30 May: Granite News & Gossip

… Granite City News & Gossip …

Aberdeen & District Motor Club put on quite a show for its Coltel Granite City Rally. The Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre hosted two short ‘spectator specials’ in the morning and a glamorous finish venue for the prizegiving later that evening with stage, PA facilities, large video screen showing highlights of the day’s action and on-site catering. An excellent attendance for the prizegiving was also assured since all crews had meal tickets in their packs. Also, working with the Forestry Commission an area in Durris had been cleared and levelled for spectators, sponsors and guests with commentary, catering and loos. In addition to that, there was an on-event rally reporting service for those with the electronic know-how to tune into. The forest stages came in for universal praise too, but typical of the times in which we now live, it took a team of volunteers three days (Tues, Wed and Thurs) to prepare the stages ahead of the Safety Delegate’s trip round the route on Friday. And that was on top of all the effort expended by the team and the Forestry Commission in the weeks running up to the event to provide spectator facilities! Another thing which may or may not have a bearing is that there were quite a few high heid yins from the MSA wandering around. Makes you wonder though – British Rally Championship for next year?

An observation from David Bogie: “It was good to see that the chicanes had been set out by someone who knows what they are doing (driver and co-driver Ian MacIver), the set-up was good, there was nothing to catch you out.”

Is Mike Faulkner showing his age? At first service he was having a wee moan. “That first forest stage wasn’t good for anyone trying to settle in gently,” referring to the stretch of new road which services the wind turbines in Fetteresso, “It was 120 mph stuff with chicanes! Two runs round a car park, then straight into the fast stuff.” Then he smiled at the thought of it. Nope, he ain’t feeling his age. In this game you’ll never be as old as the top speed you can hit.

Malloch Nicoll made a one-off return to the woods on the Granite, hiring Reay MacKay’s Mitsubishi Lancer. “It was supposed to be an ‘arrive and drive’ deal, chuckled Malloch, “he told me it was going to be out on the following weekend’s Rally Time Trial and asked if I could make a list of what the car needed. It started with one wheel pointing in a different direction from the other three. A lug had broken off the rear suspension. And it went on from there.” Even so, Malloch was making good progress till the final stage, when the car suffered an engine problem and he pulled over and stopped. As for the list Reay wanted? Malloch reckons it will be endless!

Also suffering a rush of blood to the head, Ian Cruden and Ron Blanchard were “just two auld farts having a good day out.” Thirty years back, In was a top 1300cc class runner back in the day when there were up to 40 hot 1300s on a championship event. This was his first time in 4WD: “I’ve never driven a rally car so fast in my life,” he said, “it was a good day out. We nearly hit a dear though, when it ran across the road in front of us.”

I’d hate to be in Angus Lawrie’s garage in the days after the Granite City. When the bolts ripped out of the thermostat housing in Fetteresso, the Corsa dumped all its water. Using bolts from the co-driver’s footrest (!), Angus and George managed to bodge up a repair to get them through the next stage and back to service. However, the only water available was in a wet and green slimy pond: “It was full of frog spawn and everything,” said Angus, “but it did the job.” Yup, but just wait till the heat hatches the frog spawn and other eggs in the garage, eh.

Taken for granted. Brian Watson’s service crew arrived at Service on the Granite, set the van up, laid out the tarpaulins, and got the trolley jacks and tools out. Then they got a call from Brian. He needed fuel. So they packed up and trotted back to Aberdeen before returning to service to go through the whole rigmarole again. Then they got a call from Fraser Louden, he needed fuel too. Once again they packed up, ran back into Aberdeen, sorted him out and returned to Banchory. And I thought Brian could cuss!

Speaking of the Sheriff. After his starring role in the first two stages in his new Lancer WRC, he went off in Durris: “It was a downhill right hander, which just kept going.” Indeed, it did keep going, until it went off, into and over a ditch. According to Brian it was a tricky corner which simply caught him out, but according to Caroline: “There are far too many buttons on the dashboard for him!” That’s not all, the car has one of these new-fangled 8 inch display screens on the dash which shows speeds, revs, torques, g-forces, fuel consumption, dietary advice, in fact all sorts of information that most folks would never understand let alone need. Anyway, Wayne had built in one additional unique feature. When the car hit its rev limit, it would instantly change the screen and flash up the message: “Brian Watson’s a Dik”. Honest, I saw it for myself.

The trials of manhood. As mentioned in the Classes roundup, Calum MacKenzie who was co-driving for Keith Robathan was feeling distinctly under the weather. Normally a cheery and happy soul, Calum was looking more like a wet dog which had its favourite ball stolen. He was sticking manfully to the task though but letting folk know he was ill. Sadly for him, Heather (the wife!) wasn’t giving him an ounce of sympathy or kind words, telling him to buck up his ideas and get on with it and stop moaning. Women, eh, they just don’t understand man-flu.

The Harkness Rally Team availed themselves of the cheap overnight rates in the Holiday Inn at the AECC. Then they went to the bar for a nightcap. “How much do you think 3 Cokes, a vodka/redbull and a glass of wine were?” asked Gail. No idea I thought, but was quickly informed – 21 quid! On the rally itself, Robert was trying out his new 6 spd sequential gearbox. The water pump on the BMW failed on the Border Counties so he did the Pirelli Stages at Carlisle to get a bit of testing in. He finished 34th and 4th in class before heading for the Granite City.

Some weeks ago, an item appeared on a certain Facebook page (4th May) featuring Ian Broll with his hydraulically operated coffee cup carousel. Apparently over 2,500 people had read the post and many shared it. There has been one side-effect, Ian has been plagued with folk in Newton Stewart opening the shop door in the High Street and giving him a hard time. He says that if all the enquiries were turned into firm orders he’s need the Bank of Nigeria to hold all the money!

And finally …

The Morrison household would have been worth a camera and microphone in the kitchen one recent fine morning. Apparently John M bought a Mk2 Escort SIX years ago when he was abroad: “It was mint, I couldn’t resist it, and I always had an idea to build one.” Plans were made to get the car home and work commenced on the prep at various locations from Barry Clark’s place to Big Hamish’ hideyhole. Just one tiny wee problem, he ‘forgot’ to tell Mrs M. The longer it went on, the worse it was getting. Still, he was saved the onerous task of breaking the news himself. Barry Clark’s four year old, Archie, was visiting one day and was keeping Mrs M amused. She chatted and asked him various innocuous questions during the course of the visit. “How many rally cars has John got?” she asked innocently. Back came the answer quick as a flash: “Three!” “No,” she said, “that’s wrong, he’s only got two.” Just as adamant came the response: “No, he’s got three. Two Lancers and an Escort.” Apparently Mrs M held fire until breakfast one morning when she and John were alone. As I said, what price a camera and a microphone then, eh?