A month ago, Kielder was in a foul mood. It was cold and snowing, and it rained. Boy did it rain. It was relentless. By comparison, yesterday was quite pleasant. It was cold again, and rain showers swept regularly across the landscape including one nasty stinging hail shower! Although we did catch a glimpse of the sun occasionally, but that was just to kid us on before it dropped more cold, wet stuff on the hardy few who had braved the elements to watch rally cars. As for the Scottish contingent contesting the Pirelli Rally there was a wee bit of good news, some not so good news, and even worse news!
Tom Cave won the International Pirelli Rally scoring his second British Championship victory on the trot. He finished 17 seconds clear of Rhys Yates with Jari Huttunen third. David Bogie and John Rowan might well have been third, but for a puncture which dropped them to 4th.
Bogie got off a to a slow start in the Fabia though: "I thought the first stage was fine," said David, "but we hit a bad bump on SS2 and the car just didn't feel right after that. The CA1Sport boys re-did the tracking at service," but he still couldn't quite match the leaders' pace.
Michael Binnie did his CV a power of good with a 6th place finish, but in case you thought Claire Mole was looking decidedly unwell, it wasn't her in the co-driver's seat. As Claire had to work at the weekend, Richard Simmonds had stepped in. "The last time I sat with Michael, was a year ago at the Carlisle Stages," said Richard, "and what a big difference in pace!" They did have a problem with a rear wheel bearing in the Lancer but with not enough service time to replace it, they just had to be careful.
Alex Laffey and Stuart Loudon were well out of luck with a double puncture on the first stage in the Fiesta and no spare for SS2 and they finished outside the top ten in 11th place, but there was joy in the Retson camp. Finlay Retson and Richard Crozier finished 9th o/a and 3rd BRC Junior in their Fiesta R2T, but equally important was first place and maximum points in the M-Sport Fiesta Cup competition - the prize for which is two 30,000 Euro vouchers to be spent on the 2020 Junior World Rally Championship.
Scott and David Sloan were also out of luck when the Peugeot 208 broke a driveshaft.
As for the Historic Rally, five of our lot started - and none finished! Tom Coughtrie and Ian Fraser didn't even get to the start of the first stage when the Mitsubishi broke its rear diff and Tommy Heard and Ian McCutcheon retired the Escort not much farther on, almost within smelling distance of the pine woods. Walter Henderson and Jim Kinloch managed to start the first stage but the Escort wouldn't pull and was retired with lack of fuel pressure and then daughter Linzi Henderson with Tom Hynd retired the Fiesta at first service when the clutch failed. That left Jim Robertson and Mike Curry, and guess what, the Escort had a misfire. After a few good runs out with the car last year Jim felt it fluffing in the first stage but by the time he got to service the Escort wasn't for going any further.
Of more concern to rally fans was the fact that only 26 crews (including Land Rovers) started the International and there were 60 in the Nat B Historic event. These are indeed worrying times for forest rallying.