26 Nov: Kingdom Stages roundup

… Kingdom Stages Roundup & News …

Bit of sad news. Talla, aka ‘Rally Dog’, passed away peacefully on her way home from the Mull Rally. Drew (Barker) said she had liver problems over the past few months but it was peaceful at the end. He also said that earlier that morning he had been walking with her on the white sands of Calgary Bay. She won’t be known to many folk outside the tarmac rally crowd, but she was a placid, lovely and very friendly dog which even an ALS (anti-lag system) on full chat couldn’t upset!

And here’s one to cheer you up after the sad start to the Roundup. That erstwhile ‘Motorsport News’ reporter who frequents rally service areas and is known to offer friendly words of advice, even when unwanted, and makes the occasional barbed remark, spotted Pete Garrow pushing a dead Audi TT on to the trailer. Never one to miss a trick, our hero shouted out: “What’s up Pete? Has it got Arbuthnot disease?” Guess who was shoving from the rear? Yup, dead right. Up popped Sandy Arbuthnot’s cherubic wee face mouthing off some choice celtic and couthy words of reply to said passing reporter! To those of you who don’t know, Sandy has a Metro 6R4 which now has a Jaguar engine in place of the original British Leyland device, but even that has not solved his reliability problems. Sandy does more miles dragging the car to and from events than he does on them and spends more time under the car than driving it, and just happens to be good pals with Pete, hence the shout from ‘MN’s finest. As for the Audi, the big ends failed on the first stage and the TT clattered to a halt mid stage. Arbuthnot disease right enough, eh?

There was a bit of activity before the rally started in the ever cheerful Willie Nelson camp. Some time co-driver Mark McCulloch was trying to fit an in-car Go-Pro to the Subaru. Amongst the words of encouragement and advice was one reminder that he set the camera to ‘Benny Hill’ mode to make Willie look quick! Unfortunately the Subaru’s diff controller failed leaving Willie with shit handling and no power.

Injury prevented Colin Patterson from finishing the Kingdom Stages when he had to be taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for an x-ray. But how was he injured? Was he saving the life of a service crew member when a jack failed? Nope, nothing so dramatic. He was driving the Toyota Celica with the window open and hit one of the marker bales at a chicane. It had earlier been dislodged and was unsighted as he approached at speed. He almost missed it, but it caught the door mirror, which snapped it back and it hit his right elbow a most painful bone-crunching crack!

Alistair Inglis’ gearbox problems were not caused by some Lotus design deficiency. A clip came off the gearshift cable on the second stage leaving him stuck in gear, but worse befell the car on the third when it hit a pot hole. The impact sheared two bolts on a shock absorber mounting.

Stuart Paterson gave himself a fright when the Subaru stopped on the first stage when the battery failed. Under the bonnet he noticed that the battery, one of those lightweight gel type jobs, had been overheating so he tried to lift it out. He had just got it clear of the car when it burst into flames and he dropped it pretty damn quick. Thereafter the Boy Scout in him took over. Jim Gibb was parked up nearby and had a similar battery, so Stuart borrowed that to get back to service. Sadly he was OTL by that time.

Steven Smith finished well down the order in his 1.6 Duratec engined Mk2. “I clipped a tyre and spun on the fourth stage and stalled it and it wouldn’t re-start. But today was all about seat time and sorting the car around its new engine.”

Steven Hay’s lack of pace on the first stage was down to a slipping clutch on the Corsa, but that was replaced at service.

Archie MacCallum’s problems were rather more terminal when his Corsa retired on the first stage with gearbox problems: “It made an awful noise,” said Archie, “then it stopped working!”

Kieran O’Kane lost time on the third stage when he almost beached the Opel Ascona on a lorry tyre, but he managed to complete the stage although he dragged the tyre with him.

Bill Hamilton struck trouble in the Kadett on the second stage and had to be towed out so was not classified as a finisher. “I went straight over the tyre markers at the start of the stage,” said Bill, “and it just petered out and stopped. I hope it’s just run out of fuel!”

Carin Logan retired from the Kingdom Stages when the Citroen Saxo developed a serious misfire leaving Ginge with a big repair job ahead of him. It finished the stage on 3 cylinders, or maybe it was just two!

Ian Gray dropped a bit of time on SS2 when the Subaru developed an oil leak and the orange light flickered. When he got back to service, he found it was just the dipstick which had popped out. Phew!

Taylor Gibb (Jim’s boy) got a front puncture on the second stage in his Fiesta ST but managed to get out and keep going. This is of major importance to the lad as faither has promised that if he gets 6 rallies damage-free under his belt then he will get a shot of his own AG Fiesta. Three down and three to go. Gaun yersel Taylor. The ol’man is already getting fidgety.

Jamie Miller lost out on a result by not completing the first stage although he did the other five. A driveshaft broke on the Nova on the first stage and he and Calum pushed the thing out of the stage and back to service.

The 1990 Ladies World Rally Champion was at Crail keeping an eye on her 21 year old daughter making her rally debut. After 8 years competing at the top national level of Horse Trials, Gina Walker was having her first taste of rallying. “I’ve competed on quite a few local car club autotests,” said Gina, “but I’ve never really had the time to go rallying.” Robbie Pearson offered her the use of his Peugeot 205 but the centre pulled out of the clutch on SS4. Meanwhile Mum Louise was busy comparing the costs of going rallying with the cost of horse riding. “I don’t know whether Vets’ bills are bigger than mechanics’ bills, but it’ll be close,” said Louise.

An even older old-timer hit the Crail tarmac when Murray Grierson and his boy Mark wheeled out an ex-M-Sport 2.4 litre S2000 Fiesta for a wheech roon the track. The twice Scottish Rally Champion (’87 and ’93) was having a trip down memory lane and finished just outside the top 20. “I had too many spins,” said Murray, “and it wasn’t as quick as I thought. I could keep up with Gary Adam on the corners but he pulled away from me on the straights!”

Another old-timer, of indeterminate age, making a return to the sport this year was Ian Archer, and he was out again at Crail. On the second stage he hit a large tyre marker and crumpled the front n/s corner of his precious Mk2. He certainly hasn’t forgotten ‘The Bumper Book of Driver Excuses’ and when he tried to blame the incident on a ‘late call’, co-driving daughter Serena was having none of it and gave him a right ear bashing. And she looked such a sweet and innocent young lass too!

And here’s a proverb for our time. We should be grateful to Neil Thompson who explained that his problems on the rally (see main report) were down to not following his own motto of the Six ‘P’s – Piss Poor Preparation Prevents Perfect Performance. Thank you Neil we can all learn from that.

And finally …

Scotland’s Go Motorsport co-ordinator, Alison Clark was at Crail marshalling and was stationed at the Start area for the final two stages. The cars were queuing up at service ‘out’ to head down the narrow wee concrete alley between the war-time blast-proof banking and the long line of airmen’s huts. In all innocence, Alison approached the top seed when the stage was declared ready to go and said to John Rintoul: “Do you want to make your way up my passage?” John smiled and said: “That’s the best offer I’ve had all day!”