26 Feb; Snowman News & Gossip

… Snowman News and Gossip …

Last year there was a delay on the first stage of the Snowman Rally when a spectator fell ill and the medics were called. It happened again this year, but on the final stage. The delay at the start of the final stage and which also interrupted the running of SS4 was caused by a spectator suffering a diabetic seizure and once again the Rally Rescue crews were called into action.

Jock Armstrong faced a race against time to get ready for the Snowman after a late season testing accident ahead of Rally Wales last year. “I had a new ‘shell at home,” said Jock, ” so it was just a matter of getting it prepped and everything fitted in. It’s virtually the same spec, but it is a bit lighter.” He did manage to get a run out in the car ahead of the rally – at 7.00 am on Friday morning!

Another who faced a big rebuild before the new season was Bruce McCombie: “After Rally Wales last year, everything was stripped out and rebuilt – engine, gearbox, diffs, all done. I had expected that anyway,” added Bruce, “three rallies in three days.”

Brother Scott McCombie had the same issue after Wales: “The gearbox had a bit of damage so that really had to be done,” said Scott, “and we sent the suspension back to Reiger. The only thing we haven’t done is the engine.”

The ‘Powered by Hotties’ Mitsubishi Lancer of Mike Faulkner looked rather different, and very yellow, at the Snowman: “It’s a different car,” said Mike, who cowped his in Wales, “but it’s more or less the same spec as the old one although this was a tarmac car when we got it. It also has a bit more power as it has a GrpA engine whereas the old one was GrpN with a restrictor.”

Meticulously prepped as ever Mark McCulloch’s Mitsubishi was fully rebuilt over the Winter but he only managed to get give it a shakedown the day before the rally: “I took it for a run up the road near where I keep the car,” said Mark, “but there’s no corners on that road for miles in either direction – so I don’t know if it goes round corners.” Now that’s a test, or is it?

Speaking of rebuilds, and nothing to do with the Snowman, Sandy Arbuthnott appeared in Inverness for a nosey. When asked how his own project was going he revealed it was a bigger job than first thought. Last October he appeared on Mull with a Subaru flat four engined Ford Focus but the engine failed. When asked if he had found the cause of the problem he replied: “Och aye, when we took the heads off we could see one of the con-rods was broken – we saw it through the hole in the piston!”

John Rintoul had a new Evo10 at the Snowman but having just got it didn’t really get much time to check it over. His first run in the car was driving out the trailer park at Inverness on Friday: “And I had to go back,” said John, “I couldn’t reach the brake pedal! I did previously have a seat fitting but when I actually drove it, the pedal went down further than I thought so we had to move the seat.” Sadly a gearbox problem manifested itself and he went no further than first service.

No changes to the Mitsubishi, but Ross MacDonald will be running Carless fuel this year as opposed to pump fuel: “It’s still the same car,” he says, “but it makes it more lively.” He finished 17th.

Angus Lawrie has moved up the class structure having replaced his Corsa’s 1400cc engine with a 1600 unit: “It was finished at 3am on Thursday morning,” said Angus, “but the gearing is too low so that’s the next job.” Sadly a driveshaft broke on the second stage, so that’s another job for the ‘to do’ list.

Ex Talbot Sunbeam runner, Michael Stuart appeared at the Snowman with a brand spanking shiny new Mk2 with 2 litre red-top and 6 spd sequential. Faither Willie was credited with most of the build and he was at the rally to service. The Snowman was the first run out for the new car and Michael’s first run out since 2010, so 34th overall wasn’t too bad.

Having dragged his 205 out of the back of the garage, Andy Chalmers won Class 2: “The Escort is currently getting fixed,” he said, “so the plan is to use the Peugeot this season. We’ve taken the injection off it and its back on carbs. It sounds nice doesn’t it?” And y’knw, he’s right. There’s nothing to beat a bit of mechanical induction in the early mornings, eh?

Former Peugeot 205 runner Grant MacRae had a new motor at the Snowman. He’s still got the 205 but had just acquired a Fiesta ST from the deep south (Englandshire). Sadly the new car let him down on the start line of the first stage when a driveshaft broke.

Eight days before the Snowman, and four days before Valentine’s day, a certain Ivor Clark Esq celebrated his most recent birthday. At the rally he was claiming it was his 70th, but there were a few folk around who thought he was fibbing. ONLY 70?

Duncan MacDonald appeared at the Snowman with a borrowed engine in his Mk2: “I’ve got a new engine being built, but it wasn’t ready so the guy’s who’s building it took an engine out of another rally car he has and put it in for this weekend and we finished 27th.”

Amongst the first timers at the Snowman were local pairing Michael Davies and Jamie Edward. Michael said: “I’ve watched rallies for years but this is my first time competing. I bought the Polo for 300 quid and built it myself. It still has the standard 1600cc engine and gearbox.” I’ll tell you what, the wee car looked a treat. Not only that, it was reliable, apart from losing the brakes in SS3 when a pipe came off the servo. The duo finished 62nd overall and at the finish, Michael uttered just one word: “Amazing.” Admittedly he did utter a few more after he got that off his chest. Delighted? Youbetcha.

Picture time. We’ll need to try and get a photo of Greg McKnight and co-driver Laura Marshall together for the next News Roundup. They’ve both got new specs. Black rimmed jobs that look very similar. In fact they looked like a bad tribute act or a rejected audition for the Blues Brothers!

The Ronaldson boys caused a bit of a stooshie at late Scrutineering ahead of the rally. Kevin turned up in the Metro and Steven had the Escort. The stickers were thrown at the cars and off they went to get them approved, only to be greeted by the Scroots scratching their heads when they presented their Log Books and papers. As late entries, Kevin was down to run car number 103 and Steven was car 104, but in their rush to get ready, the numpties had put their numbers on the wrong cars. The Metro was sporting 104 and the Escort had 103 on the doors. Fortunately the long suffering Highland CC team got it all sorted out.

And finally …

Over the Winter months, Keith Riddick re-engined his 1400cc MG ZR with a new 1.6 unit built by Jim McKean. He also has a new sequential gearbox for the beast, but as this wasn’t complete had borrowed Scott Peacock’s gearbox for the Snowman. Naturally the unconcerned (that will be right!) Scott came along to keep an eye on things! Anyway, they put the engine in last Sunday and mapped it on Monday. Although power has increased modestly from 160 to 182 bhp, torque has been raised by a third. After the dyno session, Keith took it for a run along the road at the end of which he pulled over and texted a short and rather terse message to sister and co-driver Mhairi which consisted of two words: “Holy shitballs” – or is that three words?

[Main Headline report]
[Snowman Classes roundup]