Saturday 31 May 2014

Rally Statement

The organisers of the Jim Clark Rally have issued the following statement. They would like to have issued this much sooner, but events have been happening rather fast and the Police have taken the lead in managing the incident and subsequent investigation. Needless to say the whole team is distraught and in shock:

A Statement from the Organisers of the Jim Clark Rally

The organisers of the Jim Clark Rally would like to extend their heartfelt condolences and sympathy to all of the families and their friends who have been affected by today's tragic events.

Our thoughts are especially with those who have lost family members and to the families of the injured spectators,

All members of the organising team are in shock and are cooperating fully with Police Scotland to establish the facts.

Rally - Police Statement

The Police have issued the following statement. For the moment they are asking that no other comment be made. The text is as follows:

Police Scotland - Corporate Communications - East

Serious Road Collisions, Jim Clark Rally

Police Scotland are investigating two road collisions at the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders this afternoon.

A serious incident occured around 4pm when a rally car came off the road near Kelso and collided with spectators.

Emergency services attended and three people were pronounced dead at the scene. The fourth person was conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and is in a critical conditions.

The Jim Clark Rally was stopped at that time.

An earlier incident occured at 2.05pm, when a rally car collided with five people. Four people were treated at the scene and one person was conveyed to hospital wher they are in a serious condition.

Police are in attendance at the scene and the investigation into both collisions is at an early stage.

P.S. And this is from me. Apparently my Twitter account has been hacked, most of you know me and will recognise this. As I said the Police have asked that no third party comment be made until they have concluded their initial investigations.

Rally - McKenna leads

A fickle old game this rallying lark, eh? Daniel McKenna snatched the lead of the BRC event on Westruther when Osian Pryce finished the Westruther test with splayed front wheels. Whether he hit something or suffered a bad landing I don't know, but the wee car was looking just a tad baggy kneed when it came in to service. He's now 6 seconds behind McKenna - with 3 stages to go! Callum Black is still third and Garry Pearson is holding station in fourth.

Top six:
1, D McKenna, 1h 37m 49.9
2, O Pryce, 1h 37m 55.7
3, C Black, 1h 42m 18,9
4, G Pearson, 1h 44m 04.4
5, C Beattie, 1h 46m 07.6
6, C Davies, 1h 46m 10.4

In the National event Steve Simpson continues to lead Damien Cole with the gap stretching by another couple of seconds to 29. "It's not Steve I'm worried about," said second placed Cole, "it's young Taylor, go and tell him to slow down!"

When asked if he could make the Fiesta go any faster, Peter Taylor replied: "I', trying as hard as I can," and then Dad turned up with a new set of tyres. Looks like he's going for it over the final three stages.

As for Simpson: "I've got nothing left, but I can't afford to lift off, Damian and Peter are still right there."

Barry Groundwater has dropped back, the Lancer sporting a new set of scars to the front and rear o/s corners: "We had a 200 yard moment this morning, then a big spin over a yump this afternoon," said Barry, "both on the driver's side!" Alistair Inglis is 8th with Donnie MacDonald 9th and Barry has dropped to 10th.

Top six:
1, S Simpson, 1h 12m 28.0
2, D Cole, 1h 12m 57.3
3, P Taylor, 1h 13m 01.8
4, N Simpson, 1h 13m 20.9
5, S Bowen, 1h 14m 26.1
6, J Stone, 1h 14m 38.8

Rally - Pryce increase

Osian Pyce Has managed to eke out a wee bit more of lead on Daniel McKenna after 13 stages, but that still only equates to a margin of less than 4 seconds. And Garry Pearson is still keeping Callum Black honest, the Peugeot just 1m 20 secs behind the third placed Citroen, and that's despite a loose grille and tattered front spoiler courtesy of a hard landing.

Top six:
1, O Pryce, 1h 22m 35.7
2, D McKenna, 1h 22m 39.2
3, C Black, 1h 26m 10.9
4, G Pearson, 1h 27m 30.2
5, C Beattie, 1h 29m 38.4
6, C Davis, 1h 29m 53.3

In the National event Steve Simpson continues to lead Damien Cole although the gap has eased out to 25 seconds after 13 stages. Peter Taylor has managed to take another second out of Cole after two stages to close the gap to 6 seconds. John Stone lost a place in those two: "The steering ia all over the place and the Launch Control's not working so we've lost shedloads of time."

The tarmac is warm, the sun is hot and the competition is scorching, what's not to like about this year's Jim Clark Rally?

Just don't ask Euan Thorburn. The oil light came on in the Focus and Andy Horne had to switch off his Focus in Edrom when it lost all power.

Apart from the mechanical failures, there has also been much flinging of cars into hedges, and apparently those big one tonne hay bales which mark the chicanes have a life of their own. You wouldn't believe the number of folk who said one jumped out on them. Hence the scars and black stripes down the flanks of many cars.

Top six:
1, S Simpson, 57m 42.0
2, D Cole, 58m 07.4
3, P Taylor, 58m 13.8
4, N Simpson, 58m 34.0
5, S Bowen, 59m 19.2
6, J Stone, 59m 26.4

Rally - Trouble for some

Using this morning's mini 'Challenge' event a shakedown for tomorrow's Reivers Rally, Mike Faulkner has stopped on the first stage with clutch trouble. But David Bogie and Jock Armstrong have stopped too. Looks some serious work ahead today for the teams back at service. Still, better happening here than on the first stage tomorrow!

Rally - Pryce bump

Osian Pyce still leads the BRC part of the Jim Clark Rally after 11 stages this morning, despite a wee woopsie which may have damaged the steering, but this will be checked at service and is causing him no concern. That has allowed Daniel McKenna to close the gap to one second, and there's still \ heckuva long way to go.

Callum Black is still third with top Scot, Garry Pearson in fourth. In the BRC Challenge Richard Sykes is having a real old ding don with Ross Hunter, the pair swapping seconds depending on the nature of the stages.

Dangerous Des Campbell is third and although he had the car up for sale before the rally - he says he's keeping it now. He's loving it out there.
Top six:
1, O Pryce, 1h 07m 04.1
2, D McKenna, 1h 07m 05.7
3, C Black, 1h 09m 51.1
4, G Pearson, 1h 10m 37.5
5, C Beattie, 1h 12m 37.6
6, C Davis, 1h 12m 42.2

In the National event Steve Simpson continues to lead Damien Cole by 22 seconds but after a cracking start in the Saturday morning suinshine, Peter Taylor has closed the gap to Cole to 7 seconds.
Neil Simpson is still fourth and although he claims this is just a test for the car ahead of the European Championship round at Ypres next month, he giving it plenty. He is in fact running the new ERC control tyres on this event just to see what they are like.

Barry Groundwater is top Scot in  (apart from young Taylor who is nearly Scottish) 7th place ahead of Simon Mauger and Alistair Inglis who set a stunning time over Edrom this morning. He said: This rally is better than sex". Barry said: "At his age, anything is better than sex!"

But Barry has a job to do. He's going to take a photo of the scorchio sun blessed showground service area and send it to The Sheriff who is over in Barbados for the Rally Festival. All that way for sun and rum and rallying, and he could have had it all here in Kelso for a fraction of the cost.

Top six:
1, S Simpson, 42m 38.4
2, D Cole, 43m 00.9
3, P Taylor, 43m 07.8
4, N Simpson, 43m 32,8
5, J Stone, 43m 49.4
6, S Bowen, 44m 03.1

Rally - Broken clevis

Sounding more like a something you'd take to A&E, this is similar to the part which broke on Euan Thorburn's Focus last night. The clevis pin is what secures the hub to the track rod end (Haynes Manuals please excuse the lack of technical jargon) and this is what snapped. According to one mechanic, sorry, team technician, you have to drill the old bolt out, screw in a new one and use four new mounting bolts to re-attach it. Apparently, it's a doddle. The other option is to fit a new one, but with the cost somewhere in the region of four figures, 'yer no gaunae waant tae dae that'. This is not Euan's actual broken one, this just happens to belong to another team which has a couple of spares!

Now did anyone out there actually know that? Or is this Facebook service now becoming educational as well as informative? Do you think I'd qualify for a training grant from the Government?

Rally - Revised top ten

Top Ten Nationals at the Start of Leg 2:
1, S Simpson, 22m 08.5
2, D Cole, 22m 21.7
3, P Taylor, 22m 50.1
4, N Simpson, 22m 51.9
5, J Stone, 22m 57.8
6, S Mauger, 23m 01.2
7, S Bowen, 23m 03.3
8, A Inglis, 23m 04.5
9, B Groundwater, 23m 04.6
10, D Atkinson, 23m 09.0

Apologies to Simon Mauger, I had Barry groundwater 6th at the finish last night but after a quick recount (and a couple of slight stage delays) more time cards appeared. Barry's still in the top ten but Alistair Inglis is going well.

Steve Bannister is still going after some bodywork and front suspension work overnight. He went off in Abbey last night after nudging a bale with the front n/s corner. What he didn't realise was that the impact had bent a steering arm and the bottom compression strut. And he only found out at the next tight right when it gave way as he turned and ploughed straight on.

Spectators helped to dismantle the front corner, he levered the strut straight-ish, re-fitted it and drove out the stage. Obviously with huge time loss though.

He's driving Matthew Robinson's car but when asked how he felt, Matthew said: "I couldn't give a monkey's, I feel for Steve and Louise. This is the car's first time on tar, and if Steve can do that to it - imagine what I would have done!" Nice one Matthew.

Rally - Pryce leads

Osian Pryce still leads the BRC event but the gap is still just 6 seconds ahead of McKenna. Time for bed.

Top six after 8 (of 18) stages:
1, O Pryce, 45m 49.9
2, D McKenna, 45m 55.2
3, C Black, 47m 52.4
4, G Pearson, 48m 06.6
5, C Davies, 49m 32.1
6, C Beattie, 49m 48.3

Friday 30 May 2014

Rally - Simpson leads Nat

In the National event which finished the first Leg tonight after 4 stages, Steve Simpson will go to bed with a 13 second cushion over Damien Cole. Peter Taylor is third ahead of Neil Simpson.

Steve Simpson commented: "It's quite slippy in places out there. We had a good few moments on the shiny tar. We had the tail out a good few times like a MkII Escort. The older you get, the dafter you get."

Damien Cole echoed those sentiments: "On one downhill into a square R we were totally sideways in Abbey St Bathans. There were a couple of other places where I thought we had a puncture for sure, but ti was just conditions. Still, not bad for a couple of old boys scrapping for the lead!"

Peter Taylor is going well but just a tad frustrated: "I can't keep up with the power cars. The Fiesta handles well but we lose out on he fast stuff. Then the brakes started to fade towards the end of Abbey."

David Hardie is going well in the top ten: "I'm pleased, but still a bit rusty. We could have gone quicker but I'm happy with my pace at the moment. We're just slackening off the suspension at the moment. We stiffened it up at the test last week, but it's skipping on the fast stuff tonight so we'll soften it a bit for tomorrow."

As for Keith Robathan, his biggest problem is with his co-driver, or his accent to be more precise: "I can understand him when he's talking slowly but when we speed up and he's delivering the notes faster I can hardly make him out." Understandable when you realise that Jim Haugh comes from the deep south west and speaks with a Galloway-Irish accent. It's their first time together but they are getting on OK.

Alex Laffey had a right rear puncture in Abbey and had stall on the start line of Tweedside when the Launch Control failed.

Top six:
1, S Simpson, 22m 08.5
2, D Cole, 22m 21.7
3, P Taylor, 22m 50.1
4, N Simpson, 22m 51.9
5, J Stone, 22m 57.8
6, B Groundwater, 23m 07.6

Rally - Pryce leads BRC

Osian Pyce led the BRC part of the Jim Clark Rally after 4 stages On Friday night from Daniel McKenna, but by just 4 seconds. Callum Black was third and breaking the Citroen domination was the fourth placed Peugeot 208 of Garry Pearson. Sad to report though, John MacCrone is out. He was spotted fire extinguisher in had on the second stage after the engine failed in the Fiesta. Jonny Milner is out though, he thinks the Fiat has holed a piston.

Top six:
1, O Pryce, 22m 53.2
2, D McKenna, 22m 57.3
3, C Black, 23m 47.0
4, G Pearson, 24m 08.3
5, D Carney, 24m 39.6
6, C Beattie, 24m 51.0

Rally - Raring to go

It's late afternoon and Kelso town centre is fair hoachin' with cars, vans and trailers and the showground is packed. This is not your average Friday after-work traffic jams. It's the same in Duns, cars are already parking up in the streets and folk are picking  their vantage points for the Jim Clark Rally which blasts off from the town Square tonight at 7pm.

There's a heckuva noise in Duns too, but what a wonderful noise. The veteran and vintage car  drivers are gathering in Newtown Street ahead of their parade later this evening.

By law the roads being used for the stage through Duns have to be closed 2 hours before the first competitive rally car, so the organisers have arranged a bit of pre-rally entertainment. Shortly after 5pm around 30 V&V cars will drive through the stage. All have been warned that they are not competing, but boys will be boys.

Leading the field is double British Touring Car Champion (and ex rally driver) John Cleland in his gorgeous D Type Jaguar.

There are 8 stages tonight including two through Duns, the first at 7 and the second run at 9.25pm. After each Duns run  the cars tackle Abbey St Bathans, Tweedside and Fogo, with 10 more stages tomorrow starting at 8am in Kelso.

Full info in the Rally Mag at:

Rally - JCR tonight

There must be a rally on somewhere. This pre-production 'works'  prototype was spotted out recceing ahead of this weekend's Jim Clartk Rally which starts tonight in Duns at 7pm. Makes you wonder who the 'works' driver is though, eh?

The shakedown passed off (almost) with out incident this morning just outside Kelso. A certain white Honda Civic went hedgetrimming, but we'll save the driver's blushes. Suffice to say, it's mainly cosmetic but it will need a windscreen before tonight.

Had a chat with Damien Cole. He had the Focus nearly flat out in a couple of places this morning but a guy with his experience gets dialled in pretty quickly. He' running Epynt settings for this event and he went 2 seconds quicker on his second run than he did on his first and 3 seconds quicker on is third.

When I asked how fast the Focus was geared for he said the data showed that the fastest he achieved on the Manx was 119.4 mph, and when I asked if there was anything left, young Elliot Edmondson (co-driver) piped up: "That was fast enough!"

Just wait till he hits the Berwickshire roads!

And here's a name to conjure with. One to strike fear into the hearts of the timid and inspire the bold, the brave and the foolhardy. Bring it on.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Rally - MacCrone confirms

It has been confirmed that John MacCrone will contest this weekend's Jim Clark Rally, but only after he was given the green light following the late completion of repairs to his Castrol-liveried M-Sport Ford Fiesta R200.

John explained: “At the Manx National Rally a fortnight ago, we were leading our class and eyeing a top 10 finish overall when we suffered problems with the engine and had to retire."

"The guys have been working on the engine since then and we only got the all-clear on Tuesday that we could run in the Jim Clark. We know the pace the Fiesta has, and again I've got to thank everyone at M-Sport in Cockermouth, and CA1 Sport in Carlisle, for working so hard to get me on to the start ramp.”

"Matching the pace of the two top seeds, Osian Pryce and Daniel McKenna, will be tough, but I've a good knowledge of the Tarmac conditions on the Jim Clark, so hopefully we can put together another strong performance."

Rally - Possible winners?

Duns co-driver Claire Mole is out for a hurl this weekend with Neil Simpson in a Skoda Fabia S2000 car. It’s 14 years since Simpson contested this event and he’s using it as practice for the Ypres Rally in Belgium next month, the next round of the FIA European Rally Championship.

Neil has contested the Jim Clark Rally twice before, winning his class both times. In 1999 he finished a giant-killing 9th overall in a Volkswagen Golf TDi. This was the car in which he also finished a superb 2nd overall on the Manx International that year behind Martin Rowe in the Renault Megane Maxi and ahead of Raimund Baumschlager in the Volkswagen Golf Kit Car. No’ bad, eh.

In 2000 he finished 5th overall on the Jim Clark in a GrpN winning Mitsubishi Evo-6. More recently, he and Claire finished 1st in class and 2nd overall on February’s North West Stages, 1st in class and 7th overall on Rallye Le Touquet in France in March, and were 5th overall on the Circuit of Ireland Rally last month.

Neil said: “For us, the Jim Clark Rally is very much a test for the forthcoming Ypres Rally. We haven’t driven the Fabia S2000 in the wet, so we’re hoping it’s going to be raining in the Scottish borders. It’s unusual for a driver to say that before a Tarmac rally, but it very often rains during the Ypres Rally, and when it does conditions out there are extremely difficult. Wet roads on the Jim Clark Rally it will allow us to find a good wet-weather set-up for the car, which we can then take to Belgium and use if needed.”

It’s obviously a while since Neil has been here as it doesn’t rain in Scotland any more, although sometimes the fresh air gets a bit wet.

Rally - Happy camping

It’s a bit late for this weekend’s Jim Clark Rally but the nation which brought you the Swiss army knife, have done the same for campers. When I first saw their original (bigger) module I was fascinated, but now the ‘RoomBox’ folk have brought out an even more compact version for smaller cars.

It will never replace a camper van, but for those folks who follow rallies and travel long distances this could provide the ideal alternative to sleeping in the car seats. Not only does this fold out to make a flat double/twin bed, it has a couple of picnic tables built in. And if you buy one of those tent things out of Halfords to hang over the tailgate, then you’re under canvas too.

It really is ingenious and there is a bigger version of the RoomBox for estate cars and 4x4s which includes a basin and shower!

The only drawback is cost. Prices start from 1645 Euros, but how much do you spend on B&Bs following rallies? The added bonus is you can take it abroad and stick it in your hired car. Now there’s a thought, Acropolis Rally or Le Mans on the cheap. The money you save on accommodation could be spent on even more Vin Ordinaire and snails on toast.

The pictures show the system in use in a Honda Jazz which ain’t the biggest of cars, but it gives you an idea of how it works. You’ll still need your own wee stove and pots and pans and a coolbox for the sausages, but at least you’ll sleep easier at night.

Does anyone remember the good old days of walking into a forest on a crisp November morning to see the ‘proper’ Lombard RAC Rally, or the week long trek around the RSAC Scottish Rally, to be greeted with the smell of bacon and sausages being cooked on wee gas stoves by those who had parked overnight? And the reason they were hunched and crouched awkwardly over their stoves had nothing to do with the size of the stove sitting on the ground or their humphy backed ancestors. It had all to do with stiff joints, creaking bones and being knackered after a night of fidgeting sleeplessness spent in the car seats. We all did it, and we all survived, eh.

If anyone out there has got one of these RoomBox things or ever used one, what do you think? I could be tempted just to re-live the good times.

There’s more info on their website if you want to have a nosey:

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Rally - Good ol' days

Hard to think that once upon a time this was a sexy beast. Even harder to believe that it was 40 years ago that it first made its public appearance. Coincidentally, it was Vauxhall’s first production car to beat the 10 second 0 to 60mph sprint!
Vauxhall celebrated this birthday when the Droop Snoot Group had a gathering at Vauxhall Motor’s Heritage Centre in Luton. This included an extra 13 recently restored Firenzas in the gathering of 40 of these iconic cars.

Anyway, it brought back memories. It was the Firenza which launched Jim McRae on his rallying career. He first rallied a 4 door Cortina in 1974 then a supercharged MkI Escort before turning to Vauxhall in 1975, on the basis that it would stand out from the flocks of Fords in the forests in that time.

It worked. He attracted support from SMT in Perth and with his brand new Group 1 Firenza beat the two DTV works Group 2 cars on the Lindisfarne Rally. And the rest, as they say, is history.

On that basis, Jim’s appearance in this year’s Historic Rally Championship in a Vauxhall Firenza will be well worth watching. Don’t miss his next outing on the Scottish Rally next month.

Rally - Biggles in Duns

No, it’s not Biggles, it’s only double British Touring Car Champion, John Cleland. Although an accomplished BTCC racer (and inadvertent, unintentional, entirely innocent mobile panel beater) JC did undertake a full season of rallying way back in the mid 70s between racing commitments. And in that year his main claim to fame was that he knocked down more trees than the Forestry Commission.

Anyway, that’s his rallying credentials established so it’s only fitting that he is leading the parade through Duns ahead of the rally cars on Friday evening. The organisers of the Jim Clark and Reivers Rallies have really gone to town this year, and in the lull between the Road being officially closed at 5pm and the first rally car officially starting the event at 7pm there will be a parade of historic and iconic cars.

John Cleland will lead the parade in his D Type Jaguar followed by Nick Rossi (from Hexham) in his C Type Jaguar. Representing Knockhill Race Circuit, will be the 1971 Scottish Rally Champion, Bob Watson who will drive one of the circuit’s ‘E Type Experience’ cars, a 1967 series 1 Jaguar E Type.

Adding a touch more motoring history and mechanical glamour will be members of the Vintage & Veteran Sports Car Clubs whose members will be driving a variety of historic cars, from a 1919 Lagonda to a 1976 Ecosse Hillman Imp.

And bringing the whole show to a conclusion, former Mitsubishi Rally Team Manager and local farmer, Andrew Cowan has allowed Michael Deans to drive Tommi Makkinen’s World Rally Championship winning Mitsubishi Lancer.

In other words a gentle motoring warm-up ahead of the ear-bashing, eyeball searing stuff that is rallying in the streets and closed public roads. All I need now is a ‘double cone 99’ out of the cafe in the Square and a front row seat.

Monday 26 May 2014

Rally - Test the Rest

Pic by Tom Coffield

Amongst the cars and drivers who turned up at ‘Test the Rest’  last Saturday ahead of this weekend’s Jim Clark Rally was Garry Pearson in his Peugeot 208 R2. The test was vital for two reasons. He didn’t finish the Pirelli and the Peugeot suspension which has been sent over is based on foreign road surfaces.

Using the new relief road at the Rest and Be Thankful north of Arrochar, the tarmac test session ha attracted quite a bit of interest and Tom Coffield MkII took a few foties.
Brings back memories, eh?

According to Garry: “We have been given tarmac suspension set-ups from Peugeot Sport in France however most of these relate to French, Italian and Belgian roads as this car has not really competed in mainland UK on tar, so a test was important and I learned a lot.”

And here’s another thing, Garry drives part of the Duns Stage every morning to work. Does that count as recce-ing? On the other hand if he does have a woopsie there, he’ll never live it down.