… Speyside Classes …
Things were even closer in the 1450cc class battle as they were overall, with Scott Macbeth beating Angus Lawrie by 3 seconds at the Elgin finish. Both had their troubles too. Scott’s Nova punctured a rear tyre on the penultimate test, but Angus was unable to capitalise as he was struggling with a loose exhaust. Keith Riddick scored third in his MG despite the gearknob coming off in his hand in Gartly Moor and then when a rear top mount broke off he had to fit a standard strut to get through the last stage. Iain MacDonald finished fourth in class having ‘borrowed’ the former Alex Pirie Toyota Auris. Work prevents Alex getting out at weekends these days so Iain kindly offered to give the car a wee run out, but took longer to get the rust out of his own armpits than anything on the car. Kenny Munro was fifth in the Corsa ahead of Linzi Henderson n the MG ZR while Stephen Fraser rounded off the finishers in his original Mini 1275 GT. Derek Connell retired his Corsa at first service: “The misfire is back. We don’t know what’s causing it, but the car is undriveable.” Scott Sloan also failed to finish which was poor reward for his many midnight endeavours repairing the ravages of his Scottish roll in the Corsa.
Just like the battle for the overall rally lead, the 1650cc (8v) runners were going at it like a pair of terriers with a burst ball. After five stages Charles ‘Chuck’ Blair in the Peugeot was tied on times with Iain ‘Bert’ Haining in his Nova. Firs time out in the re-shelled Nova, Bert got off to a slowish start then started catching Chuck – when a wheel fell off! Adrian Stewart therefore finished second in his Peugeot after repairing the ravages of the Scottish: “It just polished out.” Aye, right. Another driver with repairs needed after the Scottish (i.e. a new roof) was Blair Brown who finished third in class in his Peugeot ahead of Scott MacDonald in the Nova. According to Scott he might have done better had not his co-driver David Falconer tried to help him out a couple of times by applying the handbrake at hairpins! Colin Baxter was fifth in his Peugeot despite a burst exhaust and having to dodge some suspiciously positioned rocks on the final stage! Jordan Black was sixth in the wee Citroen but was trying Bipper (van) springs for the first time to try and get a bit more ground clearance and had a puncture in the final stage. Andy Chalmers was seventh but the Peugeot’s petrol tank was leaking and the crew were keen to stress they were not high on fumes, they are just normally hyper! Anyway, they also knackered a wheel when they punctured a tyre. Simon Hay survived an ‘off’ at the finish of the last stage in his Peugeot while the final Peugeot finisher was Thomas Gray. Both Scott Peacock and Thaarique Fazal managed to cowp their Peugeots and didn’t finish.
Greg McKnight was beaming at the finish after a relatively troublefree outing in the MkII, but more importantly, he had a 2 second advantage over the second placed Corsa of Alasdair S Graham in the 1650 (16v) class. Going into the final stage they were actually tied on identical total times. Greg had brake troubles over some of the earlier stages and had to keep the motor running for the last two when the starter motor failed. As for Alasdair: “I made too many mistakes in that last stage – and lost the class by 2 seconds!” Kieran Renton was third in his Fiesta R200 ahead of the Honda Civic of Grant Inglis. Bill Davidson was fifth in his Nova with Duncan Campbell lucky to finish. A steering arm broke causing the Honda to slid off the road where it beached out and had to be towed back on to the road by another competitor who had retired nearby.
Duncan MacDonald reckoned he was lucky to win the class in his MkII: “I broke the wiper switch with my foot getting into the car this morning and was praying it wouldn’t rain!” Paddy Munro was second having survived a ‘showboating’ moment in the final stage. At the last chicane, and with the windows steamed up, the Escort mounted a banking but he regained the road and finished with a wheel jammed full of turf. The Escorts of John O’Kane and David Cameron with David struggling at times due to the brakes jamming on.
Just one finisher here with Steven Smith getting the class award in his MkI when Duncan Ferguson retired his Escort BDA with mechanical problems in SS6.
Callum Atkinson had a good run in the Fiesta ST winning the 2 litre (16v) class but crossed the Finish line in Elgin backwards! “We burst a driveshaft on the last corner of the last stage,” said Callum and by the time we got to Elgin we had no forward drive at all, but we were able to reverse over the Finish line.” Jake Anderson finished second in his Fiesta ST and kept his record intact. His third rally and his third finish. Ian Mutch was third in the Astra despite “a couple of wee excursions.” John Macleod retired his Ford Focus in Whitehaugh and Darren Christie’s Peugeot 306 suffered a driveshaft breakage. Pete Smart broke a driveshaft on the penultimate test in his Honda Civic and Graeme Schoneville retired his Civic with overheating problems – but that may well have been self inflicted after an intimate encounter with a banking in SS2.
Calum MacKenzie won the big rear wheel drive class in his Escort but when Quintin Milne departed the fray with a broken stub axle it left Calum with no-one to play with as Hamish Grant had also broken the gear linkage in his MkII. Ian Archer actually finished second in class but with a knackered 2nd gear in the Escort gearbox.
Robert Harkness won the over 2 litre (16v) class in the BMW 316i from Donald Brooker in his BMW 130i. Stuart Glendinning was third in the Puma and Kevin Ronaldson was fourth in the Metro but only after had fixed the throttle: “I couldn’t understnad why I was gradually losing power in the morning,” said Kevin, “till we found the throttle cable was slipping out of the locknut on the quadrant. The engine was fine, it was just the throttle not fully opening.” Dohhhh. Ken Wood failed to finish after a couple of problems with the Dolomite. first of all a rear wheel broke in the second stage when a stone jammed between the caliper and the rim but more serious was a broken front stub pin in the third test which lost the strut, hub and brakelines. Last seen, Ken was heading back into the woods to try and find what bits he could and was heard to mutter: “Folks who complain that Escort bits are hard to find should try looking for Dolomite spares!”
Another hard fought category this weekend was the Group N class where Dale Robertson had a troublefree run out in the Lancer and won the class by 10 seconds from John Morrison. Even so, John was delighted with that matching Dale for pace on 4 of the day’s stages. A problem with the electronics stopped him fighting harder over the closing tests as the engine was losing power and wouldn’t start when he switched it off, so had to keep it running. Andrew Gallacher was third after bursting a brake pipe in SS2 and running through SS3 with a temporary repair before getting it fixed at service. Fraser Wilson rounded off the four Mitsubishi finishers after a puncture and broken wheel in SS2 and another puncture in SS3. Calum MacLeod failed to finish in his Subaru. A top hose burst earlier in the day but he carried on as they didn’t think any damage had been done, but they suspected a head gasket finished them off.
The top ten overall placings scored the top ten finishes in Class 12 with Mark McCulloch in 13th place in his new 4 door Subaru. After his big bump on the Scottish, Mark admitted he was slow off the line at the start of the Speyside but got quicker as the day progressed. Craig McMiken was 12th in the Mitsiubishi ahead of Brian Stephen and Martin Scott. Brian Watson was 15th and Freddie Milne 16th despite losing boost over the closing stages. Richard Ramsay was 17th ahead of Scott McCombie, Alasdair Henderson and Garry Wilson. Fraser Loudon retired with gearbox failure: “We lost 2nd, 3rd and 5th,” said Fraser, “1st and 4th were OK and we still had reverse, so we used that to pull Duncan Campbell’s Honda off a banking. It was beached precariously above a big drop and we were lucky to get it off without it falling over the edge. At least he finished!”