|Paul Ballantyne - not Guy Martin!|
There was no mobile signal at all at Crail yesterday so this wee report is a bit late, but still well worth recording as Paul Ballantyne and Graham Bruce won their first ever national title, the 2014 BLUE Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship. John Rintoul and Yvonne Armour won the Kingdom Stages Rally but perhaps the even bigger talking point was the weather. Blue skies and sunshine over Crail - in November!
Ross Fernie took an early lead on the first two stages: "We were at Kames a couple of weeks ago and came away with a good wet setup," said Ross, "that helped us on the first couple of stages but once it dried out, the bigger cars were able to get their power down."
Rintoul seized the lead after two stages with Bruce Edwards slow off the mark in the damp conditions. After 3 stages he had demoted Fernie to third with Neil Ogilvie in fourth driving Gary Adam's Escort Mk2.
Alistair Inglis was already out, the Lotus firing on only 3 cylinders, Bob Grant's gearbox failed on the Subaru, Quintin Milne's Lancer suffered a transfer box failure after a puncture and Jim Sharp's Lancer blew a head gasket.
Then Rintoul nearly chucked it away on the sixth test: "I spun just after the start. It was just cold tyres, but it allowed Bruce to close the gap - with one stage to go."
He dropped 7 seconds to the Darrian with Edwards just losing out at the finish by 10 seconds. Meanwhile Donnie MacDonald was fighting back after an ECU failure on the first two stages but there was no catching Fernie and the two finished 30 seconds apart. Ogilvie managed to hang on to fifth and top 2WD car ahead of Andrew Gallacher giving his sponsor's Escort Cosworth an airing rounding off the top six.
Going into this final round of the BLUE series, Ian Forgan had a 4 point lead over Paul Ballantyne in the race for the 2014 title. Ballantyne needed to finish ahead of his rival with at least four registered competitors between them. A tall order given the pace of Forgan's 2 litre Ka over the past year, but a red mist descended inside the Ford during Stage 5: "It was my own fault. I was catching a car approaching the merge," said Ian, "and I got past him and went Right while Kathryn was shouting at me all the way - Left, Left, Left!"
The four minute penalty dropped Forgan to 65th place leaving Paul Ballantyne and Graham Bruce to complete a nerve wracking two more stages to clinch the title in their Renault Clio.
"Ian's a terrific driver," said Paul afterwards, "I really didn't think there was much hope at the start of the day." But as we all know, that's rallying.
1, John Rintoul/Yvonne Armour (Hyundai Accent WRC) 48m 28s
2, Bruce Edwards/Jim Smith (Darrian GTR) 48m 38s
3, Ross Fernie/Craig Simkiss (Subaru Impreza STi) 49m 23s
4, Donnie MacDonald/Ross MacDonald (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 49m 53s
5, Neil Ogilvie/Gordon Adam (Ford Escort Mk2) 50m 16s
6, Andrew Gallacher/Tom Blackwood (Ford Escort Cosworth) 50m 22s
7, Tom Morris/Colin Harkness (MG Metro 6R4) 50m 45s
8, Nigel Feeney/John Frew (Subaru Impreza B13) 50m 50s
9, Alan Gardiner/Robin Nicolson (Ford Escort Mk1) 51m 04s
10, Lee Hastings/Drew Sturrock (Subaru Impreza) 51m 24s