McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally, Saturday 3rd August …
The Classes …
Alex Pirie spent the day coming from behind to win Class 2 in his Toyota Yaris. Having set the class pace on the opening test he emerged from the second over half a minute down on his rivals: “There was a downhill section into a Left 2 – and we just went straight on!” Scott MacBeth was only 7 seconds behind at the finish, but said that was his worst day of rallying yet: “I’ve put 5 alternator belts on this thing today, it just keeps chucking them off, and we spun in Gartly!” said the Nova driver. Scott Sloan finished third in his Corsa and the Nissan Micra of Rachael Clark was fourth while John Martin’s Skoda broke its gearbox.
Iain Haining was fortunate to win Class 3 in his Nova after a rear puncture for 6 miles in the longest stage and had to push the car twice when the starter motor failed. Callum Atkinson was second in class, and top Peugeot 205 runner in the Ecosse Challenge: “Yet another Absolutely fantastic day, certainly the hardest I’ve ever driven on a rally before. Sue’s (Hynd) built up my confidence so much and we’ve formed a good partnership in the car. Chuck (Blair) pushed us very hard right to the end and look forward to doing battle again. Thanks to the club for organising some brilliant stages and the rally ran smoothly, and also thanks to our sponsors for their continuing support.”
The 205 of Charles Blair was third in class less than half a minute behind the Ecosse Challenge winning car with Rory Fraser’s Peugeot (4th in class) 3rd in category after bending a bottom arm in the penultimate test when he clipped a banking. “Gartly was the best stage of my life,” he said at the finish.
Jordan Black finished fifth in class but has some work to do on the 205 before his next outing: “The sumpguard got ripped off pulling the bolts through the floorpan,” he explained, “and my gearknob kept coming off in my hand.” Scott Peacock’s Peugeot suffered badly too: “I had three big bangs in that last stage – I thought the fuel tank had got pulled out and fallen off it was so bad.” But he finished sixth in class ahead of the Sunbeam of Alister MacArthur: “We flattened the exhaust in SS7 so we’re down a wee bit on power, but we got a finish. That’s what we were after.” Craig Whyte punctured the Peug in SS2 and also reckons he was down on power all day, but finished eighth ahead of Adrian Stewart whose Peugeot lost its brakes on SS1, then took a brake pipe off in SS2 requiring a crimp job on the broken pipe. Blair Brown was lucky too, losing over half a minute in the final stage when the Peugeot’s electrics cut out, but he finished tenth in class. Even luckier was Stuart Morrison in the Sunbeam: “We blew the exhaust on Stage 4 when a rock hit the manifold and pushed it up, but on the last stage we ran out of petrol and had to coast down the hill to the Finish Control!”
Graeme Sherry didn’t make the finish at all this time in his Peugeot retiring at the end of Stage 2: “It’s either the diff or the driveshaft, but we’ll need to strip it to see which it is.”
Kieran Renton won the 16v/1600 class in his Fiesta R2 despite an overshoot on the 7th stage: “There was so much dust inside the car at times, I couldn’t see.” Grant Inglis was second in his Honda Civic, but said: “I’ve been having a bad day. I’ve been driving pish. Somebody should take the keys away from me.” Ross MacDonald took third in class and was lucky to do so, after dinkling the front o/s corner of the Honda on the last corner of the last stage; “We smacked something in the ditch but we’re OK,” said Ross. James Robertson continued his love/hate relationship with the Citroen finishing fourth in class – he loves it when it’s going well, but it’s French with French electrics and the French don’t do electrics very well (Ed.).
Graeme Smith’s Civic stranded in Stage 2 with either diff or driveshaft failure. Alasdair S Graham didn’t even get that far retiring his Corsa in the first stage when the crank pulley bolt worked loose and the engine timing jumped.
Duncan MacDonald won the 8v/2 litre RWD class in his Escort MkII from the similar car of Stewart Davidson who had to fit two rocker arms during the course of the event. Christopher Murray was third.
There were no finishers in Class 6 first when Steve Bannister went out with a broken propshaft: “We didn’t have a spare,” explained Steve, “as the last time I broke one was 21 years ago!” Matthew Robinson was enjoying the stages and his first visit to the north east, but it all went sour in the penultimate stage when the MkII developed an engine problem and he switched off and parked up.
In the 16v/2 litre FWD class, Caroline Carslaw in her first full season of rallying scored her first class win in the forests in her Fiesta ST with the XR2i of John O’Kane second. Expected front runner Steven Smith parked his Peugeot 206 amongst the trees in Tauchers Wood – but not deliberately! Ian Mutch retired his Astra with electrical problems, John MacLeod put his Focus off the road in Stage 7 and Darren Christie’s Peugeot 306 broke its gearbox.
Calum MacKenzie took the overall 2WD award in his class winning MkII with an excellent 14th overall amongst much faster company. Gordon Murray was a relieved second after his earlier troubles just after buying the car: “The Escort is braw, I’m glad I bought it now.” Stuart Glendinning was equally relived to finish in the Puma with development work on the car progressing.
Ken Wood was second 2WD car home in the Dolomite in 24th place overall wining the class by 46 seconds from the BMW of Robert Harkness. Ken was obviously delighted, harrumphing: “Thank God, first finish all year!” Robert was equally chuffed: “We got a rear puncture on the long test and the vibration knocked the dashboard off in our laps.”
Top Group N runner on the day was Andrew Gallacher in his Lancer Evo9, finishing 12th overall, and half a minute clear of the Evo8 of Fraser Broll, who nearly lost out to John Morrison in his Evo9. “I nearly put it off on the second last stage,” said Wilson, “Steven (Broll) called a ‘Right 8’ after a ‘Left 7’ but I was fully committed to the Left 7 at the time and it was taking up all of my attention! There was no way I was going to make the Right 8.” However, Morrison was in no position to fight: “I’ve had a hopeless day. The turbo failed in Stage 1 and the car was useless out of hairpins and going up hills.” Malloch Nicoll finished a canny fourth.
With the top 11 cars overall filling the top 11 places in the unlimited class, Steven Ronaldson was the one who just missed out on a top ten finish in the Metro. At first service he was a bit concerned as the Metro was running hot: “It might just have been the heat, it was so warm today, but we flushged it out and refilled it and it was OK from then on,” he said. Brian Ross was next up but lucky to finish in the Evo5: “We got it up on two wheels in that last one and it landed with a hoor of a clatter, bending a suspension arm,” but finished.
Mark McCulloch eventually finished 13th in class on a day which showed serious promise but for his two problems and Fraser Louden was 14th in the Evo9.
Stephen Baillie was hampered with a Subaru which had braking on three wheels only after breaking a pipe and then having to crimp it and Scott Kerr narrowly missed a tree on the final stage when the Lancer’s tyres went off. Sean Will had trouble with the brakes on his Evo5 but finished in one piece and Billy Miller also finished in one piece beaming from ear to ear: “Great fun, great stages.”
Fraser MacNicol didn’t finish, putting the Evo6 off in the second stage while the diff in Brian Stephen’s Escort Cosworth failed. As ever, Mike Grant’s garage on the outskirts of Elgin was in great demand on the Friday, with Mike willing to help everyone and anyone out. As for his own rally, the Subaru blew a head gasket. Russell Mann put his own Subaru off the road in Balloch and Roland Wessel’s rally was shortlived when the Lancia’s clutch failed.
Note: As ever, full results on: FlyingFinish.co.uk