… Speyside … The Classes …
Neil Coalter and Hannah Cessford had a relatively easy run to the Class 1 victory in their Suzuki Ignis despite the handbrake seizing on mid-stage 4 with Neil eventually managing to wrestle it free. He did admit to one other hiccup on the way round: “I stalled it on the start line of the penultimate stage,” he said. Even so, they were over 6 minutes clear of the Peugeot 205 of Steven Crockett and Martin Henderson who were running in new suspension after a complete Winter rebuild. Jacob Harlington and Chris Duff were third in the VW Polo after an incident packed day. All the coolant poured out on the morning before the rally but a new water pump was sourced from the local Autosave and then the car fell on its ear in Gartly. It happened at a Hairpin Left at the quarry but fortunately there were enough Marshals on hand to heave the wee thing back on to its wheels. Gavin Kelt and Nikki Addison posted possibly the first retirement of the day when their Corsa expired on the first stage.
Robbie Beattie/Dave Findlay and Adrian Stewart/Tom Hynd finished the rally on identical times with organisers having to resolve the tie-decider in Robbie’s favour. It could so easily have gone the other way. “We actually slid off on the second last stage,” said Robbie, “but spectators pushed us out and we only lost around 16 seconds.” Adrian made up for last year’s non-finish with second place just 13 seconds clear of the third placed Peugeot 205 of Andy Chalmers and Martin MacCabe but they were lucky to make the finish at all. The car started misfiring on the last stage before the alternator failed on the final road section and the crew had to push the car over the line. The Peacock twins were fourth with faither Donald claiming that “he saw a deer, or it might have been a hare!” run across the road in one stage (should have gone to Specsavers!) and then spun off the on the final test but were rescued by the sterling efforts of a willing band of spectators. On their first event since a big accident curtailed activities over a year ago, Scott MacDonald and Angus MacNeill were happy enough with fifth and “only two ditches visited” in their Nova. David McLoughlin and Graham Robertson were 6th and Bryan Morrison and Dean Ross were 7th despite a puncture in the last stage in their Ford Ka. On their fourth event, Graeme and Alan Harris were the final class finishers in their Fiesta finishing SS7 on a front puncture and despite being “off a few times.” Both Tom Howie and Bill Falconer failed to finish, putting their respective Sunbeam and Peugeot off in Clashindarroch. Max Redpath retired his Peugeot with overheating.
Two seconds separated the Class 3 contenders with Scott MacBeth/Daniel Forsyth just getting the nod from Angus Lawrie/Paul Gribben. Scott had to deal with the return of his Citroen C2 R2’s misfire and is still completely puzzled. “We changed everything after Condor and it seemed OK at first but it comes back intermittently,” he said, “then the power steering failed.” Reflecting on second place in the Corsa, Angus said: “I just need to get the finger out.” Only 1 second behind in 3rd place was the Peugeot 208 R2 of Marty Gallagher seeking seat-time ahead of the Pirelli and had a smile at the finish: “We clipped a rock on that last stage – but we got away with it.” Keith and Mairi Riddick were 4th in the MG ZR having spent the day topping up the clutch fluid reservoir before the start and at the end of every stage, then spun in SS4, “Right in front of the spectator area,” but he still managed a laugh. Scott Beattie and Cameron Fair were 5th in the Sunbeam ahead of Thomas Gray and Jane Nicol having a bad day in the Fiesta ST. The car struck a rock in the morning section coming into service with the front wheels pointing in slightly different directions and by the end of the rally: “I think all the wheels were pointing in different directions, ” added Thomas. Gina Walker and Richard Simmonds got a great result in their Citroen C2. Not only 7th in class but winner of the Ecosse Challenge having finished the rally looking rather better than it did last time out on the Speyside! Jim Robertson/Michael Curry were 8th in their C2 but Jim spent much of the morning going sideways. Not the car, just Jim. He explained: “I did the first four stages with the seat mountings broken.” Second Ecosse Challenger home was the C2 of Andy Struthers and Alasdair McIlroy finishing 9th in class and prompting the youngster to reckon that this was his best drive to date. What he wasn’t admitting was that he finished his university exams on Thursday and spent the night celebrating before recovering sufficiently for the rally on Saturday! Ross Hughes and Neil Ewing were 10th in their C2 but Ross spent more of the day under the car and under the bonnet than in it. The suspension was too hard in the morning so the shockers were changed for the afternoon then he decided to “have a go” over the final three stages: “We pushed hard in SS8 then slid off in SS9,” said Ross, “but about 20 spectators got us out. Then on the final stage, we were on the rev limiter so often that it cut out and we had to stop, switch it off and re-set it.” Courtesy of a 5 minute time penalty after changing the car’s clutch at first service, Alex Pirie and Frazer Skene finished 11th after a troubled day in their C2 and had a puncture in SS7. Craig Mulheron/Ruaridh Stubbs had a spin in their Peugeot 106 on SS5, Michael Davies/Jamie Edward had 3 punctures in their VW Polo and a spin in SS3 experiencing a “more stressful day” than their first ever rally on the Snowman in February. Final finisher was newcomer Elvin Smith with Graham Douglas who said: “Everything was fine – once I got the tyre pressures sorted out.” Josh McErlean retired his Citroen C2 R2 Max on the last stage with when the alternator broke: “We’ll fit a bigger one for next weekend’s Pirelli,” he said, and Steven Smith retired his Escort when the rebuilt engine suffered electrical problems. Graeme Sherry retired his C2 when a bottom arm snapped off while Charles Stewart broke the suspension in his Peugeot 106. Graeme McVicar retired his Fiesta with gearbox failure.
The Escort Mk2 of Fraser MacNicol/Keith Boa clattered into the finish with class victory safely in the bag, despite: “We did the last three stages in 3rd gear only and the gearbox is getting noisier all the time,” said Fraser, “but we made it, and I’m still smiling.” Paddy and Chris Munro were 2nd in their Mk2 and lucky to make it: “We had to borrow oil from a farmer in a JCB in a field,” said Paddy. Scott McQueen and Andrew McKinnon were 3rd in their Peugeot admitting to “just one ditch today” while Colin Patterson and Gary Clark were 4th in their Escort. Final class finishers were Chris Murray and Michael Christie who had: “An excellent day out with only a slight oil leak from the distributor to contend with.
The Milne family outing resulted in a class win for Ian and Sandy Milne in their Escort Mk2 – there were no other entries!
A good day with nothing to report was had by class winners Luke McLaren and Phil Kenny in their Fiesta ST with Scott Burness and Jodi Devine 2nd and another lucky crew to make the finish: “We finished the final stage with no brakes,” said Scott, “the brake warning light was on and the pedal was spongy.” Michael Renton and Kenny Foggo brought up the rear in their Peugeot 309 having survived an overshoot at the Hairpin in Cooper park earlier in the day, missing the kerbs, and then spun on the final stage. Grant MacRae had no luck at all, the Fiesta’s gearbox giving up the ghost after 4 stages and Kevin Gray’s Astra broke down in SS8 while Martin Crombie’s day out ended abruptly with the Peugeot 306 in a Balloch ditch.
After a pretty fierce battle for most of the day with Dougal Brown, Quintin Milne and Sean Donnelly won the class in their Escort Mk2. Q did have one misdemeanour in SS4 when he overshot a tight Left 7 and had to reverse out whereas Dougal with Lewis Rochford finished the rally with a burst n/s rear damper for the last three stages: “We tried to be sensible,” said Dougal, “but it was bouncing around quite a lot.” Michael Stuart and Sinclair Young weren’t too far off the pace but had to settle for 3rd with the Escort suffering a bout of over-fuelling over the final 3 stages making the interior of the car fill up with fumes. )Good job there were no drug tests at the finish! – Ed). Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna enjoyed their day out in Scotland finishing 4th and Duncan MacDonald and Neil Ross had their troubles when the Escort’s wiring under the bonnet fell off and got burnt on the manifold. First time in the woods since 1997 (I thought he was older than that – Ed.) Hamish Kinloch and Jim Howie were happy enough with 6th ahead of the only non-Ford in the class, the Opel Kadett of John Brownie and Gordon Ritchie who arrived at the finish minus some front n/s bodywork: “We had a wee straight-on at a 90 Right in SS8,” explained John.
The V6 engined Triumph Dolomite Sprint of Ken and Gordon Wood was the sole finisher when Rhuaridh Campbell’s Sierra Cosworth broke down and the team were unable to get it fixed in time at second service in Huntly.
Just two finishers with the Group N Mitsubishi Lancer of Fraser Wilson and Craig Wallace taking the class after fixing the diff pump in the morning and then surviving an ‘off’ in SS4: “We spun and hit a rock,” said Fraser, “which pushed the sumpguard up against the exhaust, but we’re OK.” Ian Petrie and Alan Falconer were 2nd in their Evo4 with Caroline Carslaw and Chris Lees failing to finish when the Subaru slid off in that slippy bit at the end of Bin.
Two seconds were the difference between class winners John Wink and John Forrest in their Evo9 and second placed Michael Binnie with Claire Mole in their Evo5. John Wink also scored top ARR Craib Challenger points with his 13th overall placing while Michael Binnie not only finished second Challenger, but was also awarded the John Horton Star Driver Award for his efforts running second hand tyres on all ten stages. Scott Mutch and Greg McDonald survived an ‘off’ in the slippy Bin stage to grab third in class with their Subaru. Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray were 4th in their Evo6 ahead of Iain Wilson and Osian Owen who were actually off the road at one point in Balloch in the Subaru: “We spun off backwards at a Left 9,” said Iain, “I was just too hot in, but at least there was room to manoeuvre, then it stalled!” Ian and Kathryn Forgan were 6th in class in the Subaru but had a lucky escape at the end of SS4: “We caught a guy and were right on his bumper at the hairpin, at which point he knocked the car into neutral to coast through the Flying Finish. I was so surprised I nearly ended up in his boot,” said Ian, “he explained at the finish that he had lost his brakes, but the speed I was going, he nearly lost his car.” Ian Baumgart and Mike Dickson were 7th and capped a niggly day with two stalls in the Subaru on the last stage, Martin Craik and Steven Brown were 8th in their Subaru while John McIlwraith and Calum MacDonald were 9th and scored top points in the Subaru Cup despite a cracked rear brake disc which meant three-wheeled braking all day, and included a short unintended spell in a ditch on SS6. Matthew Thomson and Ian Graham rounded off the top ten also scoring second placed Subaru Cup points. In 11th place were Niall Inglis and Jenna Beaton after a miserable day with their Subaru: “It hasn’t revved over 5000 rpm all day,” said Niall, “we tried everything to clear it but no luck.” On a more positive note, this was his first event with girlfriend Jenna on the Notes – and they were still talking at the finish! Colin Baxter and Donald Campbell were 12th after a troubled day with a burst radiator, a puncture and a persistent misfire. Neil and Ian Philip were 13th but put the Subaru into a ditch in Whitehaugh: “We floored it and it came out, lucky,” said Ian. Michael Robertson and Gary McDonald were 14th after fixing a faulty Subaru fuel pump at service and on his third rally Mark Shaw with Will Munro were 15th and the Subaru didn’t miss a beat all day. On his first rally Brett McKenzie with Lauren Murray were 16th but lucky to make the start never mind the finish: “The new pistons only arrived on Thursday to get the engine rebuilt and installed then the coil pack ‘exploded’ at service – but we had a spare!” Bringing up the rear were Donald and Rachael Brooker and Kevin Crawford/Claire Martin. Having got the new car MOT’d on Friday morning, the Speyside was Donald’s first run out in a Subaru after the BMW but a two minute time penalty cost them dear while Kevin admitted to “one ditch – well, nearly.” Billy Miller had electrical trouble with his Lancer on the Friday night at Scrutineering and that continued on Saturday till it conked out in SS3, Mike Grant didn’t get much further when the Subaru’s gearbox broke in Cooper Park and Derek Duncan had similar problems in the penultimate test.
In the first of the big banger classes it was Mitsubishis all the way, Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy scored top points in their Evo9 from McCombie, McKnight, McCulloch and Armstrong (Subaru) with Freddie Milne and Patrick Walsh rounding off the top half dozen. With the RSAC Scottish fast approaching and memories of last year’s crash, bang wallop still echoing through his empty wallet, Freddie’s more measured approach is paying dividends although he added: “Rallying with a really good co-driver makes it so much more enjoyable.” Scott McCombie and Mark Fisher were 7th after a clean and steady run ahead of Andy and Alison Horne in Donnie MacDonald’s Evo9 with Andy commenting: “It was a faultless day apart from a puncture on a road section.” Brian Watson and Caroline Will were next in the Lancer Proto saying: “I beat (Nigel) Feeney, that’s all that matters.” John Rintoul and Ross Hynd were 10th after “a really good day” ahead of Nigel Feeney and Abi Louden who finished with a “clunky diff or it might be the ‘box.” Final finishers were Robert Thomson and Kyle MacKintosh who had a wee scare when the brakes failed in SS4: “A brake pipe burst,” said Robert, “so we had to finished the stage with no brakes.” Keith Morris retired with a driveshaft failure and Erle Strachan was stranded with an electrical problem
In the ‘big class’ it was Bogie from Henry, Thorburn, Donnelly, Sinclair and McDonald with Dale Robertson missing ot when the Fiesta went off in Bin. No real damage but the radiator was burst and Reay MacKay retired the Focus with an electrical fault.
Speyside [Main Rally Report]
Speyside [Fastest Stage Times]
Speyside [News & Blethers]