19 July: Albar Kames Trophy report

Albar Kames trophy Rally, Sunday 14 July ….

Alan Gardiner and Alan Todd won last Sunday’s Albar Kames Trophy Rally at Kames in Ayrshire by nearly a minute and half from Duncan and Janice Ferguson in their Escort MkII. Such was the dominance of the MkI crew, they had time to throw a banana at Drew Struthers who was marshalling at the furthest away point of the Kames complex and was wilting under the strong Ayrshire sunshine: “He had been there all day, so we just slowed down as we passed and Alan (Todd) through food out the window at him!” Cruel as it may sound, the gesture was much appreciated by Drew: “I ate it,” he shouted as he left the circuit later. So if you think the two Alans were having joke about Drew and bananas, they have assured me they weren’t. Mind you, the pigs were making a bit of a din as they flew overhead while the victors assured me their intentions were honourable and serious.

Leading the rally (by one second) after three stages was Andrew Gallacher first time out in a Lancer EVO9 purchased the day before the rally: “I only got it home last night,” said Andrew, “it’s full Group N spec so we’ll see how it goes.” And yes, it went well, but not far enough. The transfer box broke on the fourth test.

That left Gardiner alone out front and perhaps if Fergy had spent less time going sideways and more time going furrit, he would have made a better fist of catching the MkI. At least it was entertaining. The same could be said of Robert Wright who finished third in his MkII, but perhaps the hot weather, the scalding tarmac and the age of the rubber had something to do with tyres that gripped like a wean’s fingers on an ice lolly.

Gary Keenan was fourth in an Opel Manta which didn’t want to turn in, and he was puzzled by the car’s unusual desire to push on at corners, but again, the heat may have had something to do with its lack of front end grip. That also accounted for the missing front bumper, knocked off against a tyre wall. Kevin MacIver was fifth in his MkII but was concerned about the car’s temperature. With the oil cooler positioned in front of the radiator he had to take the grille off and prop the rear of the bonnet up just to try and get more air through the engine bay.

Craig Callander was the first of the 4WD lot in sixth place in his Subaru with Linzi Henderson only 30 seconds behind first time out in faither Walter’s Subaru. She might even have done better but for a problem on the tenth stage when the gearlever snapped. A socket extension bar was jubilee-clipped on to the stump and off she went.

Alex Adams was eighth in his Nissan Micra and admitted the only preparation he’s done to the car since the Jim Clark was taking it for an MOT mid-week. It passed!

Lindsay Taylor was ninth in the Peugeot and pleased with his first finish in the car which has required two gearbox rebuilds and one engine rebuild since he originally acquired the ‘ready to rally’ 205 late last year. Rounding off the top ten was Niall Thomson who dropped a minute in the 12th test when the Saxo’s ‘Kill’ switch knocked itself off on one of the yumps. It took a good few seconds before he realised what the problem was and switched it back on again.

Ian Stewart finished 11th in the Mini, but as ever, the Mini is a demanding little tyke. The alternator worked loose and the fan belt jumped off, then a bolt worked loose on a steering arm. Mind you that might have had something to do with ‘nerfing’ a tyre barrier at the far end of the circuit. Still, he was lucky to make Kames at all. At 2.30 pm the previous afternoon he just finished re-installing the rebuilt engine after its Jim Clark Rally blow-up. Thaarique Fazal was the final finisher although the Peugeot was minus the front under-bumper on a wall of death act on the final test when celebrating his potential finish a tad too early!

With Gallacher failing to finish the only other non-finisher was Richard Stewart – again! That boy has about as much luck as a one-armed wrestler fighting an octopus. This time the brakes failed and he clattered a tyre barrier which bent the Corsa’s rear beam. “The brakes were fine up until stage 9,” said Richard, “then on the next test, the pedal went to the floor.”

Thereafter, the best scraps of the day were to be found in the Junior 1000 part of the event. Initially Alex Vassallo was holding a slender lead in his Citroen, but when a driveshaft broke in the sixth test, a Maximum stage penalty put him out of contention.

Even so, Michael Dickie was giving Alex a run for his money, the Micra never more than 2 seconds behind the C1, but right on his tail all the way was Harry Marchbank. At the halfway point there were 7 seconds between them. By Stage 14 that was down to 3 seconds and the duo finished the rally 2 seconds apart!

Even closer was the battle for third place, with Ben Crealey on his first event at the Ayrshire complex just beating Dylan O’Donnell to the final podium place by one second. The gap might have been a bit wider had Ben not spun on the second stage allowing Dylan to snatch third but was unable to stop Ben nibbling away at his 13 second advantage.

Alasdair Currie was fifth after a text from John MacCrone prior to the rally starting. The previous day, young Alasdair had been at Crail with John and had broken a bottom arm on the Citroen AX against a truck tyre marker. The resultant two-wheeling impact had John thinking that they were about to cowp, but Alasdair saved the day through “sheer skill and talent.” So the encouraging text advised Alasdair to stay away from the tyres.”

Andy Struthers was sixth, and yes, that was his Dad who was marshalling in the first paragraph of this tale, and finished just 7 seconds behind Currie. Craig MacIver was 7th after co-driver Paul Beaton drove straight from Wales following his previous day’s Nicky Grist Stages victory with Euan Thorburn. He arrived in the early hours to get some kip in ahead of his Sunday commitment with young Craig.

Luke Barker was eighth just 16 seconds behind MacIvor with Jake Anderson and Alex Vassallo rounding off the top ten. Brandon Walsh was happy with 11th after scoring his first finish at the previous Crail. He didn’t count his first ever event at Charterhall where he retired with clutch trouble early on! Brodie Balfour was the final finisher with Dale Kelly and Rory Winter failing to complete all 16 stages.

Dale actually rolled on the 12th test and although they pushed the upended Micra back on to its wheels and fixed the bent bits, he retired on the next stage with mechanical problems and Rory broke a wishbone on his Micra early on. He managed to get it fixed and do some stages later just to get some more experience.

1 Alan Gardiner/Alan Todd (Ford Escort MkI) 24m 36s
2 Duncan Ferguson/Janice Ferguson (Ford Escort MkII) 26m 04s
3 Robert Wright/Gary Davison (Ford Fiesta RWD) 26m 44s
4 Gary Keenan/Gordon Gray (Opel Manta) 27m 02s
5 Kevin MacIver/Robin Nicolson (Ford Escort MkII) 27m 04s
6 Craig Callander/Ross Callander (Subaru Impreza) 27m 12s
7 Linzi Henderson/Cameron Fair (Subaru Impreza) 27m 42s
8 Alex Adams/Gordon Alexander (Nissan Micra) 28m 15s
9 Lindsay Taylor/David Murie (Peugeot 205) 28m 18s
10 Niall Thomson/Gordon Thomson (Citroen Saxo) 28m 27s

Junior 1000 Results:
1 Michael Dickie/Euan Duncan (Toyota Aygo) 27m 17s
2 Harry Marchbank/Jordan Black (Nissan Micra) 27m 19s
3 Ben Crealey/Liam Regan (Nissan Micra) 27m 43s
4 Dylan O’Donnell/Tracy Louise Muir (Nissan Micra) 27m 44s
5 Alasdair Currie/Jim Aitken (Citroen AX) 28m 35s
6 Andy Struthers/Andrew Falconer (Nissan Micra) 28m 42s
7 Craig McIvor/Paul Beaton (Nissan Micra) 29m 01s
8 Luke Barker/Gordon Alexander (Nissan Micra) 29m 17s
9 Jake Anderson/Russell Kessack (Nissan Micra) 29m 51s
10 Alexander Vassallo/James Ford (Citroen C1) 30m 09s