Monday 22 February 2016

Rally - Jock TV

Is there any truth in the rumour that another Scot could be joining David Coulthard on Channel 4's new F1 line-up? Someone who used to be a near neighbour of the now Monaco based TV pundit?

Whatever, the roving reporter was spotted with microphone in hand perfecting his broadcasting technique at the start of the Snowman Rally. Ever the professional he made sure his make-up was perfect, his guests were washed, polished and preened, and he was primed with incisive and revealing questions, although enquiring whether Y-fronts were better than boxers for wearing under fireproof suits is hardly appropriate. Or is it?

Just one problem. This footage is destined for publicly accessible broadcasting outlets, which has given young Ally Beck, the producer, a dilemma - will it have to be bleeped, or shown after the 9pm watershed?

To find out, keep an eye on the SRC TV YouTube channel - coming to a screen near you soon. Very soon.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Rally - Final scores

With two stages stopped and notional times applied, plus having to wait till the final straggler made it back to the rally finish some 12 hours after the first car left the start, there were one or two wee queries to sort out before results went provisional on Saturday evening. Final top ten is shown below. There will be a full rally report (as usual) in Wednesday's 'Motorsport News' plus a more detailed report later on in Jaggy's on-line mag.

As for the pic, here's a friendly piece of advice. When congratulating rally winners, a bit more sincerity and less silliness would generally be more welcome, otherwise the intended recipient of your best wishes may well grab you by your tender bits down below!

1, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 50:15
2, Dale Robertson/Stuart Loudon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 50:22
3, Quintin Milne/Sean Donnelly (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 50:45
4, Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Ix) 50:52
5, Garry Pearson/Robbie Mitchell (Ford Fiesta R5) 50:57
6, Jimmy Christie/David MacFadyen (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 51:34
7, Reay MacKay/Robert MacDonald (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 51:48
8, Steven Ronaldson/Gordon Chalmers (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 51:53
9, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 52:29
10, Scott McCombie/Mark Fisher (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9) 52:34

Saturday 20 February 2016

Rally - Donnie’s first

Donnie MacDonald has scored his first ever outright rally victory winning today’s Snowman Rally at Inverness. Mark McCulloch had a front wheel puncture on the final stage and dropped over 2 minutes.

That put MacDonald into the lead and he finished just 7 seconds clear of Dale Robertson. Also benefitting from Mark’s misfortune was Quintin Milne who grabbed the final podium place demoting Mark to fourth overall.

Despite the organisers’ best efforts, the final stage had to be curtailed after all when conditions worsened. Not only was it getting dark but a blizzard blew up further obscuring vision. After consultation with the Safety Delegate Clerk of the Course also had to consider spectators who were also facing increased difficulties with regard to conditions.

Results are not yet Provisional but the Leaderboard shows
D MacDonald, 50m 15s
D Robertson, 50m 22s
Q Milne, 50m 45s
M McCulloch, 50m 52s
G Pearson, 50m 57s
J Christie,  51m 34s

There will be more to say tomorrow once Results have been declared but the third stage was also curtailed today adding to the difficulties faced by the organisers.

Rally - Mark on top

Conditions continue to be horrible on the UK’s most northerly stage rally with sleet and snow showers sweeping across the hills and mountains, or as Mike Faulkner so succinctly and politely  put it: “It would be impossible to describe conditions today without swearing.” He should know he’s currently lying in 20th place having suffered as one of the top seeds.

Mark McCulloch has taken the lead of the Snowman Rally after 4 stages with one to go, but there was a second delay this afternoon when another spectator fell and broke and ankle, requiring the rally medics yet again to swing into action.

Mark (36m 26s) has a 51 second lead over Donnie MacDonald with Dale Robertson in third place. Jimmy Christie is fourth and Garry Pearson has dropped back to fifth with Quintin Milne rounding off the top six.

This is the first time out in his new Evo9 for Mark: “We just finished building the car on Thursday but it’s difficult to tell in these conditions if it’s any better than the old car! I think we were off 2 or 3 times in SS3 then in SS4 it was muddy underneath the snow and slush with ruts appearing in the softer sections.”

Donnie MacDonald is being sensible: “Mark’s got a good lead, there’s no sense in risking anything with one stage to go. We hit so many bankings in that last one I thought we were on a Scandinavian rally.”

Dale Robertson is being sensible too: “We had a moment on every corner in Stage 3. It’s a good job my anti-lag switch it so big so I can quickly switch it off when things get slippy.”

Shaun Sinclair went out in the second stage with head gasket failure.

Rally - Snow fun

It would be a brave or foolish man who bet on the outcome of today’s Snowman Rally. Conditions are so unpredictable drivers have little chance of selecting the correct type, compound or size of tyres for today’s treacherously, multifarious surfaces.

Bruce McCombie now leads (14m 09s) by a second from Mark McCulloch with Garry Pearson in third place on 14m 23s. Garry was fastest through the second stage by 8 seconds from Jock Armstrong (back up to 15th o/a now) and perhaps surprisingly, Jock shared that second fastest time with a the fast improving John Wink.

Dale Robertson (currently 11th) put it into perspective: “I was off down an escape road in SS2,” he said, “it was gravel all the way till we got to the braking area – and it was sheet ice!”

Quintin Milne dropped back a bit (4th o/a) on SS2: “I’m using the same tyres I won the Border Counties with 3 years ago in wintry conditions, but I wanted to save them for later so I put gravel on for that last one. It’s too easy to get punctures with the snow tyres so we’ll have to wait to see if we got the tactics right!”

Garry Pearson was quickest through SS2: “I was surprised at that, I couldn’t get my braking right. I was either braking too early or too late, and got one wheel in a ditch at one point. The first stage was difficult, there were only a couple of gravel sections, the rest was sheet ice.”

It was a point shared by rally leader Bruce McCombie: “I was over cautious in SS2. There was grip to be had, the trouble was you didn’t know where it was!”

Even when you did know there were no guarantees, as John MacCrone observed: “We spun on ice at the bridge in the first test – right at the bit I had marked on my Notes to slow down!

Snow and sleet showers are continuing to sweep the far north interspersed with brief periods of weak and watery sunshine. So if you think the drivers are having it tough, spare a thought for the Marshals.

Rally - Snowman underway

The start of the first stage on to-day’s Snowman Rally was delayed by just over an hour when a spectator collapsed and the medics were called. The gent was taken by motorsports rescue ambulance to the pre-agreed rendezvous point where he was transferred to the county NHS service. Hopefully he’s OK.

However, Meall Mor was up to its usual tricks. The first half of this notorious opening test south of Inverness which rarely catches the sun had hard packed ice this morning and the second half offered rather more grip. That meant the top seeds were severely hampered as they cleared the way for the later runners.

Running at number 13 Quintin Milne in his newly acquired car (hastily purchased two days ago on his return from So Africa) is leading the rally (7m 15s) by 1 second from Bruce McCombie. Mark McCulloch is third (7m 18s) from Donnie MacDonald on 7m 39s.

As for the top seeds. Jock Armstrong isn’t even in the top ten (8m 18s) more than a minute down on Q but ahead of Mike Faulkner and John MacCrone. That shows just how difficult the conditions were for the front runners.

The organisers had earlier looked at conditions and although the ice was hard packed, temperatures are above freezing and when they kicked their heels into the ice it was breaking up.

Goodness knows what the final two stages will be like when they get there later this afternoon. According to one Marshal who had come south to Inverness this morning, the public road had 8 inches of snow!