… Brick & Steel Border Counties … Class Roundup …
Neil Coalter and Hannah Cessford won the 1450cc Class after a fairly trouble free run, apart from a puncture in SS4 in their Suzuki Ignis, from the MG ZR of David Coatsworth and Chris Pattison who also reported no problems. Niall Cowan and Thomas Bruce were happy enough with third getting back into things after their big accident on the Galloway Hills: “It’s the first time out in the new car and it all feels a bit different although it’s exactly the same as my previous MG ZR,” said Niall, “but a bit newer!” Final class finishers were John and Bridget Rowan repeating their Snowman result of 4th in class in their Talbot Sunbeam, and this was their fourth rally!
Robbie Beattie and Dave Findlay were first of the Peugeot 205 runners despite reporting a ‘Kris Meeke’ moment on the first stage: “We were broadside through the bushes on the first stage for about a hundred yards,” said Robbie, “but got back on ok. Then we cracked the windscreen on the next stage hitting a low branch.” Ben Cree and Andy Brown were only 3 seconds behind the class leaders in their Peugeot 205 and things might have worked out differently had it not been for two punctures during the day. Max and Callum Redpath were third, but admitted to striking two chicanes on their way round and Billy and Eric Falconer were fourth and last Peugeot home after shattering a rear brake disc on SS6 but made it to Service for repairs. Andy Chalmers/Martin MacCabe didn’t make it after suffering fuel problems and both David McLoughlin/Graham Robertson and Scott Boyd/Fraser Jones parked their cars prematurely in the shrubbery.
The best fight of the day came from the 1600s. Although with a time difference of over a minute between first and second place, it may not sound like that, but Angus Lawrie had to contend with a broken gear linkage in his Vauxhall Corsa in the first stage and did the second stage with third gear only. After repairs at first service he hit a rock and after second service clouted a banking: “I don’t think any of the wheels were pointing straight by the finish,” said Angus. Second placed Carl Tuer in the MG ZR could only shake his head: “Our car was fine, but fair play to Angus, there was no catching him today.” Alex Pirie and Frazer Skene were third and top Citroen C2 runner despite two punctures and bent steering during the day finishing just 3 seconds ahead of newcomer Ross Hughes in his C2 who had to contend with a loose gear linkage leading to wrong gear selection at the wrong time but co-driver Neil Ewing was full of praise for the newcomer’s mature handling of a difficult situation: “It wasn’t nice arriving at corners and then getting the wrong gear,” said Ross. Jim Robertson and Mike Curry arrived at first service with smoke seeping out from under the bonnet prompting a quick inspection as they waited to book in. They were lucky, it was only a fractured oil breather pipe which was dripping oil on to the hot C2’s manifold and they finished fifth just ahead of Gina Walker and Richard Simmonds’ C2. “The car felt really good today,” said Gina, “David Martin set it up before the rally and we had no problems.” Graham Waite/Gill Cotton were 7th in their Toyota Corolla ahead of Andy Struthers and Grant MacNiven whose only complaint was that the C2 felt a bit loose at the rear end over the bumps in SS6, but this was checked out at Service. Martin Crombie, with Osian Owen, heaved a sigh of relief at the finish with little damage to his Peugeot 106: “There was a 200 Flat Crest in SS6 – and we took it flat,” said Martin, “it took the next three corners to sort it out going from ‘ditch, trees, sky’ to more ‘ditch, trees, sky’!” And then he did it again on his second run through the same stage at Yair. Some folks just don’t learn, eh? Darren Tennant/Keith Collin were 10th in their Mitsubishi Colt ahead of the Corsa of Steven Ross/Rowena Hay: “We almost binned it over the bumps in Yair,” said Steven, “Rowena called it – but I wasn’t listening.” Final finishers were Elvin Thomas/Jame MacTavish in their Citroen C2 but regular class front runners Thomas Gray/Daniel Forsyth and Keith Riddick/Mairi Riddick didn’t make it to the end. Thomas had fuel trouble on the Snowman in his Fiesta and the problem returned on the Border getting worse throughout the day despite frantic attempts to get to the bottom of it, whereas Keith’s retirement was a bit more obvious. The MG’s head gasket blew.
Fraser MacNicol and Keith Boa were all smiles at the finish despite the clutch cable breaking and doing the last stage with no clutch. But the smiles came from the enjoyment of their RWD Escort Mk2’s handling compared to their previous 4WD Mitsubishi. Scott McQueen and Andrew MacKinnon were second in their 1.9 litre Peugeot 205 after a busy day. An engine mounting snapped in the first two stages and Scott welded it up at first Service then they had a puncture on the second last stage: “We hit a massive hole on an open Hairpin left,” said Scott, “which bent a bottom arm then the engine mount failed again on the last stage – my weld broke!” Ian Heard and Denny Calder were third in their Mk2.
Steve Banister and Callum Atkinson won the Historic Class in his Escort Mk2 also finishing top 2WD runner on the day in 12th place overall after a fairly uneventful run. Alistair Ginley and Craig Thorley had an equally uneventful run in their Mk2 finshing second with the BMW 2002 Tii of Terry Cree and Richard Shores in third place. Dave Forrest/Charlie Carter had a puncture in their Mk2 on their way to 4th in class ahead of the Escort of Andrew Robinson/Kevin Wilson and Paul Rawson/Paul Wild’s Escort. Ian Milne, with Chris Robertson, was knackered at the end finishing 7th: “The long road sections were tiring,” said the ol’timer!
Luke McLaren and Phil Kenny won the class in their Fiesta ST despite a puncture on the penultimate test which led to an odd mix of tyres for the final stage – and an odd mix of tyre pressures! Grant MacRae and Martin Bruce were only half a minute behind second time out in their Fiesta ST. Having said that, their first run out in the car was pretty short-lived when a driveshaft broke on the start line of the first stage at the Snowman but even then there was a sigh of relief at the finish: “The bolts on the gearbox mounting sheared,” said Grant, “and we finished the rally with ratchet straps holding it in.” Kevin Gray and Daniel Christie were third in their Astra having survived a couple of ‘offs’ in the second and fourth stages but: “We got out ourselves without any help.” Michael Renton and Kenny Foggo were final finishers in their Peugeot 306 having crept into Jedburgh at the finish with a burst exhaust.
Dougal Brown and Lewis Rochford were second 2WD home in their Mk2 winning Class 7 from the Mk2 of Mike Stuart and Sinclair Young. Dougal said:“We got off to a slow start in SS1 (Wauchope) as we were too cautious in the muddy conditions. We needed a finish after last year’s retirement on this event, but we were too cautious. This allowed Steve Bannister to get an early 18 second lead on us. From SS2 (Hyndlee) we got on to the pace and were fairly closely matched to Steve’s times all day. Steve’s been ‘the’ man to beat in 2WD since I started rallying in 2000. We’d come here hoping to see how close we could get to him and to build on our lead in the 2WD championship. Finishing the day just 26 seconds behind him was a great result for us, especially when 18 of those seconds were from the first stage, and we did manage to beat him in one stage (Elibank 1) by just over 10 seconds”. Mike finished the rally nearly 3 minutes behind Dougal: “We clouted a chicane on the final stage and pulled the tracking out, but the rally was magic!” Londonderry’s Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna were third in their Mk2 saying: “It was worth the 7 hour trip here for those stages and 7 hours home.” Unfortunately for Duncan MacDonald and Neil Ross, a 4 minute penalty cost them a possible second in class and a puncture in the final stage didn’t help much either. Graham Haig and Karl Bates were fifth and Tommy Heard/Greg McCutcheon were sixth both in Mk2s. Neither Ali Galbraith/Del Galbraith nor John Brownie/Gordon Ritchie made it to the end with Ali explaining: “We got stuck in a ditch in SS4. It was a 6R over crest into 9L and just slid off and got beached on the edge. No damage but stuck.”
Just one finisher in Class, the Dolomite Sprint V6 of Ken and Gordon Wood and was none too chuffed at the finish: “That was a brand new windscreen at the Snowman,” said Ken pointing to a huge crack, “we lost about 10 or 15 seconds in a ditch. We were quick into it, but slow out of it!” He also had a bit of a problem on the first stage of the day when the throttle jammed open – on a fast downhill section. Not so lucky was the Mk2 Escort of Gordon Murray and David O’Brien which rolled quite heavily in Elibank. Fortunately, Gordon and David were ok, classed more as ‘walking wounded’, with David turning up at the after rally ‘do’ for some alcoholic embrocation.
Only two Group N cars these days with Fraser Wilson and Craig Wallace best of the pair ahead of John McClory and David Hood, their cause not helped by the fact that John picked up a 1 minute penalty, otherwise there was just 22 seconds between them on stage times. The outcome could easily have gone either way as Fraser’s Mitsubishi picked up a puncture on the last stage and John’s Lancer broke a gear selector in SS7, but claimed: “The fixing fairies came and sorted it for us!”
Winning the ‘Challengers’ section on the day and winning the class were Iain Wilson and Will Rogers and delighted with that but will need to find out the cause of a problem which recurred after a similar affliction on the Snowman when the Subaru’s brakes failed a couple of times. Ian Baumgart and Mike Dickson had an excellent run into second in class with a top ten finish. In fact he might have done a wee bit better had it not been for a front puncture in the Subaru on the final stage. Third in class were the fast improving Michael Binnie and Claire Mole. They too might have done a bit better had they not lost the anti-lag on the final stage, while Michael also admitted to a “chicane issue” in Elibank, but there were no serious scars on the Mitsubishi’s flanks. John Wink and John Forrest were fourth in their Mitsubishi after a puncture, which resulted in a very short vacation in a ditch in the last stage, but an earlier driveshaft failure on the second stage was fixed at Service. Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray had a good run with one top six stage time during the day but dropped a few seconds in a ditch in SS5 with all four of the Lancer’s wheels on the grass but got away with it. Ian and Kathryn Forgan were sixth in their Subaru but had to stop at the scene of Gordon Murray’s accident and then reported it to the stage finish Marshals. They were lucky to finish as a rear wheel bearing collapsed on the final road section run-in to the Jedburgh finish. The Subarus of Darren Martin and Martin Steele were 7th, Michael Robertson and Gary MacDonald 8th and final finishers were Mark Shaw and William Munro making a noisy approach to the finish line with no back box on the car having left it somewhere in a forest. Both Subarus of Duncan Campbell/Gavin Chisholm and Colin Baxter/Donald Campbell failed to finish.
Armstrong, Faulkner, McCulloch, McKnight and McCombie were the front runners in Class 11 with Keith Morris and Martin Forrest gleefully finishing sixth and well inside the top 20 (14th o/a): “No’ bad for an auld codger,” beamed Keith after a troublefree run in the Lancer. Ross MacDonald and Matthew Johnstone were 7th but their Lancer had lost time with two punctures during the day. Another satisfied customer was James Gibb and Jane Nicol, with the Lancer performing faultlessly even if the driver wasn’t: “We had a few moments in Elibank,” said James, “the tail kicked way up in the air and all we could see out the windscreen was the ground.” Brian Watson and Caroline Will were final class finishers in the Lancer Proto but any jokes about Brian now being regarded as an almost regular sight at rally finishes will not be treated too kindly.
Young, Stephenson and Sinclair was the order of the day here but Reay MacKay and Keir Beaton didn’t make it home, the Focus WRC succumbing to fuel trouble – or maybe Reay just forgot to buy some!