Thursday 27 February 2014

Rally - Closed roads

After innumerable delays, the issue of 'closed roads' for motor sports competition is back on the agenda. The Government has put out a questionnaire for consultation and feedback. Do your bit and support it, don't just sit there and expect everyone else to do it.

Monday 24 February 2014

Rally - Air an Rathad

BBC Alba has its very own version of ‘Top Gear’ and this Thursday evening at 10 pm, will show a wee report they filmed on last year’s Colin McRae Forest Stages. Some of the interviews are in English – and some urrnae! 

But it’s well worth a look, so tune into to ‘Air an Rathad’ this Thursday 27th Feb. at 10 pm on BBC ALBA.

More details at:

Saturday 22 February 2014

Rally - Thorburn wins

It was Euan Thorburn who opened the scoring on this year's ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship when he won today's Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally.

His winning margin was 34 seconds over Quintin Milne but afterwards Euan said: "That wasn't easy. A brake pipe into the caliper broke off in SS4 and we had to clamp it with a vice grip and 20 cable ties to get through Stage 5. It was heart in mouth stuff."

Quintin Milne was lucky too: "The diff pump failed for the last two stages and a wheel sensor failed. We had 3 spins and were nearly off in the final stage. It was so 'nearly' I told Martin to get ready, we're heading for the trees. Then somehow it just lowped out and back on to the road!"

Mike Faulkner took 15 seconds out of Milne on that last stage, but it wasn't enough and had to settle for third - by just 3 seconds!

David Bogie said there was no way he could come back after his puncture having lost too much time but settled for fourth and a car which only needs a spanner check before it's next outing. 

Barry Groundwater lost time in Stage 4 at the same point that caught everyone else out, heading for a firebreak dead ahead when the road swung right: "At least I didn't go as far up it as Mike Faulkner, he lost a lot of time there." And Donnie MacDonald failed to finish, spotted off the road in the final test.

Top Group N driver was Andrew Gallacher in 9th place ahead of John Morrison and Fraser Wilson.

Fortunately the rain held off, and spectators were spared a serious drooking, but the Snowman provided an excellent start to the 2014 forest season.

Leaderboard after 5 (of 5) stages:
1, E Thorburn, 44m 29s
2, Q Milne, 45m 03s
3, M Faulkner, 45m 06s
4, D Bogie, 45m 21s
5, B Groundwater, 47m 11s
6, D Brown, 47m 24s
7, B McCombie, 47m 45s
8, S Ronaldson, 47m 52s
9, A Gallacher, 47m 54s
10, M McCulloch, 48m 11s.

Rally - Group N change

Andrew Gallacher leads Group N in 8th place overall first time out in the new car. "It doesn't feel any different to the old car, just tighter, but NO misfire!" a reference to the electrical problem which plagued the old car last year.

John Morrison has moved up to 2nd after Fraser Wilson lost his steering when the pinch bolt slackened and Dale Robertson fractured a brake pipe with 6 miles to go in SS3. Both are still running but lost time.

Rally - Thorburn leads

Bit of a shake up after those two slightly less muddy tests with Euan Thorburn now leading the rally with two stages to go.

David Bogie appeared at the end of Rogie with a smoking tattered front tyre and broken wheel rim: "We didn't hit anything, but the tyre went down, that's rallying." When asked why he didn't stop and change: "We would have lost even more time, but when  the tyre started to burn and smoke badly near the end of the stage we nearly had to."

Euan wasn't looking too happy though, even though he's leading: "We're changing the suspension settings after that stage for the final two. It's not right, it keeps moving about at the back end."

Quintin Milne posted a stonking time in the third test to move up to third place but Jock Armstrong is out. Something is broken in the transmission, either a diff or a driveshaft.

That means Bogie is fourth but Dougal Brown is still hanging on to his best result yet with fifth place: "We were a wee bit lucky. We had an overshoot at the bridge in Rogie, but we're still ahead of Barry (Groundwater)".

Steven Ronaldson has put his Metro into the top ten but is worried about a noise from the rear end and the boys are investgating. Sandy Arbuthnott retired his Metro at first service. The quill shaft taking drive from the gearbox to the rear weels stripped leaving him with front wheel drive only.

And would you believe it, the sun is shining on northern Scotland. It's nearly warm!

Leaderboard after SS3 (of 5):
1, E Thorburn, 26m 56s
2, M Faulkner, 27m 22s
3, Q Milne, 27m 29s
4, D Bogie, 28m 12s
5, D Brown, 28m 32s
6, B Groundwater, 28m 43s
7, R Young, 28m 44s
8, A Gallacher, 28m 51s
9, S Ronaldson, 28m 53s
10, D MacDonald, 29m 00s.

Rally - Group N

TWO seconds separate the top 3 Group N runners. Fraser Wilson leads after the first stage at the Snowman Rally by 1 second from Andrew Gallacher with Dale Robertson just 1 more second behind. Game on.

Rally - Bogie leads

The first stage of this year's Arnold Clark Thistle Hotels Snowman Rally was a real, wet, slippery, guttery affair. According to Euan Thorburn: "Even on a 500 yd straight, just one wheel off line would have you going from lock to lock - at 6000 rpm in top gear!"

David Bogie was fastest though: "We actually hung back behind Euan before the start of the first stage but it's so slippery in there, I don't think it will clean up much at all for the later runners."

First car through the stage was actually Quintin Milne: "That was a mistake, going in first. It was hard to judge braking points and get grip out of the chicanes it was just so wet and muddy. There were actually 12 chicanes, not just 10 and we had a wee spin at the second last one."

Jock Armstrong posted the third quickest time, but just happy to get through it and reach service: "I got going OK, then I didn't get going, if you see what I mean. The stage started well for me following Quintin's lines and I was able to be a bit tidier on the corner exits than he was then it just got even wetter. Pleased to get through it."

Barry Groundwater wasn't a fan of the conditions either: "If you get off line at all you're in the skitters. We had quite a few skittery moments in there."

Bruce McCombie made it through first time out in his new Lancer: "It was so slippy in there I was surprised to see no-one off." He must have missed Donnie MacDonald: "I had a straight-on and it stalled. Then once I got it started and got going again, it cut out again. We'll need to have a look at service.

For the moment, the weather doesn't quite know what to do. One minute the sun is shining, the next a wintry squall is sweeping across the Dingwall tarmac.

Leaderboard after SS1 (of 5):
1, D Bogie, 8m 30s
2, E Thorburn, 8m 48s
3, J Armstrong, 8m 57s
4, M Faulkner, 9m 01s
5, D Brown, 9m 07s
6, S Clark, 9m 09s
7, Q Milne, 9m 12s
8, F Loudon, 9m 16s
9, B Goundwater, 9m 18s
10, F Wilson, 9m 22s

Rally - Tummy talk

If the Speyside has Huntly Market, then the Snowman has Dingwall Market. You should see the spread that the ladies have put on this morning for hungry service crews. Scotch pies and steak pies, sticky buns and doughnuts, healthy sandwiches and big tea urns, plus cooked breakfasts that would floor a walrus. If more rallies stopped at agricultural markets the boys would never be able to crawl under their respective rally cars. That would kill off rallying quicker than the MSA could. Or as one hefty chap said, "we've got very tall jacks". Gaun yersels boys.

Friday 21 February 2014

Rally - Added Focus

It looks like Andy Horne will be joining the ranks of the Ford Focus WRC owners club following a successful deal completed this morning. That means he won’t make his home event, the Snowman Rally but should be out on the Border Counties. Bruce McCombie will debut his new Evo9 tomorrow having given up on the Subaru, and Dale Robertson has completely rebuilt his ‘new’ Evo9. Last Sunday the centre diff failed so that was fixed, then the turbo failed yesterday! And that was after shaving the head and rebuilding the suspension. 

Now that he’s joined the Scottish Rally Championship committee, Gordon Adam has taken on a job ‘observing’ each event in in the 8 round series. He did however remark that Gary has sold his 2.4 Millington and Dave Plant gearbox, and replaced them with a 2.5 Millington and Tractive gearbox in his MkII.

Rally - In development?

One especially interested spectator tomorrow will be Rory Bryant, Scottish Motor Sport's new Sports Development Officer, having his first taste of Scottish forests. Although how much he will learn about the sport is not entirely clear.

The Highland Car Club organisers have called upon the services of one of their elder statesman to chauffeur him around the forests and introduce him to the idea of competition on gravel roads.

Most of you won't know Bob Wilson,but 20 years ago this month he won the Snowman Rally co-driving for Donald Milne (yes indeed, that's Quintin's faither!) in a Nissan 2.4 litre engined Metro 6R4, an event they both won in 1991 as well. And while we're on the subject, there's another Milne out in the woods tomorrow, Quintin's younger brother Freddy. Surely he can't be any dafter than Q?

Anyway, if you do see Rory out and about, be kind to him. He'll be the one with the bleeding ears - only kidding Bob.

Rally - Snowman tomorrow

If today's weather is anything to go by, then tomorrow's rally will be called the Snowlessman Rally. At the moment only one stage has snow in it, the second stage (of 5) at Ben Wyvis. There's only a 1.5 mile snowy stretch over the top, and it's wet with black lines already appearing in the snow from the course cars. So unless there is a precipitation tonight, then there will be no need for snow tyres tomorrow.

That should please the top seeds who won't be called in to do snowplough duty. Top seed Euan Thorburn will be hoping for better luck than the Wyedean last weekend. Euan explained what happened: "At first we though it was a misfire or an injector problem, but when we took off the electronic module from the top of the engine we could hear water sloshing about inside. It's supposed to be a sealed unit - only it's not sealed!"

"We don't know what caused it, but it could even have been a pressure washer which did the damage when we were cleaning the underside of the car. Anyway, that's what we're hoping."

As for the number 2 seed, David Bogie got off to a cracking start last weekend, winning the Wyedean, but when asked if he would keep the Focus if he did the same this weekend, said: "No, the plan is to sell the Focus. It will have to go, even if we're doing well in the championship - but we might use the R5 just to get miles on it before Wales Rally GB!"

Quintin Milne has re-shelled his Evo9: "We found the old shell was kinked, that's why we bent so many bottom arms last year. It was continually running out of line."

Jock Armstrong is back with the same Subaru he used last season as his new car won't be ready till the Granite or maybe the Jim Clark, but he was wearing an awfy smart new, bright orange jacket with more sponsors names and badges on it than fairy lights on a city centre christmas tree. "I need to change my jackets regularly," he joked, "because when you get champagne sprayed on them as often as I do, it ruins the lettering and makes them all sticky."

He added: "I think I only managed it twice last year!"

Here's hoping he ruins some more this year, in the nicest possible way.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Rally - Wales Rally GB

Wales Rally GB has announced that the winner of each of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally, Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally, McGrady Insurance MSA Northern Ireland Rally, MSA English Rally and BTRDA Rally Championships will get a free entry to the National event on this year’s Wales Rally GB.

The top three finishers in the 2014 MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) will also be invited as will the top British Junior and RallyTwo category winner within the BRC plus the 2014 BRC Challenge Trophy champion and winner of the BRC ‘Stars of the Future’ series.

So that’s a dozen entries for November already, eh?