If the sun shines on the righteous, then that must have been a seriously godly bunch gathered under clear blue skies at Machrihanish today for the first half of the Mach1 Stages Rally. After 8 stages totalling 44 miles, the heat-weary drivers and co-drivers and sun-baked service crews headed for food and drink. Primarily drink.
Bruce Edwards and Jim Smith finished the day 38 seconds clear of Gordon Morrison and Calum MacPherson, with both drivers showing signs of heat-stroke as Bruce clambered out of the nuclear roller skate and sank into his old-man’s canvas chair while Gordon spread eagled himself on a towel on the tarmac.
“I had no heat issues on those last two stages,” said Bruce, “but I actually backed off on SS5 and 6 just to save the car a bit.” Of even more concern was the fact that he had to spend money this morning: “I had to buy tyres after the first two stages,” he explained, “the fronts had done 8 events and the rears had done 10, so I really can’t complain.” But of course, he did.
As for Gordon: “That Darrian is just **** .... a wee bit of rain would me good. I had heat issues all day trying to keep the Subaru cool, although the last two stages were better.” Mind you, he might get his wish if the weather gods are to be believed. Rain is forecast for tomorrow.
In third place are Ian Paterson and Calum Shanks having a fierce tussle with Tom Morris and Russell Smith. “We broke a prop shaft on Stage 5,” said Ian, “so I put the call out round the service area and I had folk queuing up to offer me one. Simon Proud loaned me his spare, so that was really good of him.”
23 seconds behind, the Metro was struggling in the heat too: “We had a misfire over the first two stages,” said Tom, “so we changed the spark plugs – one of them was actually rusty. The misfire was still there over the next two so we changed the coil pack. It’s still there but it was actually running better over the final two stages as the clouds came over and temperatures dropped.”
Alan Gardiner is 5th in the mighty Mk1 but only 5 seconds behind him rounding off the top six is Brian Watson in a WRC Impreza.
One of the first to depart the fray was Alistair Inglis, the Lotus afflicted with a return of its electrical problems: “We thought we had found the cause and cured it,” said Alistair, “obviously not!” The car was late arriving for the start of SS1 and then conked out half way round.
Freddie Milne spun his Mk2 on the opening test and dropped down the order and Donnie MacDonald and Tom Blackwood had a coming together on the first stage but it was all resolved quite amicably.
Best drives of the day must be from Donald Bowness and Michael Harbour. Donald is leading the 1600 class in his Nova in 11th place o/a and Michael 14th in his C2 - the pair of them scrapping like two spoiled weans over one tube of Smarties. Although Michael was lucky. Fresh from his rebuild after Leuchars when he cowped it. He nearly did it again this afternoon: “I just rode up on the tyre markers and the car reared up on to 2 wheels. Phew!”
Cameron Craig leads the 1400 brigade in his Peugeot 205 with Innes Mochrie 2nd but only 13 seconds clear of the VW Polo of Martyn Douglas.
Tomorrow there are just 4 stages, but whoppers, totalling 45 miles, so if they thought today was tough, things can only get tougher.
1, Bruce Edwards, 49m 28s
2, Gordon Morrison, 50m 06s
3, Ian Paterson, 50m 54s
4, Tom Morris, 51m 17s
5, Alan Gardiner, 51m 25s
6, Brian Watson, 51m 48s
7, Donnie MacDonald, 51m 53s
8, Tom Blackwood, 52m 02s
9, Colin Gemmell, 52m 05s
10, Alasdair Graham, 52m 08s