The rain stopped. Speeds rose. Commitment increased. That kind of sums up the first night of the 2016 Beatson’s Mull Rally. John MacCrone continues to lead but by only 45 seconds from his neighbourly rival, Calum Duffy. That might sound a big margin, but this first Leg of the rally consisted of 50.6 miles of stages, so that’s less than a second per mile difference. However, the bigger talking point is Paul MacKinnon’s pace. Having dropped to 138th place at the end of the first stage, he’s now 12th, and the question is, how high can he climb?
MacKinnon was tight lipped but pleasant when he arrived at the evening’s final control in a flurry although he managed a smile when asked: “Are you working on your pilot’s licence?”
John MacCrone had a bit more time to spare and said: “It was a clean night, a clean run, nothing spectacular, I’m just keeping out of trouble.” He does have a couple of issues: “The Fiesta is geared for 108mph and we were flat out most of the way through the Glen, so it’s a bit frustrating when the bigger cars are getting away from us a wee bit. I’m also having to nurse the clutch, it’s wearing out, but it’ll be changed tonight.”
Calum Duffy was equally cool, calm and collected in the Skoda: “Bad tyre choices. We went out on super softs and they were knackered before we were halfway through the Glen. The car is good, the tyres choices are bad. Tomorrow is another day.” That sounds like a notice of intent, eh? Where’s the gauntlet?
Up to third place is another local man Lewis Gallagher in his Subaru, who only does Mull every year, very few other events: “I’m still getting used to the car and just working my way back in.” Imagine what he’d be liked if he was out every other weekend!
Jonathan Mounsey is 4th but reckons he’s getting 120% out of his Mitsubishi: “I just wish someone would give me a World car,” he said, “just for this weekend.”
Another man on the move up the leaderboard is David Bogie in the Escort: “I’m a lot happier now. There are so many bad bits out there, and you are constantly trying to find out just where you can attack – and can’t attack!”
James MacGillivray is “steady away” and Derek McGeehan thought the 20 miler was “a big tough stage.” Lying tenth at the overnight halt, Steve Thompson was a wee bit concerned: “The battery light came on just after Dervaig and I ran down the Glen switching off the power steering and lights just to try and keep going. Hopefully it’s just an alternator fault, and nothing more serious.”
Shaun Sinclair is “having fun now that I’m not hitting any walls” but John Cressey is in trouble. The MINI’s alternator stopped working and he can’t use more than 3500rpm because it cuts out the power steering: “I got passed by 2 cars in that long one,” he added. Matt Tarbutt got a fright when the sidewalls split on his front tyres, and assured everyone: “I didn’t hit anything.” Alan Gardiner had a misfire through Gribun on the 4th test while Curly Haigh is pleased as punch: “I’m faster than Sally now!” (See previous post).
As for Donnie MacDonald, he’s been steering the car with his left hand and just holding the wheel in his right after banging his arm badly when he went off on the first stage, so he’s going to get that looked at before morning. Ian Chadwick is happy enough: “She’s going well for an engine that’s done over 130,000 miles – maybe he should have a word with McLaren Honda, eh?
Fergus Barlow reported that his brakes were beginning to go off on the long one but is still well pleased with his pace, he’s 14th overall in the wee Fiesta R2 at present. Pete Gibson is going well but caught a car in both the last two stages. Ross Marshall thought the two shorter stages were “right good” but his tyres were going off halfway through the long one. Stewart Morrison had two spins in the first two stages then softened the suspension for the next three while John Rintoul was another who had to soften his suspension at first service. Keith Robathan ruined a good run in the first stage when he half spun, but the Escort ‘beached’ on the tarred road edge and the drop to the verge, damaging the exhaust in the process although still going. Tommy Graham wasn’t too happy with his Mitsubishi’s handling on the first two stages, “but we went the wrong way at service and it was far too sloppy over those last three!”
Alec Brown is going well in the wee Peugeot but isn’t feeling too well – and blaming the wife. Apparently she’s got flu. David White “clobbered a banking” on the last stage breaking a bottom arm and shattering a wheel so he had to stop and change it. Cameron McLean was another with a puncture in the last stage and had to stop and change it and Neil Morgan heaved a big sigh of relief at the end of the final stage: “I got a bit flakey going up Calgary steps and totally out of shape coming down the other side – but we got away with it.”
Daniel Harper lost out on third place when the MINI’s throttle cable broke in the fourth stage and Tristan Pye is out too when the car developed a serious misfire and he switched off to save the engine. Both Tony Bardy and Billy Bird are out too with gearbox trouble and Stephen Clark has blown a turbo. Greg McKnight has blown his diff, and rally sponsor, John Marshall in the Beatson’s Subaru was spotted parked up mid stage 5. No luck, eh?
Tomorrow is a new day and a new challenge. 9 stages in daylight. But what will the weather bring? One thing’s for sure - more drama. Much more.
Leaderboard after 5 (of 18) stages:
1, J. MacCrone, 44m 39s
2, C. Duffy, 45m 24s
3, L. Gallagher, 47m 33s
4, J. Mounsey, 48m 18s
5, D. Bogie, 48m 19s
6, J. MacGillivray, 48m 34s
7, D. McGeehan, 48m 41s
8, J. Cope, 49m 21s
9, S. Sinclair, 49m 42s
10, S. Thompson, 50m 04s