Thursday 24 September 2020

Defending the Defender?

At the risk of inviting more vitriol for daring to actually like the new Land Rover Defender, I have published my initial review article in the on-line mag. Make of that what you will.

To those of you who still think it's not a 'proper' Defender, for whatever reason, you are right. It's not a replacement, it's a 'new' Defender. The old Defender is dead, long live the new!

And again to those of you who think I am a convert, a traitor or worse - here is my review of the last of the Defenders to come off the production line five years back - just for balance!

Of course they are different, and much as I revered 'the original', I now prefer the new Defender. Or maybe that has more to do with advancing years and a desire for comfort than fond recollections of jolting about the countryside collecting bruises and skinned knuckles.


Tuesday 22 September 2020

UK Rally Scene on sale now

With a certain nasty ailment continuing to plague the country - sorry, I've forgotten it's name for the moment, perhaps the Government should remind us more often and give us more briefings and more advice to ensure we don't forget! - there isn't much in the way of motor sport taking place.

For that reason the latest issue of 'UK Rally Scene' magazine (out last week) has more cars and personalities than rally news and reports. And yet it still provides an excellent reason to kick off the baffies, sit back and enjoy the read.

There's one tale in particular that brought the hairs on the back of my neck to upstanding prickliness. Co-driver, navigator, note reader and general good guy, Phil Sandham related an experience with one Drew Gallacher Esq. 

Wherever he went Drew's reputation went before him. He wore his heart on his sleeve, there were no airs or graces about the man, and he spoke his mind, honestly and colourfully coherently. His open-ness endeared him to a huge following just as it annoyed and upset those in authority and also those of a more cultured disposition who had lived a more sheltered life. It was water off a duck's back to the man.

What no-one could deny was his prowess behind the wheel. Even his detractors couldn't deny that. To see Drew at the wheel of a Mk2 provided a memory searing image. This was effortless fluidity in motion accompanied by a soundtrack that heightened the drama and the spectacle.

Phil captured that in his own recollections in this issue  - in fact I had to reach for a tissue!

Elsewhere in the mag there is a lengthy interview with John Haugland and a couple of articles on cars, the Austin Metro 6R4 and one man's passion a Renault 5 Maxi Turbo. That also brought back memories. I had one of the first Renault 5, roadgoing 1.4 litre GT Turbo's on test for a magazine which coincided with the annual trip to Mull for the rally. What a hoot that was, driving there and back up, and over Rannoch Moor and through Glen Coe to the Corran Ferry then following the rally in a car capable of 120 mph and a nought to 60 time of around 7.5 seconds. This was 30 odd years ago when there were fewer speed traps and bobbies about!

Anyway, the mag is on sale now. Just open up Ebay on  the Internet and type in 'UK Rally Scene' - it's only a fiver including postage.

Sunday 20 September 2020

Rally - Welsh win in Turkey

Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin survived a tumultuous end to Rally Turkey to snatch a win when others faltered and retake the lead of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship.

He was holding 4th place at the start of the final Sunday loop to move back up the leaderboard grabbing his second victory of the season in his Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris by 35.2sec and now leads the world series by 18 points with 2 rounds remaining.

Evans was the only front-running driver to escape the mayhem caused by the fearsome 38.15km Çetibeli stage. While his rivals were laid low by punctures and mechanical problems, an intelligent and canny, yet quick drive, ensured he kept his car in one piece to score a remarkable victory.

"It has been a tough weekend," said Evans. "We tried to drive well and stay in the middle of the road and that rewarded us. I'm well aware that a bit of luck needs to go your way and I never like to inherit positions from others in that way, but that's the nature of Rally Turkey."

Overnight leader Thierry Neuville finished 2nd in a Hyundai i20, 24.2sec clear of team-mate Sébastien Loeb. They both punctured tyres in Çetibeli, Neuville conceding 1min 45sec and Loeb 1min 20sec.Neuville scored 7 fastest stage times on the 12 stage event.
Championship leader Sébastien Ogier also dropped 1min 15sec with a puncture but was still on course for a podium finish until he stopped in the second run through the stage with smoke pouring from the engine bay of his Yaris.

Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson finished a career-best 5th in their Ford Fiesta after escaping the carnage. Greensmith headed team-mate Esapekka Lappi who lost time on the final stage with a broken damper and earlier with a puncture. Teemu Suninen retired his Fiesta in Çetibeli with broken suspension.

A happy Greensmith commented: “I’m pretty pleased at the end of this one and happy with how our weekend panned out. That long stage today was so rough, and considering where we were I decided that caution was the better act of valour. That turned out to be the right decision – it worked out, and we come away from this weekend with our best ever result."
Rally Turkey final standings:
1. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota Yaris 2hr 43min 02.7sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 +35.2sec
3. S Loeb / D Elena FRA Hyundai i20 +59.4sec
4. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota Yaris +2min 35.9sec
5. G Greensmith / E Edmondson GBR Ford Fiesta +4min 08.3sec
6. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Ford Fiesta +5min 36.2sec

FIA World Rally Championship (after round 5 of 7)
1. E Evans 97pts
2. S Ogier 79
3. O Tänak 70

Note: Ta most muchly to Toyota Gazoo and M-Sport Ford for the pics.

Saturday 19 September 2020

Rally - Covid strikes again

It would appear that uncertainty over Covid19 restrictions has struck again. With a week to go before the Memorial Garden Stages Rally at Arbroath, which had to be changed to a Time Trial to comply with the most recent Government decrees, the organisers have taken the disappointing but unavoidable decision to cancel it.

With an insufficient number of confirmed and  provisional entries, the organisers had little choice but to cancel now to give plenty of advance warning and to prevent spending more unrecoverable costs.

However, planning is continuing for the return of Milltown to the tarmac single venue events schedule on the 21st November - Covid willing!

Fingers crossed, eh?


Friday 18 September 2020

Rally - Trial time

The KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) is all set to run a rally time trial event on Saturday October 17 –  subject to coronavirus restrictions at the time. 

Organised by SRC Car Club, with the help of two-time Scottish Rally Champion Jock Armstrong and his family (plus Niall Cowan Jnr!),  'The Armstrong Group Rally Time Trial' is aiming to run at least 6 gravel surface stages with the possibility of 8, time permitting.

More info here:

Rally - The good and not so good news

Just when you think life is returning to this disease ravaged land, the anorak is hanging back up on the shoogly nail behind the garage door.

Following Motorsport UK's announcement in July that rallying would return and the successful running of the 'M-Sport Return to Rally' event in Cumbria last month, in steps the Scottish Government to drag us backwards.

With Condor Motorsport Club's Memorial Garden Stages Rally due to take place next weekend (Saturday 26th Sept.) the brakes have suddenly been applied. The Scottish Government has decided not to relax the rules on two people sharing a car. Originally intended to allow Driving Schools to get back on the road and DrivingTest Centres to re-open it was thought that stage rallying would be able to get back into the woods and on the stage.

In all fairness, as soon as this problem became apparent, Motorsport UK tackled SportScotland and they in turn approached the Scottish Government with a view to an exemption for rallying just as they have applied exemptions to other sports for various reasons. As late as Tuesday of this week, the Govt remained resolute!

They did state that the position would be reviewed on 1st October, but this has now been put back to the 5th!

However, rising like a phoenix form the pit of bitter disappointment Condor MSC have not cancelled, merely changed the format. Instead of a Rally they will run a Rally Time Trial. This will also generate a refund (reduced Permit fee) for those already entered - and double entries can and will be accepted. However, it will still be a NON-SPECTAtOR event.

The club is planning ten tests of around 3 to 4 miles in length with Drivers having to walk (cycle?) the Course first, then run in Convoy before the first timed runs.

Regulations and Entry Form on the Condor MSC website:

So if you fancy freeing up your rusty oxters, or getting in a test session ahead of Crail on the 7th November or the Milltown Stages Rally on the 21st of Nov, here's your chance.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Rally Yet another threat

The fact that Forestry England is currently "reviewing motorsports in the nation’s forests" might have escaped the notice of those of us who live, work and play in Scotland's forests.

Some may even think it of little interest or concern, but you can bet your racing bootees that Forest & Land Scotland, Natural Resources Wales (Forestry) and Forest Service Northern Ireland will be keeping their collective ears to the ground on what is being said by those who contribute to this debate, and the potential outcome after consultation and deliberation by FE.

On that basis you might like to send a personal, club, event, championship missive of support for our southern brethren and sistern to Bridgette Hall, Forestry England's Head of Recreation. The 'consultation' period closes on September 30th.

The trouble is there are more ramblers, birdwatchers, fishers and cyclists than rally folk out there so we are outnumbered before we start. But since we live in one of the world's most respected democracies (?) the Government of the land has a duty to look after the interests of the minority while respecting the views of the majority.

Bear in mind that Forest England are only the managers of public property, not the owners, so they have to respect and extend the rights of access to all. Sometimes methinks certain folk in authority forget such details.

If the sport can demonstrate just how big and important the motor rallying minority is then we might get a decent hearing. The economic impact of a rally being located in and passing through rural locations cannot be under-estimated and those who are attracted to the spectacle often return for additional recreational, social and family reasons.

It's not just special stage rallying that could be at risk, Targa and Road Rallies could also be affected as they too use sections of forest roads.

So if you enjoy rallying in Kielder, Cumbria, Yorkshire and the south west then please support our friends over the Border, and ourselves, as we all need to pull together on this one. Put it another way, you don't really have an excuse not to, with all this extra time on your hands during these Covid blighted days. Under the latest dictat from Edinburgh, which confines us to barracks, there's time aplenty to compose a constructive missive and send it south.

There's more info here:

Oh, and one other thing, don't be rude or crude and don't use sweary words! We'll have more chance if we offer up reasonable arguments. And remember, please do it before the 30th September.