..Snowman Rally … The Classes …
Scott MacBeth took the top prize despite losing over 3 minutes in the first stage when the engine died in a watersplash. Once he got it fired up he finished the stage with the windscreen completely steamed up, but worse was to follow. He actually crossed the finish line with the Nova’s big ends rattling like bolts in a tin can. Second in class first time out in her new MG ZR was Junior 1000 graduate Linzi Henderson ahead of Scott Sloan whose Corsa had punctured a tyre in SS4. Derek Connell had been leading the class till he got to SS4 and then beached Corsa in the ruts. Fortunately the marshalls pushed him out, eventually. Craig Martin was delighted to finish in the Skoda, let alone score fifth in class but reckons he was lucky to get out of SS1 intact. He had thw rong tyres on and the Felicia was tail happy. Sideways in a Skoda, eh? Gaun yersel Craig. Sixth in class was Andy MacDonald in his Corsa ahead of Rod Manson in his Gulf liveried Hillman Imp. Alex Pirie’s Toyota Yaris failed to finish with a holed sump, Kenny Munro clobbered something and knocked the front o/s wheel off his Corsa and Stephen Fraser’s Mini broke its steering.
The hotly contested 1600 class was won by Scott MacDonald by the princely margin of ONE second from Scott Peacock. MacDonald fought back from an ‘off’ on the first stage when spectators quickly pushed his Nova out of a ditch and then on the last stage he encountered Donnie MacDonald’s parked-up Lancer and took to the banking. The Nova reared up on two wheels, didn’t fall over and then got a puncture, but finished. Peacock’s Peugeot 205 survived a burst brake pipe in SS2 and did SS3 with no brakes, but got them fixed at service. Simon Hay finished third but was nearly in the trees in SS4: “It was right at the Flying Finish, we were well off the road, but we were lucky.” Thomas Gray was fourth in his 205 ahead of Blair Brown who had a very busy day. The 205 broke a driveshaft in SS2 and the boys repaired it in the stage, then they punctured a tyre in SS4 and then on the final stage the car was losing water so they had to stop and fill it up. Expected front runner, Iain Haining retired on the first test when a Nova con-rod parted company with a piston – violently, and Adrian Stewart ran out of clutch cables! Apparently the Peugeot’s cable snapped in the first stage and then the replacement snapped in the same place in the second stage, and they had no more spares.
Peter Stewart won Class 4 in his Fiesta R2 with just 18 seconds separating him from runner-up Duncan Campbell in the Honda Civic. Peter admitted to exploring a firebreak in SS4 while Duncan was trying out a new engine and close ratio ‘box. Apart from the windscreen misting up at the watersplash in the first stage, it was a good run trying out the new ‘box. Kieran Renton was third in his R3 after splitting a brake pipe half way through SS2 and did SS3 with no brakes at all. He also hit a rock in SS4 and backed off, but there was no lasting damage. Ian Cattanach just missed out on a ‘podium’ finish with fourth place after putting the Sunbeam into the bushes on the last stage: “We were too quick into a hairpin and ended up in the ditch, then into the bushes, but somehow it bounced out again. All we lost was some time – and a headlight.” Charlie Jarrett was giving his son Ross’ MkII its first airing ahead of the youngster going for his driving test. No doubt he was under extreme pressure at all times to finish without damage. I’d love to have heard the ‘discussion’ when Charlie overshot a junction in SS4. Fortunately there was no damage to the car, and therefore no damage done to faither! Keir Beaton was having his third run out in the Civic and is still learning. A new gearbox had been fitted ahead of the event and he managed to lose the rear bumper in the final stage but sixth in class was the result. Matthew Kesson was seventh in the Fiesta but had to soften the suspension after the first stage and then had a half spin in the final stage when “I was over-zealous with the handbrake at a hairpin.” Gordon MacKay was ‘breaking-in’ a new navigator in the Peugeot 106 and nearly got it wrong at the Split in SS2, almost T-boning another competitor who DID get it wrong. Niall Inglis recorded his first finish on the Snowman in his RWD Nova and was naturally dead chuffed. He was lucky though. The fuel pump failed in SS2, but he managed to coax it back into life. Rounding off the top ten was Greg McKnight first time out in his new MkII. Apart from trouble with the throttle linkage on both SS2 and 2, he was pleased, thoroughly enjoying the final two stages first time out in RWD after competing in a FWD Corsa. First time out for 6 years, James Campbell finished 11th in his Peugeot 106 after losing time in SS2 and 3 when the lambda sensor came out of the exhaust and the engine dropped a cylinder. Ross MacDonald lost time when a shaft popped out of the Civic’s front wheel in the first stage but finished 12th. Not so lucky were Grant Inglis whose gearbox broke in the Civic, Iain Wilson who put the Nova off the road, Bill Davidson who converted his Nova to a three-wheeler and Kohn MacKintosh who parked the Toyota MR2 in a Rogie ditch. Carl Tuer posted an uncharacteristic non-finish too when the MG broke a bottom balljoint and pitched the car and crew into a ditch – when they were leading the class.
Duncan MacGregor scored the Class 5 win in his Ford Capri but only after ignoring smoke billowing into the car: “It didn’t go on fire, so we carried on.” Christopher Murray was second in class in his MkII ahead of the Peugeot 205 of Eric Falconer. John o’Kane was fourth when the axle came loose in his MkII, but managed to borrow some nuts and bolts to secure it. Steven Wood failed to finish when the Fiesta came off second best to a rather large rock in Rogie.
Steven Smith won the Historic class 6. The Peugeot 206 man was having his first run out in a rear wheel drive MkI Ford Escort. Fortunately the service crew was of an age to sort out a problem with the coil and points. A ballast resistor had failed in the first stage but the boys wired the battery straight to the coil to reach first service. Colin Aitchsion was some way off in second place with the Chevette and Willie Stuart failed to finish when he cowped the MkI in Rogie.
John MacLeod won the class although the Focus struggled for grip and ground clearance in the first stage with Graeme Schoneville having to settle for second in the Civic after the throttle cable snapped in the final stage on the start line and he had to hook up a hand-control line through the window. Jake Anderson was third n his Fiesta from Scott Burness in a Peugeot 306.
Malcolm Buchanan finished in 13th place overall with his MkII Escort and was the solitary finisher in Class 8. He had survived a spin on SS2, catching a car on SS4 and nearly striking Fraser Loudon’s Lancer, which was parked well off the road, on the final stage.
First time out driving his co-driver’s MkII, Scott Kerr won Class 9 and finished without a mark on the car. Stuart Glendinning was pleased with a finish in his Puma although they had a wee problem at the quarry in SS2 trying to find the correct route after earlier cars had taken all the tape away. During the manoeuvre the car stalled and he dropped more time then the intercom failed in the third test. Ken Wood got a Maximum in SS4 when the Dolomite stopped dead on the start line and required a complete re-wire job to get it going again. Then it did it again in the middle of the road works on Kessock Bridge on the way back. That would have pleased a few folk, but again he got it going again to reach the finish control. Robert Harkness failed to make an impression on the class positions when the BMW fell off the road in Rogie.
At the end of the first stage, 3 seconds covered the top 3 Group N runners with Fraser Wilson holding a 1 second advantage over Andrew Gallacher and Dale Robertson a further second behind. Wilson was first to strike trouble when the pinch bolt at the bottom of the Lancer’s steering column slackened off leaving him with armfuls of lock and no direction. Robertson was next when a brake pipe was cut by a stone leaving him with no brakes. That left Gallacher in the clear with the Lancer of John Morrison grabbing second in class and Wilson recovering to claim third. Robertson managed to hang on to third ahead of Tony Thompson in the Subaru.
With one Group N car finishing in the top ten places overall, the Class 12 runners virtually mirrored the overall finishing positions. Mark McCulloch was ninth in class allowing Craig McMiken to score a tenth place class finish although just out of the top ten overall. That left John Rintoul eleventh in class, first time out in a World Car. He had no ambitions or targets for his debut, just a sensible run round in the ex-Steve Petch Hyundai Accent. Things were going well over the first two stages but in the third test the gearbox oil temperature shot up and he backed off. The final two stages were tackled conservatively just to get miles in the car, but at the finish, a wire brush couldn’t polish the smile off his face. James Brims was 12th in his Subaru despite being in a ditch in SS4 and Brian Watson was 13th after an “unbelievably nice run.” Alasdair Anderson was off in SS1 in his Lancer bur survived to finish 14th while Garry Wilson was delighted to finish in the Lancer especially since daughter Hollie was co-driving – and nagging the poor soul all the way. In fact at one point she hit him with her clipboard after he had been in two ditches. Steven Clark was 16th losing out on a good run with an ‘off’ in the second stage where a spectating Andy Horne was on hand to help push the Lancer out. Alasdair Reid was 17th after a puncture in SS3 for 6 miles and Scott Grant having his first gravel run out for 2 years was 18th “despite a few bumps along the way.” Ellya Gold was 19th first time out in 4WD and Roland Wessel had forsaken his usual Italian exotica for a run out in the BITZ Impreza and was thoroughly unimpressed – it was so reliable and easy to drive! Geoff Goudie was off in the final stage but got the Subaru out and James McQueen survived a “few hairy moments.” Fraser Loudon failed to finish when the Lancer sailed off the road and disappeared into the long grass and heather but just short of the trees. No damage, but stuck fast and Mike Grant retired his Impreza in similar fashion. And just when we thought Sandy Arbuthnott had cracked this rallying, his arrival at first service prompted premature celebrations. Yes, the Metro had reached it, but in 2WD form only – the diff had failed. C’est la vie, eh?
Full rally results, as ever, at: