02 Jul: Kingdom Stages roundup

… News from the Kingdom …

The two-venue format for this year’s 40th Kingdom Stages Rally went down well even though it might have had an impact on entries. Cars had to be road-legal since they had to be driven to Leuchars on the public road, after two stages at Crail, where they tackled four more stages before a return to Crail and the final 4 tests. The stages at Leuchars were better too, as the organisers were allowed a bit more leeway after the recent trial events at the new location. They were longer and faster with competitors getting 84 competitive stage miles in total for their money. No bad, eh?

You can’t keep a good man down. Even though he was lying in a hospital bed while rally cars were whizzing round Crail and Leuchars, Raymond Mann was overseeing the Scotresults rally service which Stan Thorogood was operating on site on Raymond’s behalf. It was Stan who was keying in the info from the Time Cards, but it was Raymond who was updating the stuff on the website – as long as he could get an NHS wi-fi signal! Earlier in the week, Raymond had taken a bad attack of shingles and was actually put on a drip for while in hospital, it was so bad. Fortunately, Raymond is on the mend and is out of hospital, so there’s no need to send cards, grapes or flowers, but I’m sure we all send our best wishes.

Have you lost a steering arm? No, not a limb, a steering arm for a Mk2 Escort. At the November Crail event, someone kindly loaned a steering arm to Martin Murray but he completely forgot who gave it to him – old age is such a burden, eh? Anyway, Martin was back at Crail for the Kingdom and he was back on the scrounge again, this time before the rally. On the Thursday night before the event he found that both rear shockers were leaking and he had no spares so he posted his predicament on Facebook, and guess what? Within an hour, Alan Kirkaldy had phoned him and helped to sort him out, so a big thanks to Alan for that. As Martin said: “That’s what rallying is all about, helping folk, now all I need to do is find out who loaned me a steering arm so I can return it!”

Speaking of Alan Kirkaldy, where would a boy be without his Da? Despite his pace he did have one scary moment on the fifth test when the Mk2 picked up a puncture so he had to change the wheel before the start of SS6. This left him without a spare and he was at Leuchars at the time, so he phoned his Dad at home to ask/tell him to go round to Alan’s garage, look out another tyre and bring it to Crail. Which he did, the big softie.

Tristan Pye (from north east Englandshire) made his first ever visit to Crail with his ‘Mull Special’ Subaru which he is now planning to take to the Isle of Man in September following the bad news that Mull won’t run on closed public roads this year. Even though he didn’t finish, he judged the exercise a success: “We had a number of things to check out,” said Tristan, “but the most surprising thing was that we ran out of fuel after two laps. It normally runs at 1 litre per mile but in the heat, it was drinking a lot more.” He also had a problem with the gearlever and rather than risk any damage, packed it up to take home and check it out. Job done though.

Richard Wheeler gave his new Historic spec Mk2 its first proper runout at Crail but the test had to be curtailed when the Warrior Holbay Pinto engine stated to overheat. Seems the brand new radiator does not have the capacity to cool the beast, so a bigger unit will have to be acquired and installed.

And speaking of old-timers, Ian Logan, one time Sunbeam pilot gave his Mk2 an airing at Crail. A very short airing. It put a rod through the block on the first stage.

Former Peugeot 106 driver, Michael Robertson appeared at Crail with his latest purchase, a Honda Civic: “I bought it two weeks ago,” said Michael,” and it broke a driveshaft on the second corner of the first stage.”

On his first outing with a new Subaru Impreza, Tom Middlemiss was sidelined on the first stage when it chucked all the oil out. There was no warning and no oil light and it was checked out at first service. He missed SS2 and had another run round SS3 before deciding to call it quits for the day before any real damage was caused.

I wonder if the author of the ‘Mister’ books for weans has a person in mind when dreaming up new characters. One thing is for sure ‘Mr Happy’ is not based on Andrew Gray. The big chap was looking quite glum after the first stage at the Kingdom. “The car just died on us and we don’t know what it is,” as they all stood round the Peugeot’s open bonnet, before adding “and the tow car broke down on the way here, so we’ve got to fix that too.”

Another early retirement was Ian Cruden with his Honda Civic: “The gearbox started to get noisy and crunchy on the second stage, but on the road section to Leuchars it was getting worse,” said Ian, “so we called it a day, turned round, went back to Crail and then home.”

It was certainly a day for early retirements as Peter Stewart didn’t get far either. The VW Polo developed a power steering fault then it started pumping oil back through the header tank. With the ‘usedcarparts.co.uk Solway Stages’ coming up there was no point in risking it any further, but better getting it right for his home event.

Hugh ‘Uncle Shooey’ Steel had a short run out on the Kingdom when the Subaru started to “spew water out everywhere” curtailing his activities for the day.

The Autopoint team rarely seem to have a trouble free event these days, but young Martyn Douglas brought the Subaru home with all mechanical parts still working in harmony, apart from the clutch: “It started slipping on the final stages,” said long suffering dad, Gary adding, “that’s a new clutch needed for the next outing.”

Another retirement was added to the growing list when Lindsay Taylor’s Fiesta ST broke all four wheel studs on the front n/s wheel which then made a bid for freedom and bounded off into the undergrowth on its own.

Apparently the actual cause of Steve Irwin’s retirement in the Nova was a wire which came off the fuel pump, “but that was after it rolled,” added Steve, “we rumbled over a tyre marker which pitched us up and over.”

The Corsa of Finlay Brock didn’t last long either: “We’ve got a big hole in the block,” said Finlay, “we were flat out on the straight and it just went bang – and then went on fire.”

Kelly Howe had her hands, and her feet, full co-driving for Dave Cranston in the Astra. The duo finished the last two stages with Kelly doing the business on the Notes but also telling Dave where the two water bottles were! They had come loose and were rolling around the driver’s footwell, so she was keeping an eye on them and telling him where they were in case they got stuck under the brake or the accelerator. In addition to that she was holding the ECU in with her foot, as it had come loose in her own footwell. Now that’s multi-tasking, eh?

And finally …

The glorious weather was a big talking point at the weekend with Eamonn Kilmurray summing up conditions inside the rally car: “It’s like a Bangkok night club in there – hot and sweaty,” which begs the question, how does he know? Methinks we should be told, eh?

Kingdom Stages Rally – [Main report]