GWF Energy Merrick Stages Classes report …
Scott Sloan won the 1400 class in his Vauxhall Corsa which lost its co-driver’s door mirror (not the driver’s side, eh?) somewhere in the first two stages. Rachel Clark was second in class although the 60 bhp Micra did manage to find enough momentum to bounce through ditch at the hairpin in the final stage watched by a large group of spectators. At least they got the chance to read the ‘Rally to Raise’ signwriting. Angus Lawrie was third in Nova but Scott MacBeth failed to get through the third stage after surviving a huge scare in the second test at a Left over Crest. The car landed in a ditch but he got it out and kept going.
Iain Haining won Class 3 in his Vauxhall Nova with Chuck Blair second in class in his Peugeot 205 but only after he had mended and modified the suspension at first service – using hammers! So much for engineering skill and finesse. Only 7 seconds behind Blair at the finish was Callum Atkinson whose second place was enough to clinch the 2013 Ecosse Challenge series with one round to go. Adrian Stewart was fourth ahead of Jordan Black who was annoyed at the finish: “The car keeps stepping out at the back, I don’t know what’s wrong,” he said, “at one point we were right off the road after a double Left 4. Normally that should be flat in third. We got the first one – but not the second one!” Scott Peacock was sixth but not in his own car having swapped his own recalcitrant beast for Pop’s Peugeot on Saturday morning and Graeme Sherry was the final finisher in 7th place – but he caused some very anxious moments at the rally finish. Graeme had got caught behind two incidents in the last stage but his rivals were unsure whether he was in the stage at the time or had yet to start. The difference being that the notional time might have given him the Ecosse Championship title whereas his actual stage time would have put him in the mix. As things turned out he hadn’t yet started the stage so his actual time stood and given the conditions, it was not as quick as he would have liked. In fact Blair Brown also fell victim to those conditions in the final stage putting the Peugeot off while Steven Belshaw’s Peugeot fell off the road a stage earlier. Thaarique Fazal broke the gear linkage on the first stage but went on to win the consolation ‘Trophy Rally’.
Gary Pearson gave the Fiesta R2 a shakedown ahead of Rally Yorkshire and was glad he did so. This was the car’s the first run out since the engine holed its sump on the Scottish: “I’m glad we did it. The engine won‘t tick over and it seems to be fluffing a bit at the top so we’ve got time to check it out before our next event,” said Garry. He finished 20th overall, and was third 2WD car overall as well. Second in class 4 was the Nova of Iain Wilson but he punctured a rear tyre in the final test and then ripped the sumpguard off before he reached the stage finish, so he was lucky. Jim Robertson was third in the Citroen and nearly smiled at one point because the contrary little French tyke was behaving itself for once. Matthew Kesson was fourth in class in the Fiesta R2 but both he and Robertson had been awarded ‘notional times’ in the final stage following the two accidents. As for Alasdair S Graham, Lady Lucky is certainly not big pals with him these days. The Corsa broke a driveshaft in the first stage, but he was still a bit luckier than Kieran Renton who cowped the Fiesta big time in Arroch Hill.
Stewart Davidson won the 2litre/8v class in his MkII ut reckoned the first stage was: “Mental! I was shittinmasel (?) going between the logs – and there was nae grip.” Fortunately he survived that one but later on admitted to being “in the whins” when he was giving it the juice coming out of a right hander. Alan McMorran was some way off in second place in the Peugeot but seeing Wigtown Town Hall for the second time (at the Finsih) was regarded as “a result”. Willie Pollock missed out on third when he put the MkI off in the second test.
Steve Bannister won the Historic class in the MkII from the MkI of Andy Kelly, but that included stopping on the final stage to change a punctured tyre.
Tony Jardine, came, saw and conquered. Well, he won his class. The wee Honda looked a treat but the big news was that his co-driver was having her first run out on a proper rally. Olympian daredevil Amy Williams has signed up to contest Wales Rally GB with TJ but needed her International licence hence this visit (and the need to finish) to the Merrick. According to Tony: “She got better as the day progressed and over the last three stages, didn’t miss a single call.” Caroline Carslaw finished second in class in the Fiesta but admitted: “I was in a ditch on the first stage and then shot across the road into another ditch.”
Top 2WD car overall and Class 9 winner was the Citroen DS3 of Jonny Greer: “I wanted a bit of a shakedown ahead of the Trackrod,” said Greer, “and was going to do the Lakeland Stages, but when it was cancelled, got a late entry for the Merrick. I like the stages over here, I’ve done them before on the this event and the Galloway Hills so I knew it would be a good test. I got a puncture in the final stage but the rain was so fierce I couldn’t see the road at times. And there was a lot of standing water to catch you out.” Kieran O’Kane was second in the Ascona ahead of the MkII of Mickey McGillin who might have done better had he not spent 4 minutes in a Glentrool ditch. Robert Harkness was in for a good finish until a rather stout log tripped up the sliding rear end of the BMW in the last stage. The car spun in the air and landed in a ditch, but the bodyshop won’t require a jig to confirm that the chassis is somewhat out of line now!
Andrew Gallacher was top Group N runner on the day taking 8th overall in his Lancer Evo9. “We had a misfire on the third stage and changed the plugs,” said Gallacher,” but the misfire came back again on the last stage.” John McClory was second in Group N in 13th place finishing just 3 seconds clear of John Morrison with Fraser Wilson demoted to fourth after a double puncture in the final stage.
The top seven overall finished in that order in Class 12 with Craig McMiken taking 8th in class ahead of Dougal Brown who had to fix a sticking throttle twice, but at least they both got a top ten result. After his troubles on the last stage, Chris Collie was 10th in class ahead of an off-form Donnie MacDonald. Mark McCulloch could have done better but for a puncture on the final stage and Fraser MacNicol was 13th in class ahead of Brian Watson who might just have been ever so slightly put off when he saw his ‘best pal’ Barry Groundwater off in the last stage. Barry crashed out on this event last year, but waited till the last stage this time. Ian Paterson, Lee Hastings with a puncture on SS1, and Alasdair Anderson rounded off the Class 12 finishers, with Alasdair just relieved to finish: “What a disaster. No Notes on SS2, lost 3rd gear on SS3 and lost the rear suspension on SS5!” Stuart Paterson failed to finish when the Subaru’s clutch failed and Sandy Arbuthnot retired the Metro after damaging the steering.