Sunday 16 October 2016

Rally - Final report

Life can be so cruel at times. Sport too. Rallying in particular. But regardless of personal favourites, rally fans must surely believe that the sport got it right last night. John MacCrone and Stuart Loudon won the 47th Beatson’s Mull Rally.

Calum and Iain Duffy ran them close, that’s for sure. Prior to the last 15 mile stage, 18 seconds separated MacCrone from Duffy. Who knows what was going through John’s mind as he sat on the start line, but there was still a job to be done, and not just for his own sake.

There was no let-up from the pursuit. Calum stormed it: “18 seconds was a lot to make up, but I gave it a go,” said Calum, “and cooked the tyres! They went off about half way through. I’m just happy to be here in one piece with the new car.”

Calum parked the Skoda beside the silent Fiesta and then just waited for John. When John got out of the car the two men from Dervaig embraced. Rivals for sure, but friends first. Calum thought it was the right result too.

In third place after a wild night of attrition was Derek McGeehan: “Job done,” he said, “that’s me finished. I thought this was a three year job and I’ve done it this year. I’m delighted with that.” But will he be back next year? He just smiled.

Shaun Sinclair scored an excellent 4th place overall, especially after his earlier ‘bump in the night’ contretemps and then the diff broke on the last stage before final service, but reached service and got it fixed for the final loop, Matthew Tarbutt was fifth and Alan Gardiner a marvellous 6th in the Mk1 Escort. Donnie MacDonald was another to stage a mighty fightback after his ‘off’ on the first stage, Curly Haigh 8th in another Mk1 Escort, John Rintoul 9th and John Cressey rounded off the top ten.

But this was a night of attrition. Lewis Gallagher lost third place when the Subaru broke its gearbox, David Bogie went straight on at Left 1 after a Left 2 and the Escort sank up to its axles in bog and Doug Weir crashed out on the final stage but both he and Linda are OK. Bruce Edwards was off and beached too, Scott McBeth’s Mitsubishi suffered terminal failure when a con-rod made a bid for freedom through the block and Kev Dunn chose to put his Nova into a ditch rather than hit a bridge parapet. Some choice, eh? Ross Hunter broke a driveshaft, Brian Pringle broke his gearbox and Eddie O’Donnell was spotted using ‘manual’ wipers. The motor had failed. So he had attached a string through his window to the o/s wiper and another string through Stewart’s window and they each took turns pulling – To me, To you, To me, To you!

This was a night for celebration, commiseration, low despair and high emotion, but that’s what makes Mull the biggest challenge in British club rallying. It’s also rather ‘special’.

At the finish, there was no hiding the emotion inside the winning car as the Ford Fiesta R5 crossed the finish line in the early hours. A respectful crowd watched as John took stock of what he had done and achieved. But it makes you think, perhaps there were three crew members inside that car last night.

Leaderboard after 18 (of 18) stages:
1, J MacCrone, 2h 19m 32s
2, C Duffy, 2h 19m 42s
3, D McGeehan, 2h 28m 25s
4, S Sinclair, 2h 31m 04s
5, M Tarbutt, 2h 34m 23s
6, A Gardiner, 2h 39m 17s
7, D MacDonald, 2h 39m 17s
8, C Haigh, 2h 39m 20s
9, J Rintoul, 2h 39m 23s
10, J Cressey, 2h 39m 35s

( Note: Main Street ‘Walk’ to Ledaig prizegiving will commence 2.45pm )

P.S. Just a brief final report here. Too many tales to tell in too short a space. Those are for another time.

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