Saturday 23 April 2016

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

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