Andrew Gallacher and Jane Nicol capped a memorable year with victory on the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB National rally at the weekend. A month after clinching the Scottish Rally Championship national crown, they topped the time sheets in Wales.
Although Gallacher won by over a minute, he was never able to relax. The Ford Focus WRC driver was fastest on 4 of the 10 Special Stages.
Last year’s winner, Tom Preston set fastest time on the opening stage of the event on Friday then crashed out on the second test.
Gallacher assumed the lead of the National Rally at that point and was never headed although he was harried all the way by second placed John Wink and John Forrest in their Hyundai i20 R5 and the Subaru Impreza WRC of Rodger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield.
On only his second season with the Hyundai, Wink’s runner-up position was his best ever rally result: “I struggled for grip yesterday (Friday) in the wet and muddy stages,” said Wink, “but it was very fast today (Saturday) and it suited me and the car much better.” Like the rally winner he held on to second place all the way from the second stage to the final.
Third place for Duckworth was better than he hoped: “The last time I did a rally was this event last year,” he said, “I just enjoy doing this event and these stages and don’t really get the time to do other events.”
Rounding off the top six were Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray in their Mitsubishi Lancer. Hay had to shut off the anti-lag on Saturday when the exhaust pipe fractured close to the fuel tank and he didn’t want any additional heat build-up in that area! “That’s better than I could have hoped,” said Simon, “we had a puncture on the first stage this morning so I’m really pleased with 6th.”
Young Sam Bilham from Bingley in Yorkshire scored a sensational result with 9th place overall, 1st two wheel drive car home and first in class with his Ford Fiesta R2. Celebrating his 22nd birthday on Friday, Bilham arrived in the service park to find his car festooned with balloons and under strict orders from his team not to remove them until after he had left the start ramp!
Sadly, Alan Dickson and Martin Forrest didn’t make it. They were heading for a top six finish when they cowped the Lancer in Gartheiniog and Niall Cowan Jnr and Thomas Bruce were forced out at Sweet Lamb with two broken driveshafts in the MG.
There was another Scottish co-driver on missionary duty down south with Keith Morris' sidekick Terry Mallin helping out first timer, Tom Urquhart. He had purchased a Suzuki Ignis Sport with standard engine and 'box and this was his first ever rally. And what's more they were getting 40 mpg with it. Tom may be English, but he has some Scottish traits, eh? Or maybe that was Terry's influence
Back at the front, Gallacher actually competed on this event in 2014 and finished 2nd overall behind another Scot, Mike Faulkner, so there was a feeling of “job done” when he pulled into the finish at Deeside on Saturday evening: “The stages were a lot better today (Saturday) than yesterday but we were a bit lucky. We broke a driveshaft on Friday, but had a spare sent down from Paul Benn’s workshops in Cockermouth on Friday night and fitted it overnight. The car has run well but we were beginning to lose oil pressure over the last stage. It wasn’t easy, John Wink kept me honest. I was never able to relax with him on my tail.”
On the podium at the rally finish In Deeside Service Park he added: “What a way to finish the season. Winning the Scottish title last month, getting a free entry and wining this here today. Things don’t get much better than that.”
( A much more detailed National report is being prepared and will be published in the on-line digital mag shortly )
1 Andrew Gallacher/Jane Nicol (Ford Focus WRC) 1hr 29min 46.9secs
2 John Wink/John Forrest (Hyundai R5 i20) +01m 05.1s
3 Roger Duckworth/Mark Broomfield (Subaru Impreza WRC S6) +01:m 3.8s
4 Bob Ceen/Andy Bull (Subaru Impreza S9 WRC) +04m 18.0s
5 Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza N12b) +04m 58.4s
6 Simon Hay/Calum Jaffray (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI) +06m 07.3s
7 Mark Worley/Hamish Campbell (Subaru Impreza) +10m 15.5s
8 Richard Barrow/Andrew Richards (Subaru Impreza) +10m 40.9s
9 Sam Bilham/Cameron Fair (Ford Fiesta R2) +11m 49.6s
10 Ellya Alec Gold/Jean Hay (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI) +12m 18.0s