Saturday 29 October 2016

Rally - Day 2 in Wales

At close of play on Day 1 of WRGB National Rally, there were 4 Scots in the top ten. At the end of Day 2 the same 4 Scots were still in the top ten. And since all good things come in threes here’s hoping there will be 4 Scots (or more!) in the top ten in Llandudno on Sunday.

Topping the leaderboard for the second day were Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts in the Mitsubishi Lancer half a minute clear of second placed Luke Francis in a similar car: “It’s still overheating,” said Bruce, “but there was only one really long stage today. The tyres were shagged going into the last stage. The roads are down to bedrock in places but they’re still great stages. We’re just doing the same today as we did yesterday and we’ll do it again tomorrow.”

Second of the Scots and moving up from fifth to fourth are Iain Wilson and Keith Riddick: “No moments today,” said Iain, “we were worried about punctures after yesterday. The aim now is to hold position, the top three are really going well. If It hadn’t been for the puncture –who knows?” He added: “We saw the tree in Gartheiniog that we hit last year – it was looking well! We both gave it wee wave as we passed. Bad tree!”

Scott McCombie was third placed Scot in 6th place and happy enough: “We have a wee issue with the shift light, it doesn’t always show the gear we’re in, or the gear we’re going into. At least the anti-lag is now working. It was just a wiring fault that we found last night. Had we known it was that simple earlier we could have fixed it sooner.”

Fourth Scot in the top ten is Fraser MacNicol going really well in 8th place and happy with his handiwork from yesterday: “The fan has been working all day - I fixed it myself last night. The low cloud wasn’t a problem this morning, I could still see. Yesterday I couldn’t see.”

Lee Hastings had a better day: “Last night I felt sh*t, but I can smile tonight. Conditions were better today, it wasn’t as guttery. There was one strange thing today though. We came round one corner to find a bit of tree on the road with a beer can on it!”

Not quite so happy was Jim McRae with the Vauxhall Firenza: “It wouldn’t fire up at the start f the second last stage today,” said Jim, “and we had to push it back and bump start it in reverse. By the time we got back to the Start we were 2 minutes late and got a penalty. It did it again when we were re-fuelling. It just turned over on the starter, but wouldn’t fire up and we had to get a push start again.” He still managed a smile when Alex Strathdee turned up in service. Alex used to work for SMT in Perth, one of Jim’s first sponsors, and Alex serviced for him in his Vauxhall and Opel days.

Anyway, Alex was watching from the Hospitality area at Cholmondley Castle where the cars had to do a 360 round a bale. The master executed a perfect doughnut in the V8 Firenza prompting one observer to comment: “That’s a real driver” with Alex confirming that he was better than that chap Ogier!

Carl Tuer is just outside the top ten in his MG and has got passed Jim but he is more concerned about his 1600 class leading position. Both Gee Atherton and Mike Harris are just a sniff of exhaust fumes behind him.

But the guy on the move tonight, is Robert Thomson up to 13th today from 26th yesterday: “Today was our first day. After our problems yesterday we pushed on today. There’s still a wee bit more to come tomorrow if we need it.” Last night the two service crew changed the gearbox and prepped the car in 2hrs 45 mins.

Simon Hay made ground today after his drive shaft failure yesterday and he goes to bed in 28th place but he also had a wee problem with the gearbox last night and the boys had to drain it and flush it twice finally getting to bed at 2am. Tom Coughtrie got his Escort’s electrics sorted out too. Not just the ignition pack was changed but there was a loose bolt inside the distributor which was confusing the timing light. The lads fished it out with a magnet. Ian Forgan lost a bit more ground with a puncture today and a cracked rear brake disc and Kevin Robertson got back out this morning after his gear linkage was repaired. And just when things were looking good for Geoff Goudie, a front strut collapsed on the day’s penultimate stage and he opted to miss the last stage and come back to service.

Quote of the day came from Iain  Wilson who was worried at the start of the Cholmondley stage about how to tackle the 360 spin in front of the crowds. He asked Keith: “Should we do a Ken Block or a Ken & Barbie?” Whatever, when it came to the crunch he couldn’t make up his mind: “and we did a Cindy!”

Oh, and he didn’t like his fotie last night. He looked like a meerkat caught in the headlights. So here’s a better one.

Pics show Scott McCombie chatting with Wayne Sissons and young Luke Barry (SRC PRO) listening in, the shy and retiring Fraser MacNicol, Robert Thomson with a pint, and Iain ‘tea-boy’ Wilson with a mug of 2 sugars and milky tea. 

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