Saturday 28 February 2015

Rally - News roundup

Safety Delegates, green beans, colouring-in books and lost specs, just another day out in the Highlands ... News and Gossip from the Snowman Rally.…/…/28-feb-snowman-news-gossip/

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Rally - Safety Review

Last night the Scottish Government's 'Motor Sport Safety Review' group presented its findings and recommendations to a specially convened meeting of the Scottish Association of Car Clubs.

The Forestry Commission and MSA also made presentations to the 120 plus representatives of Scotland's motor sport clubs.

There's a full report of proceedings in the on-line mag now, so have a read. It's quite long, but if you think this is important, then by all means share the link.

The sport now has a year to start implementing change, and it needs the help and support of everyone who longs for the song of a BDA in the forest, or the grunt of a flat four barking in all its glory.

The future of the sport is in our hands.

Monday 23 February 2015

Rally - Snowman Classes

That's all the News from all the Classes on the Snowman Rally now posted in the magazine. The reason for the rush this weekend was that I had informed all the Scottish media outlets that they could have free access to this information until such times as the Championship gets a full-time press officer on the case.

I'll get the News & Gossip collated now and put it up later in the week, but I'll need to keep out of Peter Foy's way, after he let slip something he'd rather you all didn't know about. At least Mike was giggling afterwards.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Rally - Snowman report

That's the main report from yesterday's Snowman Rally in the Rally Mag now. Class Roundup will follow tomorrow. If yesterday's close competition is repeated over the next 7 rounds, we're in for a cracking season.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Rally - Armstrong wins

What a start to the season and what a finish to the Arnold Clark Thistle Snowman Rally. Going into the final 10 mile stage, Jock Armstrong had an 8 second lead over Mike Faulkner, but Mike was on a mission. Who knows how things might have turned out had Faulkner not suffered a puncture: "It was about a mile and a half from the end, I didn't feel we hit anything, but the tyre went down, and that was that," he said.

That allowed Bruce McCombie to score his best ever result snatching the runner-up position from Faulkner on the final stage: "There was snow in that last stage, high up in the middle of the forest, but just in the middle of the road and at the edges so you just had to keep it tidy."

As for the winner: "I won the Galloway Hills last year and now this, what a start to the season. Mike was pushing hard, but so was I. That's rallying."

Donnie MacDonald finished fourth and Andrew Gallacher's times were good enough for fifth place but a 2 minute road penalty cost him dear and he dropped to 8th. Even so, it proved that his new Fiesta Evolution has the makings of a very competitive machine first time out.

Barry Groundwater therefore finished fifth with Mark McCulloch making an excellent showing first time out in his new Lancer: "And there's more to come," he promised.

Quintin Milne missed out on a top ten finish when the gearlever snapped in the final stage and Chris Collie retired with engine failure just when a top ten finish was looking good.

Top 2WD was Malcolm Buchanan in his Mk2 in 14th place despite bending the propshaft with 5 miles to go in the final stage and Willie Stuart was second in 18th place in his Mk1.

Top Ten:
1, J Armstrong, 43m 59s
2, B McCombie, 44m 15s
3, M Faulkner, 44m 28s
4, D MacDonald, 44m 51s
5, B Groundwater, 45m 06s
6, M McCulloch, 45m 23s
7, S Sinclair, 45m 46s
8, A Gallacher, 46m 56s
9, J Rintoul, 47m 41s
10, R MacKay, 47m 50s

Rally - Armstrong leads

Jock Armstrong now leads the Snowman Rally after 3 of today's 5 stages. It would appear that Steven Clark has gone out on the third test at Strath Rory. David Bogie is out too. He was late into first service with clutch problems. These were unfixable in the time allowed so the Fiesta has been retired.

Fastest through that third test was Mike Faulkner, 23 seconds up on Armstrong, and this has promoted him to the runner-up spot ahead of Bruce McCombie. Fourth is the 'Highland Flyer' Donnie MacDonald from Shaun Sinclair and Mark McCulloch. In fact, less than one minute covers the top 7 at present.

The sun has gone down and the snow stopped earlier this morning so the third test was quite glaury and perhaps the top seeds won't be at so much of a disadvantage now, so there could well be some changes yet to come over the final two stages.

Scott MacBeth is out. The Nova now has 3 wheels instead of the 4 it started with and Ryan Weston beached the Proton. No damage but stuck fast.

Just one final point for now, the rally is running around 40 minutes late, just enuring that spects stay well back.

Rally - Clark leads

Steven Clark has take an early lead after two stages of today's Arnold Clark Thistle Snowman Rally, but has a mere 15 seconds in hand over Jock Armstrong and Bruce McCombie.

It would appear that David Bogie's earlier 'dubious' time for SS1 still stands. Apparently he had a couple of slight offs losing a few seconds each time in the snowy and icy conditions, but he was the fastest man in SS2. He currently lies 11th, 55 seconds behind the rally leader. If anyone can do it, Bogie can. Game on.

But just how bad are conditions? "It was really slippy all the way through the first stage," said Mike Faulkner, "and really slippy in places in Stage 2 - but you can't see the slippy bits. David (Bogie) had been off a couple of times, I could see his tracks in the snow,  but I could also see some gravel on top of the snow so I knew that there was grip underneath. Conditions should improve for the later runners, al though I was going as hard as I dared!"  

As ever Jock Armstrong was less politically correct than most: "I've got all these electronics on this thing, Launch Control and ALS and all that, but when I was sitting there on the start line of the first stage watching David and Mike go off and the sun glinting on the ice, I just thought, I'm not going to use any of this! It's really bad in places, but I'm enjoying it."

Sharing second place with Armstrong is Bruce McCombie: "It's really slidey. If its better for us, then it must be REALLY bad for them up front. In the second stage I was in too many ditches. I was erratic, trying too hard, I just need to calm down a bit."

Milne is off the pace with rear brake problems: "Nothing serious, it's a new car. The power and handling is fine, I'm just trying to sort out the brake balance." Shaun Sinclair has a problem too: "It goes into gear fine, but it's getting stuck coming out of gear. Nothing serious, but it is worrying." Andrew Gallacher lost a bit of front airdam at a R7 when the ear end stepped out and the car slid into a ditch. Fraser Wilson had an overshoot and a stall as well, but no damage, just time lost. Mark McCulloch is smiling from ear to ear with his new car: "It's quick and I think it's better than the Subaru - but this is no place to learn a new car!"

Leaderboard after SS2 (of 5):
1. S Clark, 13m 36s
2, B McCombie, 13m 51s
3, J Armstrong, 13m 51s
4, S Sinclair, 14m 04s
5, C Collie,14m 10s
6, F Wilson, 14m 16s
7, D MacDonald, 14m 18s
8, J Morrison, 14m 21s
9, M Faulkner, 14m 21s
10, M McCulloch,14m 27s

Rally - Update

Looks like the weather got to the clocks this morning, Bogie given a duff time on the first stage. We await further news with interest.

Rally - Snowman underway

And so it begins. A 20 minute delay this morning on the first stage due to spectators. As ever, huge numbers have turned out to watch, but it's good natured. They seem to be responding positively to requests to move back at popular locations.

It snowed overnight, so the front runners are at a disadvantage. That's why David Bogie the top seed was so far off the pace on the first stage this morning, nearly a minute down on the rest.

Early times for the first stage show Steven Clark in the lead (6m 48s) from Bruce McCombie (6m 56s) and Jock Armstrong sharing 7m 05s with Chris Collie and Fraser Wilson, then its Shaun Sinclair on 7m 10s.

Faulkner, Groundwater, Milne and Gallacher also suffered in the slithery conditions like Bogie, but Dougal Brown suffered more. the Lancer is parked in a ditch and Brian Watson is out with an engine failure.

The sun is up, but anyone who thinks sunshine is warm needs to come to Dingwall this morning, this sunshine can make ice lollies.

Friday 20 February 2015

Rally - Snow tales

The 2015 Scottish Championship could be the most hotly contested for some years. David Bogie says he will not do the full championship series, but will concentrate on individual events with a view to contesting Rally Wales GB again later in the year. Euan Thorburn is also looking further afield this year too and will not defend his Scottish title.

According to Shaun Sinclair: "This must be the most open its been for half a dozen years," he said. Shaun will contest the full season this year: "I had a good run on the Galloway Hills despite being rusty, and the first stage tomorrow should suit me - it's fast and wide!"

That's a view shared by Donnie MacDonald who has a newly built engine for the season: It's been on the rolling road and we've driven it on the public road for 250 miles so fingers crossed. The first stage will suit me fine, just knock it into top gear and it's flat all the way - except the end bit. It never catches the sun, so it could be slippy!"

There was no sign of Jock Armstrong (late as usual) this evening and Andrew Gallacher is due to arrive at 1.00 am. The engine was installed in his new Fiesta Evolution at 4.34 am on Wednesday morning and although the build is complete, it's all the detail bits that need finishing.

Mike Faulkner will start as one of the favourites tomorrow but even he says: "There could be up to 14 favourites tomorrow. It's going to be closer than its ever been. We had a test last weekend and tried out our new 4 pot brakes which are much better than the old two pots".

Quintin Milne has a new car having bought Alistair Inglis' Evo5: "It's lighter than my old Evo9 and it has a flatshift, but it only has mechanical diffs so it requires a bit more finesse and feel to drive it on the loose." Fraser Wilson has rebuilt his gearbox but is sticking with Group N till he sees what everyone else is doing and Barry Groundwater has only had his gearbox refettled since last year's superb run on Rally Wales GB. Dougal Brown has bought the ex Wayne Sissons Evo9: "It has a similar engine to my old car but the gearbox, diffs and suspension are all upgrades, plus its a fresher car." He has his sights set on a top six finish tomorrow, but then so do many others.

Throw in the likes of Mark McCulloch (with Dougal Brown's old car), Chris Collie and past Snowman winner Reay MacKay, and it would be a brave or foolish pundit who tried to predict a top three.

Bruce McCombie is looking like a whippet after cutting out bread and crisps while two others have been on a more serious diet. Shaun Sinclair had a bet with Brian Watson. Over the past 6 weeks, Shaun has lost 20 and a half pounds and Brian has lost 20. They called it a draw!

Oh yes, this is the Snowman Rally, and there is a forecast for more snow in the morning, although the majority of the mileage is currently snow-free.

Rally - Snowman bound

Spotted heading north, one intrepid rallying scribe aboard his wheels of choice. There must be a rally on somewhere. But what was Jaggy up to when spotted? Was he dropping in on his ancestors? Seeking some cultural inspiration ahead of a new season?  Or was he wondering if the on-site field kitchen was open?

As ever, information and reports from the Arnold Clark Thistle Snowman Rally this weekend will be dependent on getting a mobile signal. The phone companies claim a UK coverage of 95% of the population, but that's a swizz, they only reach about 65% of the terrain. Finding a signal up here is about as easy as finding a haggis nest under the snow.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Rally - Safety on rallies

Rob Jones, MSA Chief Exec, issues a personal plea for safety and common sense on rallies. This affects us all. It is also down to the real fans to do something about the eedjits and the unknowing. Don't just leave it to organisers, marshals and competitors.

Road - Art attack

Now that’s what I call grip. And no, it’s not an advert for tyres. It’s not even an advert for badly laid tarmac. You know the kind, the guy rings your doorbell and says he’ll do you a deal on your drive for pound notes!

In fact, this is an ‘art installation’ created by British artist Alex Chinneck in collaboration with Vauxhall Motors.  It’s currently on display at Southbank Centre Car Park in London.

If a certain other ‘artist’ can sell her unmade bed and associated detritus for £2.2m, then what’s this one worth?

Road - Iveco concept

As most of you know, my day job is writing about vans and all things commercial, and rallying is just a minor interest (!), however I like vans, so there. Actually, there are many more (sad) people out there who share this interest in vans, while others realise that vans are a vital part of business and domestic life. They are the Mars bars of motoring - for work, rest and play.

And just like their more glamorous siblings (cars) vans have a shiny and appealing allure of their own, especially when it comes to concepts.

For instance, the Iveco Daily van is known within the trade as a van for truck drivers, or a truck for van drivers. They have a reputation for strength, durability and practicality, and despite the fact that they are Italian they are not renowned for good looks and svelte shapes, like those wee shiny red things that come out of Maranello.

So take a look at this concept. Now that’s a van!

And if you want to see it in the flesh (metal?) it will be at the CV Show at the NEC in April.

Rally - SRC News

The 2015 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship has issued a preview for Saturday's Snowman Rally, full text here:

They still don't have a full-time Press/Media Officer - any volunteers out there?

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Rally - National calendar

2 good reasons for buying ‘Motorsport News’ today – a pin-up calendar and a provocative column.

The pin-up calendar is MSN’s annual National Rally calendar listing the dates of all the main national and regional rallies throughout the UK and an insightful, opinionated column  (I may be ever so slightly biased!) raises a few points for discussion regarding next year’s British Rally Championship.

Any ideas and suggestions for incorporation into next year’s premier British rallying series need to be thrashed out now so that folk can plan ahead. If we sit back and say nowt and not contribute to the debate then we can’t criticise what we get next year if we don’t like. It will be too late then.

Monday 16 February 2015

Road - Duty calls

Don’t expect any rallying updates for a couple of days. Off on yet another ‘exotic’ trip to assess new vehicles. This time it’s the facelifted Fiat Doblo, and given the rain on the vans, the puddles in the foreground and the ‘windmill’ in the background you may be excused for thinking this is Holland. It ain’t but it’s every bit as wet. On the plus side it’s a cracking wee van. Fiat was first with the 1300cc diesels in a CV and the latest example is even more refined and tugs like a wean in a sweetie shop.

Rally - Snowman Entry List

Full entry list for Saturday's Snowman Rally with list of Rally Programme sales outlets on-line now:

Sunday 15 February 2015

Rally - Neuville's a star

Rally Sweden marked Hyundai Motorsport’s fourth WRC podium as Thierry Neuville stormed to second place overall.

Neuville took the first stage win of the season for the team on Friday and was placed second at the end of the opening day. He then added a further two stages wins in Saturday’s SS15 (Fredriksberg 18.15km) and SS18 (Vargåsen) to take the lead as the penultimate day came to an end. In Saturday’s final stage, he also jumped 44m to break the legendary ‘Colin’s Crest’ Award record.

Neuville said: “What a rally this has been! We have not had such a close battle for the victory for a long time and it has been great to be a part of such a thrilling finale. Nobody really expected us to be challenging for the win here, so it has been a brilliant performance. Of course, I pushed hard to get the win, taking quite a few risks, and I could honestly not have done more. A second place is still a very nice result for me and for everyone in the team, who have worked hard.”  

Rally - Evans fights back

Overcoming earlier issues, M-Sport World Rally Team's Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans secured fourth and sixth place on Rally Sweden.

Having lost 20 seconds caught in a snow bank on the first forest stage (SS2), Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder spent much of the weekend rebuilding their confidence amidst the worst of the road conditions.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt showed a huge increase in speed from this time twelve months ago – proving that they have the pace to challenge within the top-five on snow.

Were it not for an encounter with the snow banks through the second pass of Röjden (SS8) which cost them almost two minutes, they would have been within sight of a podium position.

Thereafter Evans found himself in an intense battle for sixth place on the final stage of the rally (SS21). Locked in a thrilling duel with Kris Meeke, the Welshman came out on top – winning the battle of the Brits, claiming sixth place overall and propelling himself and Barritt into sixth place in the FIA World Rally Championship driver and co-driver standings.

At the finish, Elfyn said: "It's been an event of two halves. We made a mistake which cost us a lot of time on Friday and we struggled to find the confidence at times, but generally I think we've learnt a lot and we were able to show some pretty good pace towards the end. We only do one snow rally a year and this is only my second so it all bodes well for the future. I'm really pleased with the progress we were able to show here and I think we've proved our potential on this surface. On the whole, I think we did a good job.”

"I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and we had a great battle with Kris today. From yesterday afternoon onwards I really enjoyed the driving. We had a good feeling in the car and everything just came together as it should."