23 Feb: Snowman Class Roundup

… Class Roundup …

Class 2: 2WD cars up to 1450cc
First time on gravel since he bought the Toyota Yaris, Thomas Gray won Class 2 saying: “There isn’t much power, but it has good handling.” He finished nearly 5 minutes clear of Stephen Fraser in the original BL Mini 1275 GT. Stephen broke a front wheel stud in the morning and had to strip a hub at service to replace it and the Mini ground out on the snow (wee wheels!) a couple of times in the final stage but was happy with a finish and delighted with second in class. Grant MacRae was third in his Peugeot 205 ahead of the Nissan Micra of Frank MacDonald. This was Frank’s first outing in 8 years in the ex-Ken Wood machine but he reckons he’s slowed up a bit. Last time, he won the class on this very event! Glenn MacDonald was final class finisher in 5th place in his Nova while Jacob Harlington in the VW Polo had a memorable day for all the wrong reasons. First the axle came adrift and had to be tied in with ratchet straps (just dinnae tell the Scroots) but when the clutch gave up the ghost that was his rally done for the day stuck in Strath Rory.

Class 3: 2WD cars up 1650cc 8 valves or less
First in class was a superb result for Scott Beattie. This was his first special stage rally having bought the ex-Willie Stuart Talbot Sunbeam and he finished 36th overall from a start number of 104. Up till the weekend, all he had done was sprints. He finished 40 seconds clear of Simon Hay in the Peugeot who admitted to: “Hitting 2 chicanes – and I was a up a banking at one of them!” Scott MacDonald was third in class in his Nova after a near miss on the first stage where Scott MacBeth went off. Sadly, Scott lost out on a possible class win when he booked into a service a minute early and was given a 2 minute penalty. That was the difference between 1st and 3rd, but this was only his co-driver’s second rally – and he wasn’t alone in making a wee mistake! Roy McQueen was fourth in his Escort and had nowt to say for himself at the finish while Andy Chalmers was relegated to fifth in class after a 4 minute penalty was added to his times. He was lucky to make the finish though, the engine was making odd noises and the battery wasn’t charging. He had to keep his foot on the throttle otherwise it would have died on him. James Munro was sixth in his Peugeot ahead of Ruaraidh Stubbs who drove into the finish hanging out of the Fiesta’s door window: “The exhaust manifold has cracked and it’s very smokey in here,” he explained. Rory Fraser was the final finisher and it was easy to see why, there wasn’t a straight panel on the car at the finish after he rolled in the first stage. It was still recognisable as a Peugeot 205 though, but every panel had a ding or a crease in it. Danny Sutherland was another to go off in the first stage, but his 205 stayed there, and Gareth Ironside’s Fiesta broke down in the final stage.

Class 4: 2WD cars 1451cc to 1650 cc, more than 8 valves
Carl Tuer won the class in his MG with Alex Curran second in his Corsa. There were 50 seconds between them at the finish, but Alex might have been a wee bit closer had it not been for a ‘notional’ time when he got held up by an accident in the first stage. Ian Cattanach was third in his Sunbeam having survived “one straight-on at a chicane, and a rumble down a ditch!” Colin Grant was fourth in his Escort despite an overshoot on the final stage “playing to the gallery” he said, and had to reverse out in front of the vast array of spectators. Jim Robertson was fifth in his Citroen from Gordon MacKay in his Peugeot 106. Michael McKain (Escort) was 7th from Mark Alexander (Fiesta R2) after hitting a bale in SS1 and Ian MacIvor was the final pints scorer in his Fiesta ST after “a couple of ditches and one wee spin.” Methinks a bout of ‘economy with the truth’ here, eh? Expected front runners Greg McKnight and Scott MacBeth both failed to finish. Greg was leading the class until the Escort broke down mid-stage 3 and Scott hit a pile of rubble in the first stage and took a wheel off the Nova. James Campbell retired his Peugeot 106 with a cracked sump and John Urquhart broke a driveshaft in his Peug 106 in the first stage.

Class 5: 2WD cars 1651cc to 2050cc, 8 valves or less
Duncan MacDonald won the class but finished the first stage with the panhard rod trailing on the ground under his Escort, but that was easily fixed at service. John O’Kane was second despite knocking the tracking out on his Escort on the final stage: “I hit a bridge”, he explained. Kevin Hay was third in his RS2000 from the Peugeot 205 of Billy Falconer. Paddy Munro failed to finish, parking his Escort in a Millbuie ditch and Chris Murray got stuck in the middle of the final stage when his Escort ran out of fuel.

Class 6: Historic Rally Cars
Willie Stuart was the only finisher in the awfy smart Mk1 after Allan MacKay’s Anglia ran out of brakes in the penultimate test.

Class 7: FWD cars 1651cc to 2050, more than 8 valves
Ross MacDonald was chuffed with first in class first time out in his Honda Civic and smiling thanks to the extra power the 2 litre car has over his previous 1600 version. Peter Smart was second in his Honda after nursing it through SS4 with a broken driveshaft – and then the spare shaft started grumbling in the final stage, but he made it home. Sandy Coghill was third in his MG from Graham MacDonald first time out in his Peug 306. Phil MacIver was delighted with fifth in class on his first rally as a driver in his pretty standard looking Ford Focus while Mark Budge was the final class finisher in his Fiesta ST. Jake Anderson failed to finish when his Fiesta tumbled off the road in the first stage but that was his first accident in two years of ‘senior’ driving after two years as a ‘junior’ but there was worse to come – his Dad Alasdair finished 46th overall. Breakfast time will surely be dismal for the youngster for a couple of days as faither rubs it in! Gavin Kelt also failed to finish when the Corsa broke a driveshaft and the Fiesta of Scott Burness was forced out with brake failure.

Class 8: RWD cars 1651cc to 2050cc, more than 8 valves
Class winner Malcolm Buchanan claimed the top 2WD award in 14th place in his Mk2 despite doing the last 5 miles of the final test with a bent prop shaft. Charlie Bell was second (out of 2) in his Mk2.

Class 9: 2WD cars over 2051cc
Robert Harkness survived a wild spin over the Flying Finish of the third stage to claim the class win in his BMW “that was enough excitement for one day, but the last stage was the best.” Kevin Ronaldson in his two wheel drive Metro was second after a “brilliant day” although he added, “we broke an injector wire in stages 3 and 4, and we had some BIG slides in stage 1. We got stuck at one point when I couldn’t find any gears, but that was my fault, and we eventually reversed out!” Sandy MacKenzie was “in a few ditches” but finished third in his Opel Manta and Donald Brooker brought his BMW home in fourth place.

Class 11: Other cars not classified in Class 12 or Class 13
Faulkner, McCullloch and MacKay were the top points scorers in this class but ex Metro 6R4 driver Steven Ronaldson was having his first run out in a Lancer and finished 4th in class. This bodes well for the future as Steven was pretty quick in the Metro at times – when the beast let him! Scott McCombie was fifth in class “the last stage was the only one we didn’t hit anything” and John Wink had a good run into sixth place. First non Lancer driver in the class, Ian Baumgart was seventh in his Impreza but might have been higher “I caught a car and got distracted – and ended up on top of a banking at a chicane for over a minute!” As ever Fraser MacNicol was beaming from ear to ear and was rewarded with 8th in his Mitsubishi after a fairly clean run and there was more delight in ninth place, from spectators as well, as Neil Morrison brought his Ford Sierra home unmarked. Rounding off the top ten was Ross McFadzean’s Impreza ahead of the similar cars of Matthew Thomson and Niall Inglis, but Niall was lucky: “This was my first time in 4WD and we had a problem with the coil packs and then on the final stage we clipped the bridge – phew, that was lucky.” Chris Collie retired with an engine problem as did Freddie Milne, Craig Teasdale and Hamish Grant while James McQueen went off in Millbuie.

Class 12: GpA 4WD cars, Super 2000 cars, R4 cars
By his expected standards, seventh in class and 11th overall was not a good day for Quintin Milne but he was pretty upbeat first time out in the ex-Alistair Inglis Evo5: “It’s a new car. The power is fine and the handling is good, but I’m having trouble trying to balance the brakes. The brakes are set up too much to the rear and it’s very tail happy. It keeps wanting to swap ends. It’s just a matter of sorting and setting up a new car.” James Brims was 8th in his Subaru and Sandy Arbuthnott got a huge cheer from drookit spectators at the finish when the Metro rumbled into the car park: “We burst an oil pipe and that dripped into the clutch which caused it to slip, but we kept on top of it, and we got here.”

Class13: WRC cars and R5 cars
With David Bogie’s retirement after SS2, the only other car in this class was John Rintoul’s Hyundai and he was rewarded with a top ten finish overall, in ninth place: “I thoroughly enjoyed my day and I really like the forest stages, but it’s a confidence thing. Confidence in the car and the Notes. I’m as quick as anyone on tarmac,” said the former Scottish Tarmack Champ, “but I’m still learning about gravel.”


Main Rally Report

Full Results at: Flying Finish