16 May: Speyside Class roundup

McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally …
The Classes …

Class 2 (2WD 1450cc)
Scott Sloan won the 1450cc class in his Vauxhall Corsa but said “the car was handling like a tractor” with Grant MacRae second in his Peugeot 205 after admitting to “just one ditch today!” Gaving Kelt was third in his Corsa with Angus Lawrie retiring his Corsa with a blown diff and Jacob Harlington retiring his VW Polo in the 6th test with a broken strut. Angus MacQueen gained the inglorious title of first retirement when a driveshaft broke on his Corsa – on the first stage of the day at Cooper Park.

Class 3 (2WD 8v 1650cc)
Robbie Beattie won the 8v 1650cc class in his Peugeot 205 by just 21 seconds from the similar car of Donald Peacock but he was lucky. “It was thanks to David Ross’ crew that we finished,” said Beattie, “The axle broke and they welded it for us at service.” As for Peacock he claimed that he had been slow to protect the wildlife: “A deer ran across the road in front of us.” Luke McLaren was a hard earned third after an overnight head gasket change prior to the rally and still it was leaking water all day. David McLoughlin finished fourth second time out in his new car with only a fallen-off tank guard to fix during the day. Allan Mathieson was fifth but might have fared better had not the handbrake been sticking on and Max Redpath was sixth. Michael Robertson was having his first run out in 2WD for nearly 8 years as the Subaru is getting rebuilt for the Scottish and finished seventh ahead of Chris Duff who lost his exhaust twice during the day. One back box in SS5 and another in SS6. Allan Young rounded off the all-Peugeot line-up with ninth despite having to stop in SS4 to repair a broken gear linkage, and Adrian Stewart didn’t. He was well-cowped in SS3. Nova driver Scott MacDonald retired in SS3 with suspension failure and Graeme Harris retired his Fiesta with clutch failure.

Class 4 (2WD 16v 1650cc)
Despite a puncture on the final stage, Thomas Gray scored the win in his Fiesta R2 from the Citroen C2 of David Martin who spent the day using up old tyres. James Robertson was third in his Citroen after changing the alternator ahead of Charles Stewart (Peugeot 106), Seven Ross (Corsa) and Neil Redford was sixth in an overheating Honda Civic which was also popping its driveshafts out all too regularly. Martin Crombie was seventh in his Peugeot 106 ahead of eighth placed Gina Walker whose Citroen C2 did not finish in the same shape after a roll in the final stage. Ross Hughes was ninth in his C2 ahead of a rather sedate Andy Struthers: “I wanted a finish today after the Border Counties!” Graeme Sherry was eleventh in another C2: “It’s a borrowed car so I had to keep it neat and tidy and I had to stop in SS8 when the throttle jammed.” Rounding off the finishers was Alex Pirie arriving back in Elgin with the front end flattened and a cracked windscreen after an off in the final stage. Murray Coulthard retired his C2 when a front wheel stud broke and the wheel bounded off into the undergrowth. Steven Smith retired his Escort Mk2 with an engine problem and Graeme MacVicar retired his Fiesta in Gartly.

Class 5 (2WD 8v 2050cc)
John McIlwraith won the class in his Mk2 having tried (and failed!) to patch the exhaust up with a Monster Energy can (slightly bigger than a Red Bull can) and jubilee clips. Andy Chalmers was second in his Mk2 having survived “to just-about-offs in SS2 and a wheel stuck in a ditch” with John O’Kane third in his Mk2 after a couple of spins in the last stage “trying too hard!” Colin Patterson had “one big near-miss on the last stage” in his Mk2 on the way to fourth finishing just 8 seconds clear of the Peugeot of Scott McQueen who twice had to weld up a cracked manifold. Calum Fraser was the final finysher after playing tag with his Peugeot and a chicane. The chicane won, but he was still delighted. This was his first rally finish after two non-finishes.

Class 6 (Historic)
Ian Milne was the sole starter and finisher despite clouting a large rock in SS3 which punctured a tyre and split a Minilite.

Class 7 (FWD 16v 2050cc)
Ian Forgan was a comfortable class winner in his Ford Ka from Caroline Carslaw in her Fiesta having survived “a wee moment in SS2, it was all arms and elbows but we got away with it.” Third was Scott Burness second time out in his Fiesta with Iain Mutch fourth having knocked an Astra headlamp out against a chicane. Final finisher was Andrew Gant in his Peugeot 306 while Kevin Gray broke a driveshaft in his Astra and John MacLeod parked his Focus in a ditch.

Class 8 (RWD 16v 2050cc)
Back in an Escort Mk2, having bought Calum MacKenzie’s car, Quintin Milne finished top 2WD and scored 20th overall on his way to class victory. But with Q it’s not the winning that counts it’s the style. “The brakes were locking up at first,” he said, “but this has no diff braking. I forgot it wasn’t 4WD. My fault, but I’m getting the hang of it, sideways in and sideways out.” He’d probably be quicker if he wasn’t showing off! Having just as much fun was Dougal Brown who was giving Q a serious run for his money with never more than a few seconds between them until the final stage when: “Disaster struck for us,” said Dougal, “as 6 miles through the 9 mile stage we got a puncture on the rear and dropped nearly a minute to Quintin.” Grant Inglis was third and lucky to finish too, as he also picked up a puncture on the last stage but of more concern was the grumbling., rattling noise coming from the Mk2’s gearbox. Another survivor through adversity was fourth placed Duncan MacDonald who went through the finish line in SS4 – backwards. Thereafter he was sensible and his only concern was the wipers failing but had as spare motor which was fitted at service. An even stranger sight at the rally finish was the Mk2 of Sandy Arbuthnott. Given the luck he had over the years with his Metro, rally finishes were a rare thing for the Arbuthnott family and it was good to see him swinging through the trees again in fine style, the car that is, not Sandy. Keith Seager completed the class finishers in his BMW 318Ti although Sandy McKenzie had to retire his Opel Manta at Huntly service when he knocked a tooth of the CWP.

Class 9 (2WD 16v over 2050cc)
Two starters, one finisher, with Scott Kerr finishing second 2WD car overall and having a good dice all day with Milne and Brown although in a different class. Apart from the fuel pump cutting out on the second run through Gartly, the Mk2 performed well. Not finishing was Donald Brooker who made a rare mistake and pitched the BMW off the road in Clashindarroch.

Class 10 (4WD GrpN over 2000cc)
There was only 10 seconds between class winner Fraser Wilson and second placed Alasdair S Graham at the finish, scoring 13th and 14th places overall. Not bad for the Group N machinery. Wilson had a front puncture in SS$ running for 3.5 miles on it and also skelped a 45 gallon drum at the Gartly chicane with the Lancer showing a few battle scars on the front corner. Graham screwed up the hairpin on the first stage at Cooper Park, but apart from that is still learning the car. First time out in 4WD and on gravel (apart from the gravel traps at Knockhill Race Circuit!) Alan Kirkaldy finished third in class: “We had a really good day, once I learned not to drive it like a Mk2.” A puncture on the last stage failed to dent his enthusiasm for all wheel drive.

Class 11 (4WD w/o seq.)
Mike Faulkner was the winner here from Dale Robertson and Scott Mutch was third in the Impreza after repairing a burst power steering hose at first service: “The oil was blowing all over the place but we fixed it. I thought my Nova with no power steering was bad but this was terrible.” Iain Wilson finished 4th in his Subaru ahead of the Lancers of John Wink, despite understeering into a log pile, and Keith Morris who rolled a tyre off the rim when he hit banking in SS3. Simon Hay was seventh ahead of Michael Binnie on his second rally and Martin Scott was ninth after a puncture on the first corner of SS3 and a spin in the next test. Martin Craik rounded off the top ten ahead of Gordon Murray and Matthew Thomson who had his heart set on beating long time pal Scott Mutch: “But age is against me, I just couldn’t catch Scott.” Ian Baumgart retired with gearbox failure (again!), Scott MacBeth had the fuel pump fail on the third test, and Mike Grant finished in a ditch (again!).

Class 12 (4WD GrpA, S2000, R4)
Armstrong, McCombie and McCulloch were the top three here with Andrew Gallacher in fourth place., He had been setting times just outside the top six fastest all day and finished eighth overall just 20 seconds clear of Freddie Milne having a sensible top ten run. Barry Groundwater finshed sixth after sliding off the road in SS4: “Not the same bit as everyone else,” said Barry, “I found my own bit!” Donnie MacDonald had a bad day with an ill handling car finishing just clear of Ross MacDonald. Fraser Louden was ninth ahead of the Fiesta of James Gibb with Calum MacLeod’s MG in eleventh place and Brian Watson brought up the rear. David Ross who starred in Cooper Park parked up the Metro with a broken gearbox in SS7 and Billy Miller’s luck ran out in Cooper Park when the Mitsubishi gave up the ghost and coasted to a halt.

Class 13 (WRC and R5)
With Thorburn’s withdrawal, there were just three finishers in the class led home by Pearson from MacCrone and Sinclair.

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