22 May: Sinclair wins Gravel Sprint

… Gravel Sprinters …

Shaun Sinclair set the Fastest Time of Day at the Stravaiger’s Lodge Fort Augustus Gravel Sprint in Inchnacardoch Forest driving Brian Watson’s Evo8. After three runs getting familiar with the car he got the time down to 1m 47.8s and then in all innocence enquired: “What was Quintin Milne’s time last year?” When informed that Q had done a 1m 45s, that set the target.

Meanwhile Brian ‘The Sheriff of Bacchus County’ Watson was looking a mite perturbed at this revelation. He was getting into the 1m 54s bracket and knew what a 1m 45 run would take – and it was his car.

But the Sheriff had a plan: “We haven’t got any fuel with us, only what’s already in the car – we will run out soon.”

Not to be outdone, Shaun clipped another second off on the 4th run and lined up for his fifth, fingers crossed that the fuel would last. It did, and so did the car. He clocked a 1m 45.4s and with that, he was happy.

Holding fourth place after three runs, there was little more than fumes in the tank and only one run left for Brian, but he did the business on his fourth run overhauling Jimmy Allan and Paddy Munro to snatch second quickest behind the Sheriff.

Jimmy was happy enough with third quickest in his Evo6 despite a puncture on his fourth run and a collapsed rear wing. His claim that the wing collapsed due to the high aerodynamic downforce at such high speed fell on deaf ears – more likely he clipped an overhanging branch with the tail end!

Paddy Munro was happy enough with fourth quickest in his MkII and first of the 2WD cars ahead of Colin Baxter in his 1.6 Peugeot205. Colin set his best time on his third run, because on his fourth, he got the approach to a concrete bridge wrong and ended up straddling the parapet on his sumpguard. There was no serious damage but a bolt had pulled out of the suspension.

Sandy McKenzie shared his Opel Manta with Martin Fraser (16th) with Sandy rounding off the top half dozen fastest times, but when a nick was spotted in one of the alloy wheels, there was a dispute about who caused it. It wasn’t worth a bout of fisticuffs, but I reckon the optics were in for a hammering at the party later that evening. The Opel also broke a shock absorber, the brand new one which was fitted after a similar breakage on the Snowman.

John O’Kane was 7th in his Escort after repairing the axle and panhard rod which was damaged on the Granite City and Colin Patterson was 8th in the wee Peugeot 106, but he was being awfy careful. The car is up for sale. He shared the car with Gary Clark, because: “Gary makes me look good – he finished 13th today!”

Kenny Findlaysn was 9th in the Sunbeam and Ian Gray 10th in his non-turbo Subaru which also had a wee misfire during the day, probably the ECU Ian reckoned.

Hector McInness was 11th: “I was in a drain,” he said, “I just slid off on the second stage into a ditch, but there was a concrete drain there!” Fortunately damage was slight and he carried on.

Sandy Arbuthnott got one clean run in which left him 12th overall, but on his second run, he selected reverse instead of 2nd on the approach to the hairpin: “It’s just so easy to slip it into reverse instead of second,” said Sandy, “I knew instantly I’d done it and kept the clutch in, so there’s no damage, but didn’t want to risk it any further.”

Billy Falconer was the first of the newcomers in 14th place. Having done the Skye Gravel Sprint last year, this was his second time out in his 1.9 Peugeot 205 and he’s looking forward to his first big event, the Speyside in August.

Grant MacRae was 15th in his 1.4 Peugeot 205 Rallye also having done Skye last year and also looking forward to the Speyside and possibly the McRae – if the money holds out.

Rounding off the finishers was Angela MacDonald first time out in her 1.9 purple Peugeot and just fair chuffed to bits by the end: “I’m going to do the Speyside next,” she said, “with my pal Jennifer – an all-girl team.”

Reay MacKay didn’t make it as his engine’s STILL not ready, so Jim Carty was denied a run in the Subaru, and Kevin Ronaldson didn’t start either, but he’s hoping to do that wee 3 stage Saturday event at the Jim Clark Rally just to get more seat time in the Metro.

Mind you, Reay did make it to the after-rally party. And what’s the betting he wasn‘t the only one on Sunday morning who wished he hadn’t. Even the sound of the fizzy Irn-Bru hangover cure as they unscrewed the cap was too much for some.

1, Shaun Sinclair (Mitsubishi EVO 8) 01m 45.4s
2, Brian Watson (Mitsubishi EVO 8) 01m 51.8s
3, James Allan (Mitsubishi EVO 6) 01m 53.0s
4, Paddy Munro (Ford Escort) 01m 54.0s
5, Colin Baxter (Peugeot 205) 02m 00.1s
6, Sandy MacKenzie (Opel Manta) 02m 00.4s
7, John O’Kane (Ford Escort) 02m 01.4s
8, Colin Patterson (Peugeot 106) 02m 01.9s
9, Kenny Findlayson (Talbot Sunbeam) 02m 02.6s
10, Ian Gray (Subaru Impreza) 02m 04.8s
11, Hector MacInnes (Subaru Impreza) 02m 05.2s
12, Sandy Arbuthnott (MG Metro 6R4) 02m 06s
13, Gary Clark (Peugeot 106) 02m 07.8s
14, Billy Falconer (J) (Peugeot 205 GTI) 02m 08.2s
15, Grant MacRae (J) (Peugeot 205 Rallye) 02m 13.7s
16, Martin Fraser (Opel Manta) 02m 14.2s
17, Angela MacDonald (J) (Peugeot 205 GTI) 02m 51.2s