Thursday 30 April 2015

Race and Rally royalty

Pictured at Ingliston last weekend, here’s one for the old farts amongst us. Who is this with John  Marshall and Bruce Lyle? Most of you will get one or t’other of them, and not so many will get both, but by goad it brocht back memories. They were from a time when Ingliston was a racetrack and Knockhill was full of sheep,  tyre choice was simple and power steering was for wimps, when clocks had hands instead of digits and spectators had a grand day out. It also made me think that perhaps we have seen the best of the sport. Methinks the nanny state will do for our sport yet.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Rally - Flash technique

I’m sorry (or not really), but I couldn’t resist this one. Flash will never speak to me again, but could this possibly be a photo of him practising rally driving techniques (see previous post)? He’s certainly got the idea for driving on the loose! Mind you from what we see on the telly, these tin top racers seem to spend an awfy lot of time on the gravel anyway. Maybe they should introduce a new tyre - slicks, inters, wets – and knobblies.

Rally - News Flash

What’s this all about? Flash looks positively excited while the Teacake Kid looks positively apprehensive.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Rally - Granite spectating

The organisers of the Granite City Rally have now published spectator details on line, and if you think it's a bit sparse, blame the new rules. Hopefully once things settle down the sport will get back to some form of commonsensical normality - but don't expect that any time soon!

In the meantime, please respect the new rules and use the spectator car parks. So grit your teeth and show willing.

Monday 27 April 2015

Rally - Granite City prevu

Full entry list now in the mag for this Saturday's Granite City Rally. There is a very short preview and no spectator information as yet, but as soon as any additional information is received, it will be added in.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Rally - Meeke's Maiden win

Kris ...
There’ll be fireworks over Dungannon tonight and hangovers all around Northern Ireland tomorrow. And here in the northern half of Britain as well.

Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle scored an emotional maiden WRC victory in Argentina earlier today at the wheel of their Citroen DS3. It was a good weekend all round for the French team with Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson securing the runner-up position just 18 seconds behind their team mates.

It was the first win for a British driver since Colin McRae’s success on the Safari Rally in 2002, and with Elfyn Evans claiming third place in his Fiesta, Britain enjoyed two drivers on the WRC podium for the first time since 2001.

... and Paul
There was just one thing missing from the podium. With a Northern Irish and a Welsh driver, plus an English and an Irish co-driver, all it needed was a wee touch of tartan to finish the job off.

As Kris and Paul stood on their Citroen’s roof at the finish line, an emotional Kris fought back tears as he paid tribute to his early mentor, the 1995 World champion Colin McRae. “What can I say? It’s been an exceptionally long road. This one’s for Colin.”

Amen to that. I’m sure the whole of Scotland would wish each one of the fantastic four all our heartiest congratulations. And here’s hoping it’s just the first of many. 

Final Overall Classification: 
1, K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) 3:41:44.9
2, M. Østberg / J. Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +18.1
3, E. Evans / D. Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3.27.4
4, M. Prokop / J. Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:26.1
5, D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10:46.7
6, K. Al Qassimi / C. Patterson (Citroën DS3 WRC)  +11:19.9
7, A. Al-Kuwari / M. Clarke (Ford Fiesta RRC) +16:02.6
8, D. Dominguez / E. Galindo (Ford Fiesta R5) +18:48.2
9, G. Saba / D. Cagnotti (Škoda Fabia S2000) +21:20.6
10, F. Villagra / D. Curletto (Ford Fiesta S2000) +25:19.6

Rally - Meeke's tango

Going into the final day of Rally Argentina, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle lead the rally by just 38 seconds from team Citroen team mates Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson. In a bad rally for the VW team, Latvala is the only driver still in contention, but over a minute behind.

Fingers crossed too for Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt currently holding fourth place in the Fiesta ahead of Thierry Neuville who is over 2 minutes behind the young Brits after a puncture in the Hyundai.

Argentina has proved to be one the toughest event so far in this year’s FIA world series with Ogier forced out after fuelling problems and Mikkelsen punctured a tyre which then contributed to a shock absorber breakage.

Heavy rain also forced a re-route when the very long San Marcos to Characato stage was cut from 56 to 42 kilometres as sections of road became impassable.

At the conclusion of Day 2, Kris Meeke commented: “There are only 32 kilometres left to go tomorrow but they are some of the most difficult roads in the World Championship! So it’s not over yet, by any means. The roads are barely wider than the car on El Condor, and you have a lot of rocks and moonlike landscapes. It’s going to be a long day for us. I still have to finish the job…”

An upbeat Elfyn Evans added: "We've kept out of trouble today and that puts us up to fourth which is the kind of position we were looking to achieve. We weren't here to push the boat out for the top positions so I think that we can be pleased with where we are. Now it'll just be a case of staying calm for tomorrow's final stages."

Team mate Ott Tanak lost out when his Fiesta hit a rock in a water splash on the fourth stage which damaged the front-left wheel.

1. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) 3:14:51.7
2. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +38.6
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:03.7
4. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:24.6
5. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:51.0
6. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:39.0
7. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Patterson (DS 3 WRC) +10:34.3
8. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +11:14.9
9. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari / Marshall Clarke (Ford Fiesta RRC) +14:14.6
10. Diego Dominguez / Edgardo Galindo (Ford Fiesta R5) +17:10.0…

Saturday 25 April 2015

Rally - Pure genious

Widely regarded as the epitomy of sartorial elegance, Big Hamish has singlehandedly raised the international reputation of Lidl in the fashion stakes. Following the debut of his new footwear range, no doubt the F1 pit lane glitterati will be beating a path to Lidl's doors before they sell out. In a fit of stylistic brilliance, Hamish used his Boy Scout training and Swiss army knife to fashion a pair of galoshes for his suede race bootees to protect them from inclement weather when outside his thoroughbred rally machine. All he needs now is a lackey to help slip them on when he stops the car and pull them off when he climbs aboard to take the wheel. Seriously, he bought a pair of plastic sandals and cut the tops off them to turn them into protective slip-on overshoes. The simple ideas are always the best, eh? Nice one Hamish.

Rally - Edwards wins

Going into the final stage of today's DCC Stages, Nigel Feeney had a 2 second lead over Bruce Edwards, but at the end of it, Edwards had a 25 second lead over Feeney!

"I hand braked the car into a bend that was nearly as tight as a hairpin," said Nigel, "and a trailing arm snapped. It was quite a handful finishing the stage with the wheel wobbling around and it made the corners even more interesting!"

At least he hung on to second place as Colin Gemmell finished just 3 seconds behind. He scored his third place helped by Andrew Gallacher's retirement when the Cosworth blew a turbo.

Hamish Kinloch was fifth ahead of Edward Todd, but the day was brought to a premature halt after Stage 7, when a competitor was taken ill and the rally Doctor had to attend. So concerned was the Doc that he said he didn't want to leave the patient and resume his stage readiness position. Given that this was prior to the last stage of the day and the time it would have taken to get an ambulance out from Edinburgh the organisers felt that they had to cancel Stage 8 and bring the day's competition to a close.

Fortunately the competitor recovered sufficiently to forestall the need for the county ambulance to attend and his 'illness' was put down to paint fumes in the car caused by a hot exhaust. Just one of those things, eh?

Earlier in the day, the fifth stage was yellow flagged when a cyclist was spotted in the stage. Turned out, he had been cycling along the fence in the park next door, so although technically not on the stage he was sufficiently close to cause alarm and the Marshals did the sensible thing.

Reigning Scottish Tarmack Champ Paul Ballantyne was another late retirement when the Clio split a steering pipe and lost its fluid, and another top seed, racing driver Charlie Shaw retired in a rather more decisive fashion when a con rod made a bolt for freedom through the side of the cylinder block.

An eventful day all round.

1, Bruce Edwards, 51m 24s
2, Nigel Feeney, 51m 49s
3, Colin Gemmell, 51m 52s
4, Stuart Walker, 52m 55s
5, Hamish Kinloch, 53m 07s
6, Edward Todd, 53m 20s
7, Lee Hastings, 53m 21s
8, Stuart Baillie, 53m 28s
9, Jim McDowall, 53m 37s
10, James Gibb, 53m 37s

Rally - Feeney leads DCC

It was raining when the 75 (plus reserves) crews turned up at Ingliston this morning for the DCC Stages Rally. So the first stage was slippery and wet but a dry line appearing. The second stage was better and by the start of the third stage, blue sky and sunshine had mostly replaced the damp and the dreich.

That certainly helped Nigel Feeney who got the best of the conditions running with number 82 on the doors of the Subaru as he was one of the first reserves to get a run after some non-shows.

That's not say he didn't deserve it, but now that he's got his nose in front, he'll be hard to beat. On the dry third and fourth stages he was still quick with Bruce Edwards in the Darrian equalling his time on the third test and 2 seconds under on the fourth. There's now 7 seconds between them with 4 more stages to go.

Third and fourth is even closer. The Subaru of Colin Gemmell leads Andrew Gallacher by 2 seconds with Gallacher slightly hampered by 'running-in' a new engine in the Escort Cosworth.

Hamish Kinloch is currently 6th in the Honda engined Mk2 but Stuart Walker is closing the gap in his Skoda Fabia and there's just 2 seconds between them. First time out in a new Subaru, Lee Hastings is 8th ahead of the 2 litre GTM of Edward Todd with Stuart Ballie rounding off the top ten in his Subaru after delays on the first three stages, first with a bad misfire, second with a slightly less bad misfire and on the third with a burst brake pipe.

Jim McDowall was in the top six after the first 2 tests but changed tyres too early. If it had worked it would have been inspired, but it didn't and he dropped a chunk of time. Alan Kirkaldy lost time in the first stage when the flat-shift got stuck in 2nd gear and Ian Paterson is out. The Subaru had a misfire on the first stage and then just cut out completely and refused to start. 35 minutes later when the crew went to retrieve it, it fired up first time!

Leaderboard after 4 (of 8) stages:
1, N Feeney, 34m 35s
2, B Edwards, 34m 42s
3, C Gemmell, 34m 55s
4, A Gallacher, 34m 57s
5, H Kinloch, 35m 50s
6, S Walker, 35m 52s
7, L Hastings, 36m 00s
8, J Gibb, 36m 01s
9, E Todd, 36m 02s
10, S Baillie, 36m 13s

Friday 24 April 2015

Rally Safety Guide published

The MSA has just published its ‘2015 Multi-Venue Stage Rally Safety Requirements’ which comes into force on the first of June this year. It's quite a read, get the coffee on, or maybe an energy drink and a cereal bar!

The full document is published here:

Rally - Merrick cancelled

The Merrick stages Rally scheduled to run on 5th September has been cancelled. The Organisers of the penultimate round of the Scottish Rally Championship have cited declining entries over recent years as the cause.

More recently, plans were underway to change the venue this year and talks had been held with sponsors and the Forestry Commission at Aberfoyle.  It would appear that uncertainty over the contents of the impending ‘Rally Safety Guidelines’ due to be published by the Motor Sports Safety Review Group were a consideration during discussions.

It has to be remembered that the Forestry Commission in Aberfoyle has little in the way of recent experience with forest rallying – and I include the Rally of Scotland (last held in 2011) in that! – and its some 25 years since the Trossachs was part of the national Championship. Whilst there was goodwill all round, the timescale defeated plans for this year. As you are no doubt aware, the Trossachs is an awfy busy place even in the middle of autumn.

Naturally, we would all expect that the Galloway Hills would slot into place and become the final round of the series, as it has over the past two years, but apparently that might not be the case. The prospect of a 7 round national championship is now a distinct possibility. Further developments and announcements are awaited with interest.

The full text of the Merrick organising team News Release is here: