17 Oct: Part 1 – Mull Rally

Murmurs on Mull … The Full Story, as it happened …

Part 1, Tunnocks Mull Rally 2013

Tuesday 8 October, 17.00 Hrs

Right. I’m going to give this Facebook thingy a shottie. A lot of folk (mostly younger types) have stated their preference for FB as a source of info and entertainment as opposed to websites and Blogs. The clincher was a recent campaign started by someone (I dinnae ken who) to get me ‘liked’. I’ve never been so liked in my life. Over one weekend my empty page got over 500 of these ‘likes’. So I thought I’ll give it a try, and with Mull coming up, it seems like the perfect opperchancity.

Tuesday 8 October, 18.00 Hrs

Dark-Ness Monster … Mull is about to be upon us and folks have been mulling over for months who will take the fight to the Dervaig Dervish. Well, if we overlook talent for a minute and look only at the machinery, the odds are with the Young Pretender. He came close last year in a wee Fiesta, but this year he’s got an awfy big Fiesta.

Built by M-Sport and based on the Fiesta S2000 chassis the M-Sport squad have installed a 2.4 litre, 325 bhp, Millington powerhouse front driving the four wheels through an M-Sport / X-Trac-developed six-speed sequential gearbox.
((Note: Amendment, it wasn’t actually a ‘Millington’ engine but John Millington was co-driving – whilst it’s another Millington, Roy, who builds the fancy engines, for full explanation see Friday bulletin. Ed.))

Malcolm himself gave the beast an outing on the Malcolm Wilson Stages in March, but it had to go back to base for some serious heart surgery after 3 stages.

So this will only be its second serious appearance. And you know what? It sounds even better than it looks. Big problem is, where best to watch and listen? Echoing off the rocky walls of Gribun, bellowing across Calgary Bay or in full-flight, after-burner mode down Glen Aros?

But then again, the Duffy motor has some serious grunt too and we all know Flight Lieutenant C Duffy Esq is just the boy to fly it.

Wednesday 9 October, 11:00 hrs

Thursday night is Forum night on Mull ahead of the annual Tunnocks Mull Rally and the line-up of guests has just about been confirmed. Taking the stage will be Calum Duffy (MkII pilot), Andy Fenwick (Hyundai WRC) , Bruce Edwards (Tupperware GT), Allan Cameron (Subaru), Jim McDowall (minted Avenger) and Tom and Sue Hynd (anything they can get their hands on).

The fun kicks off at 7.00 pm with the usual quiz. This is not to be confused with those deadly serious affairs conducted in pubs, this is a light hearted questfest with some light hearted prizes. Those who have never been before may want to bring hard hats, the regulars know when to duck! That’s because the prizes are thrown to (at?) the winners after each question. Apparently the Host of this night of frovolity is a wee bit of a rascal and things can get interesting if there just happens to be a couple of china mugs up for grabs. Cameras and phones are banned in case they are used for gathering evidence for the Health & Safety brigade

As for the forum itself, there will be up to 4 guests on stage at any one time, the first lot starting at 7.15 and being replaced at 7.45 by the second lot – no airs and graces here. And it will be all over by 8.30 – just in time to pop along to MacGochan’s for the Tunnocks Teacake eating competition. And if you think that’s easy, it ain’t, that’s because the teacakes have to be washed down with a can of Irn Bru, all within time allowed.

The Forum and Quiz gets underway at 7 pm in the Aros Hall, in Tobermory on Thursday evening 5th October. Entry is FREE and the prizes are fantastic(ally cheap!) and some are quite unique. It’s been standing room only for the past few years, but the SSE Hydro is just too far away for a one night stand.

Wednesday 9 October, 15:00 Hrs

Crikey, it’s like a moonlit flittin’, getting packed for Mull. Just visited Saint Tunnocks of Biscuitry and got a lovely box of goodies for tomorrow night’s quiz prizes. There’s a couple of ideal gifts for co-drivers (or school weans) with some pretty pencil cases! Also some woolly hats, skip hats, Tunnocks rubix cubes (!) and goodness knows what else in the box – but no biscuits, or pies!

Volkswagen has given me a bag of goodies for Forum Quiz prizes, but don’t get too excited, they had run out of WRC goodies following their victory in France! Still a couple of woolly hats will go down well on Mull In October, eh?

Thursday 10 October, 12:30 Hrs

If you’re a rally fan and you’ve never been to Mull, then you have to put it on your bucket list. At least once.

If October is Motorsport Month then that letter ‘M’ has multifarious meanings from the McRae rally to the Mull Rally, but there’s more. Tonight and on Sunday night there is the Mishnish, MacDonald and MacGochan’s.

Then there’s the roads. Miles of magnificent meandering tarmac with a few added extras, off-camber corners, tight hairpins, gravity defying jumps and there’s even a few scary bits. If you want to give your adrenaline pump a defibrilator type jump start, this is the place.

Tonight, the Forum and the Teacake eating contest gets things off to a flying start. All day tomorrow, scrutineering will take place in the Tobermory Distillery yard before motorised mayhem descends on the dark Mull roads at night.

Night rallies are always a wee bit special. What you miss seeing in tarmac gripping, wheel spinning detail you a make up for with great swathes of light arcing across the sky from multi million candlepower head and spot lamps. Then there’s the glow of white hot brake discs through the wheel spokes – and the noise. Against the dramatic backdrop of this sainted isle, the mechanical cacophany is amplified against the still darkness and echoes through the glens and off the dry stane dykes.

I defy any hackles not to rise at the sight and sound of a Mark II or flat four at full chat.

Oh, and one more thing, it’s not raining – at the moment!

Thursday 10 October, 14:30 Hrs

This might well be the 44th Mull Rally, but without the vision and determination of one man, it might never have got underway at all. Brian Molyneux was the driving force behind 2300 Club and their efforts to finance and instigate the Act of Parliament which allows today’s rally organisers to close the public roads for the duration of each Special Stage.

He passed away in 1996, but a cairn has been erected and dedicated to the man high above Dervaig overlooking the notorious hairpins and churchyard. If you’re passing at any time over the weekend, give a nod to the man who started it all. For sure, he had a good team around him, but it was his stubborn perseverence in the face of political and civil service obfuscation and interminable form-filling that eventually saw the application through to its successful fruition.

This also established the legal precedent which greatly helped the Jim Clark Rally in Berwickshire to become only the second rally on ‘mainland’ Britain to achieve closed road status. It is still a lengthy and costly affair to create and organise such an event and perhaps the biggest surprise is that no other clubs have achieved this feat. That in itself highlights the difficulty that any new event faces, and also the sheer doggedness of the man who started it all off.

There is a book written by the man entitled modestly, but truthfully, ‘The Best Rally in the World’. If you can find a copy, it’s well worth the read.

Each year I visit the cairn and doff my bunnet to this motor sporting pioneer and high achiever. And if you see any smoke wafting over the hills and through the glens this weekend, dinnae worry, it’ll just be pipe smoke from the silent spectator above Dervaig.

Thursday 10 October, 22:00 Hrs

The 2013 Tunnocks Mull Rally is now well and truly underway. The Rally Forum in the Aros Hall was fair hoachin’ with people. It was standing room only and quite a few folk got hit, or rather, presented with their prizes at the pre-chat quiz. Thanks to Volkswagen and Tunnocks for the glittering array of desirable collectables and wearables, and guess what, the flying tee-shirts made a re-appearance. Apparently a bag of 1995 Burmah Scottish Championship top quality tee shirts were found at the back of a garage. Once the mices nests had been shaken out, the cobwebs dusted away and the stoor blown off the outer packaging they looked as good as (nearly) new.

Flight Lieutenant Calum Duffy was in top form but he hasn’t flown the MkII at all this year. The whole car has been rebuilt ahead of the weekend and according to Calum: “It’s as good as new.” As for former Scottish Tarmack Champion, this will be the first time out for Bruce Edwards Darrian with its brand new motor – a 2.5 Millington! Andy Fenwick has had a “few issues” with his Hyundai WRC but thinks (hopes!) he’s got to the bottom of them after ploughing through a French ditch on his last outing. Tom and Sue Hynd will debut their new Clio 172 on the rally this weekend, Allan Cameron and Jim McDowall will be out in their respective Impreza and Avenger motors and the final guest was young Ally Currie, stepping in to the pace vacated by John MacCrone. We knew John was going to be arriving late in the island so his appearance was more hopeful than guaranteed, but 16 (tomorrow!) year old filled in a full house with his two years of rallying so far. He’s been competing in the Junior 1000 Championship for 14 to 17 year olds with 1 litre motors this past couple of years so he’s an old hand. But his biggest problem is his 17th birthday. Depending on which weekend the rally falls next year, he might not make his ambition, to start the Mull Rally. Many thanks to all 8 guests for their entertaining and enlightening insight into our sport.

The politically incorrect host (whoever he was!), as ever, managed to insult most folks at some point during the evening. A typical quiz question was “What colour is shortbread?” Gareth White answered “Golden” to which our illustrious host explained that it wasn’t really a question, but a desire to gain knowledge, as the home made shortbread in his own house is usually charcoal black. Gareth still got his prize.

Winner of the Tunnocks Teacake eating contest was Peppe Planeta who won it last year. This year he managed 16 teacakes in 2 minutes. Peppe comes from the Isle of Man and works with the John Cope team. Second was Northern Ireland’s Mo Downey with 15 and third equal with 14 were Billy McClelland and Kenny Murray. One thing’s for sure I wouldn’t want to clean their cages out in the morning.

As ever the pubs were busy tonight with many folks standing outside. It’s not summer, but it is pleasant. Fingers crossed for a dry weekend.

[Part 2]
[Part 3]
[Part 4]