Thursday 27 August 2020

Rally - Coast 2 Coast 2021

There's a been a bit of shoogling about these past few weeks with rallying calendars for next year, and no doubt the shoogling will continue depending on viruses and vaccines. Worst hit are the forest rallies. Despite last weekend's successful running of the 'M-Sport Return to Rally Stages', multi-forest events still face an uncertain future and are subject to the whims and advice of the great, the good and the ungodly!

On the other hand, there is more than a glimmer of hope for closed road rallies. With fewer trees to hide behind, spectator numbers can be observed and assessed making the job of exercising a degree of control over them somewhat easier. At least that's the theory. Again, much will depend on Government advice.

Admittedly, and through no real fault of their own, this Government advice is about as changeable and unpredictable as the Scottish weather, but all sports and gatherings are suffering in similar fashion. On that basis it's just something that we will all have to put up with until such times as we've overcome the virus - or it has done for us!

Anyway, with all this in mind the Machars Car Club organisers of the inaugural Donnan Construction SVM Coast to Coast Rally have plumped for the 8th of May 2021 as their scheduled date for the running of this new closed road event. Starting, finishing and servicing in Stranraer, the route has been simplified in light of current restrictions to two loops of three stages. So stick the date in your Diary now.

Coming three weeks before the Jim Clark Rally, this might just provide an attractive option for a bit of testing as well as offering up a unique new competitive event in its own right.

Admittedly the May date was not the club's first choice, but they also have to be mindful of the Northern Irish rally calendar as interest has already been expressed from across the water. Not surprising really when you consider that Belfast is closer to Stranraer than Glasgow, Edinburgh or Carlisle!

So May the 8th it is - God willing and virus permitting!

Wednesday 26 August 2020

It's the way he tells them

When the weather's dreich and we're all living in strange times, a little bit of laughter helps the world go round, so the mad magician (aka Carry on Doctor) entertained the troops at Stark Motorsport last weekend with an impromptu comedy routine.

Apparently, for best effect, the funny story should be delivered in a deadpan fashion with the punchline being accompanied by a wave of the hands while uttering "Just like that" - which also works better in a gruff voice with a tinge of lunatic laughter.

To make the joke appear funnier, the performer should also chortle enthusiastically at the conclusion before making his escape.

Even so, this appeared to go down well as the Crew Chief collapsed on to a pile of tyres and the support crew were left helpless with laughter on the floor.

On the other hand I don't think an invitation to 'Live at the Apollo' is to be expected any time soon.

Note: The joke cannot be repeated here for Health & Safety reasons as it may cause innocent readers to collapse with laughter in the street, at work or at home. Given the effect at the weekend, one would have to ensure the audience was already sitting down and perhaps even strapped in!

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Rally - Greystoke Hospitality

Passing reference was made yesterday to the efforts that the organisers of last weekend's 'M-Sport Return to Rally Stages' had made in order to make everyone feel welcome at Greystoke, including all Officials. Some folk actually doubted my claim that this hospitality had been extended to certain 'senior' officials.

Well, here's the proof. Those efforts were indeed extended to the Motorsport UK Safety Delegate and in particular to the appointment of a Personal Precipitation Protection Officer (PPPO) designated with the task of doing the MS UK SD's bidding i.e. erecting and carrying an umbrella at appropriate times and ensuring a goodly supply of nourishment, condiments and refreshments throughout the day.

As you can see the SD's 'minion' participated in his endeavours with enthusiasm, good humour and genuine care and attention for the welfare of the elderly!

Legal Note: All personal names have been removed from this News report to protect the identity and ensure the anonymity of the two people featured in the photograph who will surely deny all such rumours. Any likeness to any current MS UK officials is entirely accidental.

Monday 24 August 2020

Rally - Tales from Greystoke

Sadly, or maybe not in some specific cases, there wasn't much in the way of gossip and scandal at the 'M-Sport Return to Rally Stages' event last Saturday. Things have been all too quiet on the rallying front over the past 6 months. The atmosphere may well have been light hearted and thankful, but there were still a few tales to be sourced and told, which may or may not cause embarrassment, but are sure to enlighten and educate!

In search of a signal!



Sunday 23 August 2020

Rally - Drookit in Cumbria

That's the main report from the 'M-Sport Return to Rally Stages' now in the on-line mag.  There are more 'Tales from Greystoke' to come which will be published separately and soon.

And now a wee word to the wise. It would appear that the on-line mag - - has attracted more interest and more readers from far away places, and perhaps a word of explanation is required.

This is purely a Scottish magazine which reflects rallying from a Scottish point of view. The question has been asked - could the same sort of service be provided for English readers? The short answer is, unfortunately not. I don't have the time or the resources, so if you want to accuse me of parochialism or racism, then so be it. Guilty as charged.

For a 'British' take on yesterday's proceedings, read Luke Barry's report in next Wednesday's 'Motorsport News'. On the other hand if you like a coothy and sometimes politically incorrect approach to rallying life, by all means follow the domestic sport on ''. We aim to inform, educate and entertain.

Anyway, there are a few more Cumbrian tales to come which will be published shortly - including Ernie and the missing steering wheel, Allan and the lost signal and when the call "R5" is not exactly a Pace Note!



Saturday 22 August 2020

M-Sport Return to Rally

It was a rather damp return. It was indeed a very wet day, interspersed with dry showers, but it failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the crews, marshals and officials, although one had to feel sorry for the service crews sprachlin’ about under the cars in the puddles.

It was more of a celebration than a competition, although there had to be a winner, and that just happened to be a chap called Wilson. Matthew that is. At the finish one chancer approached him and said he couldn’t win because a handicap had to be applied. When he asked why, he was told it was because his name was Wilson and he knew the forest roads intimately.

At that point co-driver Stuart Loudon butted in: “No, that can’t be right. I was his handicap today.” To which Matthew nodded and replied: “He was just in there for ballast.”

That just summed up the nature of the event and the prevailing atmosphere which surrounded the whole affair. Just pure dead brilliant, so it was.

Rhys Yates eventually grabbed second after a fraught time swapping times all day with Adrien Fourmax with just 7 seconds separating the duo at close of play. Rhys had no issues during the rally saying: “It’s just good to get back” while Adrien was trying some new engine and gearbox components so it proved to be a worthwhile test session.

Racing refugee Frank Bird was 4th and just glad to be behind the wheel of a rally car again despite the fact that the Sports, GT & Endurance racing scene is actually back in action.

Sam Moffett rounded off the top six, helped by brother Josh’s problems. A spark plug blew out of the block on the first stage taking the thread with it, although Josh continued after lengthy repairs were completed between Stages 1 and 2 of the 6 Stage event.

Top Scot was Rory Young in 12th place overall while Finlay Retson won his class and finished an impressive 23rd overall in such high powered company.

But the real winner today was the sport of rallying, although the news that the Forestry Commission had intimated that forest rallying wouldn’t resume until ‘the Spring’ of next year did cause dismay, with Malcolm adding: “We might just have to run another one of these!

Provisional leaderboard:

1, Matthew Wilson, 35mins 46secs

2, Rhys Yates, 36.22

3, Adrien Fourmax, 36.29

4, Frank Bird, 36.59

5, Hugh Hunter, 37.23

6, Sam Moffett, 37.25

7, Cathan McCourt, 37.26

8, Charles Payne, 37.34

9, Joseph McGonigle, 37.36

10, Tom Williams, 37.52

A more detailed report will follow tomorrow (Sunday).

Friday 21 August 2020

Rally - Admission concerns

J Bunnet Esq
In anticipation of being asked for photo ID this weekend my camera-shy big pal Jaggy has commissioned a rather special portrait at huge expense. Having so far refused to sign-up to motor sport's governing body's media accreditation scheme, they might just get a bit more sticky this weekend.

The trouble is the big lad has 'history' with our 'governors' when it comes to photo ID (see past posts on this topic) so goodness knows what they might make of this latest and yet most accurate and politically correct, Covid-aware likeness.

Now be honest, does this look like an upstanding and entirely trustworthy person to you?

Rally - Watch the Action

For this weekend's M-Sport Stages Rally, M-Sport have commissioned Seb Scott and Adam Smith to produce a 40 minute programme which will be aired on M-Sport’s Facebook page at 7pm (BST) on Thursday 27 August.

This will be the first project of this size for the young film crew who have been responsible for creating TV and social content for the FIA Junior WRC, and fans can expect to hear some familiar voices in the review. The pairing will also be providing all competitors with copyright-free video. That means there should be plenty of footage around after the event to soothe the adrenaline starved rally fans.

Throughout Saturday, will be posting times and results on their website.

For more detail, there will be a short report after the rally published on this FB page (and the Blog) with a much more comprehensive account to follow in the on-line mag later, maybe even Sunday once the excitement abates and afterglow starts to fade! Ya Beezer.


Thursday 20 August 2020

Rallying goes contactless

This weekend the sport of forest rallying will doubtless look much the same. Outwardly at least. The cars and crews will be familiar, as will the roads, trees and ditches, while Officials and Marshals will go about their duties as usual, but there will be differences, both apparent and behind the scenes.

Make no mistake, the sport faces one of its biggest challenges this weekend. The organisers have calculated that each Time Card will pass through a minimum of 7 different hands from co-driver to Results Team, and that could be many more on longer rallies.

That's where the biggest unseen change will probably take place. The West Cumbria & Eden Valley Motorsport Clubs' organising team have been working with Matthew Atkinson and his team of boffins at the rally results and administration service - - to come up with a 'contactless' system and this will be its first try-out on British soil. With no chance for a 'field test' it will be fingers crossed no doubt.

Individual Time Cards will have one of these now commonplace 'QR' codes and co-drivers will be required to note down their own times (and write any queries!), take a photo of the time card and then send it to Results HQ. And if you think they can fiddle the times, remember the Marshals will still have their Check Sheets.

Multiply that by the number of cars, stages and individual Time Cards and you'll see that the backroom team will face a mammoth task. Hopefully the computers will be robust enough to cope - just don't mention school exams and algorithms to any of them.

The system is basically much simpler than it sounds given modern advances in smart phone technology but it does mean that co-drivers will need to have smart camera phones. Perhaps drivers will also need to install USB chargers in competition rally cars from now on. The last thing you need is a flat phone battery mid rally.

Similarly, the various duties of all Officials and Marshals, medical services, radio, rescue and recovery crews will be handled differently. All Signing-on will be done electronically and competitors are required to make a pre-event declaration that their vehicle complies with all the Motorsport UK technical and safety regulations. Having said that, Scrutineers will still be in attendance and may carry out spot checks.

There's a lot riding on this event this weekend as its successful running may well provide the blueprint for the sport to follow next year. As you can imagine, Motorsport UK have also been heavily involved in getting this event off the ground and it's thanks due to M-Sport too for the use of their private facility as it will be extremely difficult to run a safe and secure event elsewhere on the Forestry Commission estate.

Plus there is a good mobile phone signal there as it's not too far from the M6. To keep in touch this weekend, the Results will be on:

The sport is not out of the woods (sorry, couldn't resist that one!) yet, but there is now a ray of light piercing the lockdown gloom. Fingers crossed for the weekend, and for the future, eh?