Sunday 23 July 2023

Rally - Notes from an onlooker

The 2023 RSAC Scottish Rally was a wet and slippery affair, but there were fleeting glimpses of orange brightening up the dreich grey landscape and damp Galloway greenery. It wasn’t the sun, it was the flying Subaru Impreza of Jock Armstrong and Hannah McKillop.

It was close though. Michael Binnie and Claire Mole were only five seconds behind at the end of 44 miles of stages in the Forrest Family Ford R5. Binnie made a mighty effort to close the gap over the final two stages and took 12 seconds out of Armstrong, but it wasn’t quite enough. Even so, Binnie was fortunate, Finlay Retson and Paul Beaton were on course for the runner-up position when their Fiesta expired on the final stage.

It was closer still in third place, the Fiesta of David Henderson and Chris Lees just pipped the Hyundai of John Wink and Neil Shanks by ONE second. It was good to see Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson having a decent run for a change and were rewarded with fifth ahead of Iain Wilson and Chris Williams bouncing back with a strong sixth after their tumble in Argyll. Just missing out on a top six were Willie Paterson and Tom Hynd. Were it not for two punctures they would definitely have been in there.

Stand out performances? Providing hope and encouragement for the grey haired and auld fart brigade was the Pinto engined Mk2 of Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson. In such conditions they shouldn’t have finished in the top twenty, should they? Indeed they did, finishing 16th overall (2nd 2WD behind John Crawford and Josh Davidson) but even more impressive was young Robert Proudlock’s pace. With munro-bagger Steven Brown alongside the duo finished 21st overall in the wee class winning Opel Adam and sixth 2WD.

Mind you, Proudlock might have had some ‘outside’ assistance. Chris Ingram (European Rally Champion!) paid a flying visit on Thursday and was re-united with his old Opel Adam and spent some time with Robert at the test day who said afterwards: “I reckon that in a 2 mile stage he was 15 to 20 seconds quicker than me!” Even so Proudlock finished two seconds clear of the fast and furious Peter Stewart/Harry Marchbank in the rapid Peugeot 208, and that’s going some.

Not so lucky was Mark McCulloch. He drove the Proton to nearby John Hardie’s house for its overnight stay after Scrutineering on Friday. On Saturday morning he fired it up and drove six miles to Dalbeattie for the rally start where someone noticed an oil leak. Closer inspection revealed an almost circular three inch hole in the gearbox casing. The main shaft bearing could be seen clearly through the hole but there was no sign of the cause. A quick phone call established that there was no oil loss evident on Hardie’s driveway so it happened on that six mile road run on Saturday morning. A real puzzle.

Armstrong’s victory in the ‘old-tech’ Subaru versus the playstation generation was all the more impressive as he was running MRF tyres all day. Once regarded as a budget rally tyre, the Indian manufacturer is now matching the Europeans in terms of performance – at nearly half the price of the Frenchies!

And a final word. Iain Wilson’s agricultural and forest machinery premises just outside Dalbeattie were tailor-made for a rally service park, and he couldn’t have been more hospitable to the rally circus. Thanks Iain, and sorry for the muddy tracks in the field!


1, Jock Armstrong/Hannah McKillop (Subaru Impreza) 43m 09s

2, Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Ford Fiesta R5) 43m 14s (+0:05s)

3, David Henderson/Chris Lees (Ford Fiesta Rally2) 44m 06s (+0:57s)

4, John Wink/Neil Shanks (Hyundai i20 R5) 44m 07s  (+0:58s)

5, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) 44m 12s (+1:03)

6, Iain Wilson/Chris Williams (Ford Fiesta Rally2) 45:20 (+2:11)

7, William Paterson/Tom Hynd (Skoda R5) 45m 33s (+2:24)

8, Joe Hegarty/David Turkington (Ford R5) 46m 18s  (+3:09)

9, Chris Collie/Ricky Finlayson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 46m 46s (+3:37)

10, Phil Pickard/Simon Pickard (Ford Fiesta S2000T) 47m 23s (+4:14)

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