Tuesday 31 October 2017

Rally - Happiness is

At the Arrival Control before the Rally Finish in Llandudno on Sunday afternoon, the crews had anything up to 20 minutes to hang around kicking their heels waiting for their due time. Most of the big teams were aware of this and had dispatched staff members to feed the crews with cereal bars, salad sandwiches, fruit and soft drinks.

I think it was Craig who spotted the chippie first, but he had no money in his pockets (typical) so Kris gave him a handful of crumpled notes. Craig vaulted the barrier, jumped the queue and returned with two carrier bags full of steaming hot succulence for the boys.

The two DS girls looked rather bemused by this Welsh delicacy which the lads were tucking into with the greatest of relish accompanied by noises of great joy having been deprived of such 'comfort food' in the run up to the rally.

There was however a serious omission in the Welsh recipe according to Kris - no fritters and the sausages were naked!

Monday 30 October 2017

Rally - Marshals' training

No Marshals were hurt in Wales during this 'signing-on' process.

Rally - Welsh memories

The 2017 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB is already a memory, but for those who took part, whether they thrived, or just survived, it will be more than a memory. This was not just a rally, it was an event, an occasion, a rally star studded extravaganza of sport and wall to wall enthusiastic and appreciative spectators.

Now that the world rally car monsters have gone, the trees have stepped back to their precarious trackside positions, the sprayed mud has shlithered back into the ruts and pot holes, although the stones still lie scattered across grass and gravel like rocky shrapnel. The wildlife too has reclaimed its habitat now that the anoraked hordes have departed.

The only signs that the monsters have passed are shattered remnants of fibreglass and perspex, torn stickers and wisps of warning tape. Silence too has returned, creeping back to engulf the woodlands which were rent asunder by the thunderous shotgun staccato of over-run and anti-lag, spectatorial screams and the cheers of adulation and fanatical exultation.

Rallying is not just a spectator sport, it assaults all the senses, the sight of fire spitting, gravel spraying, fire breathing monsters hurtling past like multi-coloured shards of lightning. The pistol crack sound, the acrid smells in the nostrils, the taste of gravel and grit in the mouth and the feel of uncertain terrain underfoot as fans scramble for the best vantage points across ditches and up bankings. This is the sport that others seek to stifle and control. Sod that!

Sadly, the Scots failed to add a fifth consecutive year of domination on the National, event. Tom Preston and his Fabia R5 was just too good a combination for last year’s winners, Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts, but there were two other Scottish crews in the top ten, John Wink and John Forrest in 5th place and Alasdair Graham and Laura Stuart were 8th.

Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray just missed out on the top ten in 11th place while young Ally Currie and Steven Brown were a magnificent 16th first time out in their prize-drive Fiesta R2 winning their class by over 3 minutes.

Geoff Goudie slipped out of the top ten to 21st while the Redpath boys, Max and Callum, scored a marvellous 31st and snatched a last gasp 3rd in class this morning in their hardy Peugeot. Michael Robertson and Gary MacDonald were 34th, Gordon Alexander and Ian Clark were a valiant 48th in the Corsa, while Ellya Gold and Jean Hay were sidelined with clutch and hydraulic failure, and David Ross and Kyle MacKintosh had more fuel pump trouble.

Meanwhile up at the posh end of the entry list David Bogie and Kevin Rae finished best in the International in 14th place, John MacCrone and Rhianon Gelsomino were 21st and Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton 27th while Matthew Wilson and Stuart Loudon were 39th.

All of them had their troubles and challenges and some did better than others. Regardless, they will all have memories that none of the rest of us will have. They were there – and they did stuff!

Oh, yes, some others did well too. A French bloke won a title, while the rally itself was won by the young Welsh wizard Elfyn Evans and his Note-able compatriot, Daniel Barritt. Go boys, go. May it be the first of many.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Rally - Hard at it

After 16 hours and 10 minutes on road and stage yesterday – including the mandatory H&S recommended comfort breaks and rest halts! – the second full day of the 2017 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB drew to a close as weary crews pulled into Deeside service last night. If it was a long day for them, think of the poor service crew lads and lassies. They were on station from 4 in the morning till well past midnight and then it was another 4am call this morning!

Our lot are still on the case. David Bogie and Kevin Rae have dispatched Eyvind Brynildsen (their target!) and are currently 14th overall and 4th WRC2 runners. Prior to the start of the late loop last night he was 5 seconds behind Brynildsen and where he commented: “I don’t know if there’s a chance of a podium, we’ll see how tonight goes. We had to work today. With no service out there on the first loop and carrying two spares we had to swap tyres around, back to front, and new on and old ones off. It was good, happy enough with that.” As he clocked into the overnight halt late last night he had converted his 5 second deficit to a 2.5 second advantage over Brynildsen, and this morning they are 45 seconds behind 3rd placed Eric Camilli, but David had a glint in his eye. Methinks he doth think there is a possibility of a podium yet. Ever hopeful, eh?

John MacCrone and Rhianon Gelsomino are 22nd and 11th WRC2 and given the pace of this category they can be well chuffed with that. John started off the day behind Matthew Wilson and Stuart Loudon but he caught them: “We had the gap down to 6 seconds,” said John, “but we caught them in a stage when they got their first puncture. That means Wilson and Loudon will re-start today under Rally2 rules.

After all their troubles, Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton are still inside the top 30 in 28th place. Where many others might have given up and gone to the pub this duo have stuck at it through thick fog and dark, grim Welsh greenery.

Meanwhile up at the sharp end of the field there is a widespread feeling of suppressed joy and anticipation. Elfyn Evans the young Welsh Wizard has a 53 second lead over M-Sport team mate Sebastien Ogier. Not only is this good news for British fans but also good news for the Carlisle based DMACK tyre firm.

Thierry Neuville is only half a second behind Ogier, so there is unfinished business there ahead of today’s final 25 mls of stages. Jari Matti Latvalla is 4th just 4 seconds adrift while Andrew MacKkelsen (Andreas Mikkelsen) is 5th and Ott (Teacake) Tanak is 6th ahead of Kris Meeke.

On the National front, there is good news overnight. Bruce McCombie’s penalty has been sorted and although he has moved back up to second place overall, he’s still 25 seconds behind Tom Preston in the Fabia R5. With only 15 miles of stages left this morning that’s a big ask of the Mitsubishi driver.

Rally - Ally on course

They also serve ... who only stand there and hold the tailgate open!

Saturday 28 October 2017

Rally - The Internationals

The International section of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB had 7 stages today before service and a final run of 2 more before bed time with David Bogie continuing to go well, Euan Thorburn had a better day and John MacCrone was concerned (but not unduly worried) with a wee misfire. Matthew Wilson had three punctures and with only 2 spares (under WRC rules) that was him effectively out of the running although he’s hoping to get back out tomorrow Under Rally2 rules to fly the Tunnock’s flag.