… Border Counties Rally … The Classes …
Former Junior 1000 driver, Andy Struthers scored a rather lonely class win first time out in the RSAC Scholarship Citroen C2: “The objective today was just to get a finish on my first ‘senior’ event”, said Andy, “and return the car in one piece – it’s not my car!” He only had a short run out in the car before the rally, but said: “It doesn’t feel any quicker than my 1400 Micra, but the brakes and handling are better.”
In the 1400 class, Proton driver Matt Smith was in excellent form winning by over a minute from Ryan Weston in another Proton. Smith was lucky to finish let alone win the class: “The nut came off the end of 5th gear and I lost all the oil on the run in to final service. We bodged it up, repaired the gearbox with ‘Liquid Metal’ (borrowed from Peter Stephenson’s team) and refilled it then went out and did the final stage.” Weston was a wee bit disappointed but pleased with a finish after recent troubles: “It’s been an up and down sort of day but we went for it in the final stage. Second was the best we could have hoped for today.” Thomas Gray finished third in his Toyota Yaris with a crack right across the windscreen: “It looks worse than it is, said Thomas, “it was just a wee crack in the corner at the start of the rally then spread right across during the day. We had a slow start then tried to speed up, but pushed hard in the wrong places! We got sideways across a bridge at one point but survived.”. Jonathan Hodgson was the final finisher in his Skoda Felicia commenting that he spent too much time going sideways and not straight ahead, and blamed the slippery nature of the surfaces – not the excessive power of the Skoda!
Ben Cree finished top Peugeot 205 by nearly 3 minutes from Simon Hay. “I had ‘a go’ in the final stage and nearly ended up in a ditch,” said Ben at the finish, but was happy with his class win. As for Simon, the most he would say was: “The slippy bits were slippy.” On that basis he needn’t apply for MasterMind on TV. Steven Bellshaw was third but had a fright in the first stage when the car went on fire. Fortunately it was only the gearshift gaiter which had been set alight by the exhaust underneath so was quickly sorted. A fuel line blockage in the second stage caused more time loss but he was surprisingly happy: “I only bought the car yesterday,” he said. Douglas Cameron was fourth despite trailing the exhaust though the last stage after a half spin and a ditch detour. David Hunter on his first rally finished fifth and Thaarique Fazal was the final finisher. The ‘Peacock twins’ failed to finish, with the boy, Scott, navigating Pop, Donald, on the day, so goodness knows what happened to them, maybe the boy fell out with his Dad over pocket money, and Andy Chalmers was spotted parked up in SS4.
Eight seconds separated the top two in the 1600 class with Scott MacBeth in his Nova coming out on top after a close, day long battle with Alex Curran. “I had no confidence at all today,” said Scott, “after my off on the Snowman. I came here for a finish today and ended up in a ditch on SS4 but got away with it. There was just 2 seconds between us going into the last stage, that was my best of the day.” Alex was fairly relaxed about finishing second in his Corsa: “The last stage was good but I just couldn’t catch Scott.” Des Campbell was third in his Peugeot 206, first time back on gravel for two years, and Colin Grant was fourth in his Escort. His only problem was no intercom on the first stage, but that was easily fixed. He purchased (to the shock of the service crew!) a new battery. Trevor Gable finished fifth in his Puma and admitted that the last stage was the only one where Ronnie (co-driver) Roughead didn’t grab the wheel! Malcolm Robertson lost a chunk of time in the Talbot Sunbeam when he punctured a tyre and finished sixth in class ahead of Jim Robertson whose Citroen C2 had done most of the rally with no third gear. Michael Davison was seventh in his Proton after a brake pipe burst in SS4 and had to run through SS5 with no brakes as well. John Young was the final finisher in his Puma and Greg McKnight didn’t. He had an uncharacteristic off in one of the slippery bits in Elibank and parked the Escort in a ditch. And Jordan Black didn’t finish either. At the end of SS4, a brake calliper sheared off, jammed the wheel, which then seized and snapped the driveshaft. End of rally. Another candidate for the ‘lucky white heather club’?
Iain Heard won the class in his Escort from the Peugeot of Chris Marlow who admitted to just one “butt clenching” moment going downhill on one of the slippery descents in Cardrona.
Matthew Robinson and Steve Bannister finished 61 seconds apart but Banner lost out to his rival on the first stage when he punctured a tyre. Andy Kelly was third in ‘Walter’ the Mk1 after a “great day out” with Willie Stuart fourth in his Mk1 after a spin and stalling it in the last stage. David Goose was fifth in his Escort after intercom problems and Brian Middlemass sixth in the Avenger, a happy man: “The Tweed Valley stages suit the Avenger, fast and flowing, that was tremendous.” Peter Humphrey was seventh in the Kadett despite a family bust-up after he mis-heard a Note from son Douglas: “We have an intermittent electrical problem which we can’t sort and have had this for the past few events,” said Peter, “but we still managed to beat a few Escorts – that’s a bonus!” Andrew Robinson was 8th in his Escort ahead of Nicholas Kitching who admitted to “two spins and a lot of learning” in his Escort. Robert Rook was 10th in his Mk1 despite “big frights” on the slippery bits and Paul May rounded off the finishers in his Escort Mexico: “It’s my first run out for 9 months so the target was to finish.”
Ross MacDonald won Class 7 in his Honda Civic but had a close call in Elibank: “We just missed hitting Scott McCombie’s Lancer which was in a ditch.” Caroline Carslaw scored an excellent result with second in class in her Fiesta ST despite a problem with the car’s brakes, and Jock McFarlane was third in his Fiesta ST ahead of Alan Cowan in his Astra: “This was my first ever gravel rally and I was driving like Miss Daisy on the first stage,” he said. Sean Robson was out in the first stage when the Fiesta ST broke a driveshaft: “There was a bit jammed in the diff end and we couldn’t get it out so couldn’t replace the driveshaft,” said a disappointed Sean.
Ken Wood won the class in the V6 Dolomite after a typical ‘Woody’ day. “The diff started leaking and we had to rivet it up but managed to keep on top of the repair thanks to two (as opposed to just one) services during the day.” It was also his first run out with Irish co-driver Paul Cummins and since Scotland was playing Ireland at rugby, the chat inside the car was pretty much restricted to rallying matters, for the sake of peace and harmony! Gordon Murray was second in his Escort: “Those stages were fantastic, what a change from the past two years – snow.” Stuart Glendinning was third in his Puma after as big spin inSS3: “We were just too fast into a 7R, did full 360 and hit the banking, but OK.” Donald Brooker was fourth in class in the BMW 130i while Robert Harkness’ BMW wasn’t. The water pump failed and he was out.
The Group N class is diminishing in size these days as folk migrate upwards with Fraser Wilson the best of the bunch in his Lancer despite “nudging a banking with the front n/s corner but there was no damage. I either had understeer or oversteer all day,” laughed Fraser, “there was nothing in between,” referring to the unpredictable surfaces. John Morrison was second ahead of John McClory.
Mark McCulloch and Freddie Milne were the top points scorers here with Ian Baumgart third in class in his Subaru. The improving John Wink was fourth: “I nearly went home after the first stage,” said John, “I just couldn’t get into it. I was in a ditch at the hairpin too but the rest of the day was tremendous.” Brian Ross was fifth first time out in a new Evo9 and first time in an ‘active’ car. It was also co-driver Ryan Thomson’s first gurry in the woods. Steven Ronaldson rounded off the top six but struggled with a faulty diff and then lost his brakes in the final stage. Walter Henderson blew the cobwebs off the Subaru and finished seventh in class but had problems with fuel starvation after fitting a new tank. Garry Wilson was eighth with a new co-driver, Scott Young, and Brian Watson was ninth after a puncture in SS1 and SS5 but was back to an ‘H’ pattern gearbox as his sequential shift was in another car! Jim Sharp finished 10th with Sasha Heriot resorting to hand signals in the first stage when the intercom failed. James Gibb, Nigel Atkinson and Gordon Stoddart rounded off the class finishers. This was Nigel’s second time on gravel since his first outing – in 1993, and Gordon was tempted back out for one reason only: “These stages are braw, Elibank was tremendous,” and admitted, “I was in a deep ditch in Yair. I just sort of dived into it, but it kept going and I was lucky to get out.”
The front runners took the top five places in this class but Dougal Brown wasn’t amongst them, he finished sixth after ‘a seriously off’ day: “The only one I enjoyed was the last one,” said the Lancer driver. David Ross was seventh in the DAM4100 ahead of Kevin Robertson and Stuart Walker driving his Lancer as he doesn’t have gravel suspension for his Skoda Fabia.
Bogie, Petch and Taylor took the top 3 places With Peter Stephenson fourth in his Ford Focus but he had a lucky escape. When he reached second service the crew spotted that something had punched through the oil cooler so it was by-passed for the final stage. John Rintoul was fifth in the Hyundai and Bian Bell sixth after a spin, a ditch and a goosed clutch in the Focus.