28 April: Granite Gossip

News and Gossip from the Granite ….

Ollie Mellors confirmed that he intends to do the full Scottish Rally Championship series in the ex-works Proton Satria Neo S2000 car this year: “It’s not just David Bogie and Euan Thorburn,” he said, “there’s five or six more drivers up here all capable of winning. If you’re on the pace with these guys, that bodes well for rallying down south.”

Dave Weston Jnr has also registered for the SRC this year, having bought the ex-Euan Thorburn Mitsubishiu Lancer EVO9: “I did 5 or 6 runs at the shakedown and it feels noticeably quicker than the Group N Impreza I had. I didn’t intend to buy it, but Dad was doing some business in Ireland and the chance came up.”

Two days before the Granite City Rally, the Scottish Rally Championship hosted an event for their new sponsor, ARR Craib, the haulage and logistics firm. A two mile stage had been laid out and over 90 folk were in attendance with 55 guests all getting a ride in a rally car on a genuine forest stage forest. It was a proper job. A huge marquee had been erected in the forest on a specially created area of hard standing. At 6.30 am that morning a tipper arrived with 30 tonnes of gravel, which was dropped and spread in front of the marquee area and then levelled and thumped into place with a tamper. Guests kept their shiny shoes clean and their feet dry. Nice one Bruce McCombie, Gary McIntosh and Dave Weston. Apparently it was so successful, the sponsors intimated that it might be nice to have another one later in the season.

In addition to his Startline commentary at the Granite, it would appear that Stevie Brown is more talented than we all give him credit for. Last year he got through to the second round of ‘X Factor’ for his signing, and he can play the piano too. Rallying’s loss will be the nation’s gain, eh?

Is it just me or has anyone else detected a more sober and sensible side to Quicksilver Milne these days? Is old age and maturity creeping up on the hyperactive youngster? Or could it be something else? I was chatting with Derek Mitchell of Caledonian Logistics at the pre-Granite shakedown, and who is helping Quintin with a bit of financial support, and he explained the deal – and the incentive, to me: “I’ve got Quintin on a bonus scheme,” said Derek, “He gets £500 for a win, £400 for second place and down to 100 for fifth. And there is a promise of continued support if he doesn’t chuck it off!” Laugh? I nearly spilled my tea. So now you know.

Gordon Murray found his new MkII a bit of a handful at the Granite: “It’s got an ex-Touring Car, 2 litre Vauxhall red-top in it and a tarmac diff,” said Gordon, “It’ll do 60 mph in first, so it’s hardly ideal. At the shakedown it goosed the clutch and I had to get Hamish Kinloch to bring one up to change tonight. I was having to slip the clutch just to keep the thing moving.” His rally didn’t last long either: “It stopped charging and when we lifted the bonnet to check the alternator we found a radiator leak. That was really lucky, we could have ruined the engine.”

The MSA British Rally Championship’s Mark Taylor and Caroline Reid were spotted ‘observing’ the Granite City Rally last weekend. According to the BRC’s Manager, Mark Taylor explained: “The Granite City Rally invited the BRC team to observe their event as a potential future round of the championship. Whilst it is very early days, I welcome the opportunity and I think it reflects positively on a proactive and aspiring team of organisers here in Aberdeen.” When asked about the event’s attitude to media attendance, Mark merely smiled and diplomatically said nowt.

Also spotted at the Granite City were at least 4 members of staff in full uniform from the G4S security company at the Start/Finish area at Duthie Park in Aberdeen and four more (at least) were spotted guarding entrances to the first forest stage. Either the Forestry Commission is worried about punters nicking trees ahead of Christmas or the Cooncil was worried about thieves nicking the provost’s chain of office when he turned up to flag off the first cars, or both.

Speaking of sponsorship, or not, Jim Howie was heard complaining about “severe abuse of sponsorship”. The manufacturer of Hestan body panels was responding to his driver’s comments about conditions and punctures. At the finish of the rally, the DAM (or Metro 6R4) was looking a bit tattered around the edges and a flailing punctured tyre had removed quite a bit of bodywork as well: “It’s a job creation scheme for Hestan,” laughed Andy Horne, with Jim retorting: “It’s a bl**dy abuse of sponsorship that’s what it is.”

The ‘Old Stagers’ had a grand day out too. Reunited in a rally car for the first time since their debut together on the 1971 Granite City Rally, Richard Stewart had Walter McDonald along as co-driver. “Once you’ve got a bit of dementia you can’ remember that far back,” said Richard, “but today was good. Walter did well, and he even used the Notes.” For his part, Walter who turned to driving (very successfully) after his co-driving debut, added – very succinctly: “Today was a one-off!”

And finally ….

Congratulations to George Gauld (some time ex rally driver) and Stella Boyles (some time ex rally co-driver) who are finally getting married next week. Commiserations to them on their (his?) choice of Best Man. With no-one else available the call went out to the Sheikh of Fenwick who hotfooted it back to home turf from Dubai in time for last weekend’s Granite City Rally. Out spectating and spreading bonhomie, Big Roy has lost none of his couthy observations on life. When describing the incident in which young Timothy Cathcart parked his Fiesta in a burn running through Fetteresso, Big Roy was heard to remark: “It missed the bridge and landed in the watter wi’ a dull scud.” Considering the region from whence he came, perhaps ‘scud’ was not the best choice of adjective! Here’s hoping the Best Man’s speech is more politically sensitive.

And finally, finally ….

At the SRC Sponsor’s Day before the Granite, David Bogie was chatting with Dave Weston and just casually asked what the stages for the rally on Saturday were like. Dave said they were fine, but just a wee bit cut up in places. Just as casually, David quipped: “Is that with Quintin doing all his testing?” Dave just laughed. Don’t you just love the banter?