Monday, 17 February 2020

Rally - Interesting Day

Machars Car Club have embarked on  an ambitious new adventure. They are proposing to run Scotland's newest closed road rally on Saturday July 25th later this year. Plans for the 'Coast to Coast Rally' were revealed earlier today at an official launch in Stranraer.

Based in Stranraer, the event will, feature three loops of three stages with central servicing in the town right beside the harbour - which beggars the thought, will they chuck the winners in the watter like they do at Monte Carlo?

The organisers have been greatly helped and encouraged by Dumfries & Galloway Council, the local community councils, Stranraer Development Trust and of course, the Polis. They have also identified at least three, and hopefully a fourth, spectator areas to accommodate the anticipated large influx of rally fans keen to see the action on what the south west roads have to offer. They won't be disappointed!

Photo shows David Bogie with Machars CC Chairman, Neil McKinnel and Allan Jenkins of the Stranraer Development Trust.

More information will be released in due course.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

2020 - Rally coverage

With the sale of the weekly 'Motorsport News' to Kelsey Media, press coverage of the 2020 rally season is all set for a bit of a shakeup.

As far as Scottish stage rallying is concerned there is still only one presence which offers comprehensive reporting coverage. That's all set to kick off again this week ahead of the Knockhill Stages and the Snowman Rally, so if you want to know what happened last year and find out what's going on this year, drop in and have a look on a regular basis at as well as here on the Blog:

For coverage of British rallying there are a number of print options. The big change at 'Motorsport News' is that David Evans has left the paper to become the Rallies Editor for the USA based Dirtfish organisation. David will be a hard act to follow at the weekly although the appointment of Colin Clark as MN's Rallies Editor does sound promising.

The monthly 'Pacenotes Magazine' is continuing its UK wide expansion covering all of Irish and British rallying with a huge range reports, features and interviews. Similarly, 'UK Rally Scene' magazine is doing a grand job for the British club crews.

But the biggest changes concern World Rally coverage. Better known for its American rally school activities, Dirtfish is also getting in on the WRC reporting scene with new appointee David Evans presenting in-depth coverage from each of the world series rounds - and well worth a listen and a look:

For instance, as part of his pre-Swedish rally coverage David Evans posted an interview with one George Black Esq., M-Sport's tyre wizard. Former co-driver and Sprint Tyres technician, George knows more about tyres than Bibendum, that tubby, tyre shaped French character who bounces around the service parks.
The interview is here:

Other on-line outlets worth keeping an eye on include:

With all this in mind, I reckon there is no need for the John Fife Blog and Facebook Sunday night/Monday morning roundup after each WRC counter. Last year with the help of the teams I published short reports on the British interest in the series, but that's not really needed any more, is it?

Sadly, there are no front running, headline grabbing Scottish competitors any more. Them were't days, eh?

Monday, 10 February 2020

Rally - UK Rally Scene

The latest issue of the new 'UK Rally Scene' magazine is out and available now. This month coverage includes reports from the Christmas and Knockhill Stages, Grizedale and the 'Turkey Run' - no, not the middle east counter in the World Rally Championship, this 'Turkey' is near Ballykelly in Northern Ireland.

There are also features on some of the sport's luminaries such as a chap called Mikkola, rising star Gus Greensmith and a bloke called Iain (aka James) Wilson.  There's also a feature by the 2019 Scottish Tarmack Rally Champion Co-driver on her first attempt at the Roger Albert Clark Rally.

Intriguingly, there is an item on the best looking rally car as judged by various well known rally drivers, but of course, they are all wrong. The best looking, and sounding, rally car ever was the Austin Healey 3000. It would make the hairs on a bald head bristle. So there!

On a more controversial note, Jamie Edwards will need to adopt a low profile next time he sets foot over the border. In his column he refers to 'regional' rally championships such as the " Scottish, Welsh, etc". Oh dear! That's fighting talk where such championships are fiercely regarded by their proponents as 'National'!

Order your copy now on Ebay or look for Bob at the rallies. It's only a fiver for 52 colourful and informative pages.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Snowflake - Lost in the Lammermuirs

My big pal Jaggy was in Duns last weekend. He was attending one of the regular Jim Clark Rally organisers meetings. If anyone is still in any doubt about the effort required to organise a closed road rally then the numbers speak for themselves. There were 19 officials around the table and 12 apologies from those unable to attend although their progress had been noted. That’s over 30 folk with specific responsibilities.

Anyway, after the nearly 3 hour meeting, the big chap headed for home, but instead of taking the main road, decided to take the tourist route over the Lammermuirs. Good choice. Then the SatNav screen went blank!

Undaunted, and possessed of an uncanny natural sense of direction, plus years of experience garnered in navigational rallying, he carried on. Using signposts instead of listening to the strident instructions of a plummy burd or an insistent annoying posh bloke, the big lad headed for Longformacus, Gifford and on into Dalkeith.

It was only 20 miles across the moors but it was as empty as a Brexit promise. Frequent wreaths of mist were accompanied by sleet and rain showers. It was as bleak as Sherlock Holmes’ search for the Hound of the Baskervilles. The only signs of life were the sodden woolly blobs of bedraggled sheep dotted about the dark heather mottled landscape looking like dandruff sprinkled over a bad haircut. The wet tarmac road ahead glittered like dull twisted chrome winding over the moors. And then the phone signal was lost.

Which made him wonder how the current 'snowflake' generation would fare when things go wrong. Technology is a wonderful thing when all is well and working, but when it crashes, we are lost. It’s one thing losing SatNav but just suppose someone is travelling in an autonomous car. Lovely as the Lammermuir Hills are, they can be as malevolent as a starving bear in a pie shop.

The technophobes will tell us such a blackout couldn't happen. The boffins also tell us that autonomous cars will be safer on the roads than humans. I beg to differ. All it would take is one unscrupulous or disgruntled employee deep in the bowels of Huawei HQ on t'other side of the Great Wall to flick a switch and an array of satellites up there in the heavens would suddenly become dark. Autonomous  vehicles would stop in their tracks, information screens would blank out and robots would suspend their labours. And not even the swish of a wind turbine could provide solace and comfort. Scary, eh?

Even more worrisome is the thought that Donald Trump might just be right after all. Now that's really scary, eh?

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Rally - Snowman entries open

The Regs are out and entries open for the 2020 Coogie Urquhart Snowman Rally which takes place this year on Saturday 7th March, fully a month later than usual to try and avoid the snow!

The Entry Fee is £620 for this 5 stage 43 mile event and the entries are already starting to roll in.

Forty years ago, fingers and legs were crossed ahead of the 1980 event. Heavy snow had blanketed the area in 1978 and again in 1979 and the organisers were concerned about the impact of three in a row on their event.

As things turned out, the 70 competing crews did indeed wake up to a white winter wonderland outside their respective hotel and B&B windows, but it was only  a hard frost. The snow was on higher ground and the organisers and marshals could breathe a sigh of relief.

Donald Heggie won that event in his Mk2 Escort  taking 19 fastest times on the 21 stage event with Drew Gallacher taking one fastest time in the Chevette and equalling Donald on another, whilst Ian Wilson got in on the act in his 2 litre Sunbeam (which replaced his Reliant Kitten!), also equalling one of Donald's fastest times.Those three filled the top three places ahead of Mike Hibbert, Dom Buckley (the original!) and Vince Finlayson.

Having doubled the number of cylinders in his formerly Dolomite Sprint engined Triumph TR7 Ken Wood had been running as high as 3rd overall when the oil pressure sagged in the V8 and he was forced to retire. 

Fortunately the engine wasn't damaged and Ken went on to score some impressive results during the season finishing second overall to Gallacher in the 1980 Scottish Championship title race and 2nd overall again (behind Heggie this time) in the 1981 championship title race before winning the first of his three national titles in 1982 with his new sponsor, Golden Wonder. 

And yes, I did actually state "21 stages" on the 1980 event. That equated to 70 stage miles, and all for an entry fee of under 50 quid!

Happy days, eh?