For once the weather gods defied the weather predictors in the skies over Scotland, well, Ingliston at least. During a warm, sunny day, two showers threatened, but came to nowt. Even so, it caught out Alistair Inglis. He arrived at the DCC Stages Rally expecting wet roads and dripping skies, so the Lotus was set up all wrong.
"I thought the roads were going to be greasy," said Alistair, "but they were bone dry." That cost him dearly, dropping 13 seconds to Alan Kirkaldy in the Mk2 in the first stage. It was a deficit that looked unlikely to be clawed back, as once on dry settings, the Exige and the Escort were rarely more than 2 seconds apart on each stage. Then it all went wrong for Alistair in the afternoon: "I just got two wheels on the grass and spun off backwards." Damage wasn't too bad but the rear mounted exhaust was squashed flat.
With a healthy lead over the pursuit, Kirkaldy was able to back off on the last stage: "I was short-shifting round that last stage," said Alan, "and nearly overshot the hairpin. Just losing concentration," he explained, "so I thought to hell with it and got back on it." The result was his first outright rally victory.
If that looked easy, TWO seconds separated the Mitsubishis of Nigel Feeney and Taylor Gibb in 2nd and 3rd places: "I had a bit of fuel surge over the last two stages," said Nigel, "so I didn't know if I could hang on to second. Young Taylor was pushing me hard all day."
In fact if it hadn't been for an off-road excursion at the hairpin on SS3, Gibb might well have finished one place higher: "The tape on the outside of the exit had gone, " said Taylor, "I was straight through it before I realised and it cost me a good few seconds to get it turned around and back on the track."
Escort mounted Tom Blackwood had an excellent run too holding off Keith Robathan's Escort for fourth place while Brian Watson rounded off the top six.
There was another fierce fecht in Class where 7 seconds separated Gareth White from Greg Inglis. Such was the heat of battle that both of them spent some quality time 'off-route' but the Peugeot did the business over the Citroen.
You had to feel for Ed Todd though. He had pedalled the GTM into the top six when the gearbox let go on the final stage, and top seed John Marshall was out almost the rally had started, the Subaru suffering a gear selection glitch in the second stage at which point it looked as though the timing belt was about to give way. So they did, before it did!
John Rintoul was another early spectator when the Fiesta popped a drive shaft out on the first stage and the power steering pump failed on the second, and Hamish Kinloch was all set for an invigorating finish in the top ten when the ignition switch broke, cutting off all the go-juice on the penultimate test.
1, Alan Kirkaldy, 63m 46s
2, Niegl Feeney, 65m 28s
3, Taylor Gibb, 65m 30s
4, Tom Blackwood, 65m 56s
5, Keith Robathan, 66m 08s
6, Brian Watson, 66m 51s
7, Stevie Hope, 67m 18s
8, George Auld, 67m, 22s
9, Gareth White, 67m 29s
10, Greg Inglis, 67m 36s
(Full report with all the juicy details in the on-line mag next week!)