Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, Saturday 6 October ….
Round 8 (of 8) – Scottish Rally Championship ….
Alex Pirie was a lucky finisher and Class 2 winner when the Corsa cracked its sump in the final stage and after topping it up at the stage finish, just managed to reach Aberfeldy. If there are any traffic polis reading this, then honest officer, it wasn’t a bad leak! James Aitken was delighted with second in class in the MG ZR “Errochty was magic” ahead of Ross MacDonald’s Corsa which looked rather second hand by the finish: “It’s not as bad as it looks,” said MacDonald, “a tyre exploded and took out the front wing, grille, bumper and headlamp unit, but it drove fine.” Scott MacBeth in the Nova was fourth in class after spending 3 minutes in an Errochty ditch: “We just overcooked a hairpin and slid off,” said Scott, “but we had to push it out ourselves because there was no-one there.” Gary Blackmore squealed over the finish line in the Peugeot 205 XS: “We lost the back brakes over the last two stages, it’s metal to metal,” he explained. Rachel Medich in the ‘Rally2Raise’ Nissan Micra was sixth after breaking a shock absorber and finished with the wheel rubbing on the wheel arch, and in seventh place was a beaming Cheryl Naisby in her wee Nova: “This is my first rally. My Dad used to rally and I’ve always been desperate to do it myself. I had no brakes at the end of SS3, but they came back.”
And you know what? It’s people like Cheryl that make my day. No matter how experienced you become or how high you climb the sporting ladder, we all started that way. Remember, your first ever event? Remember all that exuberance and youthful enthusiasm? She fair put a spring in my step. I digress. The only non-finisher in Class 2 was Roy MacLennan. He cowped the Peugeot in Griffin. According to post-rally reports – a tree was involved in the incident!
Willie Stuart won Class 3 in his Talbot Sunbeam but only after Alasdair S Graham’s team helped him out. The Sunbeam’s fuel tank sprung a leak prior to the rally start but it was fixed on Friday night in the Aberfeldy sunshine. Tom Hynd was second in class and top Peugeot 205, with Scott Peacock’s Peugeot behind him and looking rather sorry for itself: “We hooked a ditch and bashed its nose on the trees, but there was no mechanical damage,” said Scott. Jordan Black finished fourth in class and third Peugeot after a frantic master cylinder change at service when the brakes failed. Regular class front runner, Alex McCulloch was sidelined on the fifth test when the Nova broke a suspension strut in the fourth test although he tried to struggle on. Ally Galbraith was fifth in the class in the Peugeot from Adrian Stewart in another Peug. Alistair MacArthur’s Sunbeam was seventh and Donald MacNeill’s eighth place was achieved with some relief: “We rolled it on the Speyside and missed the Merrick but got it finished in time for this.” Colin Baxter was the final class finisher in ninth place in his Peugeot, but Willie’s boy, Mike Stuart, didn’t finish. The Sunbeam broke a half shaft. And Callum Atkinson in the Peugeot was spotted stopped in Errochty with the bonnet up.
Grant Inglis in the Honda Civic was having a good scrap with Alasdair S Graham in the Corsa in Class 4 till the Corsa “fell over” in Errochty. Fortunately, the damage was mostly cosmetic but it allowed Alex Curran to claim second in his Corsa behind Inglis: “I punctured on the first stage,” said Curran, “so wasn’t expecting a result after that!” Alasdair salvaged third in class ahead of a subdued Des Campbell in the 206: “We could have been second, but we picked up a 4 minute road penalty, so that was that!”
The ‘Likely lads’ in Class 4 all struck trouble, John Boyd smacked the Fiesta on a gatepost at the end of Stage 5, while Honda Civic drivers Graeme Schoneville broke a driveshaft 3 miles into Errochty and Graeme Smith retired with a broken differential. Ian Cattanach put the Sunbeam off in Errochty and Duncan Campbell broke a driveshaft in the Civic. Kieran Renton first time out in the new Fiesta R2 got as far as the final stage when “something went wrong under the bonnet” and Ian Millar retired his Escort in the fifth test at Blackcraig.
Robert Paterson was a lucky finisher and winner of Class 5 in his Escort: “The inlet manifold bolts are breaking and the carbs are about to fall off. There were too many jumps out there!” Steven Wood was second and final finisher in his Fiesta. David Cameron failed to finish when the Escort cut out in Blackcraig and remained dead to the world despite some tender words of endearment which eventually descended into rather more colourful language.
Tony Thompson was the solitary finisher in Class 6 in his Ford Escort MkI and not in his more usual Chevette despite what the Final Results show: “The Chevette is ready for Mull,” said Tony, “so I wheeled out the Ford for this.”
Ian Forgan scored a terrymendous result in his wee Ford Ka. Not only did he win Class 7, he finished a quite remarkable 14th overall. “We had a wee fright in the last stage. I think we overfilled it with oil at service. There was a lot of smoke out the back, but it was OK,” said Forgy at the finish. Ian Mutch was second in the Astra and Craig Rutherford wasn’t. The Honda Civic broke its clutch in the final stage and Lachlan Cowan’s Fiesta retired at first service.
Calum MacKenzie and Malcolm Buchanan scored a ‘Lewis 1-2’ in Class 8 with Keith Robathan failing to finish in his MkII which was a great pity as he was having quite a fight with the Lewis boys. Keith actually parked the Escort in a big hole (which had already caught out a few front runners) at the Flying Finish at the end of Blackcraig – where Calum had parked his own Escort 2 years ago! “We had actually discussed this at the start of the stage,” said Calum, “but I was lucky on the last stage when the car hit something at the front and deranged the steering. I don’t know what it was, but we were lucky to get away with it.” For his part Malcolm Buchanan had bent the prop shaft in SS3 and then had a slight off which bent a wheel and by the finish: “There was something whining in the transmission.” Neil Morrison was the only other non-finisher, putting the Escort off in the slippery and slithery first stage.
David Bogie was a convincing Class 9 winner and third overall first time out on the loose in a MkII Escort. It took him a couple of stages to settle in, but thereafter his progress was scintillating: “I had a rear puncture in the first stage,” said David, “My fault, I was struggling to find grip levels and was all over the place. The second stage was better. It’s so alien to what I’m used to.” It all came good later on: “There were times in there where I was flat in fifth and on full opposite lock. I can understand now why people drive them and like them so much.” Andrew Gallacher was second in class having solved the engine misfire which plagued his MkII on the Scottish and Robert Harkness was third and 22nd which was quite remarkable considering this was his first event since the 1986 Trossachs Rally and he was driving a less than pristine BMW 316., but it was surely effective! Kieran O’Kane had wheeled out ‘the old’ Ascona, keeping the new one for tarmac, and finished fourth, and simply had a ball. Ken Wood posted a rare retirement when the Dolomite broke its rear axle in the final stage.
John McClory was top Group N runner and finished fourth overall in the Subaru ahead of the lancer of Fraser Wilson and the Lancer of Dougal Brown, but Dougal lost a chunk of time in Errochty when he had to stop and change a punctured tyre.
Quintin Milne was the winner of the big Class from Barry Groundwater, Donnie MacDoanld and Mark McCulloch. Martin Craik got himself into the top fastest times finishing fifth ahead of Brian Watson and Fraser Loudon who lost time on the first stage with a puncture and then admitted to a moment “in the trees” on the fifth test!
Stephen Baillie was off in Blackcraig and Gordon Murray off in Griffin giving himself a hefty whack in the ribs, while Brian Ross parked his Lancer up in Kindrogan. He had earlier pulled the prop guard off in the second stage so perhaps the chuckies got to it. Roland Wessel retired the Lancia when a fuel injector broke and it poured fuel into the engine and drowned it.