Saturday 15 October 2016

Rally - More rain

If it was wet this morning on the 47th Beatson’s Mull Rally, it got wetter this afternoon, then it got even wetter than that! Still, it made tyre choice easy.

John MacCrone still leads but Calum Duffy is chipping away at his times and there’s just 36 seconds between them with 4 more stages to go tonight, in the dark. There will be no Paul MacKinnon though. On the second test earlier today, the Subaru swapped ends damaging the front of the car and breaking the steering. It wasn’t even a quick stretch of road, it was just slick with water.

“We’ve had to be very safe, conditions are really bad, with standing water in places,” said John, “we actually had a half spin second time through The Lochs, right up on the grass. It was a bit harum scarum at times. I’m not looking at our times or anyone else’s, I’m driving at what I consider to be a safe pace in these treacherous conditions.”

It was a view shared by Calum Duffy: “It’s really horrible out there, but at least it’s wet, and the car is working well now. We got some settings and advice from Roman Kresta (Skoda works driver). Barry Den (Den Motorsport) phoned him and asked for advice on settings in the wet. Roman was very good and it seems to be working.” A bit tongue in cheek, Calum added: “They said they were looking for a factory driver, but I said I was kind of busy!” Calum says he’s trying not take any risks and yet his times are improving: “With the right tyres on now, I feel like I’ve just woken up – I must be getting old.”

Lewis Gallagher is still third but David Bogie is keen to close the gap further. “I’ve seen worse than this,” said the remarkably cool, calm and collected Gallagher, “I took timeout of David earlier on and he’s got some back this afternoon.” As for David, he has one real concern: “There’s a problem with the wiper motor. It’s a single motor operating a single arm and blade and it’s going slower and slower sometimes stopping. I’m just waiting for it to fail completely and we don’t have a spare. It’s a Fiat part, so maybe we can find one locally. Even so It’s a big job to change it as it sits way down behind the bulkhead.”

Jonathan Mounsey is fifth but Derek McGeehan is only one second behind him and when asked how bad things were, Jonathan said: “Coming down the Glen at road speed just now to the Control the car was aquaplaning – and we’re using that as a stage later on. I hope it stops raining.”

James MacGillivray as dropped out of the top ten and the rally. The Subaru has broken a driveshaft and Stephen Thomson has also dropped out, sliding off the road in his Escort. He was joined shortly afterwards by young Nick Rintoul who rolled his Skoda at the same place.

Speaking of Rintoul his Dad John is now in the top ten with the Hyundai: “It’s my usual. I always go quicker on the Saturday afternoon – I can see where I’m going!” Pete Gibson is now in the top ten too with his Mitsubishi: “I’ve been on slicks all day. Probably the wrong tyre choice, but I’m still here.”

Lying 11th earlier on, young Fergus Barlow suffered some poor luck when he got stuck in a stage with a faulty fuel pump but managed to limp out and get it fixed. Billy McClelland is off in Calgary, Lee Hastings has been struggling with no turbo boost when the waste gate got stuck, Norman MacPhail has broken his clutch cable but is still going, Gareth White says he’s driving like a vicar, the roads are rivers and Alec Brown has a problem with steamy windows. He borrowed a cake of soap from an ambulance driver to wipe the interior glass! Thomas Gray is going no further. The Fiesta smacked its front n/s corner and lost a wheel. And Gary Dillon is going no further too. It looks like his Honda will need every panel replaced. It was well rolled. 

Speaking of Hondas and rolls, one of the Police cars was following  a safety official in a Honda CRV. The Honda turned left on one of the stages and the BMW didn’t. It went straight off and bumped its nose on Mother Earth. Both officers were shipped off to the hospital for a check-up, but it just shows you, if conditions can catch out a Police driver, they must be bad.

And now for the grand finale. Four of Mull’s finest to determine the outcome of this year’s event. There’s little to choose between the top two and if conditions remain unpredictable, so too are any winning predictions.  

Leaderboard after 14 (of 18) stages:

1, J. MacCrone, 1h 38m 11s

2, C. Duffy, 1h 38m 47s

3, L. Gallagher, 1h 43m 24s

4, D Bogie, 1h 43m 43s

5, J. Mounsey, 1h 44m 04s

6, D. McGeehan, 1h 44m 05s

7, S Sinclair, 1h 46m 18s

8, M. Tarbutt, 1h 48m 14s

9, J Rintoul, 1h 50m 36s

10, P Gibson, 1h 50m 38s

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