The word ‘cautious’ obviously means different thing to different people. Take the front runners on this year’s Beatson’s Mull Rally. They all used the word ‘cautious’ to describe their progress over the opening two stages of the night. Looking at their pace I have reached a conclusion – these are not humans, they are aliens from a superior race and piloting spacecraft in a backward civilisation.
The road surfaces are more treacherous than the carpet in a Gorbals pub and they are going like the merry clappers of hell in conditions where normal folk would fear to tread with velcro soles.
Rally leader, Paul MacKinnon (2) said: “This is as hard as I’ve ever seen it, conditions are so changeable with standing water in the first two tests of the night. It’s hard to get a rhythm,” but as he exited the final test he commented: “I’ve got a vibration through the steering, I had to back off towards the end just to get through, so we’ll need to look at that at service.”
As an example of how hard he’s trying to keep MacKinnon in touch, second placed Daniel Harper (4) admitted to: “I had a couple of trips over the grass on the Hill Road!” Calum Duffy (3) reckoned he was rusty: “It’s two years since I sat in a car. My Stage 2 time was poor, that was just down to lack of confidence in a different car. It was breaking away from me under braking.” It could be argued that John MacCrone’s (1) pace was most impressive considering he grew up with 2WD before progressing to 4WD and has little experience of RWD: “This is a hooligan machine,” he said, with Stuart Loudon nodding and adding: “He says he’s loving it, but I’m sh*tt*ng it!” David Bogie was slowed on the first stage in the rain as the car’s interior misted up badly but things were much better over the final three tests of the night.
Stewart Morrsion (21) is setting some top ten times but he had no clutch for the later half of the final test, so the boys at service will have some work to do tonight. Further down the leaderboard, Shaun Sinclair (11) might be needing medical attention: “Patrick keeps stabbing me in the thigh with his pencil. According to him I should be giving it throttle when I’m actually giving it braking.” By the way did you see the TV coverage of the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race? If so, Curly Haigh (18) reckons this Mull is slightly drier than his home county was, so what the hell are we all complaining about? John Morrison (24) was nearly off at the Bakery in SS1 and Colin Gemmell (26) was enjoying his second visit to Mull. He last did it 28 years ago in a Peugeot 205 – and rolled it into a ball. It was with a sense of relief that John Marshall (30) breezed into the Regroup control: “I’m just so happy to be here, there were so many places where it could all have ended in tears.” Jim McDowall (32) had a nearer miss than most as the Subaru clocked into the control with grass and turf sticking out of the front bumper, wing and wheel. It was just a slight off he claimed. Lee Hastings (34) went one better and slid off losing a minute or so. Bruce Edwards (33) was in worse trouble. The Darrian’s throttle jammed open on SS1, he slid off and got a rear puncture. He only had a front spare so fitted it and hobble to through the next stage where the throttle stopped working altogether requiring another stop to fix.
Ross Hunter (35) would appear to be the leading FWD runner at this stage with his Peugeot 205 but had a lucky escape on SS2 when the car aquaplaned on standing water. Matt Tarbutt (28) lost a lot of time in the Astra when he struck a rock which holed the co-driver’s floor and puncture a rear tyre and John Cressey (36) was off at the Dervaig Hairpins for 5 minutes. Under extreme questioning he admitted he was playing to the crowds and suffered a bout of ‘crowd frenzy’, but at least they lifted the Mini back on to the road. Norman MacPhail (99) exited SS2 on 3 wheels when the studs sheared.
Further down the entry list, Syd Fleming (115) had to stop and clear the fuel lines when the bag tank filling started to break up and clog the lines while Iain ‘Fooey the Fireman’ Noble (130) swore blind he had to stop in the middle of the road and toot at an awfy large stag to get it to shift. He said it was bigger than his Citroen C2, but then Fooey does have a vivid imagination! Reserve list driver James Ford (158) did SS2 stuck in 3rd gear when his clutch failed and Gordon Milne (155) got a Maximum in S1 when electrical failure caused all his lights to go out. He was only able to continue cos he wired up his spotlights direct to the battery.
Spare a thought tonight for James and Kerry MacGillivray. On their way to the rally start, the car hit standing water and rolled into a field. Both have been declared to be ‘walking wounded’ although James has been taken to Glasgow for precautionary X-rays.
As yet we don’t have times for the final stage, probably due to a non-rally incident which delayed proceedings, but it’s late and the author of this humble epistle needs his bed hence the leaderboard shows positions after 4 rather than 5 stages. We’ll get that sorted in the morning.
And to end on a lighter note, when James McDiarmid’s (99) clutch failed he needed a push start to get a run at the Regroup ‘Out’ Control so he called for help. Trouble was, the surface was loose and it was uphill. Into the breach stepped CLO Michelle and Lisa who helped to push the car while other less than gallant blokes looked on. Good on you girls. Oh, and happy birthday Alan Cameron. He came of age last Wednesday, and what age was he – well the organisers seeded him at the rather appropriate Number 70!
Provisional Leaderboard after 5 stages (of 17):
1, Paul MacKinnon, 28m 53s
2, Daniel Harper, +0.08s
3, John MacCrone, +1.16s
4, Calum Duffy, +1.51s
5, David Bogie, +2.16s
6, Jonathan Mounsey, +2.43s
7, Stewart Morrison, +2.59s
8, Eddie O’Donnell, +3.06s
9, Tristan Pye, +3.08s
10, John Rintoul, +3.33s
Up to date results and rally progress on: flyingfinish.co.uk and they’ve now got a free downloadable app!