Times for the final 20 mile stage last night (earlier this morning?) were slow in coming through, so here’s the final provisional top ten after Leg 1 of this year’s Beatson’s Mull Rally. Oh, by the way, did I mention it rained last night? Conditions were the main talking point as frequent showers jet washed the north of the island for the first two tests, but eased (a relative term!) as the later runners in this capacity 150 car field came through. The rain kind of stopped for the final three but left the roads slicked and treacherous. The big problem was the changeability and unpredictability of the surfaces, where there was new tar on the Hill Road, there was grip to be had but as Calum Duffy explained, on the old tar sections, the surface had been worn down over the years leaving two channels (like the inside lane on Motorways) along the middle of the road – like two miniature canals, and you had to drive in them, otherwise you were on the grass! “I should have stuck to wets,” he said, “instead of a mix of intermediates and slicks!” As ever, he put on a show at the Dervaig junction: “I had a good slide there,” he chuckled, “all I could see out the windscreen was the river.” If you’ve never been there, that means he was full broadside at 90 degrees to the direction of travel, at full chat, all the way round the corner. And another thing, his power steering had failed on that final stage. Magic, pure bluidy magic.
So how wet was it last night? One lad swore blind he saw a big wooden sailing ship coming up the wee river at Dervaig with an old bearded chap in flowing robes at the tiller and carrying an awfy lot of funny looking animals on board. Mind you the nearby Bellachory Hotel has an excellent whisky gantry, which might have had something to do with it!
And now for Leg 2 which gets underway later this morning at 11.00 am at Craignure for 9 stages in daylight. If the action was ‘cautiously’ fast and furious last night in the wet, what do you reckon today? Will caution be thrown to the wind and will it be even faster and furiouser? And dare I say it, it’s looking dry in the heavens – at the moment?
One more thing, it’s not just the Marshals who need to be thanked, the boys and girls behind the temporary and unseen on-island safety communications and radio network put in a power of work in atrocious conditions leading up the rally. They erected repeater masts on all the high and exposed bits (mountains to you and me) and trekked across moors and splunged across bogs to get the hardware in place through rain, hail, gale and not so much shine. They’re even more hardy than Wells Fargo.
And here’s the brain teaser of the day. Given the problems with clocks last night – do sun dials work in the rain?
Provisional Leaderboard after 5 stages (of 17):
1, Paul MacKinnon, 46m 01s
2, Daniel Harper, +0.13s
3, John MacCrone, +2.01s
4, Calum Duffy, +3.08s
5, David Bogie, +3.19s
6, Jonathan Mounsey, +4.48s
7, Tristan Pye, +4.52s
8, Stewart Morrison, +5.15s
9, Eddie O’Donnell, +5.44s
10, Donnie MacDonald, +5.55s