Friday 31 October 2014

Rally - Cool stickers

How cool is this? The guys behind the new ‘Faster Scotland’ motor sports magazine also have a vehicle livery design and graphic company called ‘Evolution Customs’ based in Rosyth, near Edinburgh. They can do everything from single one-off stickers to full vehicle wraps, and are offering deals to owners of rally and race cars. If you buy a full wrap from them they will maintain it during the season i.e. if you dinkle a wing, they will offer a repair service as part of the deal. And they’re not awfy dear, so it’s worth a chat. They will do everything from roadcars and vans, to trucks and trailers, but they really love their competition cars.

In return for a wee favour, they printed off some really tasteful wee stickers for the online magazine. See what you think. I think the yellow goes well with the white van and the white car – or maybe it matches my eyes. I’ve already had one request for a pair of stickers for a friend’s car. And he’s tickled pink, or yellow. Maybe I should order a bundle. Desirable items? Or not?

Check them out here:

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Rally - Kingdom Stages

That's the full entry list for this Saturday's Kingdom Stages Rally at Crail in the on-line mag now. It's the final round of the BLUE Scottish Tarmack Championship and there's a few surprises in the huge 100 car entry. There are 8 stages with the first getting underway at 08.30 Hrs. In addition to the Entry List there's a wee bit of advice about appropriate wearing apparel for the unique climate in this area.

Rally - Safety Review

The Motor Sport Safety Review Group published its initial findings ahead of the Mull Rally earlier this month and I commented on those on the Blog and Facebook, but a number of people have enquired if they could see a full copy. It's not easily found on the Scottish Government website, so I have printed the Ministerial Statement and the full text of the initial Report from the Group in the on-line mag. It'll take a bit of reading so set aside some extra time for your next tea and shortbread break.

Although a much more comprehensive review and recommendations are due to be published before the end of the year, the positive tone of these initial findings is encouraging - more common sense than knee-jerk reaction, so fingers crossed.

Naturally, there is no guidance or advice regarding the funding of any proposals, but hopefully they will take into account the fact that motor sport is primarily an amateur enterprise and with rallying in particular there is a problem in establishing turnstiles and paybooths at forestry gates. Income is therefore hard to generate, so any additional costs would have to be passed on!

If they do come up with any expensive ideas then the sport will need some form of financial help, perhaps through a Sports Council grant or with practical help in the application for a direct Lottery Funding grant.

Monday 27 October 2014

Rally - Tunnock's WRC

The Tunnock’s World Rally Team signed off the second year of their WRC campaign in Spain at the weekend with a  podium finish. Ireland's Robert Barrable and our own Stuart Loudon finished 16th overall and third in WRC2 with the CA1 Sport prepared Ford Fiesta R5.

“It’s been a great weekend,” said Stuart, “From the opening stages on Friday on the gravel we have had the pace and consistency to have held third place throughout the competition.  Not only that we have been quicker on every stage than we were last year. Given that we haven’t been on a WRC event since March we are really proud of that fact.” 

“On the 2nd last stage on Friday there was a real bang about 4km from the end of the stage and we thought we had a puncture but on checking there was nothing wrong with the tyres.  However, 7 or 8 km into the last stage the power steering failed.  Being an electronic part we tried the old computer trick of switching it off and switching it on again to reset it, but it didn’t work,” explained Stuart on the only problem they had all weekend.

The car is now up for sale. That means no Tunnock's Mull or Tunnock's WRC next year. It's not just national rallying that will be in mourning, the rest of the world will mourn with us.

Rally - WRC in Spain

Following victory in Spain at the weekend, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have become only the fourth duo since 1977 to have successfully defended their WRC title. Seven victories and two second places have secured the title for the VW team ahead of Rally Wales GB.

As for Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, their rally was all but over on SS3. After starting the day with a stage win, two punctures scuppered the Citroen team's chances. Unable to continue with only one spare tyre on board, Kris had no choice but to retire for the day.

Afterwards Kris recalled: “We went fastest on the first stage of the day. On the next stage, after three or four kilometres, I went off the line, ran wide and put a wheel off the road on a fifth-gear corner. I didn’t think that I had lost any time, but I felt that the tyre was beginning to deflate. We therefore decided to stop to change the tyre. When we set off again, we were still in the dust kicked up by the other cars. The team asked us to park at the side of the road to let Mads past. Towards the end of the stage, I realised that I’d also picked up a puncture at the front. As we only had one spare tyre, we couldn’t continue.”

The crew rejoined on Saturday for Day 2 of the rally but with a 20-minute penalty, with Kris adding: “It’s always difficult to get back into the swing of things after rejoining under Rally 2 rules. But it’s also an opportunity to learn about the stages. The result isn’t really all that important now. So I’m only concentrating on the performances. I’m trying to make the most of every kilometre and every corner!”

At the finish Kris looked back: “The double puncture at the start of the rally, with only one spare tyre on board, has proven very costly. But we had the chance to rejoin the race. We had to refocus and the times were very encouraging. It was important to show that we were on the pace with a few second places on the stages. That will also be useful for the future.”

Over in the M-Sport Ford camp Mikko Hirvonen was back on form, but team-mates Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt didn't fare quite so well. Having to accept Rally 2 regulations following a mistake on the first day of competition, the young Welshman was quick to put the disappointment behind him and used the rest of the rally to work on set-up and suspension settings.

Elfyn said: It's been a difficult rally for us. Friday was very difficult and the two days on Tarmac were okay, but maybe not what we were expecting based on the previous events. I made too many silly mistakes on Friday. If we had managed to stay on the road, then I think I would have been happy with the pace but in reality we weren't in any sort of a battle after that. Then on Tarmac we had a chance to play around with the set-up to find out what worked well and what didn't work quite so well. Of course we've learnt a lot and as a result we'll be sure to come back stronger next year."

"Now our attention turns to Wales and our home event. The preparation starts now and I'm determined to end the season with a positive result."

Malcolm Wilson added: "It's fair to say that Elfyn  was a little disappointed with the way the weekend unfolded for him. Unlike Mikko, he struggled to find a set-up that best suited his driving style and had been on the back foot because of that. It's something that comes with experience, but he felt a lot more comfortable today and was able to secure an additional manufacturers' point for the team which could make all the difference at the final round in Wales."

"With just 12 points separating second to fourth in the battle for second place in the manufacturers' title, I think that it is going to be a very exciting end to the season. If we can secure fourth place in the drivers' standings along with second in the manufacturers', it would be an absolutely fantastic achievement for the team."

1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:46:44.6
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +11.3
3. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:42.2
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:13.3
5. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:22.2
6. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:01.0
7. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +4:02.9
8. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:06.8
9. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +9:12.4
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC) +12:39

14, Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta Rs Wrc) +13:15.0
16, Robert Barrable / Stuart Loudon (Ford Fiesta R5) +17:12.3
19, Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen Ds3 Wrc) +27:36.0
22, Eamon Boland / Michael Morrissey (Subaru Impreza R4) +34:15.8
27, Tom Cave / Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R2) +42:10.4

Sunday 26 October 2014

Rally - Armstrong wins

Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe won the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally today, the final round of the 2014 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship. Going into the final stage he was lying 9 seconds behind Dave Weston and Kirsty Riddick, and came out in the lead. David Bogie was second and Desi Henry third.

"That last stage, I was on the button," said Jock, "but I nearly didn't come out of the spectator special fifth stage. I was just a bit too quick into a downhill bend and wanted to hang the tail out for the spectators. I kept it well out - and nearly didn't get it back!"

Leading all the way till the final stage, Dave Weston fell victim to the tricky and technical Dalbeattie test which was slippery with rain and autumn leaves: "I just spun over a crest and slid the nose into a ditch," said Dave, "it needed spectators to heave it out but we dropped over 4 minutes."

David Bogie therefore grabbed second place and was happy with that: "That was a good day and just what we needed ahead of Rally Wales GB. We were learning new tyres and everything we did to the suspension worked out well, so a good day."

Desi Henry grabbed third having survived an electrical gremlin in SS4: "We just disconnected the Launch Control system, and it was fine after that", said Desi, "that was a really enjoyable day."

Dougal Brown scored his best SRC result with 4th place ahead of Mike Faulkner fighting back from his first stage turbo problem with Dale Robertson grabbing the Group N win on the last stage with 6th place overall. His earlier problem was down to a missing bolt in the rear suspension, so he was back on the case for the final stages. "I don't know where he got that from," said Fraser Wilson, losing out on the class win by 3 seconds, "we lost our centre diff in that last stage but I didn't think Dale was going to catch us!"

Weston finished 8th ahead of Peter Taylor and Andew Gallacher.

Full report in Wednesday's 'Motorsport News'.

Leaderboard after 6 (of 6) stages:
1, J Armstrong, 46m 43s
2, D Bogie, 47m 21s
3, D Henry, 48m 10s
4, D Brown, 49m 04s
5, M Faulkner, 49m 25s
6, D Robertson, 49m 30s
7, F Wilson, 49m  33s
8, D Weston, 49m 37s
9, P Taylor, 49m 39s
10, A Gallacher, 49m 47s

Rally - Weston in control

There's no real change at the top of the leaderboard in today's Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally but there's quite a shake-up going on down below. Dave Weston continues to lead looking remarkably cool and unflummoxed now with 15 seconds on Jock Armstrong.

"I thought  had a rear puncture on that last one," said David, "it was moving about more on right handers, but when we got to the finish, it was fine!"

Perhaps that's just indicative of conditions today - the official word is 'dreich'. It's also cold and if there are any 'typos' I apologise, my fingers are frozen.

Jock doesn't think he can do anything about Weston but Bogie took a second out of him on that last one, so when David pulled into the Control, Jock was out looking at his tyres and going tut-tut (trying to out-psyche the boy!) but David was looking remarkably chipper: "We were told the Hards would be too hard for today before the rally," said David, "but it looks as though the Softs are too soft!" Even after a road run into service the tyres were still warm to the touch and the tread blocks could be squeezed between finger and thumb.

Dougal Brown is up to fifth: "Those last two were really fast," smiled Dougal while Peter Taylor was looking a lot happier too. "I thought my times were sh*t in that last one," said Peter, "but the time was good, maybe we are getting to grips with the Notes after all. I'm really enjoying it now."

Fraser Wilson is up to 6th but Dale Robertson is dropping back: "The rear end is wandering about," said Dale, "something's broken so we'll need to have a look at service."

Gareth Sayers is up to 8th in his Evo7 and grinning from ear to ear: "It's just great out there, we're sliding about everywhere."

Robertson is 8th and Mike Faulkner has got himself back into the top ten after his earlier troubles but now has a few more: "The throttle is sticking open," said Mike, "at least it makes you go faster - just at the wrong times though." Andrew Gallacher rounds off the top ten and is apparently running a 10 yr old set of Dunlops: "I got them cheap!"

Craig McMiken won't be going any further. He has shortened the front end of his Lancer against some scenery, which was a pity, he was going well this morning and Desi Henry has disappeared. The Lancer had a problem in SS4 when the Launch Control jammed on and it's doubtful if he can get the thing fixed. Liam Regan's Peugeot failed to come out of SS4 but we don't know why. Wayne Sisson has dropped out of the top ten, but nothing major: "The windscreen misted up half way through that long one," he said, "and we couldn't see a thing."

Niall McCullagh came into service in a  a bit of a flurry: "We got a puncture in that last one and broke a rear suspension arm," he said, "we also hit a rock and knocked the tracking out." Still, on  a cold, wet Galloway day like this it will keep the service crews warm as they rush to get the cars fixed and on their way.

Top 2WD is the incredible Toyota Starlet of Shane McGirr in 12th place ahead of the MkIIs of David Crossen and Steve Bannister.

Leaderboard after 4 (of 6) stages:
1, D Weston, 35m 13s
2, J Armstrong, 35m 28s
3, D Bogie, 35m 50s
4, D Brown, 37m 00s
5, P Taylor, 37m 33s
6, F Wilson, 37m 42s
7, G Sayers, 37m 43s
8, D Robertson, 37m 44s
9, M Faulkner, 37m 45s
10, A Gallacher, 37m 50s

Rally - Weston leads

It's the final round of the 2014 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship today and after the first two stages on the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, Dave Weston Jnr has taken a six second lead over Jock Armstrong.

The first two stages were dry but it's raining now so conditions are changing. Weston was perfectly happy with his pace in the Melvyn Evans prepped Impreza running in exactly the same trim as it was when he won last weekend's Cambrian Rally. As for Armstrong, he reckons he blew it at the start of SS2: "There was a 10 minute delay when we got there," said Jock, "and I just went off the boil. When the Marshall did the countdown, 5, 4, 3 2, 1 - I was sitting in neutral. That meant I had to wait get it in gear get the revs up and get away, and that knocked my confidence a wee bit through the stage. If we lose by 6 seconds today I've only myself to blame!"

He might only be third but David Bogie is a happy lad: "We've got a deal to run DMack on Rally Wales GB so I'm trying them out today. It's all about finding grip levels. The car is down on power compared to R5+ spec but it's still tricky to find the limits of adhesion on new tyres. I've never tried DMack before."

Desi Henry is top Northern Irish visitor in fourth place in his Evo9 but was cursing (ever so politely): "We got a rear puncture on both those stages, on the same corner too," he said, "it didn't cost us a lot of time but we don't know how we got them. We didn't hit anything."

Dougal Brown is fifth in his Evo9 but admitted to a "near miss' in SS2 on L6 into R6 and Liam Regan rounds off the top six in his Peugeot 206 4WD.

Peter Taylor is 8th in the Fiesta but is struggling with the Notes. He hasn't down the Galloway Hills before and he's more used to making his own Notes so it's all a bit alien. Mike Faulkner lost time on the first stage when a turbo pipe came off on the start line, although he got it fixed for SS2 but "It was me that was off this time!" he said.

Leaderboard after 2 (of 6) stages:
1, D Weston, 17m 40s
2, J Armstrong, 17m 46s
3, D Boigie, 18m 07s
4, D Henry, 18m 28s
5, D Brown, 18m 42s
6, L Regan, 18m 49s
7, D Robertson, 18m 55s
8, P Taylor, 19m 03s
9, M McCulloch, 19m 03s
10, W Sisson, 19m 04s

Friday 24 October 2014

Rally - Service vans

Service vehicles ... If you’re on the look-out for a new Service Van then you might want to keep an eye open for used ‘welfare vehicles’. These are large vans with office/working accommodation built-in, plus such things as water heaters, sinks and hand-washing facilities, cookers and/or microwaves, power inverters and split twin battery system and some even have a chemical loo in the back.

Naturally the interior can be modified to suit your own needs, but the advantage here is, that you get a lot of kit built in that might just be useful.

I had to attend a photocall last week in Yorkshire where Nixon Hire were presenting a used 3 litre diesel Citroen Relay ex-hire fleet ‘welfare van’ to Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team based at Great Ayton. They needed this for a Mobile Command post after their previous 20 year old vehicle failed its MOT! Naturally the team were delighted with the one year old vehicle and made the most of its existing fittings to install their own equipment.

Anyway, just a thought.

By the way, that's the thousand metre high Roseberry Topping in the background on the northern edge of the North York Moors National Park. They call it the 'mini-Matterhorn' locally because of its shape and climbing difficulty.

Fortunately I resisted any attempts at Scottish humour versus English mountains, although I did ask one of the members of the Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team how many mountains they had rescued in the past year. Some folk just have no sense of humour.