24 Mar: Border News & Blethers

… Border News & Blethers …

Quite a few Scots tackled the National B part of the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, but met with mixed success. Two night time stages in Craik were tackled behind the ghostly glare of spot lamps and these new fangled LED array displays before the 7 tests of Saturday’s National B route.

David Bogie and Kevin Rae got off to a good start finishing the Friday night Leg in second place 3 seconds behind Tom Cave but ahead of CA1 Sport team mate Fredrik Ahlin, and the it all went wrong. A costly spin dropped him back to third in the first stage on Saturday morning requiring a multi-point turn to get round and get away again but an errant rock on his first visit to Yair put paid to his hopes. The Skoda punctured a front tyre on a long left hander and the car understeered off the road into the ditch. He tried to keep going but it was so wet and soft the car just kept pushing and wouldn’t turn itself out and back on to the road: “I tried to drive it out the ditch,” said David, “but it just kept digging itself in.” That left CA1 team mate Fredrik Ahlin to take the first victory of the new BRC season from Tom Cave and Osian Pryce, with Euan Thorburn in 8th place after 2 punctures. He also hit David’s rock, but managed to keep the Fiesta on line and keep going.

Barry Groundwater and Neil Shanks got themselves a result and finished tenth in the Lancer almost a minute clear of Freddie Milne and Chris Williams in another Mitsubishi. In 13th place wre Donnie MacDonald and Andrew Falconer, a big overshoot in Elibank not helping their cause. Because of the mud over the rear screen and mirrors, Donnie had trouble seeing where he was going when he tried to reverse out and dropped over a minute.

John Morrison and Peter Carstairs finished 19th overall and third in their class behind Groundwater and Milne. Fergus Barlow and Max Freeman did well with a class win and 23rd o/a in their Fiesta R2 but ex-pat Scot, Alex Laffey came to grief in Wauchope when the Fiesta R5 struck a gatepost and shot across the road and down a banking.


Spotted at the Malcolm Wilson Rally the other week were the family Retson. Pop was driving Junior around in the works van because the 2016 Junior Champion still hasn’t passed his driving test. Not because he’s not good enough, but because he’s still not quite 17. His birthday is in May so expect fireworks in late May or some time in June – provided he passes. “We sold the C1 to Tom Blackwood who previously bought our Micra and have since purchased a Fiesta ST,” said Finlay, “when we got it home we found out Ruary MacLeod previously had the car before we bought it, complete with broken gearbox, from a chap in Wales. Scotty Miller at G&M in Perth repaired and prepped the car and I gave it a run at Digby’s training day at Knockhill the other week. A bit of luck and I’ll be out in it at the end of June.”

Also in Cumbria was young Ally Currie after a hectic couple of weeks: “The ‘box selected two gears at once on the Snowman,” said Ally, “so it has been rebuilt with parts from Poland and France.” Thinking that bits for a Fiesta ST would be easy to come by, especially in Cockermouth, I asked why. “The ST is not a current car any more so the bits have to come from M-Sport’s operation in Poland, but they didn’t have what I needed in stock but I managed to source the rest of the parts in France.”

There’s a change of car coming for Scott McBeth: “I’ve sold the Mitsubishi to a chap on the Isle of Man,” said Scott, “and bought Sean Robson’s Citroen C2. I’ve bought a gravel kit for it and will be out on the Speyside. I can’t wait to get back into 2WD.”

Garry Wilson sold his own car to Michael Binnie 18 months ago, and there he was, having finally ‘retired’ from the sport, back in harness at the start of the Border. Naturally, he blamed someone else, in this case, daughter Hollie who was co-driving and allegedly persuaded him to get back into the woods. “It’s my first time in a car for 3 years,” said Garry, “but the biggest problem is, this car has a dog ‘box. I had forgotten how to drive the bluidy thing.” Sadly they didn’t get round, the Mitsubishi stopping in the final stage.

Warren Fairbairn was helping out in the Buckley RSC squad and mentioned that son Sandy will be out soon in his Fiesta which is not quite ready but is in the paint shop. “He wants to do the forests,” said the long suffering parent.

Proving that rugby is far more dangerous than rallying, Dom Buckley Jnr Jnr (who works for his grandpop) has been sidelined from heavy lifting at the moment. The captain of Kelso Kelso RFC broke his arm in a recent match.

Overwhelmed with custom, the Cafe at the Borders Council service park area ran out of hot food before lunch time was over and all they had left was tray bake and hot drinks. What an excuse for an over-indulgent sugar-rush, eh?

Neil Moir has stepped down from Clerk of the Course duty for the Snowman Rally: “This year was my last,” said Neil, “after 10 years it just felt right to step down. With the new rules it takes up so much time and I can’t do other things.” What Neil omitted to mention is that one of these other ‘things’ is that he assists with the Field Results Service on most other rounds of the Scottish Championship. Just another of the unsung heroes who are essential to the sport in Scotland and further afield! He hasn’t decided what to do with all the time he will now have. He’s not old enough to play golf and certainly not old enough to go crown green bowling.

Imagine being the parent of a very attractive daughter who is mad keen on rallying and she brings home her latest boyfriend – who just happens to have the surname ‘Milne’. Fortunately for Fraser Louden, it was not Q, but Freddie, whom Abbi has been going out with for the past two years. Makes you wonder what Fraser sets as the curfew time, eh?

Long time co-driver Neil Ewing teamed up with newcomer Ross Hughes for the Border Counties. Meticulous as always, Neil visited the family home for a chat prior to the rally and imparted some words of wisdom: “I’ll tell you when to go, and I’ll tell you when to stop,” said Neil. So that was Ross tellt, eh? Whatever, it worked. The pair finished 2nd Citroen C2.

Long memory, or just tight farmer? Carl Tuer cracked the windscreen on the first stage when a low branch on a tree whacked the MG ZR: “I lost a mirror on that very same tree five years ago during a test here,” he recalled.

And finally …

John McClory blamed David Hood for his one minute penalty on the Border but it had nothing to do with David’s navigating or Route Note calling skills. Nope, John blamed David’s tongue wagging when out of the car! “His tongue gets us into so much trouble,” said John, “He sometimes forgets he’s doing the rally, wandering off and chatting to everybody and forgetting to come back!” As if Mr McClory isn’t one for ‘the craic’ himself, but the two of them could talk for Scotland given the chance. Methinks they should be sent over to Brussels on behalf of those who wish to stay in/get out of the EEC. This pair could talk the Eurocrats into submission either way.

[Border Rally Headline report]

[Border Classes roundup]