23 Apr: Gemmell wins at Condor

… Memorial Garden Stages, Sat 13th April …

It makes you wonder if it’s a phenomenon known only in Scotland – cold sunshine. Where other countries and holiday destinations promise sunshine and warmth, all we get is the sunshine. Whatever happened to the bluidy heat we’re supposed to get with it?

Although the sun shone over Arbroath for the Memorial Garden Stages Rally, the wind coming in off the North Sea came straight out of the iceberg manufacturing facility in the far north. On the other hand, at least it wasn’t wet, not like the Border Counties.

But back to RM Condor where Colin Gemmell and David Aitken scored their first rally victory outside Kames. They had to come from behind as Ian and Sarah Forgan opened the scoring in their Subaru Impreza, a full 10 seconds faster over the first stage than the shiny blue Escort.

Sadly that was as far as they got. As the Subaru sped round the perimeter roads and runways of the Marine base, there was a faint blue haze of smoke trailing behind the white machine. At service, there was a wee oil leak from the bottom of the turbo. An oil pipe had fractured – and they had no spare.

Nigel Feeney and Conor Duffy thereafter took up the leading position with the MINI WRC setting fastest time over the next three stages pulling away from Gemmell. Then it was Feeney’s turn to hit trouble with a misfire: “”I felt it go on the final straight of SS4,” said Nigel, “so I just switched the anti-lag off and coasted into the Control.” No problem he thought, just change the coil pack. After all he had six spares – but they were not in the van, they had been left at home. Seeck? You betcha!

On closer investigation, it turned out that a spark plug had actually broken and the team were unable to be sure they had fished all the bits out of the cylinder so wisely decided to call it a day.

That left Gemmell in the lead and two fastest times over the final two tests clinched his first major rally victory. Sadly John Rintoul failed to make any impression on the leaderboard as the Skoda Fabia pulled out on the first stage. Initially it was going well, but after a couple of corners it lost its urge, refusing to pull hard and losing power. Then the oil light came on, although the engine still had oil pressure, but regardless John pulled over and switched off.

Alan Wallace and Darren Robertson were therefore promoted to a surprised second place overall and that despite some judicial use of tie-wrap to secure the front bumper which had been knocked off on a chicane.

First time on the podium were Kyle Adam and Fiona Moir, the 1600 Escort showing a turn of speed not seen before, and for which there was a simple reason. Turns out that when Gary’s Millington was taken out of the Escort and Kyle’s 1600cc unit put in, they didn’t change the gearshift ECU. With a much higher rev band than the torquey Millington, Kyle was changing up some two and half thousand rpm sooner than he should. No wonder he thought it was flat.

If Kyle was surprised to be third, imagine the shock inside a certain Honda Civic cabin. Michael Robertson and Murray Milne finished 4th overall. And there was more. Michael hadn’t been here before and it was the first time that he had encountered ‘gravel’ stages. That may also have accounted for the loss of his front bumper, but then again, given his style of driving that is a regular occurrence is it not?

Another crew paying their first visit to this event courtesy of its inclusion on the Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Championship this year were Ross McCallum and James Ralph who were 5th in the MG Maestro. They also had a bit of a spin on the first stage and there wasn’t much to separate them and the Robertson/Milne pairing.

Rounding off the top six were Graeme and Jim Rintoul with a hastily refettled engine in the Fiesta after its previous outing hiccup.

The Subaru Imprezas of Gareth Dalgleish, Cameron Stout and Ross McFadzean filled the next three places with Willie Paterson’s Escort completing the top ten line-up although he might have featured rather higher up had it not been for a rear puncture in the first stage which cost him over half a minute.

On paper the Class 2 fight promised more than it delivered. Des Campbell in his Peugeot 206 was quicker than Kyle Adam over the first two stages before he smacked a bale on the 3rd test which broke a driveshaft, the bottom arm and the steering. Steven Hay didn’t even get that far when his Corsa’s gearbox failed. It wasn’t actually the ‘box itself which caused the problem, a gear selector broke and a broken chip dropped down jamming itself between two gears.

James Strachan took the 1 litre class in his Peugeot 106 from the Skoda Citigo of Marc McCubbin with Martin Farquhar’s Peugeot 106 in third place. Steven Crockett went no further than SS1 when an engine mounting broke in the Peugeot 205.

Top Ten:
1, Colin Gemmell/David Aitken (Escort Mk2) 49m 41s,
2, Alan Wallace/Darren Robertson (Lancer Evo6) +1:24
3, Kyle Adam/Fiona Moir (Escort Mk2) +1:59
4, Michael Robertson/Murray Milne (Civic) +2:48
5, Ross McCallum/James Ralph (MG Maestro) +3:13
6, Graeme Rintoul/Jim Rintoul (Fiesta) +3:22
7, Gareth Dalgliesh/Kenneth Dalgliesh (Impreza) +3:31
8, Cameron Stout/Jamie Stout (Impreza) +3:35
9, Ross McFadzean/Cameron Dunn (Impreza) +3:49
10, Willie Paterson/Euan O’Neill (Escort Mk2) +3:54

( There will be more from the Memorial Garden Stages Rally in the Rally Roundup section to follow )

16 Apr: Speyside Stages preview

… McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages, Sat 20th April …

Scotland’s dark green forests are calm and peaceful places, ideal for contemplation and relaxation – most of the time. This weekend the forests around Keith and Huntly will come alive to the sounds of rally cars and the spirit of battle on the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally.

David Bogie won an epic contest last year scoring his 9th win on this event, but he was pushed all the way by CA1 Sport team mate Rhys Yates. However, the Fabia R5 cars didn’t have things all their own way, there was a certain orange Subaru poking its nose into places that ‘older generation’ cars shouldn’t. Jock Armstrong finished a fighting 2nd.

There’s no Yates this year, but Bogie’s back and looking for number 10, and Armstrong’s back too, perhaps to right old wrongs. But far from being a two way fight we have the return of Euan Thorburn with 4 straight rally victories in a row so far this year. On that basis he must be the pre-event favourite, but that might also be applied to his near neighbour, Garry Pearson.

Thorburn’s Focus WRC has proved uncatchable in the 3 rounds of the BTRDA British Championship so far this year while Pearson was frustrated by the weather on last month’s Border Counties. A spin in the snow cost him 40 seconds with Thorburn winning by 33!

On that basis this weekend will provide a case of let battle re-commence on this second round of this year’s KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship.

And there’s more. Donnie MacDonald and John Wink are both R5 mounted with MacDonald back in his Fiesta and Wink, who also fell victim to a snow filled ditch last month, eager to make amends behind the wheel of his Hyundai. And if you fancy a couple more dark horses, how about Bruce McCombie in his Focus WRC and Freddie Milne for an outside bet?

Milne has proved that the Mitsubishi Lancer can still be competitive and he will be similarly joined by the fast improving Michael Binnie, Simon Hay, Alan Dickson, Scott MacBeth, Martin Scott, and, who knows, maybe even Chris Collie. In fact with that many Lancers about this could be the Charge of the Light Brigade all over again.

Over 90 cars and crews from all around Scotland and even farther afield are entered this weekend with the various classes and categories all offering up their own competition and rivalry. So, stuff the contemplation bit, get out there and be invigorated.

Programmes with map detail will be on sale for a £1 a time from:
Elgin – McDonald and Munro, Moycroft Ind Est
Autosave Components, Greyfriars Street
Ditsy Teacup, Batchen Lane
Huntly – Huntly Auto Services, Steven Road
Inverness – Autosave Components, Harbour Road

SS1/2 – McDonald & Munro Cooper Park, First car 09.00 Hrs
Cooper Park is on the north side of the Royal Burgh of Elgin at the junction of the A96 with the A9421 Lossiemouth road, with car parking available at the nearby Lossie Green car park.

SS5 – John Wink Design Malsach Burn 1, First car 11:05 Hrs
SS7 – Billy Miller Contractors Malsach Burn 2, First car 13:45 Hrs
Forest Enterprise have provided a car park just off the A96 near the Glens of Foundland, south east of Huntly – look out for the green Spectator arrows. Gartly Community Association will be charging £5 per car and it’s an easy walk to the stage.

SS9 – Grampian Property Centre Rosarie, First car 15:30 Hrs
Forest Enterprise have again provide car parking facilities for which the Portsoy Boat Festival folk will be charging £5 per car. Enter from the A95 Keith-Dufftown road near Gateside Farm.

Entry List
1, David Bogie/John Rowan (Skoda Fabia R5) 1600, Class 11
2, Euan thorburn/Paul Beaton (Ford Focus WRC) 2000, Class 11
3, Jock Armstrong/Cameron Fair (Subaru Impreza) 1998, Class 10
4, Garry Pearson/Dale Bowen (Ford Fiesta R5) 1600, Class 11
5, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer (Ford Fiesta R5) 1600, Class 11
6, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts (Ford Focus) 2000, Class 11
7, Freddie Milne/Patrick Walsh (Mitsubishi Evo7) 1997,
8, John Wink/John Forrest (Hyundai i20 R5) 1600, Class 11
9, Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Mitsubishi Evo9) 2000, Class 9
10, Ian Bainbridge/Mark Fisher (Subaru Impreza) 1998, Class 10
11, Simon Hay/Calum Jaffray (Mitsubishi Evo6) 2000, Class 9
12, Alan Dickson/Martin Forrest (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 2, Class 10
14, Scott MacBeth/Josh Davison (Mitsubishi Evo9) 1998, Class 9
15, Martin Scott/Daniel Forsyth (Mitsubishi Evo9) 2000, Class 9
17, Chris Collie/Gary McDonald (Mitsubishi Evo8) 2000, Class 10
18, Keith Morris/Terry Mallin (Mitsubishi Evo6) 1999, Class 10
19, Iain Wilson/Chris Williams (Ford Escort Mk2) 2100, Class 8
20, Ian Baumgart/Sinclair Young (Subaru Impreza) 1998, Class 9
21, John Rintoul/Ross Hynd (Skoda Fabia) 2500, Class 10
22, Paul McErlean/Aaron Mawhinney (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000, Class 7
23, Duncan MacDonald/Neil Ross (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000, Class 7
24, Gordon Murray/David O’Brien (Ford Escort Mk2) 2300, Class 8
25, Brian Ross/Allan Matheson (Mitsubishi Evo8) 1998, Class 9
26, Steven Wood/Mary Wood (Ford Fiesta RWD) 1998, Class 7
27, Paddy Munro/Gordon Chalmers (Ford Escort Mk2) 1800, Class 4
28, Fraser MacNicol/Ricky Finlayson (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000, Class 4
29, Keith Robathan/Steven Brown (BMW M3) 2998, Class 8
30, Robert Adamson/Jane Nicol (Skoda Fabia S2000) 1998, Class 10
31, Carl Tuer/Rob Tuer (Suzuki Swift Maxi 2000) 1998, Class 6
33, Matthew Thomson/Ian Graham (Subaru Impreza) 2000, Class 9
34, Kevin Crawford/Andrew Stevenson (Mitsubishi Evo9) 1997, Class 10
35, Stuart Irvine/Marc Irvine (Mitsubishi Evo7) 1996, Class 10
37, Brett McKenzie/James Ralph (Subaru Impreza) 2000, Class 9
38, Max Redpath/Callum Redpath (Subaru Impreza) 2000, Class 9
40, Neil Coalter/Hannah Cessford (Suzuki Ignis) 1400, Class 1
41, Andy Chalmers/Martin MacCabe (Subaru Impreza) 1998, Class 9
42, William Nicoll/Tba (Mitsubishi Evolution 6) 2000, Class 9
43, John O’Kane/Meghan O’Kane (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000, Class 4
44, Colin Baxter/Donald John Campbell (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000, Class 4
45, Mike Moates/Michael Moates (Subaru Impreza) 0, Class 9
46, Douglas Watt/Ian Parker (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000, Class 4
47, Duncan Ferguson/Alex Murphy (Ford Escort BDG) 1975, Class 5
48, Steven Fraser/Stewart Hurst (Mitsubishi Evo9) 2000, Class 9
49, Tom Coughtrie/Ian Fraser (Mitsubishi Galant VR4) 2025, Class 5
50, Colin Patterson/Gary Clark (Ford Escort Mk2) 2000, Class 4
51, Kevin Gray/Callum Shanks (Suzuki Swift) 1998, Class 6
52, Michael Renton/Gavin Kelt (Peugeot 306 Gti6) 1998, Class 6
53, Ian Cattanach/Lisa Cattanach (Talbot Sunbeam) 1600, Class 3
54, James Campbell/Kenneth Fogg (Talbot Sunbeam) 1600, Class 2
55, Tom Howie/Charles MacKenzie (Talbot Sunbeam) 1600, Class 3
56, Steven Bellshaw/Lorn Hughes (Citroen C2 VTS) 1598, Class 3
57, Neil Philip/Ian Philip (Subaru Impreza) 2000, Class 9
59, Sandy Arbuthnott/Ian Arbuthnott (Ford Focus) 2000, Class 9
60, Scott Peacock/Robin Neil (MG ZR) 1400, Class 1
61, Scott MacDonald/Angus MacNeil (Vauxhall Nova) 1600, Class 2
62, Caroline Carslaw/Charley Sayer-Payne (Ford Fiesta R2) 1600, Class 3
63, Fraser Smith/Ian MacDougall (Honda Civic) 1600, Class 3
64, Linzi Henderson/Tom Hynd (Ford Fiesta R2T) 998, Class 6
65, Scott McQueen/Andrew MacKinnon (Honda Civic) 1998, Class 6
66, Steve McGregor/Malcolm Vie (Mitsubishi Evo3) 1998, Class 9
67, Iain Urquhart/Michael MacKenzie (Mitsubishi Evo) 2000, Class 9
68, Paul Collins/Robert Wood (Subaru Impreza) 2000, Class 9
69, Derek Duncan/Adrian Bruce (Subaru Impreza) 1994, Class 9
70, Rhuaridh Campbell/Shaina Archibald (Chrysler Sunbeam) 2000, Class 7
71, Johnnie Mackay/Andrew Logan (Ford Fiesta ST) 1999, Class 6
72, Alistair Brearley/Paul Barbet (Ford Escort Mk2) 1998, Class 7
73, Graham Morrison/Steven Edward (Subaru Impreza) 1990, Class 9
74, Ali MacLeod/Thomas Jefferson (Ford Escort) 1998, Class 7
75, Jimmy Jack/John Jack (BMW Compact) 2800, Class 8
76, Ian Milne/Dawn Milne (Ford Escort Mk2) 1998, Class 5
77, Ernie Lee/Patricia Milligan (BMW 325i) 2490, Class 5
79, Stephen Fraser/Gareth MacMillan (Vauxhall Nova) 1598, Class 3
80, Jude MacDonald/Michael Cruickshank (Skoda Fabia R2) 1598, Class 3
81, Graeme Morrison/Kyle Morrison (Ford Escort) 2000, Class 7
82, Jamie McIntyre/Damian Greenall (Ford Escort) 2498, Class 8
83, John Brownie/Gordon Ritchie (Opel Kadett C) 1998, Class 7
84, Nikki Addison/Rachel Matheson (Peugeot 106 GTI) 1600, Class 3
85, Peter Beaton/Dean Ross (Honda Civic) 1600, Class 3
86, Jacob Harlington/Chris Duff (VW Polo) 1340, Class 1
87, Darren Graham McDonald/Greg McDonald (Subaru Impreza GC8) 0, Class 9
88, Paul McIntosh/Clare MacKenzie (Ford Focus ST) 1988, Class 6
89, Kevin Stout/Lynn Stout (M-Sport Freelander) 2500, Class 9
90, Aileen Forrest/Pauline Patterson (Mitsubishi Evo5) 1997, Class 9
91, Robert Martin James Tonge/Sean Newlands (MG ZR) 1396, Class 1
92, Niall Philips/Curtis Fraser (Ford RS2000 4×4) 2000, Class 9

16, Thomas Gray/Harry Marchbank (Mitsubishi Evo) 2000, Class 9
32, Keir Beaton/Robert MacDonald (Ford Escort Mk2) 2500, Class 8
36, Alex Pirie/Frazer Skene (Subaru Impreza) 2000, Class 9
39, Michael Grant/Graham Kelman (Subaru Impreza) 2000, Class 9
58, Niall Cowan Jnr/Thomas Bruce (MG ZR) 1398, Class 1

93, Chris Gillies/Ryan Dougan (Citroen C2 GT) 1600, Class 3
94, Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry (BMW E30) 2800, Class 8

15 Apr: Lookback at DCC Stages

… Rally Roundup & Blethers … Looking as happy as a two-tailed dug (that had lost both its tails) was Tom Blackwood. The resplendently yellow Escort proved to be as stubborn as its owner on the Saturday morning of the rally when it refused to fire up. Even when they […] Read more »

11 Apr: Obituary – Len Freshwater

… Len Freshwater, 1956 – 2019 … The sport of rallying in Scotland has lost “one of the good guys”. Len Freshwater passed away on Monday evening (8th April) in hospital after a short illness. He had just turned 63 last month. One of the founder members of Border Ecosse […] Read more »

10 Apr: Memorial Garden Rally prevu

… Memorial Garden Stages Rally, Sat 13th April … The 3rd round of the 2019 Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Championship gets under way this weekend at the home of RM Condor near Arbroath. This is the first time the event has been included in the championship so there are likely […] Read more »

05 Apr: DCC Junior Stages Report

… DCC Junior Stages, Sun 31st March … Many tall tales start with the phrase, “There was a Scotsman, an Englishman and a Welshman (or an Irishman) …..”. Well, on 31st March 2019 at the DCC Junior Stages Rally at Ingliston, Edinburgh this was very much the pattern in the […] Read more »