Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally … The Classes …
James Aitken was the only finisher in his MG, but admitted: “The only ditches we were in were ones that we could get out of.” Unlike rivals Scott Sloan who put his Nova off in SS2 and Craig Martin who cruelly broke a driveshaft in the Skoda on the final stage.
Iain Haining was a close winner of the 1600 (8v) class in his Nova, just managing to hold off a pair of fighting Peugeot 205s. “I had a big push in Errochty and the last stage,” said Iain, “just to keep ahead of theother boys.” It worked, his margin was 22 seconds by the finish and earned his 7th straight class win in a row. Newly confirmed 205 Ecosse Challenge Champion, Callum Atkinson, was second just 10 seconds clear of Chuck Blair. “I got my first ever puncture in the forest,” beamed Calum, “it was a rear puncture and it was at the end of Stage 4 so I was able to drive out on it.” Chuck Blair was pleased with third: “It’s a got a standard gearbox,” explained Chuck, “I was pushing it out the garage yesterday when it jammed. We fixed it and it jammed again so we just stuck a standard unit in it.” By the end of the rally he was reduced to three gears only! Alister MacArthur was 4th in his Sunbeam despite a half spin in the opening stage and a full blown spin in SS2. Going into the final stage he was 5 seconds behind Jordan Black and came out 3 in front. That left Jordan’s 205 in fifth place but lucky to be there at all: “The disc pads fell out in the third because the cylinder was hitting the disc, and I did the next three stages with no brakes at all.” Blair Brown was sixth after a Peugeot panel bashing incident on the 4th test and Nick Urquhart was seventh in his 205 despite being “in a couple ditches!” Colin Baxter was 8th in his 205 but more worried about losing his phone and Simon Hay was 9th. David McLoughlin was tenth despite breaking the front n/s shock absorber on the fifth stage but just kept going. Donald MacNeill was 11th in the Sunbeam despite fading brakes since SS2 which required constant pumping before they were any use. Thaarique Fazal finished 12th with his only problem a loose gear linkage which was fixed at service. Graeme Sherry put his 205 off in SS2 but isn’t worried, he’s got a new ‘project’ in the garage and Adrian Stewart went off in the final stage. Scott Peacock had his new 205 out but it died in Blackcraig.
Iain Wilson had an easier time in the 1600 (16v) class with a 2 minute victory over the Honda Civic of Grant Inglis. Iain reckoned: “This was my favourite event so far, and we used the same 4 tyres all day,” while Grant crawled out of SS3 with a tyre which had rolled off the rim. Even more impressive was the fact that Wilson finished top FWD runner in 22nd place overall. Malcolm Robertson was third in the Sunbeam after tie-wrapping and sticky plastering the gear lever back into the ‘box after it came off in his hand! He also had to change a bottom arm and a balljoint at service. Ross MacDonald was fourth and managed to “scuff a couple of ditches” but more important, the Honda was in one piece and this was a good shakedown ahead of Rally Wales GB next month. Matthew Kesson was fifth in the Fiesta, James Robertson sixth in the Citroen and re-learning his cursing skills – the misfire is back! Final finisher was Alasdair S Graham but he was well out of it after cowping the Nova in the first stage. It was a soft-ish roll, but the wee car will need some serious TLC before its next outing. Kieran Renton failed to finish in the repaired (after the Merrick) Fiesta but retired in the fifth stage with a mechanical or electrical problem.
David Cameron was the only finisher after the MkIIs of Stewart Davidson and Douglas Watt broke down while Duncan MacDonald sheared a stub axle. Even so, Duncan was lucky: “It’s got a very noisy wheel bearing but I’m really worried about a misfire. It only runs on 3 cylinders till it gets to 3000 rpm and then clears and I’m back on 4.”
Steve Bannister finished top 2WD overall in the 16th place and the only runner in the Historic class. A rear puncture in the final stage for 6 miles cost him half a minute though.
Ian Forgan won Class 7 in his Ford Ka with Tony Jardine second in the Honda and Caroline Carslaw third in her Fiesta despite a bit of a liking for Perthshire forest ditches! Forgy was treating this event as a bit of a shakedown ahead of the final tarmac round (it made sense to him!) at Crail and backed off through Errochty. He says he was a minute slower than last year through this stage but didn’t want his wheels ending up like 50p pieces. Tony was wide-eyed at the finish: “We were flat in fifth in the fifth stage when a huge deer jumped across the road right in front of the car. It was only inches away from us. A second earlier and it would have hit us.” Caroline had a good run into third as she gets to grips with gravel and Darren Christie was fourth despite breaking the Peugeot 106 gear linkage in the morning and then missing gears all day after that! Robert Thomson rounded off the finishers but we knew he was coming – the Honda’s exhaust had fallen off earlier in the day while Matt Reid was the only non-finisher in the class. The Focus was blowing oil out of the engine. At first they thought it was just a loose dipstick, but it looks as though it’s more serious.
Ken Wood had an excellent run in the V6 Triumph Dolomite winning Class 7 despite a puncture in Errochty and then a big spin (and stall!) at the downhill hairpin in the final stage. Robert Harkness was second in the rebuilt (from the Merrick shunt) BMW 316i but was struggling to get gears during the day, especially 4th and Kieran O’Kane was third in the 3 litre Ascona after “a few cuts but no marks on the car!”
Andrew Gallacher was top Group N runner and counting one top six fastest stage time during the day but felt the Lancer was down on power after fitting a new turbo before the rally. Bruce McCombie was second first time out an E9 having sold his Subaru. But did he like it: “Nah, not really, it’s not a Subaru. It goes and it handles, but it’s not a Subaru.” So there you are then, it’s not a Subaru. John McClory was third despite stopping to collect conkers in Craigvinean (“Did you see the size of them in there?) or so he says, while Fraser Wilson was fourth. He lost time in SS2 when the Lancer clattered a stone and he lifted off waiting for the tyre to go down. It didn’t. Then he overshot and stalled in the final stage losing out to McClory by 15 seconds. John Morrison was fifth and driving in ‘car preservation mode’ as he explained: “I want to do Mull next week.”
Most of the Class 12 runners have been covered in the main report but 10th in class and 13th overall was pretty good for Brian Ross, especially in such strong company. “Just one ditch this time,” he grinned, “ the stages were good, fast and flowing, and I just got carried away.” Fraser Louden was 11th in class despite daughter Abi shouting at him to go “faster, faster” and Fraser MacNicol had a good run despite breaking something on the final stage: “I don’t know whether it’s the propshaft or a driveshaft, but something’s clattering underneath since half way through the last stage.” Sean Will was 13th having been stuck behind “a guy with a puncture in SS1”, slipped into and out of a ditch in SS2, then got a puncture of his own in SS5 . John Rintoul was “in a few ditches, but nothing serious” on his way to 14th with Stephen Baillie a lowly 15th after a troubled day. He was unwell in the middle part of the rally and Susan (Shanks) took ill on the final stage, and both reckon it might have been down to fumes inside the car. Martin Craik had his first run out since the Granite and punctured a tyre on the Subaru in Errochty. Ian Paterson was another to get a ‘deer scare’ when a rather large beastie galloped out in front of the Subaru: “I saw it coming out of the trees and I could see it wondering where it was going to go next, just as I was wondering the same thing.” Alasdair Henderson spent some quality time in two ditches and Rolad Wessel got round in the Lancia but struggled with a persistent clutch problem: “We had to do the whole of the last stage stuck in third gear,” said Roland, “that was interesting.” And finishing 20th in class, without a mark on the Impreza, were the Will sisters, Caroline and Ashleigh and fair delighted with their result. Caroline’s only trouble is seeing over the steering wheel and reaching the pedals! Michale Robertson was the final Class 12 finisher having been “stuck, wedged on a wee bridge” in SS2 and would have stayed there but for the sterling efforts of a dozen spectators. Brian Watson broke the rear suspension, Graeme Smith had engine problems and avid Ross blew a turbo. Martin Scott didn’t finish either after puncturing for 6 miles in Errochty then ran out of fuel on the run in to the finish! And as for Sandy Arbuthnott, he had another ‘lucky white heather day’ with the Metro. Things were looking good after two stages, then he got to Errochty. He was up for the run, but the metro wasn’t. Engine problems sidelined the Chuckle Brothers once again, thank goodness they can see the funny side of things, other mortals might just shoot themselves!