Friday 29 June 2018

Bellringing for budgies

Crikey, what on earth is this? The entrance to a fairy grotto, the enchanted forest or just last year’s neglected and forgotten Christmas decorations? Nope, there’s a much more logical answer to this rather obscure contraption.

In an era of automation, robotics, electronic wizardry and technological progress, isn't it nice that there is still a place for simplicity and low maintenance. It took me a minute or two to work it out, but no doubt most of you will spot it instantly. Don't give the game away too soon, there might be some folk (like me!) out there who need some thinking time, and perhaps a few who still don't have a clue.

Energy efficient and battery-free - Pure dead brilliant, eh?

But where is it?

Saturday 23 June 2018

Rally - Victory in Argyll

Well that was a tough old day. Argyll at its finest, fastest and toughest. Going into the final stage of the Dunoon Presents Argyll Stages Rally, Andrew Gallacher had a 4 second lead over Donnie MacDonald. After 7 stages of twisty, technical stuff, the final six miler was fast and flowing and this is where the winner would be decided.

MacDonald drew up to the start line, waited for the countdown and went on the green. The Ford Fiesta R5 stalled: “That’s the first time I’ve done that,” said Donnie, “stalled on the start line. It cost us 7 seconds.”

Behind him in the queue was rally leader Andrew Gallacher in his Ford Focus WRC: “I was sitting there counting his seconds too,” said Andrew, as he took his turn to move up to the stage start line, and waited for the green light, “then we had a misfire! It cleared quite quickly but my first thought was ‘what the flip’s (not an exact quote!) going on’ but I thought I’d either see Donnie in a ditch or setting fastest time. Then I saw him waiting for me at the stage finish line.”

The winning margin was 5 seconds – in Gallacher’s favour, his first win since the Snowman Rally four months ago.

Bruce McCombie completed the podium line-up in his Mitsubishi Lancer, but only 2 seconds behind him were Freddie Milne and John Wink tied on times for 4th with Freddie getting the nod courtesy of a faster time on the opening test of the day. Michael Binnie rounded off the top six.

In a day full of drama and incident, it all kicked off on the first stage when pre-rally favourite Jock Armstrong slid wide on a long, long left hander on the very first stage smacking the nose of the Subaru hard. Mark McCulloch’s run of bitter luck continued with more steering trouble in the Fiesta and he cowped it in the first stage. Not to be outdone, Rory Young slid off the road when his Fiesta suffered a double front puncture.

Top 2WD runner was Greg McKnight finishing just outside the top ten in his Mk2 with Paul McErlean 2nd ahead of Keith Riddick once again putting in a stirring performance in his 1600cc MG.

( Full report to follow later in the week )

Top Ten:
1, Andrew Gallacher, 41m 16s
2, Donnie MacDonald, 41m 21s
3, Bruce McCombie, 41m 48s
4, Freddie Milne, 41m 50s
5, John Wink, 41m 50s
6, Michael Binnie, 42m 12s
7, Scott McCombie, 43m 25s
8, John McClory, 43m 38s
9, Alan Dickson, 43m 41s
10, Ian Baumgart, 43m 45s

Thursday 21 June 2018

Rally - More on Closed Roads

Progress is being made. Following last week's update on this page, and in the absence of news from any other source, it is most encouraging to note that progress is indeed being made.

Next week, Transport Scotland and other 'political entities' will meet on the 26th June to discuss the format for the necessary public consultation regarding 'Closed Road' legislation. It would appear at this stage that the adoption of the English/Welsh legislation would provide the simplest and quickest way forward as opposed to amending the existing Scottish legislation.

Just two days later on the 28th another group will meet comprising representatives from Scottish motor sports. These will include autotesting and speed events, hillclimbs and motor racing, and of course navigational and stage rallying, plus also some of our misguided, leather clad cousins whose life revolves around competition on motorised two wheels!

They will discuss what each discipline might want from this legislation so that a united front can be presented to the public consultation panel when it is announced. It has been suggested that the consultation process could take as little as 12 weeks in duration, barring any disruption from the 'anti brigade'. Fingers crossed.

As soon as a date has been announced for this consultation process I'll let you know. If there are no objections or serious political upheavals during this time, the necessary legislation could be in place before the end of the year which bodes well for 2019.

But don't get carried away. Some rally folk might think that it's a simple matter to put an event on the road, it ain't quite that simple. The reason that dates have to be so clearly defined and agreed well in advance of any proposed event, is so that other interested parties can be informed in plenty of time that certain sections of public road will be closed for short time spans.

These outside interests include other road users such as local businesses and farmers plus many others who  need to know about major disruptions in advance. Like, Fire and Ambulance services, Doctors and Vets, Midwives and Community Care staff, Schools and Colleges, Electricity, Gas and Telephone companies, the Royal Mail and Bus services, haulage contractors, parcel delivery companies and taxi operators, shop suppliers, food delivery services and of course 'meals on wheels' for those who can't get out and about - they all need to be aware. And all this while planning a route and engaging marshals and manpower.

So even if the legislation is in place by the end of this year there is a huge amount of work to be done by event organising teams before any sporting pursuit can be commenced. On that basis, Mull fans can be hopeful while JC organisers may have to consider a later date.

Still, a nice little bit of positive news, eh?

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Rally - Argyll Stages Preview

Full Entry List and Spectator Info for Saturday's (23rd June) 'Dunoon Presents Argyll Stages Rally' now in the on-line mag. Also a list of event Programme stockists and where they are located in and around Dunoon and the Argyll peninsula. The rally will get underway from Dunoon Pier Car Park at 09.00 Hrs on Saturday morning and the first car home is expected back at Dunoon Stadium around 17.00 Hrs.

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Rally - Training

On Monday evening last week a small group of individuals gathered at 'Post 9' near the top of Doune Hillclimb. With the permission of Lord and Lady Moray (who were rather intrigued by the request) they were there to scatter the ashes of  J Frazer Madder who passed away some time ago -

Rod Howat said a few words at the brief ceremony and recalled Frazer's contribution to motor sport. He also provided a wee bit of insight into the man, part of which highlighted: "Here at Doune, his authority was unable or at least unlikely to be questioned and whether competing or marshalling, you knew when Frazer was on a mission for whatever reason.  Woe betide if you were on the track, perhaps sweeping, when Frazer took off up the hill to investigate an incident.  I always thought that company cars were better than private ones in terms of outright top speed, acceleration from a standing start and precision handling and that certainly was proved in the case of the cars which Frazer muscled up and down this narrow track." Amen to that.

Frazer joined the Scottish Motorsport Marshals Club the year after it was founded in 1973 and became an integral part of the leading team right up until he started to take more of a back seat in 2009.

The sport was very different then. Prior to the creation of SMMC, such training as there was consisted of 'being shown what to do' and then left to get on with it. Frazer was one of those far-sighted folk who realised that the sport, and those who participated in it deserved better, especially when things went wrong, as can sometimes happen in motor racing and rallying.

His interest in safety matters and Marshals training was bolstered by his experiences of being Clerk of the Course at some of the Lothian CC organised speed events at Doune in the early days and he was instrumental in SMMC acquiring and equipping their first motor sport ambulance.

Oddly enough, I was reminded of that when I attended (unofficially - I was just being nosey!) a recent MSA 'Safety Car Workshop' training event at Knockhill. Organised in association with Rupert Hine, the SAMSC (Scottish Association of Motor Sports Clubs)Training Co-ordinator, the day long session was hosted by MSA Trainers Alan Page and Neil Fuller.

Most encouragingly, the event was attended by 42 delegates representing clubs and events right across Scotland. As part of the registration process, the delegates were asked how long they each had been involved in motor sport. The result was a rather surprising 1403 years in total. I say surprising because given the age of some of the folk in that room I thought it would be much higher! On the other hand there were a reassuring number of 'younger' folks, a much needed resource these days as regulations become ever tighter and workloads greater.

A full day of advice and guidance was offered from both sides, with discussion and debate undertaken, and was held in a most convivial and constructive atmosphere. This was no teacher/student learning experience because given the experience that was already assembled in that room, there were lessons to be learned by all.

Given the demands being heaped on rally organisers and their officials these days, such training is necessary and vital to the future of our sport, as ever more volunteers are needed. At the present time there are just short of 400 licensed safety crew members and almost 10,000 registered Marshals in the UK. So if you want to get involved, get on to the MSA website or contact your local car club.

Car clubs should contact Rupert through the SAMSC website for training advice and date availability - and maybe even some financial support!

Page & Fuller may not quite be the Morecambe & Wise of serious safety matters, and they might not have the snappiest catch-phrase, but they get the message across - if you are an Official on rally duty, then the message is: "See it, sort it."