Tuesday 10 October 2023

Rally - the bright side

Given the amount of waatter that has fallen on the west coast of Scotland and the sceptred isle over recent days there will be folk out there concerned about what may happen this weekend on the Beatson’s Tour of Mull Rally. Well, dinnae worry. It’s been bad before. In fact, way back in the Year 2000, the event was called the Rally of 1000 Puddles in tribute to Finland’s Rally of 1000 Lakes.

Apparently the pre-event Beer Rally was cancelled that year because the RNLI refused to come out due to the fearfully wet conditions.

It was on that basis that the 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally took place on the tortuous winding canals of Mull. Visibility was further reduced because the rain was coming doon like stair roads and stotting off the tar so hard it was creating a mist. Wet? Some folk even resorted to calling it Mull's Rally of a Million Puddles.

The rally ended with a splash in the early hours of Sunday morning with Callum and Hugh Duffy stunning seasoned rally followers with a heroic and gutsy drive to clinch a last gasp victory.

Nine times winner Neil MacKinnon led the rally by 8 seconds after the first 50 mile Leg over Friday night and into Saturday morning. He led again by 6 seconds at the end of the second 50 mile daylight section on Saturday afternoon. But it was on the third and final Leg late on Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning that the Dervaig father and son team staged a remarkable and memorable fightback.

On the first stage of the night, Duffy snatched back a massive 24 seconds to take the lead. MacKinnon responded with a time 15 seconds better than his rival on the next. It was Duffy's turn again by 3 seconds on the third stage from last setting up a grandstand finish.

MacKinnon turned up the heat (steam?) yet again over the final two stages but it was on the last blast over the island's tortuous, winding roads, awash with rain-water that the deed was duly decided. Duffy's time of 11 minutes 39 seconds for the 14 mile stage was jaw-droppingly awesome.

The winning margin? 28 seconds after 152 miles of timed-to-the-second motoring over some of the most demanding roads in Europe in frightful weather conditions.

It was Duffy's second win on his home event and he denied MacKinnon his record tenth victory. To give some idea of the pace these two were setting, twice winner in 1990 and '91, Andy Knight was third, over 6 minutes behind in the leading two wheel drive car.

Even so, it was a remarkable 1-2-3 for the home based crews with Daniel Harper first of the visitors in fourth place with John Cressey fifth and John Swinscoe sixth and first rear wheel drive car in his awfy smart Mk2.

Stuart McQueen was top GrpN in the Lancer in 7th place and James MacGillivray sailed to victory in the 1600 class with 9th. Top 1300 runner was Chris Tooze in the wee Pyugget just outside the top ten in 12th place.

And the real heroes? Of course the event wouldn’t have happened without the dozens of waterlogged and wind-swept individuals who floated gently at anchor at their various marshalling positions around the island.

In fact my auld pal Jaggy Bunnet remarked on a most unusual and memorable sight over at Ulva Ferry where a pink blob like a cow's udder was seen running around. No, it wasn't the drink, it was the conditions - it was only a wee dug which had been blown inside out in the wind!

So it can’t be that bad again this weekend – can it?

Results after 18 Special Stages:

1, Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy (Mitsubishi Lancer)  2hr 34mins 29secs

2, Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte (Subaru Impreza)  2hr 34m 57s

3, Andy Knight/Graeme Noble (Ford Escort RS2000)  2hr 41m 18s

4, Daniel Harper/Daniel Barritt (Vauxhall Astra)  2hr 42m 59s

5, John Cressey/Ian Grindrod (Vauxhall Astra)  2hr 44m 36s

6, John Swinscoe/Paula Swinscoe (Ford Escort)  2hr 48m 34s

7, Stuart McQueen/Alistair Green (Mitsubishi Lancer)  2hr 49m 21s

8, Roger Binyon/Nick Bray (Mitsubishi Lancer)  2hr 50m 05s

9, James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy (Vauxhall Corsa)  2hr 51m 29s

10, Mark Jasper/Alan Snell (Ford Escort Cos)  2hr 52m 05s

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