… Coltel Grampian Stages Rally … Class Roundup …
Relieved to see the finish was 1450cc class winner Grant MacRae in his Peugeot 205 Rallye: “It’s over heating, it’s got ‘play’ in the rear axle and more ‘play’ in the front bushes – and I’ve lost my rear number plate which was new yesterday.” Craig Martin was second in his Skoda Felicia despite losing the exhaust and Steven Crockett was third in his ‘oil-burning’ Peugeot 205. First time out since 2011, Neil Coalter returned to the fray in his just-completed Suzuki Ignis but burst a water hose in the first stage and had to borrow a Marshal’s drinking water to reach service, thinking at the finish: “I bet that poor Marshal will be thirsty by now!” Regular front runner Angus Lawrie had his usual fraught outing with his Corsa, spooted up to his oxters in Vauxhall bits under the bonnet at service: “It wasn’t charging when I came out of SS2,” said Angus, “and when we stopped at service it wouldn’t start again.” Ross Carbry was another disappointed Vauxhall driver: “My own fault, I got stuck in a ditch in SS2. No damage but OTL by the time I was rescued.” Calum MacDonald’s retirement was rather more dramatic. He rolled the Peugeot 106 in the first stage.
Chris Collie won the Peugeot 205 class but only after an engine swap the night before the rally: “The head gasket failed at the VIP day before the rally,” said Chris, “so it was an all-nighter to get it ready for the rally.” Only 10 seconds behind him was the improving Robbie Beattie: “I had a wee slide into a Left9 in the long stage,” said Robbie, “but managed to keep it going.” Third was Donald Peacock who had just managed to reach the finish with blue smoke trailing from the exhaust after the car lapsed on to 3 cylinders. He also had intercom failure on the first stage but it was the boy Scott’s helmet which failed so they swapped helmets. Donald could hear Scott but Scott couldn’t hear Donald, prompting the youngster to quip: “Good job we’ve both got big heids, we could share helmets.” David McLoughlin managed to finish despite the gear linkage breaking in the final stage but they managed to reach Banchory stuck in 4th gear. Adrian Stewart was the final finisher and Bill Falconer wasn’t. His Peugeot was stuck in a ditch in SS3.
Thomas Gray was the top 1650cc class runner despite clattering a log pile with the rear of his Fiesta R2, over a minute clear of Bill Davidson who hadn’t realised that somewhere along the line his Vauxhall Nova had lost its bumper. Jim Robertson was third in his Citroen C2 R2 after resolving some brake problems on the first two stages. David Martin was 4th in his C2 ahead of Alex Pirie who had opted for a confidence restoring steady run after his roll on the Scottish but still managed to get himself a puncture. Gina Walker was 7th in an overheating C2 ahead of the Peugeot 106 of Charles Stewart having spent some time in a ditch on the final stage: “The road went right – but you can’t see it for the weeds,” he explained. Neil Redford put his Honda off the road in SS5 and newcomer Ross Hughes had another character building day retiring his C2 in the first stage.
John McIlwraith win the class in his Mk2 despite complaining at the finish: “My tyres are only fit for the silage pit.” John O’Kane was 2nd in his Mk2 but was slow through the final stage when the oil pressure dropped. Andy Chalmers was leading the class till the final stage when the alternator failed while Scott McQueen, Colin Patterson and Callum Fraser all failed to make it.
Barry Jordan in his patriotically (Union Jack) painted Hillman Avenger BRM having fixed a flattened centre section in his exhaust: “We cut it out, straightened it – a bit – then fitted it back in by wrapping coke cans and jubilee clips around it – diet coke of course.” Alex Milne was second in the family Mk2.
Ian Forgan took the class in his Ford Ka from Sandy Fairbairn in his Fiesta after fixing a misfire in SS4 by changing the coil at service. Luke McLaren was 3rd and chuffed with his Fiesta: “It feels good after the Peugeot 205, but it’s my first time in a LHD car and first time on gravel.” Andrew Grant was 4th in his Peugeot 306 and Kevin Gray was final finisher in his Astra after an ‘incident’ on the first stage: “We had a bit of a moment at a K Right. We caught a log pile on the inside of a ‘don’t cut’ and it tipped us into a ditch. We managed to roll it back on to its wheels and carried on with a bent axle – we didn’t even break the windscreen.” Scott Burness and Michael Renton both failed to finish.
Despite a puncture on the 3rd stage, Dougal Brown took the class in his Mk2 by just 9 seconds from the Mk2 of Duncan MacDonald. Scott Walker was 3rd in his Mazda 323 ahead of the Opel Kadett of John Brownlie admitting: “It’s my first rally in 20 years and the car’s first rally for 5years.” Keith Seager was 5th in the BMW Compact after stopping in the first stage to effect repairs when the isolater switch failed. Grant Inglis was a very relieved final finisher: “That was the most ridiculous thing ever. We did the whole rally in first gear when the gearbox broke on the first stage – maximum speed, 38 mph!”
He didn’t have any real competition, but Gordon Murray was the only finisher when Donald Brooker’s BMW in the penultimate test. “We’ve had problem for the past 4 years,” said Gordon, “but it’s sorted this time. What a great day, it was brilliant.”
Just 3 contenders in the GrpN category with only two finishers and best of those was Alasdair S Graham, and despite his bump in SS4 (see main report) after he lost the clutch, he got himself the class win. Fraser Wilson was 2nd after driving 10 miles on a puncture. Not so lucky was John McClory who parked his Mitsubishi backwards off the road.
Tenth overall was poor reward for Mike Faulkner but at least he got a class win after his troubles. Iain Wilson was second after his earlier turbo pipe problems and Simon Hay was 3rd after fears that the clutch was failing: “It was playing up in SS2 so we did the next two stages not using the clutch and with fingers crossed hoping it would be OK.” Scott MacBeth was happy enough with 4th in the Mitsubishi content to get a troublefree run under his belt with the new car. Well, nearly: “I hit a chicane bale in the first stage which knocked the ‘kill switch’ off and I did the last half of the long test with no brakes.” That is ‘troublefree’ by MacBeth standards. Martin Craik was 5th following a rear puncture in the 4th test and Matthew Thomson was 6th after sp[inning the Subaru on the last corner of the last stage. Duncan Campbell was 7th despite the Subaru cutting out on one stage and stopping dead and Scott Mutch was 8th after losing the power steering on the 2nd stage which caused RSI – Repetitive Steering Injury! What he didn’t admit to was being off on the second stage, and which may well have gubbed the power steering pump! Geoff Goudie was 9th after completing one stage in the morning with a slack driveshaft after a bolt popped out and Steve McGregor rounded off the top ten after surviving two burst brake pipe incidents, first when a front brake pipe ruptured followed on another stage by a rear pipe going. The ever confident Neil Philip was 11th in class: “I’m driving it home, I don’t need a trailer!” and Erle Strachan was 12th with Derek Duncan bringing up the rear after doing the first two stages with a burst boost pipe and a puncture in the final stage. Alasdair Anderson retired his Subaru with electrical problems in the first stage but is already looking forward to a new car for next year. Martin Scott retired his Lancer on the start line of the first stage when the transfer ‘box broke and Michael Binnie retired after losing 4th gear half way through SS3 then lost 3rd gear as well in the next stage. Ian Cruden failed to make it back to the finish as did Colin Baxter when his Impreza’s gearbox failed.
He might not have made the champagne finish, but Jock Armstrong won his class from Mark McCulloch and Bruce McCombie. Greg McKnight was 4th ahead of Barry Groundwater and Scott McCombie. Keith Morris made it to the finish despite going off on the last corner of the last stage and Sean Will survived a near-off on the bridge in SS1 then a lead came off the injectors in SS2 putting the Lancer on to 3 cylinders before bouncing off a banking in SS3 – on the driver’s side. Linzi Henderson just missed out on a top ten finish while James Gibb was slowed with a burst brake pipe in the first two stages, remarking: “A Peugeot 205 passed us!” Then a turbo pipe split. Fraser Louden failed to finish, when his Lancer hit a rock on the inside of a hairpin in the first stage which broke the front n/s wishbone.
In the posh class it was Weston from MacCrone, Thorburn and Pearson with Reay MacKay’s Ford Focus WRC failing to make it to the finish after getting caught out on the last bend of the last stage.
Main headline report: [Grampian Stages]
News and Blethers: [News & Gossip]