Saturday 30 April 2016

Rally - Pirelli Rally

Time for tea with David

If Elfyn Evans is the fox in this year’s British Rally Championship then the hounds are smelling blood. He set off at a fair old lick this morning on the Pirelli Rally, but he and a few others beat the Bogey on the first stage so no advantage gained. He opened up a sizable lead on the second and then disaster struck on the third.

“I hit something in the grass. It was a big hit. I don’t know what it was, as I didn’t see it, but I felt the front right tyre go down,” said Elfyn, “and we drove it out on that for the last 5 miles.” His luck didn’t get any better in the fourth and final stage of the day: “We beat the Bogey by 27 seconds in a 13 mile test, so there will be little chance of pulling that back if there are any more cleanable stages tomorrow.”

That meant that Fredrik Ahlin leads overnight in his Skoda but by just 7 seconds from the similar car of David Bogie. “We had a slight off on the second stage this afternoon,” said David, “we just slid on the loose stuff into a ditch. We kept going and didn’t really lose much time, but we bent something at the rear.”

A further 7 seconds behind Bogie is Matthew Wilson. This is his first rally since the 2014 Rally Wales GB: “Admittedly I did a lot of testing for the Fiesta R5 in the early days but competition is different,” said Matthew, “I’m OK on the quick stuff but just struggling to find my braking points. We had a really good time in SS4 though so I just need to catch the Bogieman tomorrow!”

As for Euan Thorburn, he didn’t even survive the first stage in the Peugeot: “The belt which drives the power steering and alternator stripped its teeth and flew off. We just didn’t have enough juice to get out and get help!”

Lying second in the National Cup class is the Mitsubishi of Donnie MacDonald, 3 seconds behind Peter Stephenson in the Focus WRC, with Donnie holding 14th place overall. Freddie Milne is 19th, Alex Laffey 20th and Ian Baumgart 21st. John Morrison is 25th after misfiring through SS2 but a change of plugs got him back on form and Nigel Feeney is 27th but softening off the Subaru suspension for tomorrow.

Young Blair Brown is going well, 28th overall in the Fiesta and fifth Junior ahead of Lee Hastings (38th), Linzi Henderson (43rd) and Thaarique Fazal in 46th place at the overnight halt.

Interim Positions after 4 (of 7) stages:
1, F Ahlin, 39m 21.2s
2, D Bogie, 39m 28.5s
3, M Wilson, 39m 35.9s 
4, T Cave, 39m 42.7s 
5, E Evans, 40m 01.8s
6, M McCormack, 40m 08.0s
7, J Greer, 40m 26.1s
8, D Henry, 41m 14.2s
9, N Simpson, 41m 15.5s
10, J Anderson, 41m 15.9s

Monday 25 April 2016

Rally - Tribute acts

As pop bands come and go, so tribute acts come and go too, depending on the original stars' level of popularity. The bigger the band, the more tribute acts they inspire. The trouble is some of these emulators jumping on the tribute bandwagon can fall disappointingly low in terms of visual imagery and sound quality.

Popular throughout the 1970s, the elegantly attired and expensively coiffured Three Degrees enthralled a burgeoning pop cultured nation with a  string of hits including 'When Will I See You Again', 'A Woman Needs a Good Man', 'Take Good Care of Yourself' and 'Dirty Ol' Man'. Tuneful melodies which inspired their own adulative imitators. Sadly, the genuine Three Degrees have now hirpled off the public stage, but the tribute acts go on, although some take their search for authenticity to extreme levels.

Spotted in an Elgin public car park last weekend was this politically incorrect group of crooning artistes, apparently known as the Three Degreasers. At the conclusion of their world tour of the north east, they were rehearsing for their final show in the Lounge Bar of Elgin's Muckle Cross nightspot. If you do see any of these people in your neighbourhood, please avoid at all costs - or wear ear plugs.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Rally - Miles of smiles

There will be hell to pay for this, but what the heck, here goes. Monty Pearson has a wee bit of a reputation within the team for his rather serious demeanour when the boy is rallying, but the team's dedication and hard work were rewarded yesterday with Garry's first outright victory - and even Monty was well chuffed.

For the full story, read 'Motorsport News' on Wednesday. A much more detailed report will follow in Mr Bunnet's on-line rally mag afterwards with all the news and gossip as usual.

Saturday 23 April 2016

Rally - Pearson’s First

There was no doubt this time about who won the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally. After their dead heat on the Border Counties, Garry Pearson and Jock Armstrong finished first and second with Mike Faulkner in third place. Early rally leader Euan Thorburn didn’t go to the rally finish and hand in Time Cards after suffering a diff failure in the Peugeot 208, deciding not to risk the car any further ahead of next weekend’s British Championship counter in Carlisle.

That left Pearson to hold off Armstrong over the c losing stages but it was a close run thing as Garry admitted to the pressure “getting to him a wee bit” commenting: “I spun it on that last one, my bum was nipping!”Co-driver Robbie Mitchell smiled wryly: “I think we had a couple of warnings prior to that, it was just getting a bit ragged. We knew Euan was having trouble and the pressure was getting to us. That was a big spin down the road backwards – you’ll no get a bigger spin than that and get away with it.” But get away with it they did and scored their first ever outright victory.

Armstrong was only 8 seconds adrift at the finish, that’s one second per stage (not counting the two tarmac spectator specials!) it doesn’t get much closer than that. Mike Faulkner had to settle for third: “That was as fast as it will go, I was on the door handles.”

Fourth and looking well chuffed with his improving pace was John MacCrone, fastest on the final stage saying: “I’m happy with that, but then if it hadn’t been for the broken shaft earlier, who knows.” Bruce McCombie was fifth but: “I just need to be more consistent, I got a 3rd quickest on Rosarie and then all to pot on the next one.”

Rounding off the top six was Dale Robertson: “That was as fast as she will go, so I’m happy with that.” Mark McCulloch was seventh: “I think the head gasket is going, we had to keep topping it up with water over the last loop,” and Andrew Gallacher was 8th having cured his fuel feed problems finally at the last Ingliston event.

Freddie Milne was 9th (Q was top 2WD) and Barry Groundwater made the top ten just ahead of Donnie MacDonald and Shaun Sinclair who both had car trouble over the closing stages.

Top 10 after 10 (of 10) stages:
1, Garry Pearson, 42m 32s
2, Jock Armstrong, 42m 40s
3, Mike Faulkner, 43m 13s
4, John MacCrone, 43m 19s
5, Bruce McCombie, 44m 08s
6, Dale Robertson, 44m 31s
7, Mark McCulloch, 44m 36s 
8, Andrew Gallacher, 44m 53s
9, Freddie Milne, 45m 15s
10, Barry Groundwater, 45m 37s

Rally - Thorburn leads

Euan Thorburn has taken the lead at the halfway point of the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally. The Peugeot driver has 17 second advantage over the Fiesta of Garry Pearson, but only 1 second behind Garry is the orange Subaru of Jock Armstrong.

The staged are in excellent condition although slippy with a sandy surface, but that’s what folk expect when they come up here. What they didn’t expect was the frequent flurries of hail and snow interspersed with sunshine and what Bruce McCombie described in Doric as “airish”. That just means awfy cauld to the likes of you and me. And yes, it is quite bitter when the sun dips behind the clouds.

All the top four admitted to misdemeanours on the opening tests due to conditions with Pearson having to take to an escape road at one point after tackling a brow a bit too enthusiastically: “I had it marked in my Notes as ‘deceptive’ but it still came up a bit quick,” said Garry, “I saw the escape road and saw it was wide enough to get turned round. So no damage, just a bit of time loss, but I think Euan had been in there too!”

“Not quite,” said the rally leader, “but we were dropping time. A bleed nipple had come loose on a  rear brake calliper and we were losing fluid.” It was quickly fixed at service.

Not so lucky was Shaun Sinclair, back behind the wheel of his Subaru, but the car sheared an end off a front driveshaft and there was some hectic work going on under the awning. And it looks as though Scott McBeth is out, the fuel pump failed in the first forest test.

Jock admitted to a spin on the first test at a well attended Cooper Park spectator stage with Faulkner holding station in fifth. Rounding off the top six is Bruce McCombie who had to take to a ditch to avoid a huge rock in the middle of the road in SS3 only for brother Scott to hit it square on with the sumpguard but hoping there is no lasting damage.

John MacCrone is still building up pace but he was in top gear for some of the fast stuff so he’s feeling much better about his pace while Donnie MacDonald is suffering something of a culture shock back on gravel after the tarmac of the Circuit of Ireland.

Top 10 after 5 (of 10) stages:
1, Euan Thorburn, 18m 11s
2, Garry Pearson, 18m 28s
3, Jock Armstrong, 18m 29s
4, Mike Faulkner, 18m 55s
5, Bruce McCombie, 19m 17s
6, John MacCrone, 19m 18s
7, Donnie MacDonald, 19m 32s
8, Dale Robertson, 19m 45s
9, Andrew Gallacher, 19m 46s
10, Mark McCulloch, 19m 54s