If it was damp for the first two stages on Friday night, it was wet for the final three, but intermittent showers ensured that conditions remained changeable. Craignure resembled Kwik-Fit city as the service crews set up camp, and if anything typifies the changing face of rallying, then it is a modern service area with its service wagons and awnings. Gone are the days of estate cars, toolboxes and petrol cans – at least for the front runners.
Calum Duffy started the final 20 miler of the night on slicks and then encountered a “real downpour” at the finish: “There was a delay at the start, so the tyres were cold when we went in,” said Calum, “it was fine for the first half then there was a big shower coming down the glen. Gribun and Scridain were damp, but that was wet!”
He must have been trying. At one point, Del turned to him and said: “Are you going to slow down at any point?” with Calum commenting at the finish: “That was hoorish” to which Del replied: “I think you’ll find that was quite a good time.” He was 14 seconds quicker than Daniel Harper, and boy is he trying. Understatement of the night, perhaps?
John MacCrone reckons he’s getting the hang of his Subaru after a faltering start to the night: “It’s a really different ballgame with this now,” he said of the Subaru, “I’m just happy to be here. Slicks and shiny tar don’t go well together.”
Jonathan Mounsey was still out of breath as he pulled into the Salen Passage Control: “It was so wet in that last one we were aquaplaning like mad. It was awesome.”
Tristan Pye dropped time with a power steering problem. It failed on SS2 and a new pump was fitted before the next group of tests but it started leaking and he did Gribun with no power steering. In similar trouble was Shaun Sinclair: I did those last three stages with no power steering – I’m shattered.” He also incurred a 40 second time penalty effecting repairs which also dropped him a couple of places on the leaderboard. At least he knows what the fault is and the boys will have it fixed for the daylight run.
Another driver with a concerned look on his face is Tony Bardy: “I’ve got a really bad vibration in the car. It’s so bad I can’t hear the Notes.”
Oh, and in case you noticed, there wasn’t much information during the rally last night. That was down simply to lack of phone signal to upload information. Whether it was the rain or whether the phone masts were overloaded I just don’t know but severe difficulties were incurred last night trying to find a strong enough phone signal. Even in places where information was posted last year, there was zilch reception. The even worse news is that, things might not improve much today given the rally route and format. But don’t blame me, blame Orange or EE or whatever they’re called these days. It would appear that they are concentrating their efforts on spreading 4G around the country’s biggest conurbations and neglecting those more countrified areas where even a basic telephone signal would be appreciated! They might claim to offer coverage to 95% of the population, but neglect to mention that they only cover about 60% of the natural topography. In Scotland, that’s a lot of dark holes.
Leaderboard after 5 (of 18) stages:
1, C Duffy, 50m 26s
2., D Harper, 51m 17s
3, J MacCrone, 51m 52s
4, J Mounsey, 52m 40s
5, P MacKinnon,52m 42s
6, L Gallagher, 53m 48s
7, R Cook, 53m 53s
8, J Cope, 54m 28s
9, T Pye, 54m 30s
10, T Bardy, 54m 43s