Thursday 29 October 2015

Rally - Crisis? What Crisis?

It’s a bit late, but a certain Mr Bunnet wrote an article following his attendance at the Scottish Rally Championship meeting earlier this month. This is one of his coffee and caramel wafer jobs i.e., you’ll need that to get through it! Given the number of competitors who turned up at the meeting, one could be forgiven for thinking that all is well with the world of Scottish rallying. Well, it ain’t. The meeting was very poorly supported by those who stand to lose most. The Scottish Rally Championship lost two events this year, how many more next year? Competitors need to tell organisers what they like, what they can afford and what they will support, otherwise new uses will need to be found for rally cars – rockery backgrounds, practice vehicles for the fire brigade or maybe fast targets for 12 bore game shooters. The SRC management committee and clubs next meet on the 7th of November. Golf anyone?

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Rally - Meeke on Rally GB

Ahead of this year’s Rally Wales GB, the rally organisers caught up with Kris Meeke for a quick chat. The British WRC counter will also be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Colin McRae and Derek Ringer’s historic win which also clinched the 1995 world crown for the Lanarkshire pairing, a point not lost on Kris.

Interview here:

Monday 26 October 2015

Rally - Galloway Hills

David Bogie and Kevin Rae won yesterday’s Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally with Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe finishing second. As ever, Jock had a unique view on proceedings: “I’ve won it seven times before and David’s only won it once so I thought I’d be nice to him!”

As for David, he was lucky to be there at all let alone win the rally. On Friday morning he was confined to bed, in his hotel room – in Spain. And no, it wasn’t drink. He reckons it was something he ate. He missed his flight home on Friday but caught one on Saturday to be back for Sunday’s rally, but he looked fair wabbit first thing on Sunday morning: “I'm still not good. I feel drained, but at least there's no sickness."

Jock cocked an eyebrow at the times: “He cannae be that sick!” as David reeled off six fastest times over the six Special Stages.

Desi Henry and John Rowan finished third as they acclimatised to their new Skoda Fabia S2000 although they dropped a bit of time over the final two tests: "She's a bit 'floaty' at the rear over those last two," he said, "I think I've broken the rear anti-roll bar."

The best fight of the day was for fourth place where 12 seconds covered Jonny Greer, Mark McCulloch and Chris Collie. At the halfway point, McCulloch was holding fourth place but a problem with the exhaust forced him to switch off the ALS and Greer was able to close in despite trying out 'close pattern' tyres on his DS3 R5 ahead of next month's Rally Wales GB: "I would have been better on 'mud' tyres today,” he said.

After the season he’s had, Chris Collie was happy enough with sixth: "I had a good run and I'm pleased with the car. It's back to what it should be!"

Fraser Wilson finished in seventh place with a stump of wood jammed between the rim and a front tyre, but no air loss, while Niall Henry was a very lucky eighth: "A rear tyre went soft as I approached the Flying Finish of the final stage. I was in full flight on full lock and nearly in a ditch."

Ninth was the first of the 2WD cars with Seamus O'Connell lucky to finish when the gear linkage broke in the last stage and Rory Young rounded off the top ten back in his Lancer after a couple of outings in a Fiesta R5.

Final Results:
1,  David Bogie / Kevin Rae  (Ford Fiesta R5) 41m 09s 
2,  Jock Armstrong / Paula Swinscoe  (Subaru Impreza) + 0:34 
3,  Desi Henry / John Rowan  (Skoda Fabia S2000)  +1:00 
4,  Jonny Greer / Kirsty Riddick  (Citroen DS3 R5)  +3:06 
5,  Mark McCulloch / Michael Hendry  (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)  +3:12 
6,  Chris Collie / Neil Shanks  (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6)  +3:18 
7,  Fraser Wilson / Craig Wallace  (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)  +3:54 
8,  Niall Henry / Damien Duffin  (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)  +3:55 
9,  Seamus O'Connell / Andy Richardson  (Ford Escort Mk 2)  +4:03 
10,  Rory Young / Allan Cathers  (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5)  +4:06 

Sunday 25 October 2015

Rally - VW in Spain

Who's a happy boy then? Andreas Mikkelsen was jubilant at the finish in Spain: “We have waited so long and worked so hard for this moment. When it finally arrived, we could hardly believe it: we have won our first World Championship rally! Today was exactly the opposite of what happened to us in Sweden. I am overjoyed, but don’t think it has fully sunk in yet. I am sure that will take a few days. We gave it our all on the Power Stage, and finally came up with the perfect stage at this rally. That would certainly have been enough for second place, but the victory is obviously the icing on the cake. It is a shame for Seb and Julien, but the most important thing is that they were not hurt in the crash. It has been an incredible weekend for us, which we will certainly celebrate in style today – with my family, my mechanics, and the entire team.”

As ever, Sébastien Ogier was quite cool: “I was too fast in a long left-hander and went a little too wide on the exit. We made contact with the crash barrier, which knocked us slightly off line and the wheel caught on a post holding the crash barriers. That ripped the wheel off – and it was all over. We went to hospital for a thorough check – just to be certain. Happily everything is ok."

Rally - Spain, Final

No real surprise in Spain with VW at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Rally Catalunya, or perhaps there was. It wasn't the Ogier machine or even the Latvala car though, Andreas Mikkelsen scored his first WRC victory. Latvala punctured a tyre on SS21 and Sebastian Ogier crashed out on the final stage, SS22.

As for the DS3 twins, there was just no catching Dani Sordo in the Hyundai but when Kris Meeke spun on SS19 he lost fourth place to team mate Mads Østberg! However, the Power Stage saw Kris score an extra point for the Drivers’ championship by grabbing third fastest time.  

At the finish, Kris said: "It was a fairly strange weekend. With no experience on the gravel stages, I wasn’t really on the pace on Friday and we lost time on some of our rivals. On tarmac, with different tyres to last year, I didn’t have a very good feeling in the car. The result is still positive for the team. It‘s now up to us to finish the season on a high at the final rally in Wales.”

Mads Østberg: “We made a very good start on Friday. We were one of the quickest crews on gravel, despite our road position. Unfortunately a puncture on the longest stage meant we lost a lot of time. I think we were also very competitive on tarmac.”

Final Leaderboard:
1. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:21:04.8
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +3.1
3. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +21.2
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:06.3
5. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:08.2
6. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:23.3
7. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:14.2
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +8:01.9
9. Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Skoda Fabia R5) +8:56.8
10. Jan Kopecky / Pavel Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:0

Saturday 24 October 2015

Rally - Spain, Day 2

A day of mixed fortunes for the DS3 team mates. This morning, Mads Ostberg was lying in fifth place and Kris Meeke was eighth. By close of play this evening, Kris was fifth and Mads sixth. Just a couple of wee mistakes but at this level, such slip-ups are very costly.

At the overnight halt, Kris said: “We played with the set-up of the car today to find the right balance for tarmac. It’s almost like driving on a racetrack here, so the slightest change to the set-up can have a dramatic effect on the overall handling of the car. The final stage was very encouraging. We have to maintain that pace and try to bring home as many points as possible tomorrow!”

As for Mads Østberg: “We had to find the right feeling in the car this morning. We managed to improve the set-up so that we had a better balance for the second loop. I just made a little mistake on the final stage. We fought hard throughout the leg for every second and then we go and lose three by stalling just before the end of the day. It’s frustrating, but overall, I think we can be pretty happy with the day.”

So whilst the French team had a (slightly) better day, the Ford team had a bad day. Ott Tanak went off the road in the second stage this morning. Carrying too much speed into a right-hand corner, he understeered into a barrier which ripped the front-left wheel off his Fiesta RS WRC.

Two stages later, Elfyn Evans was off the road too. The Fiesta grounded on the sumpguard forcing the car to understeer off the road and down a steep embankment. Both Tanak and Evans will restart under Rally 2 regulations on Sunday.

Elfyn reflected: "Everything was looking okay and we were in the ball-park in terms of getting back into the bottom half of the top-five. Unfortunately, we became a bit unstuck on SS13. We took a cut and the car grounded on the sumpguard. We started understeering off and as soon as it did that I couldn't stop it. To make matters worse, there was a tree on the outside which we touched and that then sent us into a ditch that we couldn't get out of.”

Ott Tänak added: "We went out this morning with the same good feeling we had last night. In the end it was just one bad note – one bad note, on one corner, in 26 kilometres of corners. The note was far too optimistic and we understeered into the barrier and took the wheel off.”

As for Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson: "I can't remember the last time we had both cars fail to finish a day, but we just have to keep focused on the positives. We know that we had the speed to do well here, and both Ott and Elfyn will restart under Rally 2 regulations tomorrow. It will provide them with a good opportunity to gain more experience and more seat time so that they can head to the final round in Wales in a positive frame of mind.”

Oh yes. The lead. So who is leading the rally in Spain after Day 2? I’ll give you three guesses – and they are all correct!

Leaderboard after Day 2
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:34:56.4
2. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +54.0
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +56.9
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:01.4
5. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +1:42.2
6. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +1:43.7
7. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:56.5
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:56.5
9. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:22.9
10. Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson (Skoda Fabia R5) +7:12.16