Monday 31 July 2017

Rally - Mull plans

Clint Eastwood at Mach1 Stages, or maybe not. On closer inspection the imposing figure striding purposefully and menacingly across the Machrihanish tarmac prairie towards the circle of service wagons turned out to be the Laird of Tobermory Tablet himself - the man who doesn't understand the term 'Tobermory single malt', much preferring 'Tobermory double malt', or a treble at a wee push!

Anyway, he re-affirmed that plans are well underway for a motoring/motor sporting themed weekend on Mull in the middle of October. And whilst it is hoped that there will be a resumption of closed road rallying on the island in 2018 there are many rallying folks who would like to maintain the continuity of a love affair which commenced way back in 1969 when school trousers were short and school skirts were long, and when the graceful, sweeping lines of the MV Claymore ferry graced the pier at Tobermory long before the bulk of the MV Isle of Mull blotted out the horizon.

I digress, the most likely choice at the moment is a Targa Rally for normal road cars, but a limit would have to be placed on the number of cars which could enter. A number of tantalising locations have been sourced for use as 'tests' including a stretch of road which may or not be familiar to regular visitors! Other thoughts include a tarmac time trial or a gravel time trial, but final decisions have yet to be made with Duncan Brown sifting through the good, the bad and the downright ugly ideas. It's also good to note that Beatson's Building Supplies are continuing to support the club  and the event - so you know where you need to buy your bricks and hardware.

As for the social side, that will take care of itself with a little help from the 'friends of Mull'.

Otherwise keep your eyes on the Mull Rally website or here when plans are confirmed.

Rally - Finland mixed fortunes

There was an unusual look to the top ten after the latest round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Finland with Esapekka Lappi topping the leaderboard way ahead of the all the usual favourites. Of more importance to those of us outside Euroland (well, almost) was the performance of Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt.

Best of the rest were Caig Breen and Scott Martin, but at least Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle got themselves home in the top ten, just don't expect a British or Irish World Rally Champion this year. Sebastien Ogier has been caught by Thierry Neuville and they share the Driver's Championship after 9 (of 13) rounds.

It was Lappi's fourth WRC outing and first World Championship victory with the Toyota Gazoo World Rally Team, which claimed two podiums as Juho Haninen finished third. As for team leader, Jari-Matti Latvala, he was leading the rally when the electrics failed in SS19.

If there was jubilation in the Toyota Gazoo camp, there was less to celebrate amongst  the M-Sport squad with Elfyn and Daniel excelling themselves to score a magnificent 2nd place. They actually started the final day in fourth place behind Teemu Suninen and Juho Hänninen.

At the finish Elfyn said:“We’re really chuffed to come away from Rally Finland with second place – especially as that wasn’t looking likely on Friday evening. We kept at it, kept pushing and managed to claw our way back up the leader board. It’s a really positive way to finish the weekend. Friday was a very difficult day for us. We started without a test and were really struggling with the balance of the car throughout that opening day. We made some changes which helped quite a lot and the longer stages and drier conditions helped too."

"Going into this morning, it was a very difficult situation. There was an element of wanting to push for the best result, but at the same time it was really important to secure good points for the team. It wasn’t an all-out attack, but it all worked out in the end. It’s not the win, but it’s still a strong weekend and we can be pleased with the job we have done this weekend.”

Malcolm Wilson, commented: “Considering where we were on Friday afternoon, second position is a great result. Once Elfyn found the confidence that he had been lacking early on, he made quick work of climbing the order and his performance today was fantastic. He hasn’t made a single mistake all weekend and should be extremely proud of this result."

Holding second place Sébastien Ogier crashed out in the 4th test. He damaged the suspension of his Ford Fiesta WRC after a heavy landing and then ran wide near the end of the stage which pitched him into the into the trees just 700 mtrs from the Finish. Ott Tanak also lost out on the  4th stage when the Fiesta clipped a rock damaging the wheel and puncturing a tyre which cost them 90 seconds.

Craig Breen and Scott Martin redeemed some honour for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT finishing a fighting fifth in their C3. Kris Meeke hit a rock in SS4 which damaging the steering but he straightened the steering tie-rod and kept going. Despite that he set the fourth fastest time on Ouninpohja 2!

There was more drama to come on the final stage of Day 2 as Kris explained: "On the final stage, we picked up a puncture after hitting a stone. I wanted to keep pushing but the tyre exploded, causing some fairly serious-looking damage. But it wasn't all that serious."

At close of play on Sunday, Kris added: "Obviously, it wasn't quite the day I was hoping for. I just couldn't find the feeling that I had here last year when I won the rally. Despite our efforts and the work done in service, I couldn't place the car like I wanted to and I was struggling to feel the grip. And clearly, it wasn't ideal to contest the last few stages with the damaged steering."

In the Manufacturer's Championship, M-Sport still leads, but Hyundai is closing the gap while newcomer Toyota is ahead of Citroen, what a turnaround for the French team.

Tom Cave finished an excellent 3rd WRC2 and 15th in the Hyundai R5 and after his disastrous Polish outing Osian Pryce had a brand new DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 for Finland and rewarded his supporters with 18th o/a, 4th place in WRC2 and top Fiesta runner. Fergus Greensmith finished 32nd o/a and 8th WRC2  in a Fiesta.

1. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:30:02.9
2. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +36.0
3. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +36.3
4. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:01.5
5. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:22.6
6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:33.1
7. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:53.6
8. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:12.6
9. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:11.5
10. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:21.2

1. Sébastien Ogier - 160 points
2. Thierry Neuville - 160 points
3. Ott Tänak - 119 points
4. Jari-Matti Latvala - 114 points
5. Dani Sordo - 84 points
6. Elfyn Evans - 79 points
7. Craig Breen - 53 points
8. Hayden Paddon - 51 points
9. Juho Hänninen - 46 points
10. Esapekka Lappi - 45 points
11. Kris Meeke - 31 points

1. M-Sport WRT - 285 points
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 251 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT - 196 points
4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT - 139 points

Saturday 29 July 2017

Rally - Mach1 roundup

There's a comprehensive roundup of all the news and gossip from the Mach1 Stages now in the mag. Very few funny stories, it must be getting serious out there, but there was actually a 'TV star' taking part while a Mull Rally star offered sound advice on tyres and things were going fine for one driver till the steering wheel broke - at the end of a long straight - with a 90 Right!

Friday 28 July 2017

Rally - FAI

The MSA has come in for a lot of stick over recent weeks and months ahead of the FAI in Edinburgh. No doubt they are being guided and advised by their legal team what to say and when, whereas those of us on the outside have rather more free rein.

Mindful of that they did issue a Press Release today and the full text is printed below. It doesn't tell us anything we don't know nor does it tell us how hard they are having to defend their position, but the outcome could greatly affect the future of the sport.

I do hope that they stress upon the court that the second accident was not a result of bad organisation nor can the driver of the car which crashed have expected someone to be so close to the road. It should also be borne in mind that the central figure in this case was a former rally driver and should have been more aware of the dangers than anyone else. He first rallied a Ford Lotus Cortina in the early 1970s before moving on to a Mk1 Escort and latterly a Mk2 in the early 80s. He also sponsored one of the rounds of the Scottish Rally Championship through his Glasgow based business.

One spectator fatality is one too many, and the past two weeks have been hard to bear, but we'll just have to brace ourselves for what's to come and expect more lurid headlines when the court moves on to the second accident.

MSA update on Scottish inquiry ...

The Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into four fatalities on two stage rallies in Scotland is nearing the end of its second week, having commenced in Edinburgh on 18 July.

The FAI is considering the tragic deaths of Joy Robson on the 2013 Snowman Rally and Elizabeth Allan, Iain Provan and Len Stern on the 2014 Jim Clark Rally. It is expected to last for approximately ten weeks; the MSA has been present from the start and will remain so throughout the proceedings.

The MSA will give evidence, which means it is limited in its ability to comment while the inquiry remains ongoing but may offer further updates if appropriate.

The MSA looks forward to understanding any recommendations that the Sheriff may make when the inquiry concludes. In the meantime, the governing body reiterates its sincere condolences to the family and friends of the four victims. "

Thursday 27 July 2017

Rally ... Mach1 report

If you want to know who won, and who didn't, the full report from the Mach1 Stages Rally is now in the on-line mag. A further News roundup with tales from the Service Area will follow shortly including News from as far afield as Wimbledon and Bavaria.