21 Jul: Mach1 News & Blethers

… MachOne MacNews and MacBlethers …

Allan McDowall gave his ‘new’ car a shakedown at the weekend’s Mach 1 Stages Rally. His Opel Kadett now has a 2.5 Millington power unit. This is the same car he used to win the 2011 BTRDA Silver Star series but three years ago switched to an Escort Mk2. “I started rallying with a Mk1, then a Mk2 before I got the Kadett,” said Allan, “I was third in the BTRDA Silver Star series in 2017 but since I seem to have more luck with the Kadett I’m trying this. It’s still on forest suspension, so it’s not ideal for round here but it feels really quick.” McDowall has plans to contest more BTRDA events, adding: “I’m quite pleased with 14th overall today, first time out – and we had no power steering!”

Ian and Alan Paterson didn’t have a good day in the Subaru. The flat four engine had recently had the cylinder heads done but the timing was out and it wouldn’t rev over 4800 rpm. It was flat out at 82 mph, so it wasn’t right. They actually completed the Saturday stages but a slow run on Sunday morning confirmed they’d best pull out and save the engine. They had also lost time on one of the Saturday stages with a burst brake pipe.

Also in trouble were the Grierson boys, and here’s a strange one. The carbon fibre prop shaft on the Subaru separated itself. It appears that the glue binding two parts together had ‘dried out’ and the two parts came adrift. Really odd. Anyway, Gordon Morrison lent them a prop shaft and Stuart Paterson and Paul (Big Tasty) Hogg sprachled about underneath the car to swap them over, so a top ten finish was hard earned.

It was good to see Kieran O’Kane back on ‘home’ turf with the Ascona. He finished 12th o/a: “That’s the first time ever I’ve had ‘hard’ tyres on the front and it transformed the car,” said Kieran, “the long stages and the heat just made it.”

Hoping to give Colin Gemmell a run for his Money were Ross Auld and Richard Stewart in the Honda engined Mk2 but the car suffered a recurrence of earlier troubles when the oil pump drive belt broke. Bad enough, but when it shredded it took out alternator belt too, so the engine stopped. Not to be outdone, Ross got belts delivered to the Ardrossan ferry terminal and picked them up from the boat when it docked in Campbeltown on Saturday evening. The belts were replaced that night but when they started the engine up in the morning, it started vibrating and shaking and did it again. That’s the third time this has happened since the engine was installed over the Winter months, so back to the drawing board, eh? Robert Marshall’s retirement in his Mk2 was down to a broken engine mounting.

1600 class winner Kyle Adam was full of praise for the venue: “I don’t have much experience of ‘flat-out’ motoring, but there was plenty of top gear stuff here and flat out long corners, it was really good.” The only problems he had over the weekend was no intercom on S6 and couldn’t hear Fiona, and another issue which was ingeniously resolved. Apparently the car was running very hot at times under the bonnet on the longer stages which caused the ECU to trip out into ‘restricted power’ mode, so they raised the rear edge of the bonnet to allow more air through the engine. Job done.

Another driver who liked the venue was Alan Oldfield from Yorkshire which was indeed fortunate as he driven 353 miles from Yorkshire to get there (and faced another 353 to get home!) and raised a smile when he commented: “I thought we were nearly there when we got to Arrochar and then saw a sign which said 94 miles to Campbeltown!” Also far travelled were the Northern Irish crew, Eamon McCrystal and Paul Parker who finished 22nd in their Escort: “I actually live in Glasgow but the car lives in Ulster,” said Eamon, “so I’ve got to drag it back to Cairn Ryan after this, but this is my first time here and I’m loving it.”

Michael Robertson’s day started badly, and went downhill. He broke a driveshaft on the Honda then missed the next three stages while they fished the broken bits out. This was achieved by taking out the driveshaft on the other side and then punching through from the far side with a long taper. On Sunday morning a front suspension arm fractured which would need welding – and then the diff failed on SS10.

One of the oddest things seen at rallies was the radiator in the Russell and Adam Milne Escort Cosworth after it rumbled off the road on the 3rd stage. There was no big impact and the car looked relatively unscathed but an arrow stake had gone through the grille and into the radiator. Weirdly the core was intact and so was the header as the stake had speared right through the join as neat as you like. Oddly enough there as a distinct lack of Ford Escort Cosworth stockists in the Campbeltown area so no replacement was found!

The Dalgleish boys joined the non-finisher ranks when the Subaru slithered off the road on the first stage on Sunday morning, down a wee banking and into a soft, wet bog. No damage, but the car was stuck fast. Even so Alistair and David were none too disconsolate. The engine is just back from TEG and the boys were fair enjoying the power. They reckoned the reason they went off was they had just fitted new front tyres but hadn’t changed the rears, and although the front gripped, the rear end didn’t, dragging them off the road.

Knowing what to expect, Duncan McLean arrived at Mach1 well equipped to co-drive for Leonard Jones in the Chevette. The car is quite softly sprung and the venue is full of sharp turns and fast bends, so Duncan had a sick-bag with him. Unfortunately he needed it on one of the stages. Even more unfortunately, it leaked. So the moral of this story is make sure you have a ‘watertight’ container if in doubt. They still finished 26th o/a but the ‘sweet smell of success’ is not one they are familiar with!

Things looked a bit hectic inside the Garry Coutts and Paul Tonner Fiesta but that was only because the intercom had failed and Paul was trying to keep Garry right by using hand signals, so a top 30 finish was hard earned. George and Lois Fell had to retire the Renault Clio when the engine cut out as it approached the ‘Out’ control after service and simply refused to fire up again.

Kevin Jaffray and Shona Hale lost over 7 minutes in SS7 when the wheel studs came off the Toyota Corolla followed pretty quickly afterwards by the wheel. “The brake disc now has a flat bit on it,” said Kevin but they still finished 38th o/a.

The Peugeot 205 of Marcus Tinsley and Cameron Dunn was going well in Class in the 1400 class till a con-rod deconstructed itself sending bits everywhere like shrapnel, and the Peugeot 106 of James and Louise Strachan didn’t get far when a big end failed on the 4th test. Andrew Logan and Calum Fraser were getting along fine with their Peugeot till the start of SS11. Until that point, the crew and the car had been behaving perfectly, and then it just stubbornly refused to fire up to go again. The boys were sorely puzzled as it had a spark and was getting fuel, but life there was none! The Saxo of Stevie Alexander and Christina Turner was another non-finisher when something broke inside the gearbox, oil came out the top and the exhaust set it on fire. No real damage done, but it needs a new gearbox.

Jack Gray and Victor Mackay, oops sorry, Gavin Gray and Colin Mackay finished 36th o/a in the tastefully decorated Citroen ZX Dakar but only after an overnight gearbox rebuild. Third gear was getting noisy on Saturday, so the boys set to on Saturday evening to fix it and were ready for Sunday.

Ian Findlay and Ronnie Bowie lost a minute and a half on the first two stages when a turbo pipe came off the Subaru. They got it fixed and were back in business for SS3 finally finishing 27th o/a.

Graham and Robert MacDonald’s rally was short-lived when the Subaru’s diff failed on the 3rd stage and the Subaru of Paul Collins and Thomas Wilson was retired with steering failure.

Carlisle’s Keith and Jackie Richardson didn’t have much luck in Campbeltown. The Escort Cosworth broke it’s gear linkage on the first stage and they missed the next three while folks rallied round to help them repair and get them back out for Saturday afternoon and the Sunday run. Nice one folks.

John Kean and Jennifer Kelly didn’t fare any better than the Richardsons. They had a driveshaft failure early on and missed a couple of stages with a faulty fuel pump relay but even more puzzling, they found a rock wedged inside one of the Peugeot’s coil springs. But it begged the question, how long had it been there – before this rally?

And finally ….

A Specsavers moment. As Ian and Alan Paterson sat on the start line for stage 3 they spied Alistair Inglis’ white Lotus in the distance on its second lap and as the blue Subaru blasted off, Ian thought: “Ach we’re well ahead, he’ll no catch us.” Within a mile, the rear vision mirrors were catching glimpses of a wee white sports car. “Jings, crivvens, help m’boab (or words to that effect) where the heck did he come from?” said Alan. As the Subaru was misbehaving anyway, Alan suggested they pull over and not hold him up. So they did, and then sat there for umpteen seconds till finally the wee white Darrian sped by – it wasn’t Alistair at all, it was Andy Horne who had started behind them! If you thought Ian’s Subaru was blue you should have seen the air inside the car when the dynamic duo realised what they had done! It is alleged that afterwards, Ian suggested ever so politely, whilst intimating a degree of urgency would be required, that Alan get himself to Specsavers and ask for a chart with car silhouettes, not letters and numbers! Aye, SAGA tours has nothing on this pair, eh?

Is it a Lotus – or a Darrian?

Is it a Darrian – or a Lotus?

20 Jul: Inglis takes Mach1 win

… Mach1 Stages Rally, 13/14 July …

Machrihanish was in benevolent mood as crews arrived for the sixth Mach1 Stages Rally to be held on the Mull of Kintyre. It was sun-less, cold and windy, but it was dry, as the threatened rain did little more than tease us with low cloud clinging to the hilltops around the vast site. Temperatures rose on Saturday and again on Sunday, allowing a profusion of peelly waally legs to make a public appearance. A mostly unedifying sight indeed!

As for the rally itself, what it lacked in numbers it more than made up for it with excitement and drama. For a long time it looked as though last year’s rally winners Bruce Edwards and Jim Smith were on course to repeat their victory, but on the final stage of the day, they didn’t!

That left the way open for a surprise win by the ‘brothers Inglis’, Alistair and Colin. Going into the final 13.5 mile final stage the Lotus Exige was lying 9 seconds behind the leading Darrian.

Alistair had already taken 6 seconds out of Bruce on SS9, another 6 on SS10 and 4 more on SS11 to close down the gap, but would 9 seconds be just too much too far given the pace of the Darrian? The glint in Alistair’s eye suggested otherwise. It was the same sort of glint that the proprietor of Duthie’s of Montrose reserves for a potential punter who walks into the showroom thinking that he/she is only window shopping and ends up the surprised owner of some shiny new metal!

As events turned out it was Edwards who lost out. Despite being out of the car for a full year, Edwards’; driving style was exemplary and his lines inch perfect. The Darrian rarely looked out of shape as it flew around the old airfield. Having led from the first stage to the 11th few would have bet against another Edwards/Smith victory. They would have lost their dosh. Under braking for a sharp 90 right corner, taken at almost walking pace, the lightweight Darrian just nipped a tyre marker and rode up. As Edwards hit the throttle the car didn’t so much roll, as simply grip and fall over. With the car upside down the stage was red flagged and later cancelled.

Fortunately both Edwards and Smith were unharmed but victory was handed to the Inglis brothers.

Equally surprised were second placed John Rintoul and Ross Hynd. They had started the second day of the rally in fourth place behind Gordon Morrison and Calum McPherson who were in fact tied with the Inglis twins on Saturday night after a full day’s rallying. On the first 13 mile stage on Sunday morning, Morrison was 2 seconds quicker than Inglis to grab second overall but it all went wrong in the next one.

On the 10th stage out of 12, the Montana Subaru broke a rear suspension bottom arm. Whether this had anything to do with an incident on the opening stage the day before we’ll never know, but when passing a car the Subaru had brushed a kerb with the wheel rims. No punctures, but perhaps the car took a knock.

With Morrison sidelined, Rintoul was promoted to the runner-up position in his Ford Fiesta R5. A spin on the opening day of the rally had cost Rintoul a few seconds: “I spun at the first chicane, then cooked the brakes, my own fault,” said John, “had a big accident here last year so I’m still building up confidence.” Inglis opened up a gap of a few seconds on Saturday but on Sunday Rintoul started to close it down. With one stage to go, the gap between 1st and 2nd stayed at 17 seconds, then the red flags came out.

First time out in his new Fiesta R5, Tom Blackwood and Gordon Winning completed the podium line-up although Tom found his new car to be quite a handful compared to his Escort Millington Mk2. Like Rintoul, Blackwood was initially having issues judging braking distances, managing to rub a fence at one point and losing the front bumper but no mechanical damage.

Colin Gemmell and Richard Crozier were fourth in the Mk2 ahead of a very lucky Greg Inglis and Steven Brown. When the orange Lotus drove into final service at close of play on Saturday, the boys noticed the rear n/s brake caliper was hanging off: The mounting bracket had fractured although the brake lines were still intact: “I didn’t feel a thing,” said Greg, “it must just have happened at the stage finish.” That prompted a telephone call back to the garage at Montrose where a bracket was taken off another car and driven to Lix Toll where the handover was made to Colin who had driven to meet it. The rear brake and hub were rebuilt overnight ready to resume play on Sunday.

Donnie MacDonald and Chris Hamill rounding off the top six in his Mitsubishi, and who knows, Donnie might have done a wee bit better had he not been playing the gallery! At least he entertained the spectators using forest rallying techniques to slide around the corners .

Alan Oldfield and Ashleigh Morris were delighted with 7th overall in his Darrian on Alan’s first visit to the venue which he reckoned was well worth the 353 mile trip north and Alan Wallace and Darren Robertson continued their strong run of top ten finishes with 8th in the Lancer Evo6.

The 1600cc class winning Escort Mk2 of Kyle Adam and Fiona Moir scored an impressive 9th overall just ahead of the Subaru Impreza of Murray and Mark Grierson which had broken a prop shaft on Day 1. Just outside the top ten in 11th place overall was the Peugeot of Des Campbell and Craig Forsyth finishing 2nd in class just over a minute behind Adam. For once in his life, Des had the sensible head on. Resisting the urge to chase down Adam in the faster car, Des settled for a sensible pace and a (relatively!) tidy approach which was enough to keep him clear of the Ben and Andrew Wilkinson rapid Saxo. It was close, 3rd in class Wilkinson was only 8 seconds behind Campbell at the finish.

As for ‘Drive of the Day’, I reckon Innes and Kirty Mochrie would be in the running for that. Somebody should take Innes aside and give him a ticking off – a home brewed 1396cc Rover Metro shouldn’t be giving 2 litre cars a hard time, never mind the 1600 brigade! The wee thing was a treat to watch as it hurtled around the stages and it was over 13 minutes quicker than the Peugeot 106 of Martin Farquhar and Aiden Henderson. Cameron Craig might have made more of a fight for the 1400 class honours had the Peugeot’s gear linkage not broken on the second stage.

Those who lost out included top seed Ian Paterson with a burst brake pipe on his Subaru, Richard Sutherland’s Opel Manta broke a CV joint and Andy Horne retired his Darrian when he lost compression on one cylinder while Billy McClelland lost compression on more than one cylinder in the Evo3.5!

Colin Gemmell still leads the Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Championship at this mid way point but Kyle Adam’s class win means the gap between the two is now down to one point.

1 Alistair Inglis/Colin Inglis(Lotus Exige) 88m 32s
2 John Rintoul/Ross Hynd (Ford Fiesta R5) +00m17s
3 Tom Blackwood/Gordon Winning (Ford Fiesta R5) +01m18s
4 Colin Gemmell/Richard Crozier (Ford Escort Mk2) +02m28s
5 Greg Inglis/Steven Brown (Lotus Exige) +02m51s
6 Donnie MacDonald/Chris Hamill (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +03m29s
7 Alan Oldfield/Ashleigh Morris (Darrian T90 GTR+) +05m13s
8 Alan Wallace/Darren Robertson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6) +05m42s
9 Kyle Adam/Fiona Moir (Ford Escort Mk2) +06m06s
10 Murray Grierson/Mark Grierson (Subaru Impreza) +06m20s

Class winners
Innes Mochrie/Kirsty Mochrie (Rover Metro GTI)

08 Jul: Mach 1 Stages Entry List

… Mach 1 Stages Rally, Sat/Sun 13/14 July … If you fancy a quiet weekend of peace, solitude and contemplation, best avoid Machrihanish this coming weekend. Dunfermline CC have attracted a heckuva entry for Round 6 of the Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Championship, the Mull of Kintyre based Mach 1 […] Read more »

03 Jul: Argyll News & Blethers

… Dunoon presents Argyll Rally, Sat 22 June 2019 … News & Blethers Turns out that the accident which befell Stuart and Marc Irvine in Argyll was rather more serious than first reported. Even as this was being written Marc is still in hospital although due to be released soon. […] Read more »

02 Jul: Argyll Classes – 1 to 6

… Dunoon presents Argyll Rally, Sat 22 June 2019 … Class 1 – 2WD Up To 1450cc A violent eruption separated the ‘twins’ in Class 1 when the engine in the Niall Cowan Jnr/Thomas Bruce MG ZR self destructed when a con rod made a bid for freedom through the […] Read more »

02 Jul: Argyll Classes – 7 to 11

… Dunoon presents Argyll Rally, Sat 22 June 2019 … Class 7 – RWD Up To 2050cc 16v First time out in his recently acquired ex-Mike Stuart Mk2, Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry scored a narrow 3 second victory over Paul Mcerlean and Niall McKenna in a pretty hard fought […] Read more »