21 June: Crail Stages report

Crail Sumer Stages Rally, Saturday 15 June 2013 …

Regular visitors might easily have been confused on arrival at Crail. Perhaps the result of a wrong direction by the SatNav lady as they arrived at a crisp, green, tidy (well, much better) venue bathed in summer sunshine. Usually it’s wet enough to go shark fishing on land, or cold enough to attract polar bears or so windy that it’s blowing Dutchmen across the North Sea, but for the Crail Summer Stages it truly lived up to its name. Summer had arrived, although by mid afternoon one camp in particular was praying for rain!

As things turned out, Bruce Edwards and Jim Smith came from behind with two storming runs over the final two stages to clinch victory from Stuart Baillie and Lachlan Cowan by 39 seconds, the wee Darrian the only velocipede to get round the final two stages in under 10 minutes. There was just nothing the Impreza driver could do: “We left the tyres off as long as possible ahead of the final two runs,” said Stuart, “there were spots of rain in the air and we were praying for more.” It didn’t happen and Captain Plastic did it again.

However, things started out differently. After two stages, last year’s winners Alistair and Colin Inglis were in front in the EVO5 by two seconds from Baillie, but that ended abruptly shortly after the start of the third test. The Lancer understeered off and clouted a banking. “There was no mechanical damage to the car,” said Alistair, “but it had pushed the sumpguard back and it was hanging loose, so I didn’t want to carry on and have that come adrift round the track.”

Even so, he wasn’t the first retirement, as Chris Abel cowped the Ford Escort MkII on his first run. It was still straight enough though, but both flanks and the roof were well scraped. Then on the second test, the wheelnuts on Nick Runcie’s Citroen Saxo sheared, and he was followed out in a rather more spectacular fashion by the family Forgan Ford Ka. It went nose over tail rather than side over side while the rollcage did its job and both Kathryn and Ian stepped out relatively unharmed.

Kenny Moore was another early retirement, a blue haze trailing behind the Avenger on the first stage, and he wisely pulled out after the first run. And this after rebuilding the bottom end following the car’s retirement on the Jim Clark!

With Inglis gone, Edwards took six seconds out of Baillie on SS3 but Baillie snatched one back on SS4 to leave the gap at 2 seconds with 2 stages to go. It was looking equally close in third place. Alan Gardiner in the MkI had led the MkII of Gary Adam by 1 second, but then in the third test, Gary took 10 seconds out of Alan. That all changed in the next test when the MkII’s alternator failed. “It wasn’t that it wasn’t charging,” said Gary, “but the alternator drives the power steering and the fuel pumps, so we were stuck out there.”

Bob Grant therefore moved into fourth place, but that position became vacant again when the Subaru’s centre diff failed on the fifth test allowing Colin Gemmell to have a go at a podium placing.

Meanwhile, Baillie’s Subaru was sitting on axle stands waiting till the last possible moment before deciding which tyres to go for. Some drops of rain had been detected in the wind and although it was clouding over, he wasn’t about to be saved by the elements. In other words, the rain stayed mainly on the plain – in Spain!

And so in cooler but still dry conditions, the Tupperware GT took off like cat with a firecracker up its bum. “I was using ice-tolerant Yokohama ‘Monte Carlo’ tyres,” said Bruce, “they are good to minus 6 degrees – or a Crail Summer’s day!”

“We did have some braking issues early on but they got better during the day and when it cooled down this afternoon, the tyres were perfect.”

Baillie had to settle for second place but none too disappointed with that: “When the rain didn’t materialise, I knew what to expect. When that wee thing (the Darrian, not Brucie!) gets the power down it just disappears.”

Alan Gardiner clung on to third place, but Colin Gemmell nearly threw it all away with a huge 180 spin on the fifth test – on the straight! At least he was smiling after it. It could have ended in tears.

Billy Cowe nerfed a chicane tyre early on and the front o/s bumper on the Impreza displayed liberal applications of black tank tape afterwards. Rounding off the top six was Tom Morris who is pleased to be getting to grips with the Escort MkII.

Jimmy Christie was seventh in the EVO9 ahead of Ed Todd’s demonically driven GTM and Bill Hamilton was absolutely delighted with ninth overall in his Opel Kadett.  Graham Bruce completed the top ten line-up in his EVO4 and John Rintoul just lost out on a top ten finish in the Fabia R2 when an oil pipe split on the final stage and he switched it off.

The Classes

Edward Todd won Class 3 in the GTM from Bill Hamilton and the Escort MkII of Chris McCallum who was just 3 seconds in front of 15th placed Gordon Halley who admitted to spending some ‘quality time’ in the barley field near the finish of Stage 5, and Paul Ballantyne’s times were looking good until the last stage on the penultimate bend when the Clio slid into a banking and bent the steering.

Euan MacKay was the Class 2, 1600 winner in his Peugeot 106 by just 14 seconds from the Escort MkII of Guy Halley, an exceptional result on Gordon’s part for this was only his second ever rally. Whether he attacked just too hard on the final stage or not, but Scott Russell in his Corsa dropped 10 seconds to Halley – and that cost him second place – by ONE second.

Steven Hay scored his first ever class win in the 1400 class beating Scott Macbeth by 6 seconds although both the Corsa and the Nova struck the final chicane, bending Hay’s steering and breaking a MacBeth shock absorber. Murray Coulthard clipped a banking on the second stage and bent the rear beam, but carried on in the hunt for BLUE points, to the extent that he was trying to pack out the rear wheel hubs with shims to try and stop the Nova from steering from the rear. Robert May was a distant third in class in his Nissan Micra and Linzi Henderson was a terrific fourth in class in the wee Peugeot.

The Juniors

Despite driving  a borrowed car which he had got at midnight the night before Alex Vassallo took the Junior win in a Nissan Micra, but only after Ryan Weston had bowfed a banking with the Toyota and dropped to fourth place. Ben Crealey scored second from Michael Dickie with Harry Marchbank and Andy Struthers sandwiching the luckless Weston.

Overall Results:
1, Bruce Edwards/Jim Smith (Darrian T9) 55m 43s
2, Stuart Baillie/Lachlan Cowan (Subaru Impreza) 56m 22s
3, Alan Gardiner/Robin Nicolson (Ford Escort MkI) 57m 37s
4, Colin Gemmell/Cameron Fair  (Subaru Impreza) 58m 04s
5, Billy Cowe/Ross Carbry (Subaru Impreza) 58m 46s
6, Tom Morris/Colin Harkness (Ford Escort MkII) 59m 00s
7, Jimmy Christie/Ian Thorburn (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) 59m 08s
8, Edward Todd/Andy Brown (GTM Coupe) 59m 46s
9, Bill Hamilton/Sarah Hamilton (Opel Kadett) 59m 59s
10, Graham Bruce/Jane Nicol (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO4) 60m 13s

Junior  Results:
1,  Alexander Vassallo/James Ford (Nissan Micra) 45m 25s
2,  Ben Crealey/Andrew Bushe (Nissan Micra) 45m 49s
3,  Michael Dickie/Euan Duncan (Toyota Aygo) 45m 55s
4,  Harry Marchbank/Jordan Black (Nissan Micra)  46m 38s
5,  Ryan Weston/Mark McCulloch (Toyota Aygo) 46m 50s
6,  Andy Struthers/Andrew Falconer (Nissan Micra) 46m 52s

( Full Results at: http://www.scotresults.co.uk/Events2013.html )