31 Jul: Looking back at Mach1

… Mach1 Blethers …

A look back at the Mach1 Stages …

Calum Duffy appeared in Campbeltown with his new weapon, a gloriously ‘works-blue’ Subaru Impreza. “I got the car before the start of this year,” said Calum, “it was white when I got it so we stripped it right back and now it’s blue. We’ve done one 8 mile test – and destroyed 4 tyres, but they were the wrong tyres, so it doesn’t count. It doesn’t handle like an Escort. I can’t lock the brakes, even when I stand on them, and it’s just got so much grip. It doesn’t oversteer like an Escort but once you get the lines through the corners, it’s quicker through them and out of them, You can get the power down sooner.” So no do’nuts on the Dervaig hairpins this year Calum?

Gary Adam was complaining about his heated windscreen misting up: “It’s not usually this bad,” said Gary, “it must be because me and Pop are perspiring too much.”

Gareth Whyte gave his new ex-James Ford Citroen DS3 its debut at Machrihanish. His previous C2R2 had 197hp and the new 1.6 litre turbo car has 210, so it’s not much quicker. It’s also heavier and wider so much learning will be needed: “You have to watch when you’re changing up,” said Gareth, “if you don’t hit it right on the revs, it can jerk, but get it right and its smooth. But it’s seriously quick through the gears. It’s a case of Green light comes on, then change up, and thereafter it’s as fast as you can go to keep up.”

Eddie O’Donnell was offering a free bottle of whisky to anyone who guessed how many folk from Mull were at Campbeltown. He reckoned there were 114 crew members and hingers-oan, but how he managed to count that up with only 10 fingers I have no idea. Methinks he just guessed like everyone else. Anyway, Shona Hale won with her 115 guesstimate.

Fergus Gray warned me not to tell you about this, so I won’t, but his rear roof-spoiler fell off as they pushed the BMW into Scrutineering (I lied). So much for German build quality, but Fergus said it was because someone was pushing the car in the wrong place, the wing wasn’t designed for that. So now you know.

Ross McSkimming got a Maximum on the first stage when the rear brakes seized on the Fiesta. Back at service they found the cause: “It was simply a small loose nut which got jammed under the handbrake lever and caused the brakes to seize on,” said Ross, “otherwise I’m pleased with the car, it’s just had the diff and gearbox completely rebuilt.”

Greg Inglis bent a steering arm on Citroen when someone ‘left a log in the road’ and then the fan stopped working and the windscreen steamed up so he couldn’t see where he was going. But co-driver Cammy Fair had an idea, he was strapped in but he could reach the windscreen with his clipboard so he wiped what he could with that and to heck with the Notes!

If Pete Garrow and Sandy Arbuthnott took their rallying a bit more seriously they might get somewhere. There’s no doubting the potential of the Jaguar V6 engined Audi TT but with each of them egging the other on, they spent more time going sideways than forwards. “It was grand,” said Sandy, “till Pete got lost cos he couldn’t see the road or where he was going because of the tyre smoke.” Nutters, the pair of them, and old enough to know better.

Rod McFarlane’s new Opel Manta looked the business but it didn’t last long: “I’ve only just bought the car,” said Rod, “so I don’t know it and just wanted to give it a run out here to see what it was like and what it would need. The brakes failed on the first stage, but that was easily fixed, then a HardySpicer snapped on the propshaft, but the car feels good.”

Ross MacDonald didn’t get far either: “The cross-shaft into the gearbox snapped on the start line of stage 3,” he said, “but I haven’t used much fuel so that means plenty beer money for tonight.” This was the Mitsubishi Lancer that Donnie MacDonald used on the Barbados Rally so maybe that’s why the shaft was weakened – only kidding Donnie.

Jamie McDowall broke a driveshaft in his Focus: “I only had half a spare,” he said, “but I managed to make a whole one out of the bits.” Full marks for enterprise.

Brian MacPhail completed all but one of the stages (SS2) although was classified as a non-finisher: “I got stuck in stage and had to get towed in after stage 2,” said Brian, “when the Master switch failed and I had to rewire the car, by-passing the switch.”

Ally Galbraith had a problem on the first stage with his Mk2 which sounded sick for most of the run as if it was on two cylinders: “It’s never run with air filters before,” said Ally, “but I fitted them for this event. I took them off for stage 2 and it ran better, I think it just couldn’t sook enough air through them.” Things went from bad to worse on stage 3: “The engine has failed,” he reported, and when asked how badly ‘failed’, he replied: “Well, it hasn’t quite holed the block – but it does have three cracks and a bulge.”

If there was a prize for sheer determination (stubborn-ness) in the face of adversity, Lee Hastings would be way ahead of the crowd. He finished the first stage with smoke pouring from under the Subaru and then the Marshals swung into action with their fire extinguishers when they saw flames. “I thought it was just a puncture,” said Lee, “but a bolt had dropped out of the turbo and was dripping oil on to the exhaust.” Fortunately it was fixable at service and no serious damage was done. Then the turbo failed and they had no spare. So Lee drove back to Dumfries that night to get a new turbo and intercooler and returned to Machrihanish in the early hours to fix it and get started again on Sunday!

And if there was a prize for sheer enthusiasm, then young Ally Currie would be a dead cert for it. He was seen mooching around and kicking his heels on Friday evening: “I’m waiting for my gearbox,” said Ally, “Colin Telfer rebuilt it for me and is bringing it up tonight so that we can fit it in time for the rally tomorrow.” But Colin was coming from Dumfries and by the time he got there, All didn’t have time to fit it before the hangar was closed for the night, so that meant an early start in the morning the get the Peugeot 106 ready. Then he took it for a run up the road just to check it out – and it went on fire: “I put it out with a rag I found at the side of the road,” said Ally, “I think it was just a fuel splash, so it wasn’t bad!”

Willie Nelson brought his ex-Mark McCulloch Subaru Impreza out for an airing and asked Murray Grierson if he wanted to come along for a holiday weekend in Campbeltown: “I’ve got the digs sorted,” said Willie, so Murray was up for that. At least he was until Willie turned into the nearby campsite. “No problem,” thought Murray, “it’ll be a caravan most likely.” Nope. Willie parked up on the grass and pulled a tent out of the back of the van. “That was my first night under canvas since I was a wee kid out in the back garden,” said Murray, “but it wasn’t too bad, and then Willie made bacon rolls in the morning. Sorted.” Easy pleased, eh?

There was however one incident which looked very serious but turned out to be OK thankfully. On Sunday morning white smoke could be seen billowing from the far side of the airfield and then flames started appearing thought the smoke. It was one of those heart-sinking moments when folks fear the worst. Apparently a car had hit one of the huge round bales and split it open. The hay caught light on the turbo and just went up in flames. Fortunately the crew were not in danger and the car was relatively undamaged, but the rescue services were on the job anyway and the firs was put out. The event medic, Dr Alan Dunn later issued a Bulletin which stated that by the time he got there, the bale was already suffering 60% burns and wouldn’t survive – but it would save on the cremation charges. Don’t you just love a smart aleck?

Speaking of Doctors, it was Doc Steven Brown’s (co-driving for Kenneth McRae) 31st birthday on the Sunday and he didn’t realise. He had forgotten. It was Eddie O’Donnell who told him. So how did Eddie know that? You have to wonder about these Muileachs at times, is it the second sight, or is it just plain, ordinary witchcraft?

And finally …

No names, but somebody ended up in the harbour on Friday night – fortunately the tide was in, and even more fortunately he could swim! Naturally, the local Polis took an interest, but were happy enough with what they found. According to the constable: “They’re just as bad as the Young Farmers Clubs, so no harm done.” Nice one Campbeltown. And if you want to know who it was who went swimming, ask Alex Adams, it was one of his mates. Boys will be boys, eh?