Saturday, 26 October 2013

Rally - Galloway eve

Well, the rain finally came, just as Scrutineering started for tomorrow's Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally. There are wet, grey skies over Castle Douglas tonight,  but it surely won't dampen enthusiasm for this final round of the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship.

The organisers of the event are all gathering for dinner tonight to celebrate this 40th running of the event including Norman Gowans who has been involved right from the start. And you'll never guess who I bumped into in the street heading towards his free sherry and dinner, Roger Anderson. Another stalwart who has been around since the Galloway Hills was invented. In fact Roger has been around since Adam and Eve first reached for the fig leaves so they didn't offend his sense of dignity.

Speaking of old timers, we all know Ivor Clark and Keith McCleary are out tomorrow but so is Mickey Rankin who did the first Galloway Hills 40 years ago. "Isobel (Riddick) told me I was doing it," said Mickey, "she told me to get the Escort finished and get out on this event, so I did." Built by his nephew Christopher Rankin (Rabsport) the MkI with its 2 litre Pinto looks terrific especially with its period stickers.
Keith Renton appeared at service with a rebuilt Fiest R2. "It wasn't too bad after the McRae once we got it out and looked at it. It even drove out the stage with a bent bottom wishbone and bent driveshaft. But the roof and pillars were fine and the back was square so it was just front end damage. In fact it did less damage during 5 rolls on the McRae than it did when it fell on its side earlier in the year."

Had a good chat with Jock Armstrong who has high hopes for tomorrow's Super Special. It has taken a heckuva lot of effort to get this whole thing up and and running. Even his Dad, Jock Snr, got excited and was out directing the guys with the diggers.

In fact he's coming to watch the Super Special tomorrow to see Jock Jnr driving a rally car on an event for the first time - ever! And Babs has been every bit as keen, goading the menfolk to ever greater feats of engineering and construction.

But it's amazing what this sport of rallying can do, because also involved in this project is Opel Ascona rallyist Kieran O'Kane who supplied the BLUE Group rock crushing quarrying equipment. One machine was already on the site, but Kieran brought in another one to help out, and he's even supplying the hospitality unit for the guests who helped.

There will be a catering unit on site, a driving simulator and other stalls, plus a commentator to keep the spectators entertained. 

The Armstrong group employs 87 people and Jock has given them all a family ticket for tomorrow, so a big crowd is expected. Here's hoping they gets some decent weather.

And now for a fascinating fact. The BLUE Group crushers processed almost 15,000 tonnes of rock to fill in the gaps in the existing road network in the quarry to make the one mile loop. The result is a pretty good, slightly abrasive, surface and there's even a watersplash, but if it rains tonight - it will be a ford!

And how do you fancy a wee bit of scuttlebutt and gossip? Had a chat with David Bogie and asked him what he's up to for next year. David was very non committal saying he will decide after this weekend and after he's been on holiday.

"I was looking forward to this event anyway," said David, "then I'm off to Abu Dhabi on holiday for ten days and will take in the Grand Prix. I'll sit down and have a think about what I'm going to do then, when I get back."

But here's the thing, Andy Scott of Albatec Racing is also going to Abu Dhabi for the Grand Prix. I mention this because, Andy invited David down to Croft before the British Championship RallyX meeting two weeks ago to drive one of his 600 bhp Peugeot 208 RallyX cars. In fact, this is the second time that David has driven one of Andy's cars.

Asked if this might point a change of direction for next year, David just grinned.

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