Rallying can be such a cruel mistress (is that term allowed in these politically correct times?), just ask Joshua and Tamsyn Davey. They led the Beatson's Building Supplies Knockhill Stages from first stage to last today. Well, not quite. The Darrian stopped dead in its tracks half way round the final stage. The gearbox had jammed solid going from 4th to 3rd. How cruel was that? And yet the pair of them were in remarkably good fettle at the finish despite the prospect of a return trip home, in the cold and the dark - all the way back to Cornwall!
Chris West was almost apologetic at the finish, snatching a last gasp win in his impressive Peugeot 306 Maxi. It looked a right twitchy handful at times in the slippery and greasy conditions, but he just managed to hold off Nigel Feeney's MINI by 7 seconds at close of play. That was a good result for Nigel though. He had finished the first stage of the day in 8th place after a wrong tyre choice, thereafter fighting back to take the runner up spot.
Equally impressive was young Taylor Gibb completing the podium after a sensible run (unlike his Da'!) into third place in the Watson Lancer Evo. Top RWD car on the day was Alan Kirkaldy's Escort and he too had a great run into 4th finishing just 6 seconds shy of Taylor's Mitsubishi.
John Marshall was well pleased with 5th having finished the first stage in 10th: "I just wanted to finish ahead of John Stone, to get the points in the MSN Championship," he explained, "I just kept chipping away at his times," and did the job, taking the place by 13 seconds.
As previously mentioned, James Gibb had a hooley of a day: "I switched all the drive and the bias to the rear," said the Lancer pilot, "I don't really like 4WD!" As it was he spent the day going mostly sideways, and it was a rare treat for the cold and frozen spectators who had turned out in quite significant numbers to watch the spectacle.
Andrew Gallacher failed to finish when the Focus' gearbox failed and Ross Hunter was up to his usual giant killing antics until an errant tyre marker had the temerity to get in his way and he punctured the Peugeot's radiator.
And you know what? The sun shone. It was dark and cold at first just after dawn, until the sun poked its eye above the horizon and it was almost pleasant, till it dipped below the hills again late in the afternoon. An enjoyable day out, but if this is the future of rallying, then I'm glad I've seen the best of it.
(More detailed report on the web-site on Monday night)
1, Chris West/Keith Hounslow (Peugeot 306 Maxi Kit Car) 2300cc, 44m 49s
2, Nigel Feeney/Paula Swinscoe (MINI Countryman WRC) 1600cc, 44:56
3, Taylor Gibb/Jane Nicol (Mitsubishi Evo) 1998cc, 45:01
4, Alan Kirkaldy/Don Whyatt (Ford Escort Mk2) 2499cc, 45:07
5, John Marshall/Scott Crawford (Subaru Impreza) 1998cc, 45:15
6, John Stone/Shona Hale (Ford Fiesta) 2500cc, 45:28
7, James Gibb/Charley Sayer-Payne (Mitsubishi Evo) 1998cc, 45:29
8, Ian Woodhouse/Jason Leaf (Ford Escort Mk2) 2494cc, 45:59
9, Ross Marshall/Denver Rafferty (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000cc, 46:08
10, Mark Kelly/Andy Baker (Ford Escort Mk2) 2500cc, 46:42