15 Aug: Solway News & Blethers

… Solway Coast News & Gossip …

Following the accident on the Solway Coast which befell Billy McClelland and Helen Brown, it looks like Helen will be ‘enjoying’ NHS hospitality for a wee while in Dumfries & Galloway Infirmary. She’s had a couple of metal plates inserted into her fractured ankle and some other bits of ironmongery and it looks like she’ll be getting a corset to support her back while it heals when she is eventually released. At the moment she is a patient patient but she is already itching to get out. I’m sure we all wish her well and a speedy recovery.

It might also be worth reminding all drivers and co-drivers that when they see a car off the stage and no ‘OK’ or ‘SOS’ board is showing there is a recognised procedure which MUST be followed to alert safety crews and paramedics. The first car on the scene has to stop and render assistance while the second car to arrive on the scene has a duty to drive to the next radio point and inform the radio personnel that a car has gone off and the crew requires medical assistance.

The procedure is laid out in the Blue Book, Section K, page 314:
25.4.2. Any crew that sees a red SOS sign displayed on a car, or sees a major accident where both crew members are inside the car but not displaying the SOS sign, must immediately and without exception stop to give assistance.
25.4.3. All following cars must also stop and the second car arriving at the scene must inform the next radio point.
25.4.4. Subsequent cars must leave a clear route for emergency vehicles.

It would appear that this procedure was not strictly followed at this accident, but Helen wishes to thank Brian Watson and Caroline Will who did stop and did render assistance. Helen said “they were brilliant” and thanks everyone for their concern and kindness.

I may return to this topic!


Speaking of injuries, wasn’t it quiet at the weekend. Trix Grant wasn’t there. She did herself an injury lifting boxes out of the back of a van and just wasn’t fit for Solway and had to call off. I’m sure we all wish her a speedy recovery. Without her in charge, mayhem would descend on tarmack rallying.

Picture the scene. Prior to the star of the Solway Coast Rally, Mark McCulloch was deep in conversation with Andrew Wood while inspecting various tyres in the back of the tyre truck. Nearby, David Hardie was chatting with a motorsports journalist who enquired of David: “You’ve helped out Mark in the past, and due to budgetary restraints he has previously used your old tyres on occasion, has he been mooching round your garage again for this year?” The ever patient David responded: “Yes, he is using some of my old tyres – and my new ones too!”

It was a one-off, but Stephen Thompson appeared at Dundrennan with his suit and helmet on his first ever ‘arrive and drive’ deal. He had hired Dom Buckley’s RSC prepped Ford Fiesta R5 which turned up resplendent in AMD Plant livery. “I started rallying with front wheel drive then rear wheel drive,” said Stephen, “so I’ve just combined the two. It will be my first time with 4WD.” He added: “We had a wee test on Monday where I did about 25 miles.” Asked how it went, he said: “After it I was just speechless.” Which is very unlike Stephen as we all know, which prompted the obvious question: “I’ll see how I go today before I decide what to do next,” he answered. We all now know how it went, so Mr Thompson now has a serious decision to make, eh?

Looking at Mark McCulloch’s stage times, Shaun Sinclair was wondering if he had been out recceing or walking the dog through the MoD site, before coming up with the perfect excuse: “I think Mark hired a soldier uniform from a fancy dress hire shop and marched down all these roads taking notes and no-one thought to stop him.” Shaun was joking of course, but what an idea. Maybe there will be more soldier suits hired out to a variety of folk ahead of next year’s event, eh?

Taylor Gibb was a bit off the pace at Solway. It was his first event on Notes: “I had a wee practice with Jane (Nicol) down in Berwickshire. We had an old set of Notes from the Clark Rally and just drove round the roads just to familiarise myself with them.” He added: “There was no speed involved.” He finished a lowly (by his standards) 14th on the day which just proves the value of Notes to the more experienced crews.

Ahead of the Solway Coast, Ian Paterson recalled: “This is the 37th Solway, and I’ve done them all. But what a class field. If I get 6th today I’ll be in the pub early.” What a prediction, he finished 6th – and there was nothing on the News that night about pub riots in the south west. Result.

Ross Auld was a decidedly lucky man. He hit something which punctured the front n/s tyre, bent the suspension and pushed the wheel right back into the well and finished the last stage on 3 wheels and the nose of the Escort rubbing the ground. And he finished 21st!

The pristine white Avenger of Kenny Moore suffered an awfy sore dunt on its nose at Solway pushing the radiator back into the engine. The car slid off the road at speed in SS4 and struck a tree right between the headlights. Richard (Wardle) suffered a cut finger, but it will be Kenny’s wallet that suffers the biggest impact. He does have a new ‘shell back at the garage though.

Cheapskate rallying was in evidence again in the south west. This time it was Stuart Paterson: “I had no brakes this morning,” he said, “then I checked the pads. They were worn right down to the metal. I fitted new pads, and I’ve got brakes again.” Sorted, eh?

Hamish Kinloch’s Mk2 spent a lot of time on the rev limiter at Dundrennan: “It’s still forest spec,” explained Hamish, “it’s only geared for 90 flat oot. It blew the disptick out and there’s oil all over the place,” but he still finished 13th.

Chris Marshall had a bad day with his Evo5. He broke the front propshaft on the first stage then broke the rear one on the fifth.

Jim Robertson scored sixth in class in his C2 but only after he changed all the sensors on the wee thing. He’s had an ongoing issue with a misfire in the French machine which actually goes very well when it’s on song, but it’s about as temperamental as a French chef in a Glasgow chip shop on a Friday night. Anyway, by close of play on the Saturday the car was running well and that was reflected in his times.

Although it looked the same, Martin Page was debuting his ‘new’ BMW MINI at Solway: “It’s the ex Ian/Gary Dawes Minisport ‘shell which is much fresher than mine so it’s the same car but different.” He finished 29th.

Hugh Murdoch had a lucky escape in SS2 when his Escort burst a brake pipe and he finished the test with no brakes. He finished the rally 40th.

Ewan Murdoch lost out on a finish when his Ford Focus broke an engine mounting in Stage 5. They managed to fix it and get back out for a test run before calling it a day.

First retirement of the day was the Subaru of Martyn Douglas. It cut out on the Start line of the first stage. Martyn fired it up again and it burst into life – before cutting out again. This time it wouldn’t re-start. Meanwhile faither Gary was back at the service wagon reaching for a box of matches – and he doesn’t smoke.

Second retirement of the day was probably Jamie Stewart. The Peugeot broke a front driveshaft on the first corner of the first stage. The boys managed to fix it and he got a run out on the later stages.

Liam Harkness retired his Subaru when he had to take to a banking to avoid another car and broke a bottom balljoint although he managed to get some later stages in when the car was fixed.

Marc McCubbin didn’t finish in the wee Micra. He broke a driveshaft on the first stage and missed the second, then went back out – and ran out of petrol.

Last man home was first time visitor Andrew Potts from Morecambe. He got a maximum on SS2 when his MINI hit a pot hole and killed the inertia switch. He didn’t realise what it was at first and lost 12 minutes trying to trace the ‘fault’ before he found the real cause. Dohhh! It was his first time here and his 4th rally since the car was rebuilt, but he said he enjoyed it so much he’d come back to the Solway Coast again.

Scott Peacock was doing zero car duty at Solway, but spectators were a bit puzzled. The Peacock liveried MG ZR was transformed after the first two stages into a Peacock liveried Peugeot 205 for the rest of the day: “I’m doing course car duty again tomorrow,” said Scott, “so I thought I might need a spare and brought dad’s car along too. Good job I did.”

Jim McDowall finished inside the top 20 despite a fractious day out. He had no 2nd gear in the Subaru from the first stage and also had to contend with fuel starvation problems having upgraded and installed new foam in his bag tank. However, of more interest to the readers of these salacious pages, he let slip a lesser known fact. Both Jim’s son Jamie and daughter Charlotte work in the family garage business, Motorwise in Newton Stewart, where apparently there is an established pecking order observed by staff and customers. Jamie is ‘the quiet boss’, Charlotte is the ‘gubby wee boss’ while Jim is ‘the crabbit old boss’.

And finally …

We are all truly grateful for the volunteers who turn up to Marshal at rallies, for without them, there would be no rallying. It’s also especially encouraging when a current competitor who is not contesting the event turns up to support his local car club. There was indeed such a volunteer amongst the throng at Solway, but he must remain anonymous, for the powers-that-be might take a dim view of his ‘Marshalling skills’. Plucking a typical Scottish name from the air, let us call this volunteer ‘Jock’ who upon signing-up for duty was duly dispatched to what was considered an undemanding post where all he had to do was ensure that the chicanes, tapes, posts and arrows remained in place despite the antics of the rally drivers. Our volunteer stalwart set about his task, methodically checking the stage furniture and ensuring that the wayward results of errant drivers were replaced in accordance with the rules – until boredom set in. As the clouds parted and the summer sunshine warmed the land and the blood, and as the rally leader approached the Hairpin at great speed on Stage 5, Jock dropped his trousers and mooned him as Mark swung the car into the Hairpin, and then Jock swung around and mooned him again on the way out of the Hairpin. He even had the temerity and presence of mind in mid-moon to twist round so that he could wave to Mark. Two digits, or five? You decide. It was like an out-take from that memorable scene in Braveheart where the Scottish sojers showed their contempt for the auld enemy. And did he confine his mooning activities to one driver? Apparently not, as it was later alleged that the bum cheeks were bared to others whom he reckoned weren’t trying. What price a starring role for this bold lad on Rally Wales GB? I reckon that could even put the ‘Ice Man’ Latvala off his game – and his food.

This story couldn’t possibly be true, could it?

Solway Coast Rally – [Main Report]