… McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally, Sat 22 April …
Rd03, ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship …
David Bogie and Andrew Roughead made it look easy on the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally. Fastest or equal fastest on 8 out of the 10 stages, they sped to victory by almost 40 seconds. But as we all know, the difference between delight and disaster is just a slip of the tyres or muffed gearchange away. Remember the Border Counties?
Anyway, no such mistakes this time. Apart from a puncture the drive was virtually troublefree, well nearly – see final quote at end of report! Despite three punctures during the day, Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan were rarely out of the top three fastest stage times and were pleased with their result. Like Bogie, that puts them in good shape for next weekend’s Pirelli Rally.
In third place at the finish were Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton who had a fierce day-long battle with Henry. The difference at the finish? Three seconds.
But by gawd it wis cauld. Caulder than it was at the Snowman, with short, sharp wintry April showers scudding across the landscape ensuring that the stages were dry-ish for some, pretty wet for others, and at all times slippery, otherwise they were in pretty good
With the Elgin flood defences now completed, the rally was once again allowed back into Cooper Park, for the town’s own ‘city centre special’ which opened the day’s competition. Bogie and Armstrong tied on the first of the two 0.6 mile tarmac runs while it was the orange Subaru that stopped the clocks 2 seconds sooner than the blue Skoda on the second run.
“I know it doesn’t mean much, that wee short blast on tarmac,” said Jock, “but it lets the others in their newer technology know I’m still here!” It wasn’t all plain sailing though, over recent years with the flood defence groundworks going on a few pot-holes had appeared in the Park, and Dougal Brown found one of them. “I saw it and a I still hit it,” said Dougal, “it bent a rim but no puncture.” Greg McKnight was a wee bit luckier. He spun the Lancer on the first test and struck the kerb, but there was no damage: “I spun last year,” said Greg, “in the Escort at the first corner on the first stage!”
Teindland was the first forest stage of the day situated just to the north of Rothes, where the green clad forest slopes are washed over by some of the finest ‘air’ in the kingdom – primarily from the home of Glen Grant Single Malt. Invigorating stuff, and so it proved for Bogie who hit the front, five seconds quicker than Armstrong who now had Henry tie-ing with him, while Euan Thorburn, Mike Faulkner and Shaun Sinclair all tied on the same time for fourth fastest.
The lead changed again in Balloch, where Armstrong was fastest from Mark Donnelly in the Fiesta WRC and Desi Henry, with Thorburn sharing fourth fastest with Bogie: “A mile in, I slid wide on a bend,” said David, “the front wheel hit a rock, bounced in the air, and then when it landed, the back wheel caught it and punctured.” Bruce McCombie got in on the act too, rounding off the top six fastest through the stage.
Shaun Sinclair missed out on the top times with a front n/s puncture: “I cut where I was told NOT to cut.” First time out in a Fiesta R5, Dale Robertson was taking a wee while to adjust: “I’m braking way too early, then have to speed up again to get to the corner,” said Dale, “then I lost time Balloch. I was too hot into a hairpin, slid wide and stalled it. My own fault.” Iain Wilson was in similar difficulties too with his Subaru: “I spun off backwards at a Left 9. I was just too hot in,” said Iain, “luckily there was a bit of room to play with, but then it stalled.” Not to be outdone, Fraser Wilson spun his Lancer, clattered a rock and pushed the sumpguard up against the exhaust but no real damage.
At first Huntly Service Desi Henry explained how slippery the conditions were: “I haven’t driven on such slippery gravel before,” he said, “they’re good stages, fast and flowing, but such a slippery surface. Not wet, just greasy.”
That put Armstrong in front by 4 seconds, but it was shortlived. The fifth test was at Malsach Burn, better known as Gartly Moor to the older readers, where Bogie took four seconds out of Armstrong to tie for the lead. Henry was actually second quickest through this fast stage while Thorburn tied with Armstrong for third quickest. Donnelly and Sinclair shared fifth fastest.
Bogie seized the outright lead in Whitehaugh, 7 seconds quicker than Thorburn and 9 quicker than Armstrong tieing with Donnelly. It was Donnelly’s first time on gravel with the car having done a tarmac event back home earlier in the year: “The flat-shift stopped working in there,” said Mark, “and I had to use the ‘stickshift, so no real problem. Then on the road section we switched it off, pulled out the plug, put it back in again and it re-set itself!” Sinclair and Faulkner rounded off the top six with Henry dropping out of the fastest times with a rear o/s puncture.
It was Bogie again in Clashindarroch from Henry, Donnelly, Thorburn, Armstrong and Faulkner tieing with McCombie in their own personal battle. However, there was a wee bit of a kerfuffle at the finish of the stage when smoke started pouring out from under the bonnet of Desi Henry’s Skoda. Desi and Liam were out like a shot with the fire extinguishers: “They weren’t needed,” sighed Desi, “that was scary, it was just a wee oil leak dripping on to the exhaust.”
Meanwhile, Sinclair had lost a wee bit of confidence n the Subaru: “It started pulling to the right in there,” said Shaun, ” at first we thought it was a puncture but we still had grip, so thought something else must be up and I didn’t want to push.” Sensible head on these days, eh? Dougal Brown’s close fought battle with Quintin Milne suffered a setback when the clutch cable broke but Quintin didn’t escape Scot-free either: “I overshot a tight Left 7,” said Q, “and was well in the trees, but managed to reverse out.” As for Freddie Milne, his slow time in the Lancer was simply explained: “I was sitting on the start line,” said Freddie, “full revs and noise – and no go. I had forgotten to put it in gear.” (Maybe it runs in the family after all – Ed.)
First stage after final service featured a return to Malsach Burn where Bogie was two up on Thorburn and Henry tied for second, ahead of Sinclair, Armstrong and Donnelly but there was a tremendous scrap going on for sixth place overall. Faulkner was sixth going into this test ahead of McCombie and Sinclair but at the end of it, the order was Sinclair, Faulkner and McCombie, all covered by 7 seconds.
On the penultimate test at Bin, Henry shared fastest time with Bogie from Thorburn, Donnelly, Faulkner and Greg McKnight, but no sign of Armstrong. The Subaru slid off at a sixth gear junction: “We arrived at a Left 1 into 4 at a junction in sixth gear,” said Jock, “and it just went off in amongst the trees in a ditch. We got out of the car thinking it wouldn’t come out without help, but after I had a look I thought ‘I could get this out of here’, so we jumped back in and just managed to get it out and going again.” He finished 11th overall.
Not quite so lucky was Dale Robertson. First time out in a Fiesta R5, he had been going well and on course for a top ten finish until Bin Forest: “It was a fast downhill, twisty section,” said Dale, “but very slippery. The back end just stepped out, we half spun, and the car just shot into the trees on the other side of the road. We damaged the bumper but nothing mechanical broke although the radiator sprung a leak, so that was it.”
The final test at Rosarie was again a Bogie benefit, 2 seconds quicker than Thorburn who was only 1 second quicker than Henry losing out on third overall by just 3 seconds. Donnelly was fourth quickest from sixth fastest man McCombie, but in between these two setting fifth fastest time was the Subaru Impreza of Neil Philip! This being distillery country, perhaps you could put that down to the ‘nip in the air’.
Mike Faulkner was best of the Mitsubishi drivers in fifth place: “That was as hard as it would go,” said Faulkner, “we rode our luck a few times. We were right up a banking in that second last test, but we had a good battle all day with Bruce (McCombie) and Shaun (Sinclair).” Sinclair had been on a similar mission arriving at the finish minus his rear bumper, but dropped 2 seconds to Faulkner: “I got all crossed up at one point, he laughed, “but we didn’t hit anything.” It was McCombie who lost out in this last minute frenetic scramble finishing behind Faulkner and Sinclair in seventh place.
Greg McKnight finished 8th: “We had no bother with the brakes at all today,” said Greg, “so our ideas worked.” Mark McCulloch was a subdued ninth: “We tried new tyres for the last three stages,” said Mark, “but got a puncture in the long one. Just that sort of day really.” Rounding off the top ten was a relaxed Donnie MacDonald: “I’m still braking way too early in this car, but it’s great. That was a good day.”
Apart from the puncture, Bogie’s day was both faultless and seemingly effortless, well nearly: “I did have one problem during the day,” said David, “I’m so used to hearing Kevin’s voice through the intercom that I struggled today. It was a bit of a shock. It was a different voice AND a Geordie accent! It really took a wee while to get used to, but Andrew was brilliant.” Those remarks of course were said in jest, with Andrew taking the banter in good stead. Onwards and upwards, as they say.
1 David Bogie/Andrew Roughead (Skoda Fabia R5) 41m 55s
2 Desi Henry/Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) +0:39
3 Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Ford Fiesta R5) +0:42
4 Mark Donnelly/Barry McNulty (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0:54
5 Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) +1:37
6 Shaun Sinclair/Jamie Edwards (Subaru Impreza WRC) +1:42
7 Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +2:07
8 Greg McKnight/Laura Marshall (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +2:19
9 Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +2:37
10 Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer (Ford Fiesta R5) +3:14
11 Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe (Impreza) +3:44
12 Freddie Milne/Patrick Walsh (Lancer Evo 9) +3.50
13 John Wink/John Forrest (Lancer Evo 9) +3.58
14 Scott McCombie/Mark Fisher (Lancer Evo 9) +4.00
15 Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Lancer Evo 5) +4.00
16 Scott Mutch/Greg McDonald (Impreza Gc8) +4.21
17 Andy Horne/Alison Horne (Lancer Evo 9) +4.29
18 Simon Hay/Calum Jaffray (Lancer Evo 6) +4.36
19 Quintin Milne/Sean Donnelly (Ford Escort Mk2) +4.47
20 Iain Wilson/Osian Owen (Impreza) +5.04
Class 1, Neil Coalter/Hannah Cessford (Suzuki Ignis) 51m14s
Class 2, Robbie Beattie/Dave Findlay (Peugeot 205 GTI) 53m 30s
Class 3, Scott MacBeth/Daniel Forsyth (Citroen C2 R2 Max) 48m 16s
Class 4, Fraser MacNicol/Keith Boa (Ford Escort Mk2) 50m 22s
Class 5, Ian Milne/Sandy Milne (Ford Escort Mk2) 57m 57s
Class 6, Luke McLaren/Phil Kenny (Ford Fiesta ST) 52m 22s
Class 7, Quintin Milne/Sean Donnelly (Escort Mk2) 46m 42s
Class 8, Ken Wood/Gordon Wood (Triumph Dolomite Sprint) 49m 01s
Class 9, Frasrer Wilson (Lancer Evo9) 47m 49s
Class 10, Wink/Forrest (Lancer Evo9) 45m 53s
Class 11, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy (Lancer Evo9) 43m 32s
Class 12, David Bogie/Andrew Roughead (Fabia R5) 41m 55s
Speyside [News & Blethers]