You know what, Knockhill on Sunday was a veritable cathedral of competition. The rain - it did not pelteth. The snow - it did not precipitate. And the temperatures - neither did they punish the penitents, those faithful followers of the rallygion of automotia. It was positively balmy. I kid you not.
As things turned out John Marshall and Scott Crawford won the opening round of this year's Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Championship. Their winning margin over Nigel Feeney and Nikki Addision on the Grant Construction Knockhill Rally was a mere seven seconds, but going into the final stage it had been a three way fight which included Donnie MacDonald and Sam Smith.
Even so, Andrew Kirkaldy was fastest over the first 3 stages, but diff failure sidelined the Escort in SS4. That left Marshall with a 23 second lead over Feeney with Donnie just 2 seconds further behind. Over the afternoon's final four stages Nigel's German sausage tin was the fastest metal around the circuit, but the Silver Fox was having none of it and he did just enough to ensure the top spot.
Mind you, had it not been for a stall on the start line of the opening stage of the day, who knows what might have been. As Nigel explained: "When the MINI stalls and cuts out, it goes into re-set Mode and won't fire up again till it has finished the process - that took 19 seconds!"
Donnie's trouble struck on the start line of the final stage. He got off the line smartly enough. On the move, he snatched second, and then went for third. It wasn't there. A wee bracket on the gear linkage snapped leaving the car stuck in 2nd and he had to do the whole final stage like that. So he was awfy lucky to hang on to 3rd.
Colin Gemmell was best of the Escort brigade snatching 4th from Tom Blackwood in the final stage while Scott MacBeth rounded off the top six first time out in his new Lancer, despite hooleying around at the hairpin! On the fourth stage, he approached the hairpin fully broadside on, drifted all the way around magnificently and in perfect control - while waving his right hand in the air out of the driver's window. And we all thought James Gibb was the grandstander. Not this time, the Lancer's centre diff had failed before the rally so James finished just outside the top ten in 12th.
Michael Robertson was equally spectacular in the Honda Civic till someone pointed out he was driving it all wrong, advising him that the car he was driving was front wheel drive, not rear wheel drive. Naturally, he paid no heed to such sage advice and finished 7th.
First time out in his new Citroen C2 R2, Angus Lawrie scored the 1600 class win with an excellent 8th= overall after a day long fight with Des Campbell while Cameron Craig took a rather lonely 1400 class in his Peugeot 205 finishing some 18 minutes ahead of his nearest 1400 opposition.
(A FULL rally report will appear in the on-line mag later in the week)
1, John Marshall/Scott Crawford (Subaru Impreza) 39mins 41secs
2, Nigel Feeney/Nikki Addison (MINI Countryman JCW WRC) +0.07
3, Donnie MacDonald/Sam Smith (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +1.18
4, Colin Gemmell/Derek Keir (Ford Escort Mk2) +1.24
5, Tom Blackwood/Gordon Winning (Ford Escort Mk2) +1.33
6, Scott MacBeth/Dan Forsyth (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +1.34
7, Michael Robertson/Murray Milne (Honda Civic) +1.44
8, Angus Lawrie/Paul Gribben (Citroen C2 R2 MAX) +2.05
8, Robert Thomson/Kyle Mackintosh (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8) +2.05
10, Ross Hunter/Becy Morrison (Peugeot 205) +2.06