18 August: Tyneside Tales

Scottish News from the Tyneside Stages …

There wasn’t much Scottish interest in last weekend’s Wilkinson Maintenance Tyneside Stages Rally and even though he lives in England shire now, Alex Laffey was top ‘Scot’ in 10th place overall with young Jack Morton on the Notes. They lost a bit of time on the second loop of three stages when the Fiesta S2000 broke a driveshaft but fought back to take tenth place.

There were no David Hardie and John McCulloch at Tyneside because of their woopsie the previous day on the Solway Coast, but even they would have struggled against the World Cars. Damian Cole took the win but he was having a rare old tussle with Stephen Simpson till the Subaru broke a hub and lost a wheel. That left the way clear for Cole in the Focus but he was oh so nearly caught on the final two stages by that flying yellow frisbee of a device, the Darrian T90 of John Indri. In third place and lying second till the Frisbee took flight was Simon Mauger in the MkII. A treat to watch.

Sixteenth overall and second in Group N were John Baird and Stan Quirk having one of their rare outings in the Evo9. It was a good run, “I’m a bit rusty,” said John but hasn’t yet decided whether this was a shakedown for Mull or not!

Ian Watson and James Braithwaite finished 18th overall in the Subaru Impreza after a clean run while the O’Donnells were 20th and fifth in Class 2 with the MkII. I use the plural for O’Donnell as there were three generations in attendance. Grandpa Grumpy was there with Jnr and the boy Stephen. Matt Ratcliffe was on the Notes but the duo would have done better if they could have got the wipers to work. They also had a problem with the brakes all day and Eddie reckons that one of the pipes runs a bit too close to the exhaust manifold in the engine bay, so that’ll be fixed for October.

James Thomson and Alison Woodcock won their class in their Nova finishing in 28th place overall, less than half a minute clear of Mull-regular Howard Moore in his Lotus Elise. James was decidedly lucky though: “I smacked the bridge in the second stage with both wheels on one side. The rain came on and the wipers failed, and the bridge was wet. We slid on the bridge and I just skelped the edge. We were lucky!”

Nick Thorne and Ian Murray were 30th and 4th in class in the Honda Civic but were lucky to finish: “We got a front left puncture shortly after the start of Stage 11,” said Nick, “we were nearly off, but we lost 1st and 2nd gear after that.” For the final stage, they raided parts off Nick’s road going Civic to fix the rally car!

Completing the line-up for our lot were the top lady crew on the day, Carin Logan and Christine Sanderson who finished 33rd overall and 4th in class in the Saxo. The Team Grumpy Motorsport Citroen didn’t miss a beat all day. Maybe we could put that down to Carin’s Police driving course – feeding the steering wheel!

Those were the lucky ones, Sean Robson put the Fiesta ST off on the fifth stage and gave it a sore dunt while Ross Marshall didn’t even get that far. The MkII lost power when either the alternator belt broke or it was the alternator bracket. Colin Aitchison gave the Chevette an airing but stopped in Stage 7 and young Calum Macleod had the worst luck of all. All the way from Mull and the Peugeot 306 got stuck in the very first stage, first with a fuel problem and then the clutch failed.

It was good to see Stewart Merry back in harness, and ex road-rallyist faither Harry was there too, to see the boy co-driving for Darren Doherty and the pair finished sixth overall although they had a lucky escape when the Subaru flew over one yump and right into the next one. They bent two wheel rims such was the severity of the impact, but the tyres didn’t go down.

Another Scottish co-driver in action was Stuart Loudon doing a passable impersonation of Michael Jackson – he had one blue glove on! This was a legacy of his Rally Finland outing with Robert Barrable in the Fiesta R5: “The glove is actually protecting a bandage,” protested Stuart, “I burned my hand during Rally Finland. When we punctured a tyre we had to jump out to change the wheel and just when I was putting it back in the boot, it just sort of bounced and I tried to catch it to steady it, and touched the red hot centre. That’ll teach me.” Giving the car a bit of a shakedown ahead of Rally Deutschland, Barrable and Loudon finished fifth overall and were quite pleased with what they learned on Robert’s first visit to Otterburn.

Technically English but working this side of the Border Peter Taylor had a good run on Tyneside after a slowish start with Andrew Roughead in the Focus WRC. They finished fourth overall after surviving losing the front bumper against a chicane bale which had been bumped into the road by an earlier car. Luckily there was no mechanical damage: “Just another 500 quid bumper,” sighed Keith!

As ever, the Lindsays were flying, the wee Peugeot 106 finishing in 12th place overall.

Chris Anderson was going well in the Fiesta till the gearbox failed and the engine started to rattle, and Ed Todd in the Cox GTM retired at the end of Stage 3 when the oil pump belt broke. Regular Mull visitor Andy Bird retired the Chevette in the tenth stage when he put it off the road.