03 Jul: RSAC Scottish Rally report

… Stoormageddon …
… RSAc Scottish Rally, Sat 28 June …

The 2014 RSAC Scottish Rally. It can be summed up in 3 words. Sun, stoor and stanes. OK, that’s four but ye ken whit I mean. But there was more to it than that. There was one over-riding question in all our minds. Would it be a Fiesta or a Focus that crossed the Finish line first?

Secondary question? If it was a Focus, then whose?

All that was to come, but for the moment, consider this. After 43 miles of stages, the winner’s margin was 3.5 seconds. That’s a difference of 0.08 sec per mile. That’s even closer than a BSBH (British Standard Ba’Hair).

SS1, Windy Hill, 6.37 mls
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 5m 48.2s
2, EuanThorburn/Paul Beaton, 5m 53.4s
3, Quintin Milne/Martin Forrest, 6m 02.4s
4, Mark McCulloch/James Haugh, 6m 06.7s
5, Steven Clark/Phil Sandham, 6m 09.8s
6, Barry Groundwater/Neil Shanks, 6m 14.5s

Not counting the Sweet Lamb test and the previous weekend’s DMack Stages run out, this was David Bogie’s first ‘proper’ rally in the new Fiesta R5+. Through Windy Hill he was almost 5 seconds up on Euan Thorburn: “I fluffed the start on the first stage,” said Euan. Third quickest was Quintin Milne, second time out in the Focus. This was a damn good run considering the quality of the opposition and the fact that the Meccano Kid was having to grapple with a whole new set of buttons and digital readouts.

Just as impressive was the fourth fastest time of Mark McCulloch in the Subaru holding off Steven Clark and Barry Groundwater. Not so quick out of the blocks were Jock Armstrong and Chris Collie. Jock’s Subaru cut out on him twice in the one stage, causing him to stop, re-set and re-start each time while Collie’s Lancer was hampered by a poorly functioning turbo. At least they were still going. Andrew Gallacher was already out on the first stage. The result of two ‘Left 9’s followed by a ‘crest 350 Right’ – only the Lancer crew missed the second Left 9!

Just outside the top ten fastest times was Faulkner, but he was smiling, ruefully: “The chicanes had been nudged apart by earlier cars – if I had realised I would have been much quicker!”

SS2, Ae West, 5.99 mls
1, Bogie/Rae, 5m 28.2s
2, Thorburn/Beaton, 5m 30.7s
3, Clark/Sandham, 6m 09.8s
4, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 5m 45.1s
5, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 5m 45.9s
6, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy, 5m 46.3s

It was Bogie again on the second test, with Thorburn picking up a rear puncture, but it was near the finish and he didn’t lose too much time. Such was their pace, they were the only two drivers under 6 minutes for the 6 mile test while Steven Clark was an impressive third quickest.

Donnie MacDonald was fourth quickest ahead of Armstrong whose Subaru had cut out again, but he was ready for it this time and was marginally quicker than Faulkner. Mine could only manage 10th quickest in here: “I stalled it a couple of times,” said Quintin.

SS3, Ae East, 13.47 mls
1, Bogie/Rae, 12m 22.8s
2, Thorburn/Beaton, 12m 23.3s
3, Milne/Forrest, 12m 39.5s
4, Andy Horne/Jim Howie, 12m 46.5s
5, Faulkner/Foy, 12m 52.4s
6, Rory Young/Allan Cathers, 13m 06.6s

It was Bogie from Thorburn again in the long Ae, with Euan commenting: “I thought I had a problem with the ‘box. There was a really bad compression after a jump in there, and the ‘box jumped out of fifth gear but it was fine.”. As for Steven Clark he lost his third place overall position when the Lancer broke a driveshaft after an overshoot. This was where the new windfarm road cut across the forestry road (none too smoothly by all accounts) and it dropped him down to ninth place. Milne was lucky to set the third quickest time though: “We lost the dashboard. Some electrical plug dropped out and we had no speed or revs or gear display. It’s all about learning a new car,” he said.

There might have been some raised eyebrows at the pace of the fourth quickest man through here, but this stage suited Andy Horne. After a hesitant start the Focus driver was getting on the pace ahead of Faulkner and Rory Young. Groundwater lost out on a top six time: “There were lots of Notes in there and not much stage furniture, and I had a straight-on at one of the windmill road crossings. Then I handbraked it, bad move. I had to sit there for ages waiting for the dust to clear!”

Dougal Brown had a worrying moment when the brake pedal sank to the floor towards the end of this 13 miler and Bruce McCombie had a big ‘off’ and had to take a cut across country picking up a puncture in the process.

He was still luckier than McCulloch, the Subaru pitching itself well off the road after landing awkwardly following a crest. Donnie MacDonald’s departure was less dramatic, the Lancer inexplicably lost drive on the start line. That’s his fourth non-finish this year – I didn’t realise the lad could be so inventive when it came to swearing! John Rintoul also failed to emerged from this test when the Hyundai let him down.

SS4, Jock’s, 1.5 mls
1, Bogie/Rae, 2m 27.9s
2, Armstrong/Swinscoe, 2m 29.6s
3, Thorburn/Beaton, 2m 30.7s
4, Clark/Sandham, 2m 31.2s
5, Groundwater/Shanks, 2m 35.0s
6, Faulkner/Foy, 12m 52.4s

Perhaps not the best test of man and machine, Jock’s ‘Arena’ nevertheless provided entertainment for the crowds and he set second fastest time round here behind Bogie. Thorburn was third from Clark, Groundwater and Faulkner.

From here it was into Service for the first and only time in the day.

SS5, Heathhall, 0.71 mls
1, Bogie/Rae, 0m 56.8s
2, Horne/Howie, 0m 58.6s
3, Armstrong/Swinscoe, 0m 59.5s
4= Milne/Forrest, 0m 59.8s
4= Groundwater/Shanks, 0m 59.8s
4= Clark/Sandham, 0m 59.8s
7, Faulkner/Foy, 1m 00.4s
8, Thorburn/Beaton, 1m 00.6s

After lunch, Bogie continued his winning ways from Horne and Armstrong, with Thorburn having to settle for eighth fastest: “I stalled it – again!”

SS6, Twiglees, 8.94 mls
1, Thorburn/Beaton, 8m 24.3s
2, Bogie/Rae, 8m 27.8s
3, Armstrong/Swinscoe, 8m 48.5s
4, Horne/Howie, 8m 52.8s
5, Groundwater/Shanks, 9m 02.7s
6, Faulkner/Foy, 9m 12.3s

Bogie went into this stage with a 15 second lead over Thorburn, he came out with a lead that was reduced by 3 seconds. but it meant neither of them could relax across the road in the final 6 miler. Armstrong was back on the case in Twiglees having sorted the stuttering Subaru and Horne was again on the pace on a stage that suited him and allowed him to get to know his new motor a bit better.

There was no Milne in the fastest few this time and Mike Faulkner could only manage sixth quickest behind the on-form Groundwater. But any hopes Mike had of scoring third place were dashed: “I just came over a crest to find spectators pushing Quintin out of a ditch, and then had to follow him. I had to stop about 10 times just to let the dust clear to see where I was going.”

Quintin lost over 6 minutes changing the punctured tyre and with all hopes of a good result gone, stopped at the pub on the way out of the stage and waited for the boys with the trailer. That was him finished for the day, not wanting to risk any further damage to the new Focus. And so too were both Bruce McCombie and Rory Young. They failed to emerge from Twiglees, both Lancers pulling out with mechanical problems.

SS7, Castle O’er, 5.98 mls
1, Thorburn/Beaton, 5m 54.3s
2, Bogie/Rae, 6m 02.1s
3, Armstrong/Swinscoe, 6m 15.7s
4, Clark/Sandham, 6m 16.4s
5, Faulkner/Foy, 6m 21.4s
6, Horne/Howie, 6m 23.1s

Across the road in Castle O’er, Thorburn was on fire, taking almost 8 seconds out of the Fiesta in 6 miles, but it wasn’t quite enough to close the gap. Armstrong was third quickest and mighty lucky at that: “I ran wide on a corner and rumbled over the rocks. It was well up on 2 wheels at one point before crashing down.” That was evident at the finish when the Subaru appeared with bent suspension and lots of negative camber on the o/s rear wheel.

Clark was fourth quickest from Faulkner and Horne: “Those were the best stages of the day,” grinned Andy, “I was told to be more aggressive with the Focus to get the best out of it. So I drove it like my Metro – and it worked.”

These two final stages were also good for the 2WD brigade. Steve Bannister was 8th quickest in Twiglees in his Escort MkII while Matthew Robinson was tenth quickest. In between these two was the Honda Civic of Graeme Schoneville! And although Banister made the top ten times on the final stage it was Robinson who scored tenth place overall in his MkII at the finish: “If Steve hadn’t had a puncture early on, who knows how it would have ended up,” said Robinson, “were were never more than 3 or 4 seconds apart all day.”

At the finish, there was no doubt about the winners, albeit by only 3.5 seconds. David Bogie and Kevin Rae had taken their debut ARR Craib Series win in the Fiesta and Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton can be encouraged by their afternoon times. Armstrong finished a lucky third with his wobbly wheel ahead of a smiling Horne, and Faulkner was fifth on an event where third had been a distinct possibility at one point. Groundwater rounded off the top six ahead of an unlucky Clark with Dougal Brown again finishing in the top ten, in eighth place. Chris Collie made it into the top ten in ninth place but the Lancer was sounding sick and looks like it will need a new turbo while Matthew Robinson rounded off the top ten in his MkII.

“I lost it this morning,” said Euan, “but this afternoon we proved our pace is good, we know we can fight with David. I might just give up the BTRDA to concentrate on the Scottish series. We’ll see.”

As for David: ” “I’m really pleased with that. I’m still learning and there’s more to come. On the looser sections I miss the active diffs and extra power of the Focus but the Fiesta is more nimble. The Focus was kinder on tyres too, even with shagged tyres the active centre diff on the Focus will pull you round, but the brakes and suspension on the Fiesta are much better. I didn’t really know what to expect this morning and a podium was to be hoped for, but this, I didn’t expect.”

Now for the Speyside. Two horse race? Don’t count on it. Both Quintin and Andy like those stages too!

RSAC Scottish Rally – Final Results
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Ford Fiesta R5+ ) 41m 33.8s
2, Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Ford Focus WRC 01) 41m 27.3s
3, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe (Subaru Impreza) 43m 46.4s
4, Andy Horne/Jim Howie (Ford Focus WRC) 44m 03.7s
5, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9) 44m 08.2s
6, Barry Groundwater/Neil Shanks (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9) 44m 27.5s
7, Steven Clark/Phil Sandham (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 5) 44m 48.1s
8, Dougal Brown/Lewis Rochford (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9) 45m 06.9s
9, Chris Collie/Mark Fisher (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6) 46m 15.0s
10, Matthew Robinson/Sam Collis (Ford Escort MkII) 46m 19.0s

Class Winners:
B2, Scott MacBeth/Danny Sutherland (Vauxhall Nova) 0:50:49.5
B3, Scott Peacock/Craig Service (Peugeot 205 GTi) 0:50:50.2
B4, Greg McKnight/Chris McKnight (Ford Escort MkII) 0:48:55.1
B6, Matthew Robinson/Sam Collis (Ford Escort MkII) 0:46:19.0
B7, Callum Atkinson/James Aldridge (Ford Fiesta) 0:50:14.0
B9, Robert Harkness/Mike Curry (BMW 316i) 0:49:09.2
B10, Fraser Wilson/Jane Nichol (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 0:52:38.8
B12, Andy Horne/Jim Howie (Ford Focus WRC) 0:44:03.7