Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, Saturday 23rd March
Round 1 (of 8) – Scottish Rally Championship ….
The Classes ….
Ross MacDonald won Class 2 in his Corsa, but didn’t know how: “No panel damage today, but we should have rolled at one point. We came to a halt right at the edge of the road. How it didn’t fall over I’ll never know.” Scott Sloan was second in his Corsa.
Iain Haining won Class 3 in his newly re-engined (120 quidsworth!) Vauxhall Nova with Callum Atkinson in second place and top Peugeot 205. As part of his recent scholarship win, Callum was over in Sweden and reckoned the ice-driving experience paid off on Saturday! Stuart Morrison was third in his Sunbeam with Simon Hay fourth in class and second Challenge Peugeot and Scott Peacock was third Peugeot. Graeme Sherry was sixth in class (4th Peugeot) ahead of Blair Anderson (Peugeot) and Jordan Black was going well until the dropped the Peugeot off the edge of the road in the 4th test and lost 14 minutes. Rounding off the class finishers was the enthusiastic Thaarique Fazal, scoring his first rally finish and no doubt helped out on a tricky day by the vastly experienced Kenny McGuire. Adrian Stewart cracked his sump on SS1 and Charles Blair went off on SS4 – and stayed off!
Carl Tuer finished third 2WD overall in his Class 4 winning MG ZR, but Graeme Smith in the Honda and Alasdair Graham in his Corsa were both giving Tuer a run for his money – until they both went off! Smith got a Maximum on SS4 before enough spectators were rounded up to dig him out of the snow and Graham slid well off in the final stage. Malcolm Robertson lost out with two punctures, but carried only one spare in the Sunbeam. Kieran Renton was delighted with his second place and learned a valuable lesson that had obviously by-passed those other hashy hotheads: “I learned to slow down when it’s slippy,” he said. Third was the Nova of Iain Wilson: “It was scary this morning but using ice tyres this afternoon made a huge difference. As for the ruts, it was worth going for them – to get grip.” Grant Inglis as fourth in class and top Honda Civic finisher ahead of James Robertson in the wee Citroen. As for Gareth White’s Citroen, it was parked in a snow filled ditch in SS4. Duncan Campbell was sixth in class and second Civic: “I nearly landed on top of Alasdair Graham in the last stage,” he said, “we landed on top of a snowbank and it was lucky we didn’t go over – Alasdair’s Corsa was on the other side. By that time there were plenty of Spectators there to help us out.” Matthew Kesson was the final finisher, second time out in the Fiesta R2 but got a Maximum on the final stage when the snowbanks claimed another victim.
Stewart Davidson in the MkII was beaming from ear to ear when he reached the Abbey Place finish: “That was mental. I didn’t get a clean stage all day. 3 punctures and one ditch, but luckily spectators pushed me out.” He still finished ahead of Billy Wood in the RWD Fiesta.
The top 2WD runner on the day was Steve Bannister with Louise Sutherland in the Escort MkII finishing in 14th place. “If it hadn’t been for a puncture, I might have been 12th,” said Bannister, “but if we had been running first on the road, who knows?” Indeed, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but conditions were so unpredictable that the 2WD cars might have struggled on the hills f they had been running first on the road, but might they have struggled less because the 4WDs were through first? We’ll never know. Second was Charlie Taylor in his MkII in 21st place: “I hated that last one. It was too icy, and too much downhill!” David Goose was the third MkII home and Peter Humphrey was delighted, and completely unflustered, with fourth in class in his Opel Kadett. The MkII of Marcus Noble was fifth ahead of Robert Rook’s MkI while Alan James and Ray Imeson rounded off the class finishers. The Escort of Dave Forrest failed to finish when the engine suffered a severe dose of frostbite (or something worse) in the second test.
Ian Forgan was the Class 7 winner in his Ford Ka, but: “I was off the road for 6 minutes in the first stage. It was sheet ice and we were stuck in snow.” Ian then revealed his secret weapon: “We actually carried a spade in the car – and dug ourselves out.” Caroline Carslaw scored second in class first time on gravel (snow and ice to be more accurate) in her Fiesta with a smile that lit up the late afternoon gloom: “It was awful,” she laughed, “but a great experience. We were in a ditch at the end of Stage 5, but spectators lifted us out.” Not so lucky was the Fiesta of Lachlan Cowan which ended its day in a snow filled ditch in the second test.
Stuart Glendinning was the sole finisher in class with his Puma R2000 when David Wallbank put his Escort off on the second stage.
Robert Harkness scored another class win in his BMW ahead of the Mazda RX7 of ex-Kadett driver Peter Smith. Eddie O’Donnell was third after smacking a tree on the second test losing over 14 minutes: “but it stopped me going off further,” said Eddie. And Duncan Ferguson didn’t even reach the first stage when his Escort suffered electrical problems on the road section.
That epitomy of smooth and mellifluous laidback bonhomie, John McClory, or the ‘Gentleman Racer’ as he likes to be called, did it again. A class win and a top ten finish in these most difficult of circumstances: “That was a test of nerves. There was no enjoyment in that,” said John, “It was horrific. I put it off on the final stage but it was only the back wheels in the ditch, so we got it out.” He was also one of the car’s which got the ‘notional time’ on that last test when Peter Stephenson got stuck across the road. Oliver Mellors who had been threatening the leaders at the half way point and then smacked a tree in SS4 managed to finish second in class in the Proton with John Morrison third in the Evo9. Fraser Wilson was fourth improving his times in the afternoon with proper snow tyres and Richard Cook was fifth in the Impreza and just pleased to get out of the woods intact.
The top 11 cars overall held the top 11 places in Class 12, with Brian Watson 12th and dead chuffed with his 13th overall finishing position in the Evo8: “I was having a ball. No spins today, just playing ‘steady eddie’. Lots of understeer but no offs. I was happy just to get to the finish so 13th is a bonus.” John Rintoul was 12th in class with the Evo8 ahead of Stephen Baillie who was awfy glad he had such a thoughtful and competent co-driver – Susan Shanks had packed a snow shovel with her kit, and they needed it. Peter Stephenson eventually finished 14th after his Focus got stuck in the final stage and Mark McCulloch was happy enough with a finish in the Subaru: “At one point I thought we weren’t going to finish,” said Mark, “on the last stage it was snaking on the straight and I daren’t brake and couldn’t accelerate, I thought I’d never get it back.” Lying fourth overall at the halfway point Dale Robertson lost 5 minutes in Bewshaugh with an off but was back on the case on the final stage although there was no chance of finishing in the points. Roland Wessel got the Lancia around in 17th class position ahead of Geoff Goudie, Joanna Wickham and Alasdair Anderson while Bily Miller went off in SS4 and Ian Watson got stuck in SS5: “I thought I was having a bad day till I caught the guy in the Mazda RX7. Fortunately he saw me coming and let me through but then I got stuck in a ditch!”
And that just about sums up a very difficult day.
Full results at: