23 June: Crail Tales

News and Gossip from Crail ….

After a long and frustrating week trying to find the source of a problem on their Citroen C1, Alex Vassallo and James Ford arrived at Crail on Saturday with a Nissan Micra which had been borrowed at midnight on Friday! “It’s definitely an electrical problem – we think,” said Alex, “we got it to run on 1 cylinder, then 2, and finally three, then it suffered fuel problems.” Unable to trace the cause, the Vassallo team sought a replacement vehicle to keep their Junior 1000 Championship hopes alive. “It was very last minute but we managed to borrow Georgia Shiels’ Nissan Micra and collected it at midnight last night.” It was worth the effort, with yet another victory on the weekend’s Crail Sumer Stages Junior Rally by just 24 seconds over the Nissan Micra of Ben Crealey and third placed Michael Dickie in his Toyota Aygo. Alex added: “The Nissan was 27 kgs over-weight but it’s a good wee car. It’s longer and narrower than the Citroen and good on the twisty stuff but it loses out on power to the Citroen on the straights.”

Ryan Weston’s troubles at Crail were down to the brakes. “Just after the start there was a square right and the brake pedal just sunk to the floor,” said Weston Snr, “and it just slid into the banking. Fortunately there was no major damage.”

If anyone thought Bruce Edwards had it easy at Crail, just ask the crew. The Darrian was tyre marked at every corner and the flanks scraped along the running board. In fact, the wee car had skelped a tyre marker so hard at one point it had bent one of the stainless steel bolts holding on the nose, but didn’t break the plastic. “I told you fibreglass was strong stuff,” said Bruce. He then admitted: “It was my own fault. I didn’t listen. Put it down to 60 year old ears!”

Stuart Baillie had his troubles too:  “It sheared a bolt in the rear diff in SS3. It just felt a bit loose at the rear but we fixed it with a ‘Morgan rear end’ at service – using a saw and a bit of wood.”

“It’s a whole new technology,” said Gary Adam from under the bonnet of the MkII, but he was grinning when he said it. “The problem we had on the Jim Clark was that we could change up using the paddle shift but it wouldn’t change down. So I had to use the stick to manually change down, but we found out it was a problem with the software. In the changedown mode the throttle blip was milliseconds too long with the result that the car was still pushing on when it was trying to slow and shift down a gear. It was like an anti-lag turbo car still pushing when you lift off.” Apparently he quite liked the auto-shift upwards and the manual shift downwards so maybe he’ll stick with the idea. Unfortunately he didn’t get very far to try out his new system. The alternator failed: “and when that goes you have no power steering and no fuel pumps!” he said.

Billy Cowe’s Subaru was sporting some tank tape bandage on the nose at the rally finish: “We bent a bottom wishbone on SS2,” said Billy, “We were going for the same corner as Alan Gardiner at the time!” He also had a fuel pump problem on the fifth test but was pleased with a top six finish.

Paul Ballantyne is getting to grips with the new Clio but still had to time to have an argument with a tyre marker on the final stage. “It bent a steering  rod,” said Paul, “at first we thought it was a puncture, but with two wheels pointing inwards we were well stuck.”

Michael Robertson was having a good run until the final stage – when the Subaru encountered Ballantyne’s tyre and it knocked him over ten places down the leaderboard, although he at least finished, and Ballantyne didn’t.

Brian Ross didn’t get far at Crail when the propshaft gave a mighty bang on the start line of the first stage, but it was only the coupling that had broken, the gearbox and shaft were OK so he was able to contest the ‘Trophy Rally’ and gets some more miles on the Lancer.

No luck for Kenny Moore either. When the Avenger’s engine failed at the JCR, he rebuilt the bottom end with new shells and everything seemed hunky dory. But a trail of blue haze behind the car on the first stage showed that not all was well and he pulled out.

Unluckiest man at Crail? Could have been Richard Sutherland, driving the ex-Alistair Sutherland (his brother) Opel Manta 400. On the final corner of the final stage, the driveshaft broke at the diff and he coasted to a halt within sight of the Finish clocks.

Kenneth McRae was on his way to start the third stage when the Peugeot 309 lost all drive. “It’s either the clutch or the transmission,” said Kenneth as he and faither fought each other to get under the bonnet to fix it, but they ran out of time.

Gordon MacKay was having his first run out in a newly built Peugeot 106, but: “We lost the intercom on SS1, the engine mounting broke and we lost all the gears, and then the brakes sized on. And to top off a good day, we smashed the co-driver’s window!” Then when Euan (Eugene) MacKay had alternator trouble, brother Gordon lent him his off his retired car.

Alistair MacArthur was lucky to make Crail in the Sunbeam: “We only got the cylinder head on Thursday, so it was an all-nighter to get it ready for here.” He finished 30th.

Caroline Will was delighted to finish her second rally as a driver despite getting a Maximum on the third test: “I can’t reach the Subaru’s handbrake,” said Caroline. “so Sean (Donnelly) had to pull it on when I shouted. He was just a bit too keen, and the handbrake broke. We hit a tyre but it only cracked the bumper – don’t tell Brian!”

Stephen Hay was delighted with his first class win in his 1400 Corsa at Crail: “We blew the head gasket at the Jim Clark and had to push it over the Finish line. So we’ve fitted a new head gasket, a steel one this time, and had a head stud kit fitted to make it easier to fix next time!” His Dad added: “When we got the car back home after the JCR, we had to empty all the water out of the exhaust pipes and boxes. The boys had been topping the car up from streams and bottles all the way back to the Duns finish. That was how much it had been using.”

Murray Coulthard lost out on the 1400 fight at Crail when he bent the Nova’s rear beam against a banking: “I thought it was flat – well, it nearly was!” Now where have we all heard that one before?

Greg Inglis (son of Alistair) had his first run out as a driver having bought the ex-Alec Brown Citroen Saxo. He finished 13th overall on his first event and therefore has a 100% finishing record – something he can beat up faither with over breakfast!

Eric McClurg (ex-Jim McDowall Co-driver) retired his Peugeot 205 on the second stage at Crail: “The gear linkage broke in the first stage so we jammed it in third to do the second. We hit a tyre and it flipped over. The gear linkage is now broken. As for the car? It’s only body damage.”

Nigel Atkinson has sold his ex-Murray Grierson Hart Metro to Kevin Ronaldson (Metro 6R4-driving Stephen’s brother)  but Kevin hasn’t decided whether to retain the 2WD configuration or convert it back to full 4WD 6R4 spec. Meanwhile Nigel has filled the space in his garage with a MkII ‘shell: “I’m just waiting for the BGD to be delivered,” he said.

Ross Fernie was spotted marshalling at Crail and replacing dislodged tyre markers, with some wag quipping that it was the hardest shift he had put in all year! Until now,  Ross’ Subaru has been running a standard engine, but, “I sent the engine away for a rebuild and to get some more power out of it, and it’s not back yet. No problems though, and I should be out at Albemarle.”

And here’s a nice tale to warm the ice cubes in your wallet. On the second stage the clutch went ‘bang’ according to Audrey Smith in the Nova and when they got back to service they found the pressure plate had broken off, so they were going no further. So there they were basking in the rays when Scott MacBeth came calling. He had broken a front wheel  bearing in his own Nova and needed spares. So the Smith team took a front hub off their own car and lent it Scott, who repaid them with a second in class placing.

And finally …

If proof were needed that Kathryn Forgan was OK after the accident, her acting would have won an Oscar. Although quite spry at the finish, she was complaining to hubby Ian that she would need to speak to her boss about getting two weeks off work to recuperate – she works in the family business (Mercury Motors) and Ian is ‘the boss’ – I’m not so sure, Ed.