… Murmurs on Mull …
Ahead of the rally, there was discontent amongst the island populace when two Parkies were imported from the mainland and set about traffic clearing duty in Tobermory with gusto. Even locals who had stopped to let passengers out on the Main Street before moving on were hassled and lots of tickets were dished out. One of the kinder, and more humorous, descriptions of these ‘professionals’ was that they were in fact Jedi Knights called up from the Deathstar for parking duty on Mull.
The Special Stage TV team were out and about on Mull filming anything that moved, and even stuff that didn’t, with Kirstie Marshall thrusting a microphone in the faces of drivers, co-drivers and officials as they went about their business. Most responded positively to her questions, but there’s always one (or a few!) who cause her problems. For instance, Donnie MacDonald was extremely professional as he booked into an Arrival Control and gave Kirstie a bit of insight into his event. At the conclusion of his informative and entertaining review, he asked Wayne (Goldring on the camera) to keep the camera running and then asked Kirstie to ask him another question. Thinking they were on to a scoop, they were all set to go when the bold chap asked Kirstie: “Has Sky Sports been on to you yet, offering you a job? They should you know.” Not the most diplomatic of remarks while Wayne, the boss of Special Stage TV, was filming! It was too dark to see if Kirstie blushed.
Licenced to … be safe! Allan MacKay and Chris Hammill had been entrusted with Zero car ‘0’safety duty on Mull having successfully passed the MSA’s official Safety Car Crew training scheme and Allan now has the certificate to prove it. There was however, one tiny little aspect of the job that was of concern to the Anglia WRC driver: “They’re setting Calum (Duffy) off, just 5 minutes behind me – no pressure then.”
On a more serious note, the efforts of Chief Medic, Dr Ben Shippey are worthy of mention. Not only has he been part of the British Grand Prix medical team for 15 years and manages and provides medical cover on rallies throughout the UK, he goes a bit further when he attends Mull each year. Because of its limited ‘cottage hospital’ facilities on the island, Ben actually creates a dedicated trauma unit within the local hospital for the duration of the rally. Without going into medical and technical detail, this is quite an undertaking considering it is so far from his home base in Dundee. Thankfully it wasn’t needed this year, although one incident caused a sharp intake of breath. When news of Paul MacKinnon’s incident hit the emergency airwaves, Ben had a wee touch of ‘deja vu’. Paul’s car had the number 2 on the door and it was also the same stage as last year’s tragic event. Thankfully, everything was OK.
To the untrained eye, the Mk2 Escorts of David Bogie and Ross Marshall looked remarkably similar despite being built by different blokes. Both had been finished in a virgin white paint job, although the grey and red graphic highlighting scheme had been applied by the same firm, which prompted Ross to comment: “I just hope the Marshals get me confused with David and give me some of his times.” David added: “I’m not so sure about that, I might be wanting some of Ross’ times.”
Nick Rintoul crashed his Skoda Fabia on Mull, but reckoned he had a good excuse: “That’s what comes of recce-ing in a RHD car and doing the rally in a LHD car.”
It was seriously wet in places on Friday night, conditions which prompted Fergus Gray to describe them thus: “We saw an otter running up the road ahead of us. It even took some time out of us. It had better wet weather gear than us though.”
There was a surreal moment at the Salen re-start for the final Leg on Saturday night when co-driver Heidi Woodcock showed me her letter to Santa which read: “Dear Santa, Please can I have Proflex this year, as I have been really good, Love Heidi.” This appeal had long been ignored by husband and driver Chris Woodcock who remained unimpressed about the veiled insults regarding the suspension and bump absorption of his Proton Compact: “She’s been asking for it for years – the Proflex that is,” said Chris. So come on Santa, there’s a plea from the heart (or the nether regions) that requires your attention.
Now don’t laugh. This is serious. Strathclyde Police were a traffic car short when they left the island after the rally. Apparently one of the Police crews was following a Safety Car through Mishnish Lochs ahead of the rally when the Safety Car went round a corner – and the Police Car didn’t. It went straight on, up a banking and through a dry stane dyke. It was a nasty one and both officers were huckled off to hospital for a check-up. So it just shows you, even the professionals can get it wrong.
And finally …
Eddie O’Donnell must have thought he had his servicing arrangements all sorted for the Saturday afternoon. Having his own shed, sorry, garage, in Tobermory he wouldn’t have to scramble like everyone else for a place to park his van and lay out his ground sheet. All he needed was a reliable service crew. Enter one Gerry K and Auld Hamish. All they had to do was turn up at the shed, sorry, garage, and wield a few spanners and trolley jacks. Which they duly accomplished, refettling the Escort and sending it on its way. When Eddie returned to the shed, sorry, garage, for the second service, the doors were shut and the boys were gone. So he phoned them: “Where are you?” Back came the answer: “We’re in the Salen Hotel having something to eat.” Eddie then politely enquired why they were in Salen while he was in Tobermory for second service. The response this time was: “Nobody told us there were TWO services in Tobermory!” There’s just no answer to that, is there? However, that wasn’t the end of it. Gerry explained that he was out of pocket to the tune of £4.40: “We had been left in Tobermory without transport so we got the bus back to Salen. How many service crews do you know that travel by bus? Anyway, he owes me the bus fare – Hamish used his bus pass.” You couldn’t make it up.