators, and the rally start ceremony got underway helped by the dulcet tones of Stevie Brown.

It was bad enough not inviting 'Motorsport News' to the rally, but when the Scottish Rally Championship Press Officer was denied access to the start area that was carrying things just a bit too far. Especially in view of the fact that there were quite a few people wandering around within the security compound neither wearing tabards or displaying any form of rally pass or permit. Odd. Very odd.

At least the Provost got in, but then he had a chain of office and a stretch limo. And yes, the SRC PO was allowed in, but only after being vouched for by a spectating MN correspondent, who was standing chatting with a spectating ex Scottish Rally Champion and the spectating mother of the current Scottish Rally Champion! Odder still.

However, my day was lightened by the arrival of the balloon festooned and be-stickered Talbot Sunbeam of Malcolm Robertson and Katie Stimpson. Naturally we all thought it was Malcolm's 21st birthday, but he grudgingly admitted it wasn't. It was actually Katie's 21st and the team had gone to town with shiny banners taped to the flanks and rump of the Sunbeam. At least they put some fun into a cold but bright start to this year's Granite. Happy birthday Katie.

As for stories from the rally during the day? That will be a challenge. At least I get a good phone signal in the Rally HQ car park.

Friday 19 April 2013

Rally - Here for the craic

Check out the blue sky!
There's a full entry of 120 cars plus reserves for tomorrow's Granite City Rally with a few visitors from 'overseas' amongst them. "We missed out on the North Wales Rally," said Jonny Greer," and we need some miles in the car before the Pirelli, so we're looking forward to this tomorrow." Mark Donnelly chipped in: "The pace is quite hot over here and the competition is fierce so it should be good."

When asked if they had a top ten finish in mind, the two Citroen DS3 drivers just smiled, with Jonny adding: "Aye, she's good on the fast stuff, but we lose out when it's twisty, they just lack the power out of the corners." But if it's dry tomorrow, who'd bet against a top ten? Top six maybe?

Chris Collie had a lucky escape at the shakedown earlier. The wheelstuds sheared on the rear n/s hub taking off the wheel, disc and caliper, but he appeared at Scrutineering with new bits on board and rear wheel attached, although the Lance's tail end looks a bit more tattered round the edges.

It would appear that tomorrow's run is not a one-off for Dave Weston Jnr, as he has registered for the ARR Craib Scottish Championship: "We've bought the car," said Dave, "Dad had some business owing to him in Ireland and did the deal - it's actually Euan Thorburn's old E9."

As for the weather, there is no snow on the stages, although there is still snow on the hills. The gravel roads are wet underneath, but the surface is drying out in the cold north east wind - at least the sun is shining!

Rally - Craib saves the day

Here's a heart warming tale. Yesterday the Scottish Rally Championship hosted a sponsor's day in the woods for their new sponsor ARR Craib, the haulage and logistics firm. A two mile stage had been laid out and 55 guests were invited along and each of them got a run in a rally car in the forest. Result, 55 huge smiles all round and a good day had by all.

Greeting the guests on arrival mid morning was a huge marquee and a specially created area of hard standing. At 6.30 am that morning a tipper arrived with 30 tonnes of gravel, which was dropped and spread in front of the marquee area and then levelled and thumped into place with a tamper. Guests kept their good shoes clean and their feet dry. Nice one Bruce McCombie and Dave Weston.

Inside the marquee was a mouth watering selection of snacks plus soft and hot drinks.

Anyway, Mike Faulkner was one f the celebrity drivers for the assembled guests, until the Lancer's gearbox broke, and he didn't have the parts. Wayne Sisson had them in his garage at Arnside down in Cumbria, but Wayne was already up here. The question was, how to get the parts from Cumbria to Aberdeen?

Step forward ARR Craib. They got one of their trucks to stop in at Arnside, pick up the package and deliver it to base in Aberdeen where Mike picked them up from there. Gearbox rebuilt this morning, job done.

Isn't it nice to have friends in high places. A real case of sponsorship working, eh?

Rally - Shakedown

Quicksilver with Bob Shepherd
Quintin Milne will take to the stages on tomorrow's Granite City Rally as current leader of the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship. So there was much interest around the local hero at today's shakedown near Stonehaven.

But how seriously was 'Quicksilver' taking his test session? When it came to taking rally sponsor's guests around, he always seemed to end up with a lady! However, he has promised to have his sensible head on tomorrow: "The best I can hope for is the two Focus' have problems and then it's try to be best of the rest."

Ollie Mellors was back in Scotland and at the test with his Proton: "We've decided to do the whole Scottish Championship," said the 17 year old, "I don't think people realise just how hot the pace is up here. If I can mix it with the front runners then that is a good guide for me."

Stevie Brown was spotted selling programmes at the shakedown (using his Big Issue experience no doubt) but he has a proper job tomorrow: "I will be doing the commentary at the rally Start and Finish tomorrow," said the Fiesta driver, "I did some reporting work for iRally on Mull last year, so this is the next step!" So pop along and give the debutant some support. He knows the drivers and he knows the sport, what can go wrong?.

Brian Ross was at the shakedown with his Lancer, but he had a special reason. He's using he event to raise money for Cancer Research UK and promised his biggest donor a ride in a rally car. Sharon loved every second of it. So far Brian has raised over 400 quid, so if you see him around, or any collecting boxes, dig deep. Nice one Brian.

Also spotted at the shakedown was a visitor from the deep south, Englandshire, Mark Taylor, the British Rally Championship boss.  Mark was saying very little other than he was invited to attend the rally as an observer. It doesn't take a genius with a calculator to work out why Mark was invited, Aberdeen & District MC obviously have ambition to get back into the British Championship.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Rally - Old Stagers

There's a couple of old stagers coming out on Saturday's Granite City Rally, but not in the same car in which they competed in 1971. The forthcoming Kames Rally Time Trial might just provide the ideal opperchancity for any tarmac hero wanting a bit of a shakedown ahead of next month's Jim Clark and Reivers Rallies, while just over the border, the Pirelli Rally is planning something special on behalf of the Richard Burns Foundation.

Full info on the website:

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Rally - Freedom of the Press?

This'll be interesting. The second round of the Scottish Rally Championship takes place in Aberdeen on Saturday, but it would appear that not a lot of people know that.

Any publication, journalist, reporter or photographer logging on to the event's website and trying to access the 'Media Accreditation' section will be greeted with the message: "Media passes for this year’s Coltel Granite City Rally are being issued by invite only."

Invitation only? An unusual step, you may think. Unique even. Certainly amongst organisers of major sporting events. Usually, organisers of major events are only too willing to welcome the attention of the Press. They have established procedures in place whereby media folk on production of the appropriate professional qualification or letter of authority from the Editor of a recognised publication or media channel are allowed access which will facilitate them in carrying out their reporting duties.

Are things different in the world of motor sport? In a word, 'No'. Until now.

Despite the fact that, according to the organisers' own Press Release, this weekend's Granite City Rally is "the largest motorsport event to be held in the North-east of Scotland", the organisers appear to have sought some form of draconian restriction on press access to this event.

Whether this is a response to the excesses of some of the more irresponsible sections of the press who glorify in lurid headlines, or not, remains to be seen. But trying to deter genuine members of the press only generates suspicion, and perhaps worse, indifference.

Like any other sport, motor sport needs publicity to keep both competitors and sponsors happy.

To date, the UK's only national motorsport weekly newspaper, 'Motorsport News', has not been invited and nor has its Scottish correspondent. Mind you, such a minor oversight would be unlikely to deter said correspondent whom even motor sport's governing body has failed to stifle in the past.

Which all rather put coverage of this weekend's event on the Blog and Website under threat. However, I am happy to report that I have been 'officially' invited to the pre-event shakedown on the Friday. And since I will be in the area on Friday I will hang around for the rally on Saturday, purely as an interested member of the public you understand - so watch this space and keep up to date with the gossip and the news.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Rally - Pike's Peugeot

Peugeot has released some new pics (but no technical details as yet) of the 208 T16 which Sebastien Loeb will drive on this year's Pikes Peak 'Race to the Clouds' International Hillclimb in Colorado at the end of June.

Now that would be a sight to see on the Mull Rally this year, eh?

Rally - Loudon in Portugal

There were no Blog updates over the weekend. That was down to a reported worldwide attack on sites using Wordpress software. Apparently a number of internet vandals with little better to do had insitituted some form of mass attack on such sites. They didn't appear to have any particular target in mind just hellbent on causing disruption and despair - because they can.

Anyway, Robert Barrable and Stuart Loudon did well on the fourth round of the World Rally Championship when they finished 11th overall on Rally Portugal. It's a pity we don't have any young Scottish drivers in the world series these days, but at least Irishman Robert Barrable's co-driver, Stuart Loudon, is keeping up the tradition for excellence in British co-driving and following in the wheel tracks of fellow-Scot and former World Champion Co-driver, Robert Reid.

The Ford Fiesta pair did very well finishing second in class behind the Skoda of Finland's Esapekki Lappi, while a certain Robert Kubica was 19th, Elfyn Evans was 23rd, Alistair Fisher 28th and Keith Cronin 31st.

This was Stuart's first podium finish on a WRC event, and afterwards, said: "There was no way we could catch Esapekka Lappi who has been fastest on every stage on this event but we weren’t giving up our second without a fight.  We ran wide on a corner and had a big impact on my side against a bank.  It was a hard enough impact that I thought I’d been hit by Mike Tyson. It pushed a tyre off the rim and we drove for 4 kilometres with the puncture when we had to stop to change it. In total we lost nearly 5 minutes.”

Thursday 11 April 2013

Rally - Big Granite Entry

That's the full entry list up on the website for the Coltel Granite City Rally next Saturday the 20th April. The organisers haven't released much in the way of spectator information, but if I get any more, I will let you know. The best plan is therefore to buy a programme, but at the moment it will only be available from two Aberdeen outlets.


Wednesday 10 April 2013

Rally - Hyundai World Rally

It looks like the Hyundai WRC Rally Team is really taking shape now with the announcement of some more key appointments.

Following the appointment of Team Principal Michel Nandan in January and Chief Designer Bertrand Vallat (ex- Peugeot Sport / 207 S2000) comes the news that Stephane Girard has joined Hyundai Motorsport as Engine Manager.

And if the name is familiar to British rally fans, that's because he worked with Prodrive from 2001 to 2004 on their World Rally Team when Richard Burns and Robert Reid were doing the business, as well as Petter Solberg. Most recently he's been working with Citroen Sport, and prior to that was with Peugeot Sport and Maserati.

Alain Penasse (ex-Toyota Team Europe, Peugeot Sport and Michelin) will be appointed Team Manager later this month.

However, the biggest question remains. Who will actually be driving for the team when it hits the world stage next season?

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Road - Another new Ford

There was no big launch on the Ford stand, but the new Transit Courier made its first public appearance, with a distinct lack of fanfare. This new 'compact van' is designed to fill the gap between the Fiesta car-derived van and the Transit Connect, just as the new Transit Custom is designed to fit between the Connect and the 'proper' Transit.

It's a good looking wee thing and will come with a choice of 1.5 and 1.6 litre diesel engines, and the 1 litre petrol engine. Load capacity is 660 kgs and with a load length of 2.59 metres, it will give those used to buying Vauxhall Astra vans an attractive and alternative option.

Road - Electrifying!

Citroen tried to get the van buying public excited about electrically powered vehicles in 1998 when they introduced the electrically powered Berlingo van. It was ahead of its time. The van was on sale for five years, but after an initial flurry of interest, the public appetite waned and the van was withdrawn from sale in 2005.

Now they're back, and this time they have the impetus of governments egging them on and conventional fuel prices going through the roof. The trouble is, as always, how do you get the buyers excited about working vehicles which have a range of 100 miles (on a good day) and are expensive to buy?

The politicians also need to 'electrify' the buyers to try and justify the huge expense of their landscape and seascape blighting windfarms!

Anyway, Citroen are back with a new shape Berlingo which has batteries stored under the floor and a 49 Kw electric motor under the bonnet, so there is no impact on the cab or storage box behind it. Price will be £21,300 plus VAT and it can be charged up overnight by a domestic three pin plug.

The new van was unveiled by some silver foil wrapped lovelies who bounced around to some loud music. And that was about as close as this year's CV Show got to glamour!

Rally - Show stopper

John MacCrone's new steed was spotted on the Palletforce stand at the CV Show in Birmingham although the Muileach was not there in person, but team manager/supporter/fan and all round rallynut Dave Holland was there resplendent in his orange and white uniform.

"We missed out on Wales when they had to cancel," said Dave referring to the snowstruck opening round of the British Rally Championship, "but we did take John and Peter Taylor testing at Walters Arena. So they've done 120 miles in their new Citroen DS3s."

Dave also had a video clip on his phone: "We walked into the stage while they were unloading the cars to watch them coming round," he said, "Remember, John had never sat in the car before, and there he was, first time out and he was going for sixth gear when he passed us! I thought, cheez, that's 120 grands worth of motor car! But he was fine. Next outing is the Pirelli."

When asked if we would see the Citroen on Mull, Dave said: "That decision hasn't been taken yet, although what he did with the Fiesta last year was sensational."

Speaking of rallying, Charlie Jarrett was spotted at the CV Show with the two boys. Charlie runs a timber haulage company in the Highlands. If you think rally cars get a hard time in the woods, think how trucks must suffer. Although timber trucks rarely reach double figure speeds, they still endure a hard time hauling tree trunks out of the forests so keeping them in good fettle is a tough job. Charlie's rig hauls 26 tonnes at a time so monitoring wear and tear on the drivetrain and suspension is a constant job.