Friday 30 August 2013

Rally - To boldly go

Look out Inverness, they’re on their way.

Lanarkshire is somewhat empty this evening as an excellent turnout from Coltness Car Club gathered at Bothwell services on the M74 at 6 pm before heading north for Highland Car Club’s annual automotive tour, La Crofterra Pandemonia.

Scrutineering and documentation for this 'classic car' event will be undertaken this evening before over 50 crews take to the roads of the north east for this two day event starting tomorrow.

Ten crews and their cars are pictured with more making their own way north. Missing from the photo is Chief Bear, Big Jim, who had to wait for his driver Brian Johnstone – cos Brian's Da’ wouldn’t let him off work early!

Amongst the Lanarkshire contingent are: Fraser Smith and Scott Erskine (Vauxhall Astra GTE), Colin Smith and Billy Farrell (Jenson 541R), Jonathan Smith and Euan McMillan (Fiat 126), Graeme and Ken Schoneville (Saab 900), Alex and Jean Lindsay (VW Golf GTI), Craig and Rod Ritchie (Porsche Boxster), Campbell and Ian Jamieson (Ford Escort MkII), John Beattie and Colin Laird (Jaguar XJS), Stephen Smellie and Stuart Sheridan (Mk11 VW Golf GTI) and a couple of refugees from Machars Car Club, Euan and Robert Beck in their Renault 11 GTL.

Rally - Rallyists AHoy

Whose legs are these? You'll find out on next month's Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, but for a sneak preview, here's the full story:

Blethers - UK Motorists ripped off

Once upon a time, diesel was cheaper than petrol in the UK. In the year 2001, diesel averaged 79 pence per litre whereas 95 octane unleaded petrol was 78.9p. That was the first year that diesel prices surged ahead of petrol and have continued to do so since.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, of the 2,044,609 cars sold last year, 1,038,679 were diesels compared to 978,089 petrol. This year, sales so far are fairly even, with 49.4 per cent sales being unleaded and 49.3 per cent diesel. In both 2011 and 2012, diesel sales outstripped their petrol counterparts for the first time.

And now, according to a worldwide cost survey commissioned by ‘This is Money’ from ‘’, UK motorists are paying the 4th highest price for diesel – in the world!

Current diesel prices in this country are 141p per litre, with 86p of that being made up of fuel duty and taxes.

The report lists the top ten diesel prices as:

10. IRELAND AND GERMANY (TIED) - 126p (per litre)
9. FINLAND - 128p
8. ICELAND - 131p
7. DENMARK - 133p
6. SWEDEN - 135p
5. ISRAEL - 138p
3. TURKEY - 144p
2. ITALY - 147p
1. NORWAY - 150p

Somebody’s making money out of it, and it ain’t the British motorist.

Full report at:

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Rally - Anti-Social media?

It's always nice to get feedback on something that has been written and published, and the reponse to the JF column in last week's 'Motor Sports News' has been rather fulsome, although a bit embarrassing - I'm not used to such praise! Anyway, the full un-edited version has now been published on the website:

Rally - Another Statement!

Crikey, another 'statement' this morning, this time from the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship ...

"The closing date for entry to the the GWF Energy Merrick  Stages has been extended until 31st August at 12 noon.  if you are intending to compete, please let the organisers have your completed entry forms as soon as possible. Online entry is an option."

And following the mid-year Championship meeting two weekends ago comes another 'statement' ...

"Vehicle eligibilty for the 2014 season will remain as the current season.  Competitors will be consulted over the next 12 months for  2015.

Competition car registration plates! These items must now comply with Construction and Use Regulations. (Indeed, they always have). Scrutineers will be inspecting and enforcing this ruling beginning at the Merrick Stages, and on into next year's championship. This will have particular regard to the size of the lettering and numerals."

So no black insutating tape or marker pens on sticky backed plastic from now on! And here's a thought. Some of these very same Scroots may well be operating on Mull for the Tour, so don't be surprised if you get pulled up about it.

Rally - Lindisfarne Cancelled

Statement from Tynemouth & District Motor Club received this morning ...

The organising committee of Tynemouth & District Motor Club's Fostek Lindisfarne Rally are sorry to announce the cancellation of this year's event due to be held on Sunday 8th September 2013. The overriding reason for this decision is due to lack of entries.

Whilst the committee appreciate that entries officially close on Saturday 31st August 2013 the number received at this stage (Monday 26 August 2013) cannot justify any further outlay for this event. Tynemouth & District Motor Club wish to thank competitors that have entered and trust that they understand the reason for cancellation. All competitors will be contacted individually regarding return of payments received.

TDMC also thank and apologies to our Sponsor Fostek Engineering, Rescue & Recovery Crews, Medics, Officials, all Marshals and supporters of Rallying. Pleased be assured that the Lindisfarne Rally will return in 2014, planning for the event will commence at the end of September.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Race - Knockhill action

There was lots of hectic, high speed action at to-day's Knockhill round of the BTCC if the pics are anything to go by. The figures back that up too with the fastest 19 cars at the end of Qualifying separated by 0.833 of a second.

Rob Austin claimed his maiden BTCC pole position in his Audi TT, the first time an Audi has qualified on pole in the BTCC since Frank Biela at Knockhill back in 1997.

Reigning champion Gordon Shedden claimed fourth, but more importantly, was ahead of his main title rivals Jason Plato and Matt Neal.

After it all, Gordon said: “That’s the quickest I have ever been around here and considering the ballast on board it was a really good lap. It was also four tenths quicker than we went last season so it really shows the development. In race trim I hope for us to be where we have been all year, which bodes well for tomorrow.

The top 15 drivers are covered by half a second and they’ll all be looking to take up the same bit of track, so it’s almost impossible to predict who will win the races. I'm pretty sure the fans are in for an exciting day.”

As for 16 year old Aiden Moffat, things didn't go too well! Engine problems after 15 laps of practice forced him to miss the second practice session and also Qualifying. Engine parts are on the way up from the deep south for an overnight rebuild and fingers are crossed for tomorrow's race meeting. Gates will open early, from 7.00 am with the first race (for Ginettas) at 9.00 am and the first of the day's 3 Touring Car races at 11.45 am.

Rally - Bad and the Good

There’s good and bad news from Northern Ireland tonight, first the bad news. John MacCrone and Phil Pugh crashed out this morning on the 8th of Rally NI’s 15 stages.  John and Phil are both OK, but the Citroen is rather unwell. Osian Pryce won from Jukka Korhonen.

There's better news from the Ulster Challenge where Ross Hunter’s win has moved him up to 4 th place in the NGK Spark Plugs Challenge despite completing the last two stages stuck in third gear. Gareth White was fifth.

With 3 scores from four rounds so far, Ross has moved up to fourth overall in the BRC series, with leader Russ Thompson, second placed Gareth and third placed Richard Sykes each having scored on all four rounds so far. Steven Smith is 7th and Des Campbell who didn’t go to Northern Ireland is still ninth with two scores.

After his disappointment on yesterday’s Ulster Rally Challenge Steven Smith bounced back on today’s Ulster Challenge 2 and finished second behind Dean Raftery.

Friday 23 August 2013

Road - Jeremy's Jag

If you haven't seen the final episode of the current series of 'Top Gear' then do so now. Check out iPlayer or YouTube and watch the final bit about the great British motor industry. If you don't think we have one then be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

The programme ends with the TG Trio driving down the Mall in Jaguars. It nearly had me reaching for the Kleenex. Anyway, guess who spent the last week in Mr Clarkson's F-Type V6S?

Thursday 22 August 2013

Road - Sexy Vauxhall

The words 'sexy' and 'Vauxhall' don't often come together, but look at this, Opel/Vauxhall’s Monza Concept will be showcased at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Forget images and memories of the 6 cylinder, 3 litre Monza motorway cop cars from the 1970s and 80s, I don't see this getting the blue light and battenberg treatment!

Utilising much of the Ampera’s revolutionary powertrain ideas, the Monza Concept has electric drive with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) range extender.

The new-generation three-cylinder 1.0 litre SIDI turbo engine – which also makes its premiere at Frankfurt – takes over the task as range extender, but with natural gas instead of petrol.

Road - New Golf R

Volkswagen has released the first details of the new Volkswagen Golf R ahead of next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.  With a 2 litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 300 PS (296 bhp) and 380 Nm of torque and utilising the latest 4MOTION four-wheel drive system, the new Golf R is the fastest-accelerating production Golf yet.

VW claims a zero to 62 mph time of 5.3 seconds (compared with 5.7 seconds for the previous model), or 4.9 seconds when fitted with the optional six-speed DSG gearbox.  Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.

At its heart is a newly developed version of the EA888 TSI engine used in the latest Golf GTI, but the Golf R’s engine has a modified cylinder head, exhaust valves, valve seats and springs, pistons, injection valves and turbocharger.

The Golf R’s four-wheel drive is the latest fifth-generation Haldex system.  Under low loads or when coasting, the rear axle is decoupled, helping to reduce fuel consumption.  It takes only fractions of a second for drive to the rear axle to be engaged via the Haldex coupling, which is actuated by an electro-hydraulic pump.  If necessary, almost 100 per cent of power can be transferred to the rear axle.

Like the GTI and GTD, the Golf R is equipped with progressive steering, which reduces the number of turns lock to lock to just 2.1, rather than 2.75, making for an enhanced dynamic driving experience.

Details include black-painted brake calipers with ‘R’ logos inside the standard 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 tyres. Smoked LED tail lights, an ‘R’ diffuser and four chrome-tipped exhaust pipes finish off the rear end.

Just one wee problem – no price as yet!

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Race - BTCC at Knockhill

Touring Cars come to Knockhill this weekend and for the home crowd there will be another Scottish driver to cheer on. Lining up alongside Flash Gordon and Dave Newsham in the premier tin-top series will be 16-year-old Aiden Moffat, the youngest ever driver in the British Touring Car Championship.

He will drive a Finesse Motorsport-run S2000 Chevrolet Cruze this weekend, but also involved in the move is Kirkcaldy’s Jonny Adam, the ex-BTCC and current GT driver who will test the car this week ahead of the youngster getting his mitts on it on Friday.

Aiden, from Dalkeith, started karting at the age of 12 and also did a bit of junior banger racing in 2010 – ideal prep for Touring Cars? In 2012 he contested the Motorsport News Ford Fiesta Junior Championship racing at Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Donington Park and took his maiden car-racing win in the final race of the season.

He is also competing this year in the Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup as well as the Scottish Ford Fiesta Championship in 2013 and will continue to do so alongside his BTCC commitments for the rest of the campaign. He’s had a recent pole position in the Cooper Cup and has won the last four races in the Fiesta ST Cup.

At 16 years, ten months and 28 days he will become the youngest ever BTCC driver this weekend – a record previously held by 12-time race winner Tom Chilton.

Rally - AutoCoarse

Coltness Car Club staged the inaugural 'Hartwood Festival of Speed' last Sunday, but the only thing this event shared with a certain other Festival of Speed was a rather disturbing similarity in name. It didn't have the champagne and caviar, nor did it have the supercars and celebrity paddock, but it had more fun than a barrowload of weans in a toy shop. Who knows, this form of motor sport could catch on.

There was one 'celebrity guest' though.

The Last Ride-Out

Well, that was different, but entirely fitting, yesterday's wonderful tribute to Robbie Allan. As the four hundred guests - not mourners! - gathered in the open sided marquee with sunlit views across the six tracks at the Tinto Park Moto facility in Lanarkshire, the Reverend Paul Sinclair addressed the assembly.

The tone was set immediately when the Reverend explained how he knew Robbie. Apparently he had known Robbie for over 18 years as he was a keen motor cyclist himself. In fact he was known as the 'Faster Pastor' until he fell off his bike and became the 'Elasto Pastor'. Further chuckles ensued as the Reverend cast his eye over the large crowd and announced that when he initially saw such a large congregation gathering he got so excited he nearly rushed round with his collecting plate.

He then introduced Robbie Allan Jnr who talked honestly and humorously about his father for 20 minutes with complete disregard to his father's own wishes that he should talk no longer than 8 minutes. In fact as he admitted, planning this service was the first time the family had ever had the final say! Brother Vic Allan had been granted 10 minutes, but talked for nearly 25.

And you know what? They could have talked longer and still not made a dent in the man's life and achievements.

It was also entirely fitting that his final ride-out should be by motorcycle, complete with Police motorcycle escort.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Rally - Tyneside Tales

News of how the Scots fared at last weekend's Tyneside Stages now on the magazine website:

Thursday 15 August 2013

Robbie Allan

Some of you will know Robbie Allan from Boghead in Lanarkshire. He was the man behind the annual Scottish Motorcycle Show at Ingliston and was involved with the McRaes in the motor sports show at Lanark. He passed away yesterday (14th August) and Scottish motorcycling and motor cycle sport will sorely miss this larger than life character.

In fact, the world will be a quieter place now. And it will be all the poorer for it. Robbie could infuriate and enthuse with equal passion, he was cantankerous and kind in the same breath, and when he wanted something done, he was like a bulldozer with no reverse gear. If there were more ‘Robbies’ in this world, it wouldn’t be in the mess it is. He was to motorcycling what a spark plug is to a 2 or 4 stroke engine. Robbie provided the spark that ignited the passion and fuelled the sport. 

Heaven is in for one hell of a kick-start now. 

Funeral details: There will be a service at Tinto Park Moto circuit (on the B7055 south of Rigside) on Monday the 19th at 2 pm. The burial will take place the following day near the family home in Kintore at 2 pm on Tuesday 20th. All friends and relatives are warmly invited.

Note: For those of you who don't know where Rigside is, it's in Lanarkshire. Coming from the M74 north, take Junction 11, or from the south, take Junction 12, and head east on the A70 signposted Lanark. Drive through Rigside and turn right at the cross-roads - there's a haulage yard there with timber/pallets in it. You can't miss it. One more thing, I reckon it will be a big funeral.

Rally - Solway News & Gossip

That's the last of the stuff from the Solway Coast Rally on the website now, all the News and Gossip from the rally, so find out why Walter was smiling, what Iain was smoking and how 'Tanks' replaced 'Horses'.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Rally - Solway Coast Juniors

Digby's report on Sunday's Solway Coast Junior Rally for the 14-17 year olds is now on-line.

Rally - Full Solway Coast report

That's the report from last weekend's Solway Coast Rally up on the website now. News and Gossip will follow, and also a roundup of Sunday's Junior event.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Rally - Speyside News

Where else can you read about a sewing kit, a game of ‘Horse’, a 3 foot Sheriff’s badge and a 30 foot steel bridge? That'll be the News and Gossip from the Speyside - finally up on the website!