Thursday 26 November 2015

Rally - Kingdom roundup

That’s the news and gossip from Crail on line, but what is Arbuthnot disease, and how can you break your funny bone inside a rally car, and  why is Taylor Gibb’s Maw and Paw worried about his successful rallying? All this and more in the mag. And after 8 years competing in Horse Trials, with all the thrills of competition and heartbreak of sick animals, 21 year old Gina walker made her rally debut at Crail which was curtailed when the clutch failed. As she pushed the car in to service one observer commented: “At least you can fix it – you don’t have to shoot it!” Fortunately, the observer escaped with his butt unkicked!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Rally - Rintoul's Kingdom

At least Hyundai got something out of its visit to Britain for Wales Rally GB. A Hyundai Accent WRC won the Kingdom Stages at Crail. Ok, so It might not have been a current WRC machine, and it might not have made up for losing out to Citroen and DS in Wales, but it did please John Rintoul and Ross Hynd. Bruce Edwards and Jim Smith were second in the Darrian with a couple of tyre shredding Mk2s fighting over third place. 

Full Rally report here:

Friday 20 November 2015

Rally - and Motor Racing

Scottish rallying could learn a thing or two from Scottish Motor Racing Club’s ‘Go Motor Racing’ nights. Last night, John Clark Group hosted the second of two events at its Pentland Land Rover dealership at Newbridge, the first one was in Aberdeen on Tuesday night.

And what a turn-out, Dario Franchitti was there and rising star Ciaran Haggerty, also Graham Birrell and John Cleland plus a surprise visitor in the person of Charles Samson, the 1975 and ’77 Scottish Rally Champion, plus many more top and club drivers from the world of Scottish motor racing. It was also good to catch up again with Ecurie Ecosse team leader ‘Big Shooey’McCaig and Graham Brunton who is doing so much to help young Scottish drivers on the British and international scene. Marshals were represented and even MSA scroots to handle any technical enquires.

Keeping it all moving along, Knockhill commentator Duncan Vincent bounded around the showroom like an intoxicated pixie on full volume interviewing guests and drivers. I don’t know what he’s on, but I don’t think there is a medical prescription for it. Maybe he grows his own.

There were also a good few cars on display from karts to single seaters, from saloon cars to sports cars, and all accompanied by team personnel who were happy just to chat or fill-in the curious on the dark arts of motor racing and race-car preparation. In addition, some purveyors of parts, accessories and other equipment were in attendance.

There were also some serious discussions going on in quiet corners of the three-floored showroom and it would appear that Scottish Association of Car Clubs Vice Chair, Pete Weall (for he was there), has hatched a cunning plan. He was seen in deep discussion with quite a few folk including SACC Pres John Cleland and John Clark (himself!) of John Clark Group, and MSA Council Member Bruce Lyle, Rory Bryant from Scottish Motor Sport and Mike Howe from SMRC.

With a wee bit of luck and goodwill perhaps rallying could do something similar to introduce the sport to a new generation and spread the word. Gawd knows it could do with a bit of promotion and positivity!

At its busiest there were well over a 100 folk in the showroom last night and there was a buffet with hot and cold drinks, but what clinched it for me was Harry Simpson’s pies. The renowned Edinburgh based motor racing butcher makes the best pork pies in Scotland and he’s a dab hand now at Scotch pies too. Me? Purely in the interest of quality and taste!

Thursday 19 November 2015

Rally - Citroen pulls out of WRC

At mid-day today, Citroen announced its decision not to participate in the 2016 World Rally Championship. However, the French team has confirmed that a commitment has been made to the 2017 series with a new car under the proposed new rules. That puts Kris Meeke on 'gardening leave' for a year at best, or at worst, looking for a new drive.

Full text of the announcement here:

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Rally - The Biscuiteer

It looks like Uddingston’s Stuart Loudon will need to get some new travel luggage from Santa next month as he will be making a return to the World Rally Championship next season. A deal has been done to co-drive for 23 year old rising Estonian star, Sander Parn, winner of the ‘Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy’ in 2014.

The pair will contest the 2016 WRC2 series in a Ford Fiesta R5 running under ‘Drive DMACK’ colours and will be run by two-time World Rally Champions M-Sport.  With Monte Carlo yet to be confirmed as the first round of the 2016 Championship it looks as though the pairing will contest February’s Rally Sweden (11-14 Feb) as their first round of the year.

Ahead of that they plan to tackle the Arctic Rally (28-30 Jan) in northern Finland to get in some serious pace note practice. That’s because the duo first got together ahead of Rally Spain in Catalunya and Wales Rally GB working on the recce for both events with M-Sport.
“The recces went really well,” said Stuart. “Obviously, you only get to find out how you’re working together when you get in and get going at competitive speeds, but so far, so good. Sander and I have really started to build a good relationship straight away.”

But before all that, Stuart is off to China this weekend to meet up with Australia based fellow Coltness Car Club member, Alister McRae to contest the Wuyi Rally (20-23 Nov) in Zhejiang province, on China’s east coast. The pair will drive their regular BAIC-Senova D50.

By the way, did you know the biscuiteering evangelist’s luggage is often heavier leaving the country than returning? That’s the opposite way round from every other Scottish tourist who traditionally stocks up on ‘jimmy hats’, haggis and whisky in the duty free shops on the way home from far away.

It’s not that Stuart uses his stash of Tunnocks teacakes and caramel wafers to ‘influence’ rally timekeepers and marshals, but bartering biscuits is often more effective than dealing in sterling or dollars.

That’s the entrepreneurial spirit – Scottish style.

Rally - Go Motorsport

I know it’s not rallying but perhaps there’s something our branch of the sport could learn from the racers. Last night the SMRC held a ‘Go Motor Racing’ evening in Aberdeen and are hosting another one in Edinburgh tomorrow night – Thursday 19th Nov, at Pentland Land Rover, Newbridge, Edinburgh EH28 8TH, from 6 till 9pm.

Hosted at John Clark Group premises these introductory nights are free and open to all. In addition to a Q&A session with drivers and guests and a display of racing cars, there will be practical information available on how to get started in karting and motor racing, ARDS and licences, coaching and mentoring, and also info on marshalling.

If you’re doing nowt and fancy a nosey to see how successful these events can be, then why not pop along. Apparently they got half a dozen brand new racing drivers hitting the tracks following last year’s similar evenings and some new Marshals.

Anyone out there know a friendly rally-orientated garage owner with a big showroom?

Sunday 15 November 2015

Rally - Faulkner and Foy

The Scots did themselves proud in Wales with Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy repeating last year’s glorious win on the Wales Rally GB National event. Going into the final stage they were holding second place behind Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe, but a puncture caused the Subaru to slide off the road on the final stage and that was it. All over. What cruel luck.

When you think of the cruel luck that Mike has had on the Scottish Championship this past year, and then it all comes good here. Just reward for effort and determination. It all went wrong for Fraser MacNicol too, going off two stages from home, leaving just one Scottish crew standing on the podium.

And there’s more. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, Lee Hastings finished a rally. Not just any rally but perhaps the biggest one of his career so far, finishing 5th overall with Julie McGuire in the Hastings family Subaru. John Morrison and Peter Carstairs made it three ‘home’ crews in the top ten with Jim McRae just missing out, the V8 Firenza gurgling to a halt in the final stage!

And on her first major ‘international’ event Caroline Carslaw finished a superb 38th overall in her Fiesta with Michael Robertson finishing 48th and Iain Wilson 55th.

Sadly, Thomas Gray didn't make it home either, the Proton sliding off the road two stages from home. Berwick’s Carl Tuer was the other retirement of note, failing to make the start of the penultimate stage with his MG. And Mike Storrar finished 45th overall in his Honda engined Marina. Love it.

That makes it three years in a row that a Scottish crew has won the National (Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton won 2 years ago) which is a pretty good advert for Scottish rallying and the Scottish Rally Championship, eh? It would be nice to see more English and Welsh crews paying us a visit next year!

National Leaderboard:
1, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) 1:51:45.1
2, David Howells/Robin Hernaman (Subaru Impreza) +0:04:43.5
3, Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza N12b) +0:06:16.0
4, Simon Webster/Frank Richer (Ford Escort) +0:06:42.9
5, Lee Hastings/Julie McGuire (Subaru Impreza) +0:07:10.1
6, John Morrison/Peter Carstairs (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) +0:07:13.0
7, Martin Berglund/Joakim Gevert (Mitsubishi Mirage) +0:08:14.1
8, Dennis Parry/Matthew Parry (Subaru Impreza) +0:08:52.0
9, Max Utting/Mike Ainsworth (Ford Fiesta ST MAX) +0:09:10.2
10, James Potter/Bob Duck (Ford Escort Mk2) +0:11:11.8 

38, Caroline Carslaw/John Duke (Ford Fiesta ST) +0:29:39.2
48, Michael Robertson/Gary McDonald (Subaru Impreza) +0:35:38.7
55, Iain Wilson/Keith Riddick (Subaru Impreza) +0:46:33.7

Rally - Meeke second

As gale force winds and heavy rain battered the final four stages of Wales Rally GB, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg managed to keep out of trouble and make it to the end of the rally. Ott Tänak’s retirement on SS16 promoted Mads Østberg to seventh place, whilst Kris Meeke racked up his seventh podium in the World Championship as he finished as runner-up.

Very consistent throughout the event, Stéphane Lefebvre continued to set top 10 times to end the rally in eighth overall – the best result of his career to date – in the DS 3 WRC. And that of course will pose a threat to the established lead driver line-up for 2016!

At the finish, Kris said: “I felt comfortable all weekend in the DS 3 WRC and our performances reflected that. It was a very difficult rally, but I really enjoyed it. Finishing as runner-up here in Wales was a great way to round off the season and secure second place in the manufacturers’ championship.”

As for the other top Brit, Elfyn Evans finished 6th in the M-Sport Fiesta: "Overall I think we have performed quite strongly this weekend. Without the puncture it would have been a really comfortable fourth place but we all know that rallying is a game of ifs and buts. The conditions made for a particularly difficult rally but that is what makes this event so special and I was pretty pleased with our performance over the first couple of days. We worked really hard to improve our gravel performance ahead of this one and we were there or there abouts and best of the rest after the leading pack.”

"I also have to say a huge thanks to all of the spectators and marshals who braved the elements this weekend. The support that we received was incredible so a big thanks to them. Everyone keeps asking me if I have done enough to be here next year and I would like to think that I have. At the start of the season we were going really well and were as high as fourth in the championship at one point.”

"Unfortunately when we got the new car I just didn't quite get to grips with her. It's taken until now for me to feel comfortable on gravel but I feel as though we have made a big step forward and want to continue that progression into next year. I think that our potential is there. We have learnt a lot over the last 12 months and it would be a shame not to put all of that to good use next season."

In conclusion, DS Racing Team Principal, Yves Matton added: “Now is not really the time for celebrating, given the circumstances. Obviously, our thoughts are with the victims of the Paris attacks. The sporting result is secondary, but it was nonetheless important to finish off the job here. Thank you and well done to the team for their hard work throughout the year. I’m really proud of them. In addition to successfully defending both WTCC titles, we have achieved all our targets in rallying with second place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, a WRC rally win and the WRC 3 title, which shows that we are still leading the way in promoting talented young drivers. I would also like to thank Mads Østberg, Jonas Andersson, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle for their commitment throughout the season.”

Final Provisional Overall Standings
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:03:02.0
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +26.0
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +36.2
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:51.3
5. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:00.5
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:09.1
7. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +4:28.4
8. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +5:38.4
9. Robert Kubica / Maciek Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:22.7
10. Lorenzo Bertelli / Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:05.0