The Classes ….
Owing to circumstances outwith and beyond my control this month’s ‘Class Roundup’ is not as comprehensive as regular readers would expect. This was down to the fact that it was sometimes difficult to get access to crews due to the fact that journalists and photographers were not allowed to ‘sign-on’ as members of the Press on this event, the organisers having taken the pre-event decision ‘not to invite media’ representatives, thereby severely restricting access to competitors and up to date information before and during the rally.
Alex Pirie was mighty pleased with his class win in the wee 90 hp Toyota Auris just managing to hold off the Corsa of Ross MacDonald by the measly margin of 7 seconds! Having previously campaigned a Corsa himself, Alex said: “There’s no overhang at front or rear of the Auris and with a wheel right at each corner it can take corners quicker than my old Corsa. It just seems to turn in and go round.” Jim Aitken was third in class with the MG ZR. Rachel Clark got as far as the Regroup after three stages but the boys found a broken axle underneath the Micra, so that was as far as she was going.
Iain Haining was a fairly comfortable Class 3 winner in the Nova by over 2 minutes from the Peugeot 205 of Craig Whyte while Scott Peacock’s third placed Peugeot clinched the Peugeot Challenge category: “We had a couple of real good tank-slappers during the day,” beamed Scott, “but we got away with it. Yes, it was a wee bit rough in places, and the front struts have ‘dinged’ the bonnet, otherwise she’s alright.” Their winning margin over Rory Fraser was a mere 5 seconds after 43 miles of stages with Adrian Stewart scoring a well earned third place ahead of Jordan Black who struggled into the finish after the heater matrix burst inside the car showering the crew with scalding water! Graeme Schoneville was out in ‘an ex-works Team Smith Peugeot’ but cowped it in the fourth stage.
Grant Inglis took the class win in his Honda Civic by 20 seconds from the Nova of Iain Wilson with James Ford finding the long trek from Preston worthwhile as he took third in class in the Citroen C2R2 but more importantly getting seat time in the car ahead of the BRC’s Pirelli Rally in two weeks’ time. Alasdair Graham was declared a non-finisher when he wrong-slotted on his way out to the first stage, which was a great shame as his stage times would have put him in contention for class honours in the Corsa. Graeme Smith didn’t finish either when the Honda sprung a water leak. Jim Robertson managed to finish but struggled over the last two stages with the wee Citroen: “We blew the diff on the first stage. That was bad enough, but then the clutch went solid over the last two. I don’t know what went wrong.” (It’s a French car, Jim – Ed).
Stewart Davidson finished the rally in his Escort with a worried frown – the oil light was flickering: “I’m crapping myself. We lost oil pressure in SS4 and did the whole of SS5 with no oil pressure and a flickering oil light, but it just kept going.” With any luck it might just be an electrical connection, but Stewart isn’t holding his breath! Duncan MacDonald was second in his MkII and Graeme Foubister was third in his Peugeot 205.
Steven Smith was a clear winner in his Peugeot 206 RC nearly 7 minutes clear of the Astra of Iain Mutch with Darren Christie third in his Peugeot 309 ahead of the Ford Fiesta of Caroline Carslaw tacklingher first ‘proper’ forest rally: “I had a 180 spin in SS2,” she said, “and was nearly off in SS4 but just managed to rumble along the ditch and get out.” She bent a wishbone in the process but hugely enjoyed the long stages.
Calum MacKenzie really had no one to play with in the class finishing over 11 minutes clear of Scott Walker’s Mazda, so spent the day trying out different tyres front and rear on the Escort. Gordon Murray’s Escort didn’t last long. The alternator failed as he approached SS2 and when he lifted the bonnet found a wire off. Fair enough, quickly fixed, but while the bonnet was up he noticed a bad water leak. In some ways he was quite fortunate. Stuart Glendinning didn’t even get that far, putting the Puma off in the first stage.
Three Citroen DS3s filled the first three places here with Osian Price the best of the bunch by 40 seconds from Desi Henry who had 3 seconds on Mark Donnelly. Pryce also finished 11th overall: “I haven’t done a rally since the Trackrod in October last year,” he said, “so it took time to settle in. I’ve made some changes to the suspension set-up. This was a very good test ahead of the Pirelli.” Desi Henry was 14th and Mark Donnelly 16th but Jonny Greer finished in 53rd place – after booking into the Re-Group, 3 minutes early. Charlie Jarrett was fourth in the awfy smart MkII ahead of Robert Harkness in the awfy smart BMW 316i now that he has painted it white and red and Ken Wood had an uncharacteristic engine failure in the V6 Dolomite.
D’you know, Fraser Wilson could fill a book every time he goes rallying. I don’t think he’s ever had a trouble-free event, so Aberdeen was no exception, and yet he still smiles through it all, even if that smile would frighten sheep two miles away. Only kidding. He left half of the Lancer’s exhaust in SS4, when it snapped off right in front of the box, so there was no way he could sneak up on anyone. In the final stage, the fan belt snapped leaving him with no alternator, power steering or water pump and used up most of his lateness getting back to the rally finish. Ollie Mellors was second in class and the best that could be said about his day was it was a character building. The Proton punctured a tyre in four of the day’s five stages. John Morrison was third in the Lancer. McClory rolled and both Stephen Lockhart and Malloch Nicoll broke down. But there was one thing that bothered me – how come there was a Proton Satria Neo in the Group N Class?
The top ten places overall matched the top ten class winners in Class 12 with David Bogie adding to his trophy tally again. Worthy of mention was Mark McCulloch’s tenth overall placing, more so because he just pipped Craig McMiken for a top ten finish which gives Mark bragging rights in Newton Stewart until the next event they meet up! Dougal brown was disappointed with 13th in class, behind Bruce McCombie, and puzzled with the Lancer’s ill handling for most of the day. Sandy Arbuthnott was delighted to see a rally finish although a crank seal was leaking and the Metro was using a gallon of oil per stage. His 66th place finish would have been a good deal higher were it not for a two and half minute penalty when he was later arriving at two Passage Controls – cos he was filling the beast up with oil! Ian Watson’s Subaru looked a wee bit bedraggled round the edges at the finish: “I tipped it in Durris. It just fell out of the ruts and tipped up. We held up a few cars before we could get it going again.” But he finished. Ian Paterson finished too but not as highly as he would have liked: “We punctured a rear tyre in Durris and had to run on it for 5 or 6 miles.” And Fraser MacNicol summed up his day in the Lancer: “Great. We’re here. First time out since our accident on the 2012 Snowman. A great day out.
And so say all of us.