Friday 28 June 2013

Rally - 50th anniversary

There was a nice touch at Scrutineering in Dumfries this evening when the Armed Forces Land Rovers drove in to the Ice Rink in convoy. They were led in by an original lightweight job driven by Sergeant Major Les Dalton (Retd) and co-driver Colonel Den-MacKay (Retd) who started the whole idea of armed forces personnel doing the Scottish 50 years ago.

As an exercise, rallying, and in particular the week long Scottish Rally (as it was then!), provided an excellent exercise in event planning, navigating and 'field mechanics', and it's a tradition that is still being continued today in the British Rally Championship.

Leading the convoy was Lance Corporal McWhinney who piped them in to the Scrutineering bay in hackle-raising fashion. A little touch of tartan magic.

Rally - Politics and sport

The afternoon pre-Scottish Rally shakedown fizzled out with few folk turning up because of the delays during the rally recce earlier in the day. Still, that meant more pork pies, sannies and dips for those who were there. Every cloud, eh?

Even so, Dumfries & Galloway Councillor, Finlay Carson, got a ride in a rally car, and not just any rally car, a Ford Focus WRC. Euan Thorburn took him round the 2 mile test stage on the far eastern side of Ae: "I thought it would be fast," said Finlay, "but that was mental fast. As we drove up to the stage, I thought that was fast with Euan telling me it was slippy and he was taking it easy! Then once into the stage, it was twice as quick as I was expecting."

"Like many folk I've watched rallying on TV and thought, yes, that looks easy, but that was amazing.  Amazing!"

Richard Sykes was one of the few who made the shakedown: "I always do shakedowns," said Richard, "we always have a problem on shakedowns, so better it happens here than on the rally. Besides I wanted to give the Citroen a run. We put it through a hedge on the Jim Clark!"

So apart from the midges, what else can we expect tomorrow? Well, for one thing, stoor. The rain has seen to that today, so that's a bonus, at least we'll see the cars, not just 'moving stoor' in the forests.

Rally - RSAC shakedown

Although 14 crews from the Scottish and Historic Championships had booked to attend this morning's shakedown near Ae Forest, only 9 turned up. They included Euan Thorburn, Mike Faulkner, Brian Ross, Peter Stewart, Ross Hunter, Blair Brown, Callum Atkinson, Scott Peacock and Edmund Peel in his Porsche.

Mike Faulkner only got his Lancer running last night at 10.30 pm: "After the Jim Clark we had to fit new 'shells and bearings to the engine after our 'off'. I've taken that cattle grid flat before so I had no worries. But a shock absorber broke and that was what made the rear suspension collapse. So when we went off, a front wheel kicked back and broke the oil cooler. We switched the engine off quickly so the rebuild was more of a precaution."

Euan Thorburn was doing the same with his Focus: "This was the first run out since the Jim Clark when we had that small fire. It didn't do any real damage.It was just a flash fire when hydraulic fluid hit the hot exhaust, so this is just to check it out."

Ross Hunter gave the Peugeot a good run out this morning, aiming for BRC Challenge points this morning. His Dad Ian said: "We've raised the ride height quite a bit. Ross felt it was grounding out on the back on the Pirelli causing it to handle awkwardly." So they raised it last night with the idea if it didn't work today, they would change it back. It seems to have worked, smiles all round.

Callum Atkinson  had fitted new rakes to his Peugeot after the Him Clark. The RSAC Scholarship supported driver said: The brakes wer abd on the Jim Clark, it was all over the place. So we fitted new brakes for this, and it's still all over the place under braking. So hopefully we'll get it sorted out better today for tomorrow."

At the moment it is damp and a bit breezy which has given some respite from Scotland's vampire midges for those hanging about. Mind you, some of the lads here popped into Moffat this morning to buy repellant. The problem is, now that they have got a taste for succulent rally folks, they'll be out in force tomorrow.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Rally - RSAC preview

Full Entry List for Saturday's RSAC Scottish Rally is up on the website now. And since there are so many 'Modules' combined with the fact that not everyone is doing all the stages, I have devised a cunning plan (OK, made up a wee table) to try and simplify the job of spectating. But if you can't get a Programme then print this out and take it with you. And keep a wary eye out for D&G's finest, they've had plenty of practice on the M74 recently with their new speed guns.

Rally - RSAC spectating

The RSAC is issuing very limited spectator info ahead of Saturday's Scottish Rally so the best way to get around is to buy a Programme. It's 5 quid, but a pound goes to 'Help for Heroes'.

Locations to buy the programme also appear to be very restrictive. They will be on sale at the ceremonial pre-rally start in Dumfries High Street from 7 pm on Friday evening or at Rally HQ on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

The first two stages are at Windy Hill (1st car 8.00 am and again at 11.05) and Ae West (1st car 8.20 am and 11.25) in Ae Forest just west of the A701, signposted Ae village.  Spectator car parking has been arranged to the north of the village, look out for the signs.

The usual spectator special stage at Heathhall will be used twice at 10.00 am and again at 1.00 pm.  Spectator car parking is available at the sawmill to the west of the stage off Tinwald Downs Road.

The first car is expected at Loch Grannoch at 1.10 pm with spectator access via the ‘C’ road at Gatehouse Station (at the end of the B796) north of Gatehouse of Fleet. And no, there are no trains to Gatehouse Station - Dr Beeching and his cohorts saw to that!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Race - Loeb for WTCC

Another change of direction for Sebastien Loeb. Citroën is to enter the FIA World Touring Car Championship (FIA WTCC) from 2014 onwards. This will be a new challenge for both Citroën Racing and for Sébastien Loeb, who will be driving one of the new Citroen WTCC cars.

Frédéric Banzet, CEO of the Citroën Brand, said: “The WTCC is based on several aspects that are essential to Citroën: extensive media coverage, regulations that keep costs down and a genuinely global race calendar. Our involvement in this championship will give us not only another chance to showcase our Créative Technologie but it will also help us to develop the Brand in promising, growth markets such as China, Russia and South America. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our longstanding partner, Total, who will remain at our side for this new adventure.”

Citroën Racing’s entry will coincide with the introduction of a new generation of cars: “Competing in a category for the first time, starting from scratch, gives our division a superb challenge,” confirmed Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal.  “Having said that, we will be able to re-use a large part of our existing expertise, starting with the DS3 WRC’s 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine. Obviously, we’re still committed to rallying and we’ll continue to work hard to try and get the best possible result in 2013. Our partnership with Abu Dhabi is set to be reinforced, enabling us to continue to be involved in WRC with a new system and with new objectives.”

After winning nine World Rally Championship Drivers’ titles in a Xsara, C4 and DS3 WRC, Sébastien Loeb has made no secret of his enthusiasm about tackling this challenge with his favourite team: “First of all, I am pleased that this has been confirmed. It’s a bit of a dream to think that we are going to write a new chapter in our history. I can’t wait to get out on track in the car and start testing. I have used this transitional year to try out various experiences and to improve my track driving skills. I don’t expect to win straight away, but I am determined to get there one day.”

Monday 24 June 2013

Rally - More rally news

There's some more gossip and newsy bits on the website now ahead of this weekend's RSAC Scottish Rally:

Sunday 23 June 2013

Rally - Crail Tales

News and Gossip from last weekend's Crail Summer Stages now on the website.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Rally - Taylor's DMACK

Peter Taylor won today's DMACK Carl;isle Stages Rally in the Ford Focus WRC which he sold last year to buy the Citroen DS3 - and has just re-bought! The Citroen is up for sale. It would appear that Peter will be taking no further interest in the BRC. "I wasn't really enjoying it," said Peter, "and I was having to take too much time off work for some of the events."

Martin McCormack was second in his Citroen DS3 and Jock Armstrong third. As he expected, he wasn't able to use the anti-lag system in the Subaru in the afternoon stages because of the squashed exhaust: "That was bad enough," said Jock, "but we got a rear puncture in the final stage and that was it." Had he not got the puncture then who knows, he might yet have won the rally. But as we all know, that's rallying.

Tapio Laukkanen didn't have a good day finishing 14th overall in a MkII Escort. It may have looked spectacular from the outside, but it wasn't as quick as he would have liked and there was a problem in getting the car to turn in to the corners, with the result that it was pushing wide or he was having to chuck it in from a distance!

Rally - Jock leads DMACK

Although Jock Armstrong is leading the DMACK Carlisle Stages Rally after two stages by 2 seconds from Marty McCormack, he's not confident that he can maintain that: "I don't know what happened but the exhaust got flattened in SS2. I wasn't aware we hit anything but it's badly flattened and we can't get at it to fix it. I think I'll have to run without ALS this afternoon so that's not too good."

John MacCrone was cheery despite his problems. "We hit a stone when we were sliding the car. It didn't puncture the tyre but the impact knocked it off the rim and bent the rear beam.I'm still pleased with my times n SS2 and even in SS3, which we did still with the bent beam. This was a shakedown ahead of next week's Scottish and I'm needing seat-time. The Citroen is tricky to drive, I'm still learning. We didn't have a spare beam with us today so it's pack-up time.!

Chris Collie is still going though. "We broke the front n/s driveshaft on a hairpin at the end of SS2 so we had to do SS3 with three shafts. I wasn't hard on it, the car was still moving forward when I selected first at the hairpin but I don't know when these shafts were last changed anyway! I'll miss the Scottish shakedown next week that's why I came here, the car is kept in a yard near here, so better it happened here than next week!"

Another weel kent face in service was Tom Coughtrie in his MkII. "The car has done about 50 miles in the past two years but I fancied doing the Historic Championship this year. The first round was snowed-off, the engine failed on the next so I got a new engine. First time out with it, the distributor cap came off on the second stage, so better luck this time."

( Note: There are also a few short snippets on Twitter )

Friday 21 June 2013

Rally - Crail report on-line

That's the report from the Crail Summer Stages on the website now. Had intended to do it while away from home in the hotel room at night, but the call of Carlsberg proved too strong. It was hot and clammy down south in Englandshire and the Carlsberg was ice cold. Stuffy hotel room, Laptop and Notepad? No contest.

Road - Tell-tale braking

There is much talk in the car industry these days of internet availability inside moving vehicles and car-to-car communication features, but here's one that has truly sensible and practical implications. Ford is currently experimenting with an 'Electronic Brake Light' fitted to an S-Max test hack.

Essentially, this new system will alert drivers to vehicles braking ahead – even if they are around corners or hidden from view in traffic ahead!

In emergency braking situations, the experimental “Electronic Brake Light” transmits a wireless signal to illuminate a dashboard light in cars following behind even if the driver can't see them. The study found the technology could enable drivers to brake earlier and potentially mitigate or avoid a collision.

There could be other benefits too, but don't tell Ford! Such a system might allow the inexperienced to keep up with the professionals if fitted to rally cars and race cars. Just a thought.

Race - Charging ahead

Unveiled earlier today at Le Mans is yet another contender for the 24 Hours race, but not this year! Using the same technology as it's Leaf passenger car, the Nissan ZEOD RC is the world’s fastest electric racing car. It will reach speeds of more than 300 km/h.

The ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car) will make its race debut at next year’s Le Mans 24 Hour. The car will compete under the ACO’s ‘Garage 56’ entry – for vehicles that showcase new and innovative technology.

The Nissan ZEOD RC design team is headed by Ben Bowlby who has been newly-appointed as Nissan’s Director of Motorsport Innovation and previously worked on the Nissan DeltaWing programme in 2012.

Multiple options are being investigated. A Zero Emission on Demand option where the driver can switch between electric and petrol-powered drive is a future direction for road cars, so that will be tested in addition to pure electric power.

While current battery technology does not provide the energy storage capacity to race a solely electric Le Mans prototype, Nissan ZEOD RC designer Ben Bowlby believes the development of the car will be an important step in the “electrification” of the racecars of the future.

“Developing a car like this provides an incredibly challenging test bed for what could be highly-effective options for road cars of the future. Throughout the next twelve months we will be testing multiple drive train options in an extensive test programme,” Bowlby said.

Nissan will partner with Michelin to produce tyres for the new prototype and who previously assisted the Nissan DeltaWing programme. The Nissan ZEOD RC will make its testing debut later this summer.

Whatever next, clockwork rally cars?

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Road - Donington Park

There wasn't much driving at the Vauxhall event at Donington Park Race Circuit, but the lunch was good and the crack was better. It was more of a range review event and catch up with Vauxhall staff, always good for background information.

They also had a range of converted tippers and dropsides, box vans and car transporters because the arrival of WVTA (Whole Vehicle Type Approval) has stirred up the bodybuilding and coachwork building industry.

Yet another case of European meddling in  traditional industries. For sure, some type of mandatory cross-border safety regulation is a good thing but it's always worrying when the European bureaucrats start to mess about with regulations just to justify their salaries ad pensions schemes.

However a visit to Donington Park couldn't be allowed to pass without a tour of the Tom Wheatcroft museum, surely the biggest collection of GP cars in the country.

But what to single out? Well, the Vanwall collection is simply stunning.

Unmistakably Vanwall, this is a 1955 car and raced by Ken Wharton and Hary Schell. Originally designed around a 2 litre engine, later engines were 2.3 and 2.5 litres in size and could trace their origins back to the Norton motor cycle engine. At the end of their development they were producing around 300 hp!

The Vanwall VW6 Streamliner was built for the high-speed Reims circuit and although Stuart Lewis-Evans practiced the car ahead of the French Grand Prix it wasn't raced. Roy Salvadori also had a shot but it would appear that the Streamliner was never actually raced.

Road - Plain English

Methinks the signwriter skipped his spelling lessons at school!

Road - Disrespectful?

Had to park in a secluded area of the Prodrive car park yesterday having turned up disrespectfully at a Mercedes-Benz event in a Citroen Berlingo, this week's road weapon of choice. No ordinary Berlingo though, this two-pedal device had the automated 6 spd gearshift and was equipped with Stop/Start. Ideal for stopping and starting on the M6 slow crawl through Birmingham.

Now off to somewhere completely different today, or maybe it's not all that different when I think about it.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Road - Three wheeling

Don't try this at home - or on the way to work!

Road - Sundae driver

Just as an aside, the most popular Mercedes-Benz vehicle at today's Mercedes-Benz Van Experience was the ice cream van and not just because the treats were free.

At one point, the queue was so long, and the crowd so hot and bothered, that the Police had to be called. They were very helpful, they coned the area off. Oh, please yourself!

With such long queues,  the Communications Director for Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd himself, Rob Halloway, 'helped' out, or maybe he's thinking of a new career move!

Road - Dense Van Outing

Well, that was an action packed Mercedes-Benz van driving day. Four presentations and four driving sessions. Started with the off-road course at the Prodrive test track facility, but it was rather dry. Just when you could do with a bit of glaur, the weather turns all Mediterranean on us.

M-B had 227 guests in attendance, and over 10 days with over 200 folk each day, it gives some idea of the operation - hence this 'temporary structure' on site.

Then it was the fuel economy challenge followed by lunch and a few spins afterwards on the skid pan and pave, and finally a demonstration of violent lane-changing at 45 mph on the Bosch section. Maybe the spicy beef ragout, rice and nan bread wasn't such a good idea after all.

It's amazing who you can bump into at these events. Howard Wilcox (ace navigator/co-driver) was in charge of some of the outdoor events while our 'instructor' on the skid pan was Welshman, Matt Edwards (ace rally driver) who will actually be competing in a MkII on this Saturday's DMACK Carlisle Stages Rally!

The new Sprinter was there too, but only on show. It doesn't go on sale here till August so we couldn't get our mitts on it. Having said that, it doesn't look that much different from current Sprinter, although a new radiator grille treatment and headlamp cluster will make it easily identifiable.

Road - Day out with Merc

Now that's a van!

Gentlemen, start your engines

Monday 17 June 2013

Road - Dancing with Lutons

ESP and non-ESP in action
Odd title for a blog but tomorrow Mercedes-Benz is hosting their annual 10 day LCV event for dealers and fleet buyers in Warwickshire, and one day each year is set aside for the UK's commercial vehicle press. On hand will be the full range of M-B vans and conversions, and since the venue is Prodrive's test track there will be a number of events on which to try out the vehicles. From the skid pan to the handling circuit, from the off-road course to the demonstration area, a full day of activities will be planned. And if past years are any indication, there will be a competitive element! Three years back there was a slalom demonstrating the use of ESP and non-ESP equipped Luton vans, two years ago, it was a timed autotest in an automatic Vito van and last year it was a fuel economy run. Tomorrow? Who knows? We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Rally - Belated Crail

Crail - in the sunshine?
A belated rundown of what happened yesterday at Crail, but that was down to the fact that little in the way of phone signals reach this godforsaken outpost of civilisation.

Whilst Crail village itself is as pretty as a horticultural calendar, the eastern most point of the hinterland is anything but. The wee white caravans dotted about the landscape look like plooks on a pig's erse, and yet it has to be said, that the owners of the Crail motor sports facility have done wonders these past months. Many of the decrepit old buildings have been removed, the verges tirmmed and edged, the weeds destroyed and the grass has been cut. In fact, it looked positively inviting in the Summer sunshine. Well, nearly.

As things turned out, Bruce Edwards took the win in his Darrian, but left it late. After a few wee niggles with tyres and brakes over the first four tests, cooler afternoon temperatures allowed the tyres to work better and he put in two storming runs over the final two tests to snatch the victory. He converted Stuart Baillie's 2 second lead in the Subaru to a 39 second deficit, the only driver under 10 minutes for the final two tests.

It was dry all day and although last year's winner Alistair Inglis romped into an early lead, the Lancer headbutted an earth banking which dislodged the sumpguard. Rather than having the thing trailing underneath the car and causing other damage, Inglis wisely pulled out.

That left Baillie in the lead, but the prayed-for rain didn't appear, despite a few drops falling just before the final run. Baillie was prepared for the inevitable as Captain Plastic sped round the airfield to snatch victory. Alan Gardiner was the the first of the Escorts, his MkI taking control when Gary Adam's MkII suffered alternator failure.

Colin Gemmell claimed fourth in the Subaru just ahead of Billy Cowe's Impreza sporting a few black tape bandages around its bumper and headlamp unit! Rounding off the top six was Tom Morris in the flying banana, his gloriously yellow MkII.

Brian Fraser's Avenger
Leaderboard after 6 Special Stages:
1, Bruce Edwards, 55m 43s
2, Stuart Baillie, 56m 22s
3, Alan Gardiner, 57m 37s
4, Colin Gemmell, 58m 04s
5, Billy Cowe, 58m 46s
6, Tom Morris, 59m 00s
7, Jimmy Christie, 59m 08s
8, Edward Todd, 59m 46s
9, Bill Hamilton, 59m 59s
10, Graham Bruce, 60m 13s

( Note: There will be a full report up on the website later in the week )

Friday 14 June 2013

Rally - Scots in Carlisle

There's quite a bit of Scottish interest in next weekend's DMACK Carlisle Stages on Saturday 22nd June so if you're not going to the Doune Hillclimb (22/23 June) then a day out in Kielder could be just the ticket. Only, you won't need a ticket, entry is free and so is the Spectator Guide - although you'll have to download it from t'internet.

Jim McRae is entered in a MkII and Tom Coughtrie is wheeling out his own MkII although he'll need to squirt both oxters with WD40 to get himself started in the morning. Chris Collie is taking the EVO6 out for a run ahead of the Scottish, as is Jock Armstrong with the Subaru, and Peter Stewart will give his new Fiesta R2 its first public airing.

Late entries have also come in from the Citroen twins, John MacCrone and Peter Taylor - no doubt sharpening themselves up with a bit of gravel ahead of the Scottish!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Road - Dream machine

Subtle it ain't!
For us folks up here, Goodwood is awfy far away. On the south coast of Englandshire it is within sniffing distance of the garlic munchers, but it should be on every auto nut’s bucket list, at least once.

Next month is a case in point. Over the weekend of 11-14 July, over 185,000 spectators are expected to attend the annual 'Festival of Speed and Moving Motor Show'.

There will be many must-see attractions including a visit to the Cartier Lawn, where the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ concours d’elegance will be staged.

Around 50 unique and spectacular cars will be on show including the magnificent Phantom Corsair. Designed by Rust Heinz, of the famous Heinz beans family, and built in 1938, this six seater coupe was powered by a 190 bhp Lycoming V8 driving the front wheels. 

It seats up to four people on the front bench, but only two in the back – because there are also two drinks cabinets on either side of the rear seat!

Road - Mental Lego

Looking like the bastard son of the Ariel Atom, or the result of a Weegie scaffolder’s hangover after a night on the Buckie, is this concept ‘vehicle’ that was spotted at the Tokyo Toy Show.

Based on Toyota’s original Camatte concept car, this Camatte57s was created by Toyota for the Kids’ Life Zone at the Toy Fair.

The body is made up of 57 small, lightweight, detachable panels that can be finished in a wide choice of different colours and designs, and the pedals and seats can be adjusted so that children can drive it.

Powered by an electric motor, the car is 3 metres long, by 1,440 mm wide and 1,000 mm high, and can seat up to three folk.

So it’s not really Harry Potter’s first attempt at building an Airfix kit, or even Blue Peter going daft with sticky backed plastic, it’s just a really big set of mental Lego!

Monday 10 June 2013

Rally - Reivers Gossip

That's the News, Gossip and Tall Tales (polite word for fibs) up on the website now, but you will have to decide for yourself which is the best 'Quote of the Month' in the 'And Finally' section at the end. I can't, they are both equally priceless!

Blethers - Mistaken identity

Couldn't resist this. The usually excellent Pirelli F1 press service issued their usual quota of interesting and informative pre- and post-event press releases in the run-up to and after the Canadian Grand Prix. This is an extract from one which arrived this morning.

" Force India’s Paul Di Resta was the highest-placed driver to try something different, having started from 17th on the grid with the medium tyre. The Englishman stopped just once after 56 laps on the medium compound to finish seventh."

It's simple mistakes like this that can escalate into warfare and invasions. Remember, the cross border raid in 1977? When the tartan army stole the goalposts at Wembley? If such a mistake is made again, we'll set Wee Eck on them!

Sunday 9 June 2013

Rally - Crail Entry List

This Saturday's Crail Summer Stages Rally has received a full Entry List of 70 cars and crews plus 19 Juniors. There's a full entry list up on the website now, and it all gets underway at 08.30 Hrs.

Rally - Reivers - The Classes

That's the report on what happened to the Jim Clark Reivers Rally Class winners and losers on the website now. All I've got to do to finish it off, is the News Roundup and Gossip, and therein I have a dilemma. I have two choices for the 'And Finally' of the month, but can't make up my mind which was the best quip. Maybe you'll need to decide. I'd best crack on.

Friday 7 June 2013

Rally - Reivers Report

That's the FULL report on the website now for the Jim Clark Reivers Rally. Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive round-up of the fierce fechtin' that took place last Sunday, and there's more to come ... a roundup of all the Classes will follow, plus news from the Scots on the National, and of course capping it all off, 'Tales from the Black Stuff' with all the news and gossip from the weekend. Anyway, here's the first part now ...

Thursday 6 June 2013

Road - Mazda 6

Following Mazda's visit to Scotland today with the full range of Mazda 6 saloons and Tourers for the Scottish motoring press to drive, I made one conscious decision. When eventually I get old enough to require (need?) a good handling, comfortable, family car with an automatic gearbox, then the Mazda 6 will be in the short list. With its 175 PS diesel engine and slick 6 speed auto, it's as smooth as a scalpel slicing through a plump maraschino cherry. Even the paddle shift works as well going down the 'box as it does going up, and the surprisingly torquey 2.2 litre oil burner makes the most of it. This is one of those 'Mr Kipling of cars' type machines. But I would make one prime requirement. I'd have the 17 inch standard alloys rather than the 19 inch buttock bruisers.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Rally - meets Racing

An unexpected visitor to the service area ahead of the Jim Clark Rally was rising BTCC star, Tom Onslow-Cole.

The Surrey based racer had dropped in to see MSA Team UK member, John MacCrone. Working with the Motor Sports Association (MSA) as a coach, Tom has already spent some time with MacCrone and although he had watched him from outside, had never sat in a car with him. He did at the pre-rally shakedown.

“I have never been to a rally before,” said T O-C, “although I had previously sat in a works Ford Focus and Fiesta with Jari Matti Latvala at M-Sport, but that’s all I know about rallying. What I wanted to do today with John was see him in action and how he worked with his team, and then he took me for a ride.”

When he stepped out of the Culina Palletforce Citroen DS3 at the end of his ride through the hedge and dry stane dyke lined order lanes, Tom said: “It’s not like me, but I was lost for words at the end of that. I take my hat off to him (John) I didn’t have time to take it all in. It was unbelievable and nothing like touring car racing.”

For John, it was a chance to show Onslow-Cole what rallying is all about and give him a first hand insight into the sport: “Although he competes in an entirely different discipline to me, what Tom can give me is sound advice on working with a team to get the best out of all of us, and the psychology needed to win events, not just compete. So it was good of him to come all the way up from Surrey to the Scottish borders and meet the Culina Palletforce team.”

This visit was in fact just part of the sport’s governing body’s ongoing programme of searching for and developing new talent with MacCrone, and Stuart Loudon, the only Scots on MSA Team UK.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Rally - Bogie's victory

It's a fickle old game this rallying lark. Just when you think you've done enough to build up a solid cushion of a lead, the finishing line is almost in sight and the whiff of champagne is just a cork-pop away, Lady Luck has an uncanny knack of kicking the car off the axle stands.

It happened to all day rally leader Euan Thorburn. Going into the penultimate test of today's Jim Clark Reivers Rally, he and Bogie had a near 2 minute lead over the rest of the pack, with the margin between the leading duo nearly 30 seconds. Both of them beat the Bogey over that second Blackadder dash so nothing lost and nothing gained, but as Thorburn looked down as he approached the Stage Stop Line, flames started to appear through the floor. The marshals were quick on the scene as Euan and Paul Beaton jumped out of the car and extinguished the flames.

A hydraulic oil pipe had fractured and the oil had been set alight on the hot exhaust. Little damage was done but the crew had to seal the pipe, re-programme the ECU into 'road mode' and get through the final stage to reach the finish. They dropped 31 seconds to Bogie. Victory was gone, finishing second by 10.4 seconds.

Barry Groundwater finished a washed out but valiant third overall, still feeling very much under the weather after yesterday's dehydratory illness. Alistair Inglis scored an excellent fourth as Quintin Milne dropped valuable time with a shattered wheel and he dropped to sixth behind the DAM of Andy Horne. Fifth overall in this car was a memorable and stunning result.

Dom Buckley never gave up, but the lack of diffs cost him valuable time so 7th place was a worthy finish ahead of Donnie MacDonald who still says he doesn't like tarmac! Jock Armstrong made it back into the top ten after dropping over 2 minutes with a puncture and Karl Simmons rounded off the top finishers.

And the weather was a winner too, the crowds of spectators going home with red faces and legs, but better than sodden wet through! Summer has arrived in Scotland at last.

Provisional Top Ten after 8 stages (of 8)
1, David Bogie, 48m 04.0s
2, Euan Thorburn, 48m 14.4s
3, Barry Groundwater, 50m 07.9s
4, Alistair Inglis, 50m 26.5s
5, Andy Horne, 50m 36.9s
6, Quintin Milne, 50m 54.1s
7, Dom Buckley, 51m 15.4s
8, Donnie MacDonald, 52m 00.7s
9, Jock Armstrong, 52m 01.7s
10 Karl Simmons, 52m 14.0s

Rally - Thorburn still leads

Euan Thorburn has extended his lead slghtly over David Bogie after 5 of today's 8 stages on the Jim Clark Reivers Rally. However, David has explained his earlier time loss on the first stage. "The launch control system failed and we stalled. I spoke to Euan at the end of the stage and he says he doesn't use it. So we're not using it now either and so far it's paying off." Now that's friendly rivalry is it not?

Jock Armstrong lost 2 mins in Blackadder and has dropped to 13th place but at least he's still going. Rory Young is out with overheating problems. Barry Groundwater has moved into third place and Quintin Milne moved up to fourth. And proving there is life in the old dog yet, the DAM of Andy Horne is fifth with Alistair Inglis rounding off the top six.

Dom Buckley is 7th with his diff problem: "It affects the braking and the stability of the car, but we're still going," grinned Dom. For somebody that doesn't like tarmac, Donnie MacDonald's 8th place is all the more creditable and Steve Bannister is inside the top ten in his Historic spec Ford Escort MkII. Nice one Steve. Chris Collie's earlier time loss has also been explained. He broke a driveshaft on the startline of he first stage.

Top Ten after 5 stages (of 8)
1, Euan Thorburn, 30m 46.5s
2, David Bogie, 31m 08.2s
3, Barry Groundwater, 32m 33.9s
4, Quintin Milne, 32m 46.1s
5, Andy Horne, 32m 49.1s
6, Alistair Inglis, 32m 50.2s
7, Dom Buckley, 33m 39.7s
8, Donnie MacDonald, 33m 40.6s
9, Steve Bannister, 33m 54.7s
10 Peter Stephenson, 34m 05.5s

Rally - Thorburn leads

With 2 stages gone in today's Jim Clark Reivers Rally, Euan Thorburn, the JCR National winner from yesterday has taken a 15 second lead over 4 times Scottish champ David Bogie. Thorburn snatched the lead on the first run  over the Bothwell test by 15 seconds, with Bogie only managing to get 0.6 second back on the second run over the same test.

It's two years since Armstrong last did the Reivers: "I was braking far too early for the corners in the first one, then having to speed up again to reach them! Second stage was better though, took 20 sconds out of my first time."

In fourth place, Rory Young had a wee scare coming out of the second stage: "It was overheating so badly and shutting the engine down I didn't think we would reach service, but the boys have fixed it, something to do with the exhaust manifold. Sop we should be OK."

Barry Groundwater has recovered somewhat from yesterday's Illness: "I'm still not right but much better than I was yesterday. Just some sort of stomach bug that's going around."

Rounding off the top six is Dom Buckely and lucky to be here too: "The accumulator is burst on the end of the gearbox, the diffs are not working." Buckley Snr was quickly on the case: "The engineers have bypassed the valve." That's Borders-speak for they've clamped the pipe with a set of vicegrips!

Top Ten after 2 stages (of 8)
1, Euan Thorburn, 13m 51.0s
2, David Bogie, 14m 06.1s
3, Jock Armstrong, 14m 31.7s
4, Rory Young, 14m 43.6s
5, Barry Groundwater, 14m 46.6s
6, Dom Buckley, 14m 46.9s
7, Andy Horne, 14m 47.7s
8, Quintin Milne, 14m 51.6s
9, Alistair Inglis, 15m 00.5s
10, Mark McCulloch, 15m 11.9s

Rally - Reivers underway

Michael Moore MP, the Secretary of State for Scotland flagged off the first cars at the start of the Jim Clark Reivers Rally in Duns this morning. And what a morning. Despite the weather predictions it is dry and sunny over the Borders - for now.

Barry Groundwater pulled out of the main event yesterday because he wasn't well. If he had a portaloo in the car and lots of bog rolls then he might have managed! He really was quite unwell. Also re-starting this morning is Quintin Milne who didn't finish Friday night after the Lancer broke its suspension but it's fixed for today.  He's got a fight on his hands though, he reckons the Lancer is giving away 2 seconds a mile to the World Cars.

That means Euan Thorburn and David Bogie are the likely lads today, but then again who can rule out Jock Armstrong, Mike Faulkner  and of course Dom Buckley. Mind you Chris Collie could spring a surprise and of course, Rory Young went rather well yesterday in the National so he will be match fit for today.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Rally - Korhonen and Thorburn Win

Blue skies over Kelso

Jukka Korhonen took a big step towards his first British Rally Championship title today when he won the Jim Clark Rally by just about the closest of finishes. At the finish Tom Cave was only 2 seconds behind him!

Winner of the first round at Carlisle a month ago, the Finn led from the front and even a spin this morning in damp, slippery conditions didn’t faze him. Osian Pryce completed the podium line-up with pre-event favourite, Alastair Fisher finishing fourth, all in Citroen DS3s.

Our own John MacCrone failed to finish. After the first stage this morning he left service for the next stage, but on the way there, a track control arm pulled out of its socket and he was stuck on a road section with no chance of help. Garry Pearson was in the top ten but a tree violently arrested his Fiesta’s progress this morning and it’ll need more than tank tape and tie-wraps to put it together again.

Euan Thorburn (Ford Focus WRC) took the National event win, but he was lucky. His throttle control sensor failed this afternoon and he had to rig up an ‘old fashioned’ throttle cable to reach service. Steve Simpson (Impreza WRC) was happy enough with second place while Simon Mauger finished third in his Escort MkII behind the two World Cars.

Damian Cole was lying second, but clutch failure put him out and David Hardie lost out on a top finish when his Subaru started overheating following a bit of an ‘agricultural outing’ early this morning on the Swinton test. Barry Groundwater was in with a shout of a good result too but the Lancer expired in Langton.

The Scots had a good showing in the BRC Challenge event where Ross Hunter took a very mature win in his unsophisticated Peugeot 205 by 40 seconds from the Renault Clio of Russ Thompson. Steven Smith got third in his Peugeot 206 but only after stage times were corrected relegating Gareth White to fourth in his Citroen C2 R2. Des Campbell was delighted with fifth in his Peugeot 206 ahead of 18 year old Aaron McClure on his first Jim Clark Rally in his Fiesta.

Sadly the organisers lost three stages today, two because of “reasons of safety” and another this afternoon because the rally was running out of Road Closure time. This was down to the combination of two separate incidents on two different stages which had a knock-on effect on a third. In both cases the two rally crews escaped injury although one car was burnt out in a fire and the fire services had to be called while the other resulted from a car striking two trees.

On a more positive note, both cases amply demonstrated just how safe the sport is.

And now to tomorrow, the really serious stuff, the Jim Clark Reivers Rally, which counts towards both the main ARR Craib and Blue national Scottish Rally Championships.

Rally - JCR off to flying start

Duns was busy last night

At close of play last night, Jukka Korhonen was leading the main BRC field in the Jim Clark Rally while Euan Thorburn was in charge of the National event runners.

And while Thorburn got off to a good start this morning, Korhonen spun on the first stage on cold tyres but still leads although Tom Cave has moved up to second place ahead of Osian Pryce. Alastair Fisher has dropped a wee bit to fourth ahead of Jonny Greer and Mark Donnelly. The first non Citroen DS3 in the top ten is Garry Pearson in 8th place in the Fiesta R2 just ahead of John MacCrone in 9th: “I ran out of brakes last night,” said MacCrone, “couldn’t stop, hit a banking and bent the rear beam. Then this morning I came across Desi Henry off, and Mark Donnelly was first on the scene so he lost even more time than me.”

Euan Thorburn leads the National after the first stage this morning from Damien Cole, both in Ford Focus WRCs, ahead of the two Subaru Imprezas of Steve Simpson and David Hardie. John Stone is fifth in the Skoda Fabia WRC with Simon Mauger entertaining in the crowds in his Escort MkII in sixth place.

The first stage of the day this morning did not run. It was cancelled ahead of the rally. According to the organisers: “the decision was made on the grounds of safety.” The stage was due to be run again this afternoon (15:51 Hrs)  but the organisers have stated that it will NOT run then either.

Attached photo shows the crowds out in force in Duns last night.