Sunday, 8 December 2019

Rally - Knockhill Stages

Frank Bird almost dominated today’s Knockhill Stages Rally – almost, but not quite. A perfect score of fastest stage times was spoiled by one ragged finish at the end of the 4th test. He stalled the car on the start line of the stage and although it only cost him a few seconds, it meant he got caught behind the top seed who was starting his second lap as Frank was belatedly setting out on his first. Of course he tried to make up time, but it got a bit scrappy in places due to the wet and puddled conditions. A committed attack on the final stretch of the stage resulted in all four wheels of the Focus WRC ending up on the grass – but only after he had crossed the Flying Finish line.

He still dropped only 3 seconds to John Marshall, but his lead was secure. As for Marshall, he was struggling to get his Fiesta R5 to turn in. He tried Michelins in the morning and Pirellis in the afternoon: “When it did turn in, the back end just didn’t want to follow. Usually I can manage to dial that out but not today.” Frank was having trouble too: “The tyres are still stone cold at the end of each stage!”

And that was the story of the day – the weather. By goad it wis cauld, and it was wet. It rained so hard Noah would have caught a bout of boat building fever had he stopped by. That led to quite a bit of standing water around the circuit and streams running across the road.

And through it all, the fifty or so Marshals stood at their posts, sodden, dripping and no doubt chittering. And if these folks deserved medals, then the Set-Up crew on the day and the days before deserved knighthoods. They certainly deserved it more than some of those seat polishers who sit in the Big Hoose in Westminster and do feck all.

Richards Wells finished third in his Lancer ahead of Neil Roskell’s Subaru with fifth placed Kyle Adam the only other Scot besides Marshall in the top six. Kyle was running the 2.5 litre Millington in his Escort for the first time, and given the treacherous conditions, drove a sensible and canny run to finish top 2WD just ahead of the tying Darrian and Lotus Sunbeam of Barry Morris and Mike Taylor.
Barry Groundwater (9th) was the only other Scot in the top ten of this Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship counter. He was driving Brian Watson’s Subaru whilst Brian himself was out in another but didn’t get beyond the first stage when the turbo blew. If you thought the weather was foul, you should have heard the Sheriff: “I’ve just had the car totally rebuilt and it was running fine - then this!” Naturally this rather succinct quotation has had to be edited from the full length version in case any weans read it!
Robert Marshall was 12th in his Subaru ahead of Ashleigh Morris, 13th in her Fiesta R200, while young Johnnie MacKay finished an excellent 15th in his Fiesta ST. Not so lucky was Freddie Milne who had a troubled outing in a hired Fiesta R5 which finally ended in the 5th test with the car parked just off track beyond a chicane.

Top Six
1, Frank Bird/Jack Morton (Ford Focus WRC) 38m 43s
2, John Marshall/Scott Crawford (Ford Fiesta R5) 39m 58s
3, Richard Wells/Calvin Houldsworth (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 41m 24s
4, Neil Roskell/Jonathan Kennedy (Subaru Impreza) 41m 31s
5, Kyle Adam/Fiona Moir (Ford Escort Mk2) 41m 40s
6, Barry Morris/Tom Hutchings (Darrian T90 GTR) 41m 51s

(There will be a full report in the on-line mag in due course)

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Jim Clark Rally report

Moffett wins, Bogie flies, Robertson surprises - and Campbell stars. And what was the secret behind 'Dancing Des' success? Perhaps the wee sticker on the front wing of the Peugeot will give you some idea!

And yes, I know this report is late but it's still the only place where you will get the FULL story behind this year's Jim Clark Rally. Roundup to follow.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Rally - LeJoG 2019

On Saturday morning (7th Dec.) around 87 cars will set off from Land's End (Englandshire)  and head north through Walesland, then some more bits of Englandland before heading into Scotland on the morning of Monday 9th and the final northwards overnight dash arriving at John O'Groats mid morning on Tuesday.

Of course it's the annual 1500 mile Land's End to John O'Groats Reliability Trial for vehicles 'of a certain age' that is pre 1986 to the likes of you and me. So it's not an inaccessible event if you fancy one of the UK's last great motoring challenges.

This year marks the event's 25th anniversary and if you want to have a look-see various points have been publicised (see below). Naturally this being a rally, the organisers will not reveal the full route, hence the very limited number of locations where one can count on seeing the cars. However, even given these locations some folks can make a decent stab at the route, just not the loops and Controls which the competitors have to visit.

As for me, I fancy a run down to Kames on Monday morning. No reason, just to take the air and enjoy a drive over the moors!

Le JoG 2019 –Spectator Information
( WhereApprox / Time of First Car / GPS Location / Postcode / Control Type )

Leg 4 –Monday 9th December
Gretna Hall Hotel, Gretna Green: 08:00hrs, 55.003229, -3.065879, DG16 5DY, Leg Start
The Inn on Loch Lomond, Inverbeg:12:10hrs, 56.144563, -4.664264, G83 8PD, Halt
Rest and Be Thankful(Viewpoint):13:05hrs, 56.225799, -4.855876, PA26 8BQ, Test
Drovers Inn, Inverarnan:13:45hrs, 56.328471, -4.722088, G83 7DX, Passage Control
Killin Hotel, Killin:14:35hrs, 56.469785, -4.317557, FK21 8TP, Halt
Fortingall Hotel, Fortingall:16:15hrs, 56.598080, -4.051663, PH15 2NQ, Passage Control
Loch Ericht Hotel, Dalwhinnie:17:35hrs, 56.929868, -4.241937, PH19 1AG, Halt
Stronlossit Inn, Roybridge:19:00hrs, 56.889505, -4.836902, PH31 4AG, Passage Control
Glen Garry Viewpoint, A87:19:35hrs, 57.081754, -4.952960, PH35 4HG, Road Section
Glenshiel, A87: 20:00hrs, 57.152769, -5.223635, IV63 7YW, Road Section
Lochalsh Hotel, Kyle Of Lochalsh: 21:00hrs, 57.280263, -5.717057, IV40 8AF, Halt

Leg 5 –Monday 9th December / Tuesday 10th December
Lochalsh Hotel, Kyle Of Lochalsh: 23:00hrs, 57.280263, -5.717057, IV40 8AF, Start of Leg
Garve Hotel, Garve: 02:20hrs, 57.616524, -4.690240, IV23 2PR, Halt
Loch Glascarnoch, A835: 02:45hrs, 57.708488, -4.833916, Road Section
Seaforth Bar & Restaurant, Ullapool: 03:40hrs, 57.895538, -5.160140, IV26 2UE, Time Control
Durness Spar, Durness: 06:25hrs, 58.568649, -4.745913, IV27 4PN, Time Control
Bettyhill Viewpoint, A836: 08:20hrs, 58.527690, -4.150595, KW14 7TB, Road Section
Melvich Hotel, Melvich: 08:40hrs, 58.559201, -3.931829, KW14 7YJ, Halt
Castletown, A836 (Park in beach car park): 09:50hrs, 58.593818, -3.376069, KW14 8UT, Road Section
Roads End Coffee Shop, John o’Groats:10:30hrs, 58.643681, -3.069759, KW1 4YR, Finish

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Club Development Day

Scottish rallying and Scottish car clubs must be in a healthy state. The sport and its followers obviously don't think there is anything wrong at all. At the recent Club Development Day organised by Scottish Motor Sports, there was one car club, one marshal's organisation and five motor cycle clubs represented, so the rest of you must think you don't need any help.

The meeting started at 10am and finished just after 4pm with a couple of tea breaks and a lunch halt during the day and that was when much of the best business was done. Networking with the others. It's a hackneyed term these days, 'networking' but when standing around discussing the issues of the day it's remarkable just how similar the problems facing all of us are. It's also good to hear how other folks are tackling these things.

And that was perhaps the essence of the day's discussions and activities. Getting folk to communicate, share ideas and solutions, and work things out together. The emphasis of the various presentations were to do with attracting new members to clubs, retaining them and encouraging them to train for roles within the club and the sport. It wasn't about running a motor club and events, that's a whole other topic for another day.

In fact some of the activities in which we engaged had nothing to do with motor or motor cycle clubs. That was deliberate, as it made folk think harder and not just accept current practices and procedures

For the auld gits amongst us who are set in their ways, think they know best, and know the best way of doing things because it's worked in the past, and are not willing to try anything new then this event was not for them. For anyone willing to listen, join in and discuss, then there were nuggets to be had.  If you can't, and don't try to learn, then in this day and age you'll go backwards because the rest of the world is moving on. The choice is yours. Stick it in neutral and just coast along or pick a gear and make some progress.

Amongst the things I learned there was one that stood out above all the others. It's more applicable to stage rallies where Marshals and officials are scattered across vast swathes of countryside. They often go home from events, wet, miserable and lonely with little idea of how things went let alone a Thank You. Of  course I know many events try to be inclusive but here's the trick. Get all Marshals to sign up to an event-only  'WhatsApp' group. All it needs is someone in HQ to send out very brief messages during the day informing folk of delays, incidents, news, results and then a sincere thank you at close play. Make them feel wanted and part of team and make sure they feel valued when events come to a close. Simple idea, eh?

No doubt some of you are working on such ideas, and I have heard of a couple - but here's the thing, why keep it to yourselves? No doubt some other smarty pants will point out that mobile phone signals are unreliable in remote locations - but coverage is getting better. That's no reason not to try.

Will I be at the next one, who knows, they might not invite me back? There were so few people there that I felt I couldn't just sit and observe so I joined in. And I asked a few questions. And I voiced a few opinions. Gillian and Shabaz had put a lot of work into this and given the support, or lack of it, where is the incentive to try again?

Mind you this meeting did prove one thing, The rural location might have had something to do with the poor attendance. I drove past it and others did too. It just goes to show that the national postcode system still can't beat an 8 figure map reference. Then again, how many of today's co-drivers/navigators know what an 8 figure map reference is, eh? Back to school everyone.