Wednesday 31 October 2018

Rally - More on Closed Roads

On Friday of this week, the great and the good of Scottish Motor Sport will gather at a location somewhere in Leith to discuss the progress (or lack of it?) with regard to the necessary legislation required to close public roads for motor sporting competition - as well as other forms of competition and also for local social needs.

The meeting will be hosted by up to three senior officials from Transport Scotland who will meet with representatives from Scottish Motor Sports, the Association of Scottish Motor Sport Clubs and both the Jim Clark and Mull rallies plus other 'interested parties'. I'm not even sure if the MSA will be represented as it would appear that they are undergoing some form of internal re-structuring of their own at present! No doubt we'll hear more about that too in due course.

Anyway, as I understand it, Friday's gathering is a scheduled meeting, not necessarily one which was called for a specific reason or update. 

Earlier in the year it looked as though considerable progress was actually being made right up till June when it was suggested that the required 12 week public consultation to consider the terms of the new 'Bill' would likely commence at the beginning of September. On the successful conclusion of that it was expected that the legal process would take a few more months - in time for rallying, as we know it, to resume as early as next May.

Then just when you think things are moving nicely, the Scottish Government dumps Scottish Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf after 13 months in the job and installs a new Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, one Michael Matheson MSP.

Not only that,  a new Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing was appointed at the same time, Joe FitzPatrick replacing  Aileen Campbell. Back to square one, eh?

Not quite, but such changes do have a knock-on effect as ministers are brought up to speed and their own personal influences have, or have not, an impact on the nation's priorities!

Whatever, the 12 week public consultation which should have started at the beginning of September didn't, and so far, hasn't. In other words the already flimsy timescale is slipping badly.

With no end in sight, this process has already gone on far too long as far as motor sports fans are concerned. If nothing promising comes out of Friday's meeting then perhaps other action will have to be considered. I'm not calling for a kilted warrior to run across the hills with a fiery cross calling the clans to rise against the oppressors, but perhaps some form of campaign will have to be mounted to make those who are supposed to represent our interests listen and do something, rather than just meet and talk about it.

For instance it will be interesting to see how quickly progress is made on new legislation to allow alcohol to be sold at football matches. This was banned 33 years ago after riots at a game, but there are now calls for changes to be made. Makes you wonder if they'll be selling beer at football matches long before they close the roads for rallying, eh?

I know that some of those who will be attending Friday's meeting will read this. Hopefully they might share it with their civil servant counterparts. We are a patient bunch, but we really do want some serious progress to be made.

How confident am I? When I left Mull a couple of weeks ago, I didn't re-new my hotel booking for next year. Make of that what you will.

In the meantime, I'll keep you posted if I hear anything else.

Monday 29 October 2018

Rally - Cheviot report

Full report from the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally now in the on-line mag. It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Scottish crews - very mixed!

Sunday 28 October 2018

Rally - Aquaplaning on the Ranges

Anyone who claims not to have slid, slithered or spun at Otterburn today is telling fibs. If not fibs, then big fat porkies. The range roads were in a particularly vindictive mood for the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally. It was dry, then it rained, then it was dry, then it snowed, then it sort of dried a bit, before another rain shower followed by glorious sunshine. And it still wasn’t finished, when the sun dropped below the horizon it started to freeze – welcome to Northumberland, eh?

Survival was the name of the game, speed was secondary. Even the winners, Peter Taylor and Phil Clarke had a lucky escape. Two corners after the start of Stage 10, the Fiesta crested a brow as the sun was setting: “I was going too fast,” admitted Peter, “and I just caught the sun in my eyes and the tail stepped out. We were sideways for 40 yards or more, another 10 degrees of steering lock and I might have got away with it.” As events turned out, he didn’t quite, and smacked the co-driver’s door against a traffic sign – a 30 limit sign!

In second place, and showing some signs of emotion, were Jason Pritchard and Andrew Roughead in the Ford Focus. When Daniel Harper spun off and out of the fray in the MINI, all they had to do was finish to clinch the 2018 British Tarmac Championship title. And the emotion? That was down to a family memory: “My Dad finished 2nd in the Championship to John Price 30 years ago,” said Jason, “he always seemed to be the bridesmaid, so it’s nice to have the Pritchard name on the trophy at last!”

Gordon Morrison and Calum MacPherson scored an excellent third place in the Subaru, but they were fortunate too: “We hit water on a corner in SS4 and spun off,” said Gordon, adding, “we actually cleared a ditch and landed in a field. How we got back on I don’t know!”

Stephen Simpson finished 4th ahead of a serious scrap between long time friends and rivals, David Hardie and Mark McCulloch. Mark led after the morning stages but David got back in front over the afternoon run, the pair separated by just 13 seconds.

Paul MacKinnon was 7th after breaking a driveshaft and snapping a steering link in the Fiesta while the ‘star of the rally’ was 8th. Barry Lindsay in the 1600 class winning Peugeot was scintillating to watch in the wet and treacherous conditions. He even set a 3rd fastest time on the second run over the Riverside road. There was another ‘star driver’ too. Rounding off the top ten behind 9th placed Lee Hastings was Keith Robathan in his taxi. The BMW looked like a refugee from the sales rep’s car park but it did the business.

Top seed Damien Cole was one among many who took an uncharacteristic trip into the scenery, the Focus finding a particularly boggy field in the 6th test in which to come to rest. Michael Glendinning was also choosey about where he parked the Subaru: “I came over a crest to find cars off all over the place,” he recalled, “so I just had to go for the biggest gap I could find. The sumpguard grounded and launched us over a ditch.”

At least he could laugh, there were quite a few sore and sorry looking cars by the finish.

(There will be a full report in the on-line mag later tomorrow)

Top Ten
1, Peter Taylor/Andrew Roughead (Ford Fiesta WRC) 48m 38s
2, Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke (Ford Focus WRC) 49m 04s
3, Gordon Morrison/Calum MacPherson (Subaru Impreza) 49m 40s
4, Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta) 50m 11s
5, David Hardie/John McCulloch (Subaru Impreza) 50m 53s
6, Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry (Subaru Impreza) 51m 06s
7, Paul MacKinnon/Rob Fagg (Ford Fiesta) 52m 05s
8, Barry Lindsay/Caroline Lodge (Peugeot 106 GTi) 53m 05s
9, Lee Hastings/Cole Hastings (Subaru Impreza) 54m 25s
10, Keith Robathan/Ken Bills (BMW M3) 54m 49s

Monday 22 October 2018

Rally - Mull Targa report

Slightly longer report from the Beatson's Building Supplies Mull Targa Rally now in the on-line mag.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Rally - Cheviot Stages

Full entry list for Sunday's (28th) Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally (in memory of Keith Knox) organised by Whickham & District Motor Club and Hadrian Motor Sports Club now n the on-line mag. This year's event counts towards 9 national and regional championship hence the huge entry of almost 100 cars and crews entered. First car away at 08.30 Hrs.