28 Feb: Snowman News & Gossip

… Snowman News & Gossip …

Serious bit first … Although the appointed Safety Delegate for Scottish rallying had a ‘dry run’ at the Galloways Hills Rally late last year, the Snowman marked the first official appearance of said gent on a forest event this year. As such, both he and the Highland CC organising team had much to learn with regard to what was wanted, needed and what could be provided. Fortunately, there’s an excellent team in the far north and their event was pretty much up to scratch in terms of pre-planning. Having said that, they did have some additional work to undertake in the days prior to the event taking place as the SD sought more information and detail. In fact some members of the team had to take time off work to complete the paperwork and pre-rally prep. And this is something that those in ‘professional’ authority will have to look out for in future when dealing with individuals who have limited time and resources. The MSA will have to be very careful about the workload that is expected of such volunteer teams. Having said that, the Highland team were very complimentary about the SD and both sides got on very well prior to and during the event, so that bodes well for future events. However it does raise some concerns about the future of the sport – not all SDs might be so well-meaning and helpful. An authoritarian who doesn’t quite appreciate the limitations of amateur volunteers might just push some teams over the edge and drive them from the sport. The sport is already under threat from increased workloads reaching unacceptable levels. I think the MSA is aware of this and will be working with the SD over the next few months to agree some acceptable and workable code of practice. It is still very much ‘work in progress’ at present.

Less serious bits

Battle of the Tums … Six weeks before the Snowman a bit of male posturing and bravado resulted in two of ‘rallying’s finest’ challenging each other to a duel. Apparently Shaun Sinclair and Brian Watson had a bet on who could lose the most weight prior to the Snowman. The big weigh-in was held prior to Scrutineering on Friday where the two protagonists revealed the outcome of their endeavours. Shaun lost 20 and a half pounds and Brian lost 20. In fact the result was so close they called it a draw. But you know what? It didn’t half help the power to weight ratio. As for Brian he will never look at, never mind eat, a green bean ever again.

There was a bit of banter in the BSW Timber team camp at the end of the Snowman when Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy just lost out on the runner-up position after a day long battle for the lead. Depending on who you believe, Mike’s turn of speed was down to Peter, or Mike’s losing the battle for the lead was down to Peter! It all started at the end of SS1, as Peter Recalled: “The new wrap-around seats mean we can’t take Hans off in the car or place helmets through the seats into the net. The plan is, we stop at the PC, pop out, glasses off, helmet off and away on the next road section. This time there was a minor distraction when Jock arrived, we discussed times, jumped back in the car – with Foy’s fabulous glasses still on roof! And the rest is history.” Which is where the blame game started. According to Peter he was urging Mike on because he couldn’t see anything and tell him different, while Mike blamed Peter for not seeing what they hit when they punctured the tyre in the final stage. Banter over, the crew reflected on their day and were quite satisfied with their pace, so that bodes well for the season. One more thing, on his way home (to Englandshire) Peter drove through more snow over Shap than he did all day in Inverness.

The Hielan’ Polis were spotted in action at the Snowman pulling over one Q Milne Esq. Ever the picture of innocence the bold Q asked whatever was the matter. The bobby took him round to the back of the car where the rear bumper was hanging off and flailing around much to the consternation of other motorists. Completely unaware that the bumper was trailing, Q attempted his most humble and apologetic expression which melted the cold heart of the law who then asked what he proposed to do about it. Q gave the bumper a hefty kick where it was still attached and put the remnants in the boot. Whereupon the Polis expressed satisfaction with the outcome and went on their way. So that’s one for the Northern constabulary – nice one boys.

Andrew Gallacher’s Ford Fiesta Evolution is a thing of beauty, appearing for the first time at the Snowman. It’s not actually fully complete, but it was in fine running order when it arrived in the highland capital in the early hours of Saturday morning. The clue is in the name ‘Evolution’. Although it looks like a Ford Fiesta, a quick glimpse underneath gives the game away. It sits on full Lancer Evo9 running gear complete with 2 litre turbo motor and four wheel drive. The car (and driver) certainly have potential – one fastest stage time, one second fastest and one fifth fastest – first time out!

At the rally finish, Dougal Brown was spotted pacing the car park at the rally finish. It was nothing to do with his own curtailed efforts on the rally that was causing the serious look, but he was awaiting the arrival of car 68. Charlie Bell eventually turned up in his Mk2 finishing in 49th place overall (2nd in class) much to Dougal’s relief – his wife Emma was co-driving. Nice one Emma.

Ryan Weston had a shorter Snowman than he planned when the Proton slid off the road on the first stage. There was no damage, but the wee car was beached on the snow and ice covered banking and refused all efforts to be pushed out. According to Ryan, the plan is to stick with the 1400 class in the BTRDA Championship this year: “I did think about 4WD but then thought that it might be best to stick with the car we know and use the experience we gained on last year’s BTRDA series to go back and have a proper crack at the title this year.” Sensible head on young shoulders, eh?

Here’s a thought. Of the 105 crews who started the Snowman, 59 crews were entered under Highland CC, that’s more than half the entry. And another thought, the next biggest representation was from Skye Rally Club with 9 crews (or maybe 10) entered. No wonder they struggled to get Marshals up there – all the club members were out competing!

Speaking of volunteers, Big Jim, the CLO on the event, opted for a relaxing train ride north to undertake his duties at the rally. Feet up for 4 hours watching the cold, wet and white scenery slide past the windows had the big chap arrive relaxed and ready for the fray. Unfortunately the ride home was not quite so serene. Shortly after the train left Inverness, there was a bump. It had hit a tree on the line. Back to Inverness, kick heels, and get another train. This one stopped at Perth where passengers were transferred to buses. On arrival in Glasgow it was a quick scamper down to Central Station where he missed his Larkhall connection by 3 minutes. An hour later he was on the train from where he phoned the local taxi firm only to be told they were very busy. Eventually he got a taxi at the station and got home – more than 9 hours after he left his digs Inverness. Now, what was that slogan again – ‘Let the train take the strain?’

Grateful to Donald MacLeod for this snippet (so you know who to blame Paddy!) but when Paddy Munro failed to finish the Snowman, Donald had the answer. The reason for Paddy’s early departure on the second stage of the Snowman was a deep ditch, where his Mk2 Escort’s outing came to an abrupt end. Apparently this caused some mirth amongst the locals as Paddy is involved in the family plant hire business at Glenshiel near Skye. The company has a fleet of diggers and excavators which all bear the company motto – “No ditch too deep, no hill too steep”. It would appear that in this case, Paddy did encounter one ditch which defeated him and defied the company mission statement!

And finally …

You might think that MSA Stewards don’t have a sense of humour (admittedly some of them don’t) but not Jonathan Lord. When he turned up to sign on at the Snowman, the organisers handed over his pack with regulations, bulletins, timetables, maps and all the necessary gubbins and paraphernelia that a Steward requires. There were some additional items though. Mindful of the fact that Stewards, like CofCs, are confined to Rally HQ these days, and confident that their event would not require his intervention, the organising team had added some extras to Jonathan’s pack – a puzzle book, a colouring-in book and a packet of coloured crayons.
Jonathan had a good laugh.
Nice one team.
P.S. It was alleged that Jonathan was going to keep the puzzle book but send the colouring-in book and crayons to a chap called Wayne. I thought he meant Sissons, but no, he meant Rooney.