24 April: Bogie wins Granite

Coltel Granite City Rally, Saturday 20th April …. Round 2 (of 8) – ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship ….

Well, that was a belter. The winner’s 1m 24s margin may sound very much like a one-sided fight, but after three stages David Bogie had taken two fastest times and Jock Armstrong had taken one. That left them 12 seconds apart with two stages to go. If that was close, the next dozen cars were all on the same minute!

As things turned out, David Bogie and Kevin Rae put their championship title hopes back on track with a convincing win over Chris Collie and Lisa Watson who grabbed the runner-up position by ONE second from Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy.

In fact, this second round of ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship was a cracker from start to finish. Yes, there was snow, but only in the ditches and on higher ground. Most importantly, there was none on the stages themselves. The stages were mostly in good nick too so the emphasis was on skill and concentration, rather than luck and Arctic survival.

The Coltel Granite City Rally had also attracted an excellent entry of over 120 cars and crews including quite a few refugees from the British Rally Championship who had been denied a chance to get their wheels dirty on Rally North Wales and were seeking a bit of ‘seat time’ ahead of the Pirelli. Thankfully they were greeted with blue skies and sunshine, but vests, scarves and mittens were still the order of the day.

SS1, Fred Olsen Renewables & Jones Brothers Fetteresso – 8.68 mls

After a couple of false starts, David Bogie was now happy with the Focus: “The diffs are a lot better, and the car is doing what I want it to do,” said David, “we slackened them all right off and started again. I’ve also got the suspension sorted out too and I’m happier with that.” It showed. His 8m 06s was five seconds up on Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick (8m 11s) but that was still a heckuva time from the Subaru driver compared to the Focus WRC.

Next up were championship leaders Quintin Milne and Martin Forrest (8m 24s) with Donnie MacDonald and Andrew Falconer (8m 29s) surprisingly on the pace this early in the morning: “I don’t know what was up,” said Donnie, “I was quite nervous at the start of the rally. More nervous than I usually am, and I don’t know why.”

Chris Collie and David Weston Jnr/Claire Mole shared 8m 31s with Barry Groundwater/Neil Shanks and Bruce McCombie/Dave Robson shared 8m 34s, which meant that, behind the two leaders, the next six drivers were covered by 10 seconds. Mind you, young Weston was a tad lucky as Claire explained: “We had a large, small off near the end of the stage. All I could see ahead of us were rocks, so I ‘assumed the position’ but it turned out the ‘rocks’ were just the remains of snowdrifts!”

There were however, a couple of obvious omissions from the fastest times. The Ford Focus WRC of Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton for one. “We hit a football sized boulder on the apex of a corner, probably where David had dug it out as he went through. It completely flattened the exhaust pipe,” said Euan, and added: “I’m sure David didn’t do it deliberately!” The car was lucky to make it to the stage finish and out to the road, but it was going no further.

Mike Faulkner wasn’t amongst the fastest times either: ““I spun and stalled it. The back end got away from me, and it was either the handbrake – or hit a log pile!” He added: “We’ve spent that much time repairing and replacing bits on the car we haven’t had much time to do proper set-up, so I’ve still got to sort out the handling. That’s what went wrong in there.”

Another crew not to make it out of the woods were John McClory and David Hood, the Subaru Impreza uncharacteristically well cowped in the stage!

SS2, Groundwater Lift Trucks Drumtochty – 5.70 mls

Drumtochty was a bit more technical than Fetteresso, better suited to more nimble handling cars, and Jock Armstrong seized his chance (5m 58s) two seconds quicker than Bogie (6m 00s). There was little between the chasing pack again with Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy and Donnie MacDonald sharing 6m10s ahead of Milne and Collie both on 6m 11s.

Then it was Weston Jnr (6m 15s) ahead of Groundwater and Andy Horne/Jim Howie sharing 6m 17s. It’s also worth pointing out that young Oliver Mellors was only a second adrift (6m 18s) on this stage but he had a puncture on the first test and then again on the next one, so his day didn’t get off to a good start. At least he had a better start to his day than Stephen Lockhart. He parked the Mitsubishi up with a dead engine.

SS3, Lloyds register EMEA Glenfarquhar – 8.38 mls

Bogie was fastest again in Glenfarquhar (8m 05s) but Armstrong lost out badly *m 14s): “I got it totally wrong in there,” said Jock, “Kirsty called the Left 7 over a crest but I saw it as an apex and was carrying far too much speed. We were well off the road at one point but didn’t hit anything.”

Third quickest and bringing a smile to the majority of spectating faces (and I don’t care if I am biased!) was the wondrous sounding DAM, with 2007 winner Andy Horne (8m 16s) not sparing the horses. “We punctured in the first test,” said Andy, “no mechanical damage, but it ruined the chance of a good result today, but it shows the old girl’s still got it.”

Mike Faulkner was on a charge after his earlier time loss but the fact that Chris Collie equalled his time (8m 24s) shows just how well Chris was driving today. Milne was only a further second back (8m 25s) but it was good to see Reay MacKay/Andrew Falconer on 8m 30s, the Subaru now having completed three stages without any problems, and Reay just keeping his fingers crossed and saying nowt in case he pre-empted the fickle finger of fate, although he did admit to a big spin in the first stage: “We lost about 30 seconds in that,” said Reay, “I’m just rusty and trying too hard, but the car feels good.”

Bruce McCombie admitted to an eventful three stages: “We got held up slightly in the first test when we came across John McClory’s accident, then we stalled at the hairpin in Drumtochty, then I tried too hard to make up time and nearly went off on the next corner. Stage 3 was no better, we stalled again.”

There was another addition to the retirement list in here too, when Malloch Nicoll retired the Mitsubishi with a broken gearbox.

With three stages gone, Bogie was leading on 22m 11s, from Armstrong 22m 23s and Milne on 23m, but the next 12 drivers were all covered by less than a minute.

SS4, Bruce McCombie Builders Durris – 8.59 mls

There was no stopping Bogie now, with a transformed car his 8m 56s was five seconds quicker than Horne (9m 01s) still making that V6 sing. Groundwater was just two seconds behind (9m 03s) but three up on Collie (9m 06s) while Milne and Faulkner shared 9m 07s. And with confidence growing, MacKay set the sixth fastest time on 9m 13s.

After a good start to his day, Donnie MacDonald’s run went downhill in the afternoon: “It’s an odd thing, I can’t grip the steering wheel, it keeps slipping,” said Donnie, “I even tried driving without gloves but it’s not right.” At least he was still going, of Jock, there was no sign. The Subaru’s engine had given up mid stage, and Bogie’s only remaining serious threat was phoning for the trailer. And as the crews headed for the last stage at Swanley, Dave Weston Jnr also parked up his Mitsubishi. The diff had failed.

McCombie’s rally didn’t improve, even in his ‘own stage’: We got a front puncture about  a mile in from the start.”

SS5, Swanley – 12.09 mls

Bogie finished his day with a flourish, fastest again (11m 18s) but there was the small matter of runner-up to be settled, and with it the race for championship points. Milne started the stage with a five second advantage over Collie who had 11 seconds on Faulkner. The trouble was, there were 12 miles of Swanley between them and the finish line.

“I blew it. “I completely misjudged it,” said a disconsolate Quintin (11m 46s), “there were about eight stretches of rough stuff and I backed off because of the sharper stones. People were telling me to finish and I didn’t want to get any punctures. The competition is just so close up here in Scotland, that you can’t afford to do that!”

Milne’s time dropped him to fourth place and few would have bet against Faulkner taking a second a mile out of Collie, but Chris rose to the challenge. With Mike waiting beyond the finish line for Chris to appear, the clocks told their story. Faulkner was quicker (11m 27s) by 10 seconds from Collie (11m 37s). It wasn’t quite enough. “I should be thrilled to bits with third place after my bad start, but just so gutted to have lost out on second place by one second,” said Mike, but Collie was as happy as a terrier with a squeaky toy: “We’ve been very lucky. Yesterday the wheel studs sheared on a rear wheel at the shakedown,” said Collie, “had that happened today, we’d have been out on the first stage. But I’ve been trying to be more neat and tidy, and less erratic. It seems to have paid off.”

Barry Groundwater was fourth quickest (11m 39s) ahead of Horne and Alistair Inglis/Colin Inglis sharing 11m 47s with MacKay on 11m 48s.

As for Bogie, he was clearly delighted to be back on winning ways: “I’m just as happy for Chris (Collie) today as I am for myself, that was a good showing from Chris, and long overdue. I did have one heartbeat fluttery moment today though, on the fourth stage. The car stalled under braking for the hairpin – but it fired up again immediately. Otherwise I’m happy with the car now, the diffs are performing much better and the car handles well, but there’s more to come I think.” Ominous words for his rivals perhaps?

Final Results:

1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Ford Focus WRC) 42m 25s

2, Chris Collie/Lisa Watson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) 43m 49s

3, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 43m 50s

4, Quintin Milne/Martin Forrest (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 43m 53s

5, Barry Groundwater/Neil Shanks (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 44m 07s

6, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 44m 20s

7, Reay MacKay/Stuart Louden (Subaru Impreza Wrc) 44m 53s

8, Alistair Inglis/Colin Inglis (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5) 45m 01s

9, Andy Horne/Jim Howie (Dam 4100 Gti) 45m 06s

10, Mark McCulloch/Elliott Edmondson (Subaru Impreza) 45m 25s

Full Rally Results at:  www.flyingfinish.co.uk