Thursday 28 September 2017

Rally - Not quite the end

Although this was supposed to be the final day of the Fatal Accident Inquiry in Edinburgh, it was - and it wasn't. Sheriff Kenneth MacIver QC opened proceedings with a reminder to journalists and reporters that the actual Inquiry was not finished until he had produced his Determination. In other words, the usual reporting protocols and restrictions must continue to be observed. It makes you wonder if he had anyone specific in mind.

So although the formal hearings are over for now that does not mean that the Sheriff cannot re-open the Inquiry for one or two days, or however long he thinks it might take, or ask for more reports or information to aid his deliberations and conclusions. That means no published conjecture or speculation till the Sheriff's final Determination has been published.

However, the general consensus does seem to be rather more positive than negative, with those sentiments being echoed by the Crown Office.

For the moment that does seem to be about as much as can be said about the Inquiry and the process without incurring a compulsory appetite for prison food.

As for the decision, the Sheriff had hoped that it might be completed in a couple of weeks, but it looks more like the end of November. He has to fit in another Court Case during this time. So we'll all just have to be patient. At least there is genuine cause for hope.  

As for a Transcript of the full proceedings I have been making enquiries and although I was told it would be expensive no-one could give me a figure. I now know why, they charge for each minute of testimony and procedure that has to be transcribed. Currently that figure is £1.61 per minute. You do the maths - I gave up when the total hit five figures and was still going.

There is one general observation that can be made and can act as a reminder to anyone going spectating at rallies. Read and heed the Warning signs at the entry to each stage. If you are travelling in a group then ensure that each member of the group reads the signs and should not rely on the group leader! If someone can't read them, then have them read out so that they understand.

As for the tape. It is striped and stretched across certain areas for a reason - it's not for decoration. Anyone who doesn't understand that should stay home.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Rally - FAI nears the Finish

The Fatal Accident Inquiry in Edinburgh is due to be completed tomorrow and it would appear that STV are intent on carrying a short report on their daily News programme (6 - 6.25 pm) on Thursday (28th) evening. How do I know this? I had a visit from reporter Oliver Dickinson and his cameraman this afternoon.

An initial approach had been made some days ago seeking background information on the sport and I pointed him towards earlier reports I had published on my Blog and Facebook. That elicited another approach asking if I would go on camera. I said not while the FAI is still underway. He had previously tried others connected with the organisation of rallies, but all had refused, and he needed someone to provide balance!
I initially agreed to a meeting to provide background information and specialist knowledge. Last week he called to make an appointment, we agreed a date, and then he said he would be bringing his cameraman. I was extremely reluctant, but he seemed quite genuine and since no one else was willing to speak up, and I hadn't been called as a witness during the Inquiry, I agreed.

We'll soon know whether that was a good idea - or not. Anyway, the interview lasted fully 20 minutes so it will have to be edited. And therein lies my fears. If he doesn't do a good job I can always clipe to his Dad, Mark Dickinson, who is competing on this year's Roger Albert Clark and has done it before, plus he's done Mull a couple of times.

As for the Inquiry itself, the formal proceedings are due to be concluded by close of play tomorrow following which Sheriff Kenneth MacIver QC will consider the evidence gathered and issue his Determination in due course, that could take weeks or perhaps even months. So we'll all have to be patient.

What the Sheriff will seek to establish includes the following, and any other pertinent matters he deems appropriate:
- where and when the death and any accident resulting in the death took place
- the cause or causes of such death and any accident resulting in the death
- the reasonable precautions, if any, whereby the death and any accident resulting in the death may have been avoided
- the defect, if any, in the system of working which contributed to the death or
any accident resulting in the death
- any other facts which are relevant to the circumstances of the death

It should also be noted that a Fatal Accident Inquiry is not the proper forum for the determination of criminal or civil liability. It is not a function of the Court in a Fatal Accident Inquiry to make findings or express opinions on questions of fault or liability or to attempt to apportion blame.

Although he is not seeking to apportion blame, simply assessing the facts, dismissing irrelevant testimony and coming to a conclusion with recommendations will amount to a considerable body of work, especially in light of the amount of information gathered.

Sheriff Kenneth MacIver QC is already aware of the outcome of the 'Motorsports Events Safety Review' and the 29 recommendations which have since been implemented across the UK. He is also aware of the 'compensation culture' which is prevalent in modern society. On that basis we can but hope that his Determination will be favourable to our sport.

Road - OutVanRageous

M-Sport's 'Road Technology' division has launched a limited run, exclusive new vehicle – the R-Spec Edition Ford Transit Custom. Drawing inspiration from the success of the 2017 Ford Fiesta WRC, MS-RT will produce just 50 vans that capture the visual essence of an M-Sport WRC Fiesta.

Based on the five-seat Transit Custom DCIV (Double Cab In Van), the R-Spec Edition gets metallic paint, dual-slide load doors, rear-view tailgate camera, parking sensors, LED loadspace lighting and a 240V power convertor.
There's an extended front diffuser and a sumptuous interior with Sparco competition-inspired seats, blue seatbelts and a grey dash replacement.

Lazer LED lights are incorporated into the front grille and there is enhanced security with lock protection to protect your investment.

The R-Spec also includes an MS-RT big brake kit, intercooler and boost hoses, as well as an MS-RT exhaust box which 'enhances' the sound!

An optional power box developed by Steinbauer is also available, providing 209 bhp and 486 Nms of torque. And to top it all off or bottom it all out, 20 inch alloys are another option.

Prices start at £35,995 +VAT +RLF. More info at:

Note: Dear Santa, I know it's early, but you'll need time to save up, plus you'll need to make alternative plans to deliveries by chimney ....... 

Sunday 24 September 2017

Rally - Kames capers

With victory on to-day's Albar Landscapes Kames Trophy Rally Ewan Tindall clinched outright victory in this year's Lawrence of Kemnay Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge. It was quite an emphatic demonstration too, setting 14 fastest or equal fastest times out of the 16 stages.

Running him close all day was Jude MacDonald just losing out by 24 seconds. The gap might have been a wee bit closer had it not been for an involuntary excursion up a banking on the 12th test!

Running fourth car on the road, Lewis Haining had just started the first stage when the rain came on, and as he leaned hard on the top left hander coming into the 'arena' the Toyota lost adhesion and he spun but still managed to finish third. Johnnie MacKay chased him hard in the Micra but had to settle for fourth ahead of Andrew Blackwood and Lewis Winder.

In the Senior rally, Colin Gemmell took his first win since swapping from a Subaru to a Ford Escort Mk2 with Ross Cree in second place and Martyn Douglas third, first time out in his newly acquired VW Polo GTI. Willie Pollock was fourth, but a lucky fourth, when the Mk1 executed a 'Strictly' quality pirouette avoiding another car at the exit from the merge.

Both Taylor Gibb and Nigel Feeney struck trouble - amongst other things - during the day. Full story to come in the on-line mag!

Albar Kames Junior Top 6
1 Ewan Tindall/Paul Hudson (Citroen C1) 29m 48s
2 Jude MacDonald/Michael Cruickshank (Skoda Citigo) 30m 12s
3 Lewis Haining/George Myatt (Toyota Aygo) 30m 55s
4 Johnnie Mackay/Gordon Reid (Nissan Micra) 31m 24s
5 Andrew Blackwood/Gordon Winning (Citroen C1) 31m 32s
6 Lewis Winder/Mike Baird (Nissan Micra) 31m 49s

Albar Kames Trophy Top 6
1 Colin Gemmell/Derek Keir (Ford Escort Mk2) 25m 42s 
2 Ross Cree/Jane Nicol (Ford Escort Mk2) 26m 05s 
3 Martyn Douglas/Brian Pringle (Volkswagen Polo GTI) 28m 35s 
4 William Pollock/David McLeod (Ford Escort Mk1) 29m 15s
5 Marc McCubbin/Joan Blackwood (Skoda Citigo) 30m 01s
6 Kevin Maguire/Paul Hunter (Skoda Fabia) 33m 05s