… Granite Stages at Leuchars Rally, 27 May 2017 …
Alan Kirkaldy scored his second victory on successive events when he won the Granite Stages at Leuchars Rally in his Ford Escort Mk2. It was a dominant display. Kirkaldy with Richard Crozier this time was fastest or equal fastest on 5 of the day’s 7 stages with the Lotus Exige of the Inglis brothers only 11 seconds behind at close of play.
Unfortunately, the first stage of the day had to be cancelled when one of the front runners scattered the route marking cones which sent some later runners the wrong way!
Once that was sorted out, the rally got underway again, but there was another shock for the leading crews. Ian Forgan and Chris Lees topped the time sheets at the end of SS2. The Hyundai pairing took 3 seconds out of Kirkaldy, but their lead was short lived, the red Escort was 16 seconds quicker round the next test.
Sadly, it all went wrong for Forgan on the 6th test when the Hyundai Accent WRC blew a turbo hose on Stage 6 and he dropped to fourth place at the rally finish.
Meanwhile Alistair Inglis was getting back up to speed after a slow time on the third test and was spotted with the laptop plugged into the Lotus’ brain: “It’s not pulling well,” said Alistair, “we’re haemorrhaging time all over the place.” After lunch, the car seemed to be working better and the crew were pretty much relieved with second place overall considering their troubles.
In third place were Gordon Morrison and Calum MacPherson who initially struggled to get on the pace: “All I had were soft Yokohamas,” said Gordon, “so I went to Andrew Wood and asked what were the hardest tyres he had.” The Subaru went back out on Hankooks, and they finished just 3 seconds behind the runners-up.
The Skoda Fabia of Ross Marshall and Dave Robson finished fifth with the promise of more to come as Ross adapts after 5 seasons with a Mk2 and Taylor Gibb/Jane Nicol were sixth. At the start of the last stage, Gibb was looking at a distinctly possible podium finish, but whether it was tyres or youthful over exuberance, the Lancer locked up under braking and headbutted a concrete post. Luckily it was mostly cosmetic and all the front mounted coolers were still intact so he was able to get the car to the finish.
John Marshall and Scott Crawford might have done better than 7th if it hadn’t been for a time losing spin on the 7th stage with the top 1600 car finishing 8th. Gareth White and Harry Marchbank were top 1600ccc runners finishing 8th overall in the Peugeot 208. Euan Duncan/Jean Hay in the unusual Honda S2000 and Ross Auld/Jamie MacTavish in the wayward Mk2 rounded off the top ten with Ross commenting: “I actually stopped in SS6 to see if I had a puncture. The tyres went off in SS5, but we were straight into SS6 with no rest and they were just completely gone.”
Tom Morris was looking good for a top ten finish till the last stage of the day. Just after the start, the bonnet of the Metro blew up and he couldn’t see. This required a stop in the stage to fix it and bang went his hopes. Keith Robathan dropped a minute in the 6th test which ruined his chances, but John Rintoul didn’t get that far. The Fiesta RX was retired after 3 stages with faulty steering and Tom Blackwood was out with an engine problem in the Escort.
The terrible twins, Gareth and Harry were easy winners of Class 2 for 1600cc machinery finishing over 2 minutes clear of the pursuit led by the Corsa of Ross Pringle and Thomas Purvin. Greg Inglis and Martin Forrest were third in the Citroen after a driveshaft broke on the 4th test, luckily just before lunch so they had time to replace it.
In the 1400cc class, Jamie Miller and Ross Carbry took the 1400 class in their Corsa by more than a minute from the Puma of Matt and Bryan Reid. Stuart Thorburn and Steven Ross were a distant third in their MG after the rear suspension collapsed: “We hit a speed bump,” said Stuart, “and the bottom fittings on the shock absorbers broke and all the fluid blew out. When I saw the smoke I thought it was the engine, but we still had oil pressure.” Somehow they managed to ‘bodge up’ repairs and get out and finish the rally.
Johnnie MacKay scored his first ever victory in the Junior 1000 Championship with Lewis Haining getting his best result in second.
However, that first victory looked distinctly in doubt at the end of the first stage when the Suzuki Alto hove into view with a smacked nose. There was no mechanical damage but he and Gordon Reid set about making up lost time.
Initial leaders were Jude MacDonald and Michael Cruickshank but their Skoda Citigo suffered fuel problems on the third stage and they were out. That pitched Ewan Tindall and Paul Hudson into the lead in their Citroen which they held all the way to the final stage. And then fate stepped in. A heavy landing after a jump stopped the C1 dead in its tracks leaving the boys scratching their heads.
It was now Lewis Haining and George Myatt’s turn to lead the rally in their Toyota but the lead changed twice in the final stage. First when Tindall went out and then MacKay’s serious turn of pace catapulted him ahead of Haining. Phew, what a finish!
Peter Beaton and Ellya Gold scored their first podium with third place in their Peugeot ahead of Andrew Blackwood and Ian McRae despite an errant off-rally-route distraction on the third stage in their Citroen C1. Amy McCubbin and Brian McCllelland had a steady run into 5th still getting used to her Skoda while Tindall got sixth and was final finisher.
1 Alan Kirkaldy/Richard Crozier (Ford Escort Mk2) 45m 19s
2 Alistair Inglis/Colin Inglis (Lotus Exige) 45m 30s
3 Gordon Morrison/Calum MacPherson (Subaru Impreza) 45m 33s
4 Ian Forgan/Chris Lees (Hyundai Accent) 45m 50s
6 Ross Marshall/Dave Robson (Skoda S2500) 46m 07s
7 Taylor Gibb/Jane Nicol (Mitsubishi Evo8) 46m 52s
8 John Marshall/Scott Crawford (Subaru Impreza) 47m 51s
9 Gareth White/Harry Marchbank (Peugeot 208 R2 Vti) 47m 57s
10 Euan Duncan/Jean Hay (Honda S2000) 48m 02s
11 George R. Auld/Jamie MacTavish (Ford Escort) 48m 30s
12 Graeme Rintoul/Jim Rintoul (Ford Fiesta) 48m 43s
13 Ross McCallum/James Ralph (MG Maestro) 48m 47s
14 Alan Wallace/Darren Robertson (Mitsubishi Evo6) 49m 08s
15 Kenny Moore/Richard Wardle (Hillman Avenger) 49m 21s
16 Keith Robathan/Peter Carstairs (Ford Escort Mk2) 49m 30s
17 Robert Ness/Don Whyatt (Subaru Impreza) 49m 39s
18 Billy Hamilton/Sara Hamilton (Opel Kadett) 49m 55s
19 Ross Pringle/Thomas Purvin (Vauxhall Corsa) 49m 57s
20 Greg Inglis/Martin Forrest (Citroen C2 R2 Max) 50m 08s
Class Winners: Jamie Miller/Ross Carbry (Vauxhall Nova); White/Marchbank; Duncan/Hay; Kirkaldy/Crozier; Morrison/MacPherson.
1 Johnnie MacKay/Gordon Reid (Suzuki Alto) 36m 56s
2 Lewis Haining/George Myatt (Toyota Aygo) 37m 37s
3 Peter Beaton/Ellya Gold (Peugeot 107) 39m 15s
4 Andrew Blackwood/Ian McRae (Citroen C1) 39m 48s
5 Amy McCubbin/Brian McClelland (Skoda Citigo) 40m 39s
6 Ewan Tindall/Paul Hudson (Citroen C1) 49m 00s