27 Mar: Border News & Gossip

… News & Gossip from the Borders …

Serious Bits First …

It looks like delays on rallies will be more common these days than in the past as stages will not start until the Stage Commander, CofC and Safety Delegate are all satisfied that each stage is safe to run. Hopefully stage cancellations won’t be any more common, because there was one due to unforeseen external circumstances on the Border Counties. Nine cars were already in the Riccarton second stage of the day when the Stage Commander and the Clerk of the Course were forced to call a halt to proceedings. A group of quad bike riders appeared out of the woods at a mid stage marshaling post and were seemingly unaware of the rally. After an exchange of words, it was apparent that they weren’t about to comply with any requests to stay clear of the stage. With no knowledge of where they were or where they were going, the officials had no choice but to cancel the stage, a decision supported by the MSA Safety Delegate. If any of the local folks in the Kielder area know any of these disruptive quad bikers, the organisers would like to know – and so would the Forestry Commission.

Following the above incident, competitors ‘flagged up’ one issue. Most of the nine crews who were yellow-flagged stated that the stationary yellow flag held by the Marshals was difficult to notice while travelling at speed. This was due to the fact that the Marshals were wearing yellow tabards while many spectators were out in their Sunday best dayglo workie jackets. Most felt that a ‘waved yellow’ would have been better, or perhaps some new design/colour should be implemented for future events. Difficult one that, with orange arrows for directions, green for spectators and red wouldn’t be advisable since competitors might think that was a ‘red flag’ situation.

The ongoing issue of media accreditation was highlighted again at the weekend when one ‘supposed’ TV cameraman was confronted in one stage wearing a ‘Media’ tabard. Since the organisers had issued only 7 media tabards of a unique design – and his wasn’t one of them – he was quickly confronted and dealt with. Sadly his antics don’t do the professional media any favours and it’s easy to see why organisers in general are so anti-media. This is going to be a difficult problem to address, because at the end of the day we all want to see exciting pics and wonderful prose in the weekly ‘Motorsport News’ and other serious journalistic outlets, not to mention TV coverage.

There was an awfy lot of ‘high heid yins’ wandering about Service at the Border. In addition to the new MSA Safety Delegate there was also an MSA Safety Observer and the Civil Servant from the Scottish Government who has been seconded to the MSA. Other visitors included an MSA Council Member, the President of the Scottish Association of Car Clubs, a senior MSA Training Instructor from the SMRC plus quite a few club officials and rally organisers from other events having a look to see what they could learn. And we can expect more of this scrutiny in the months ahead.

Not Quite so Serious Bits …

One can never underestimate the appeal of rallying. Take Mike Faulkner for instance. He rolled the car at the test session, the day before the rally. Most of us would have taken one look at the ting and gone home. Not Mike and the boys. “It would appear that a rear strut broke and pitched us off the road,” said Mike, “The car was quite badly damaged but we took it down to Wayne Sisson’s place where new wings, bonnet and radiators were fitted after straightening out the front end and porta-powering the rear of the roof.” It was 3 am on Saturday morning when the BSW Timber team rolled back into Jedburgh, only for the transmission to fail at the start of the third stage. No justice, eh.

Another bit of sad news concerned Malcolm Robertson. After 30 years of competing in rallies he’s calling time on the sport: “This is my last rally. I think I’ve just had enough,” said Malcolm, “I don’t like the way the sport is going, it’s just not what it was when I started.” Malcolm finished 47th in his Talbot Sunbeam after a puncture on the first stage: “It happened when I was passing all my mates,” said Malcolm, “but they couldn’t see it. It was on the other side of the car from them – they thought I was just going slow!”

Less Serious Bits

Former Junior 1000 driver, Andy Struthers got a result at the weekend. He won his class first time out in Andy Pemberton’s 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 up and down a farm road before the rally, but said: “It doesn’t feel any quicker than my 1400 Micra, but it handles completely different. We slid off into a ditch in SS3. The steering was tugging and just pulled me off. I learned lots today though.” He is currently building his own C2 aided and abetted by another Coltness CC stalwart, Big Barry.

Speaking of Coltness CC members, Jordan Black was looking quite suspicious at Scrutineering. As you know he is sponsored by ‘The Apple Pie Bakery’ in Carluke and a certain senior Scroot was spotted scurrying away at one point carrying a cake-box before coming back to finish Scrutineering Jordan’s Citroen C2 and giving him a Pass ticket! I’m sure it’s all above board though.

More Citroen news. Gareth White has sold his Citroen C2 to Murray Coulthard.

Bruce McCombie was lucky to finish. During the last stage, the steering was getting a bit wayward and it was only when he pulled into Jedburgh that he found the cause. The big nut that holds the wheel had come loose. Naturally I was a bit confused, thinking he was referring to himself, till I realised that he actually meant the big steel nut that tightens on to the boss at the top of the steering column had worked loose. He let me hold it (careful now!) to see for myself, and I could feel the play in the nut and the mechanical jarring as it hit the column head and underside of the wheel. Scary stuff.

Carline Carslaw was disappointed with second in class: “My brakes were binding and it was holding me back,” she said. Then at service they found the cause: “A new pedal box had been fitted and when I had my foot on the accelerator it was catching the brake!” The boys then set to the job of adjusting the pedal box. Sorted.

Keeping it in the family was David Hunter who had bought back the Peugeot 205 originally built by his brother Scott and which had then been sold to a guy in Wales. The car was duly returned to family ownership and David contested his first rally on the Border Counties finishing 68th from a start number of 88th. No’ bad, eh.

Not renowned for their patience and kindness to fellow men, the north east squad had camped up en masse in the Service area where the subject of the SS2 cancellation was being discussed. Shaun Sinclair volunteered the opinion that Marshals should be issued with Tasers, but a voice from the depths of the van argued against such drastic action: “Naw, ye should gie them guns!” said the Sheriff.

And finally …

Mark McCulloch wasn’t feeling well on the Friday evening before the rally and went to bed early, but couldn’t sleep. Every time he lay down he felt queasy and couldn’t drop off at all. So he went to the toilet to try and make himself sick, and that didn’t work. Thinking that there was no point in going back to his bed he sat on the loo to have a rest before attempting another bout of fingers down the throat waggling. Then he banged his head! Apparently he had fallen asleep, then fallen off the loo and banged his head on the door, ending up in a heap on the floor. The noise and shenanigans woke up Mairi who, far from comforting the poor wee soul, gave him short shrift. I think the word Mark used was “crabbit”, but not within her hearing. Anyway, he was still unwell-ish when he started the rally in the morning, but felt better as the day wore on, and Mairi was back to being her usual bright and cheery self. Sweetness and harmony descendeth once again. The End.