08 Sep: Grampian Tales

… Grampian Tales …

David Bogie’s Skoda looked mint at the start of the Grampian Forest Rally and with good reason, it was virtually brand new. After the car’s rather sore outing on the British Championship Ypres round a new ‘shell was needed. It was delivered to CA1 Sport the week before the Grampian event. Just 4 days after the caged bare ‘shell was put in the workshop the car was completely built, running and ready for test. No all-nighters. Three blokes worked on it starting 9am each day, finishing at 6pm. The secret was prep and planning with everything ready and waiting for the ‘shell. It is alleged by the boys that John Bogie (Snr) said it couldn’t be done – that was the incentive. David got a test in at Sweet Lamb and that his him ready for Banchory.

After two years out of the sport, Cumbria’s Paul Bird made a welcome return in his Ford Focus WRC07. “I really enjoyed that, the stages are really good up here” he said, “it was a last minute decision and I phoned Stuart (Loudon) the week before the rally to see if he was free. I’m new to Notes so it took the first two stages to get used to the Scotmaps style. When they said ‘cut’, they really meant ‘CUT’. I was too cautious.” Asked what his plans were, he replied: “I’ll do the Woodpecker Stages next month and then hopefully a championship next year. I’m still busy with the British Superbike team and I’m busy at work, but I know the boys up here are quick and would give me a good test.”

Quintin Milne was refused a start by the MSA Stewards following a meeting on the Friday evening. It would appear that Forest Enterprise Scotland personnel contacted the organisers to allege that he had been seen on Forestry Commission land the previous Sunday. The Clerk of the Course had little choice but to exclude him under MSA Regulation R5.1.4. for “permitting the unauthorised presence of a vehicle on Forestry Commission land.” The matter has been reported to the MSA National Court.

Jock Armstrong appeared at the Grampian Rally with his right pinkie heavily strapped up. “I came off my bike,” he said, “I was taking a drink from my bottle and just had one hand on the bars and hit a bump in the road. I went arse over top, and tumbled down the road. It was so embarrassing. The Doc gave me a choice, either have it off (the pinkie that is) or get it pinned. I’ve just had an operation to put two pins in the finger and it’s catching on the steering wheel and my leg at times but it’s OK.”

John Wink debuted his new Hyundai i20 R5 on the Grampian Stages and finished an encouraging 14th overall. Having had a good close look at Tom Cave’s Hyundai on the Pirelli Rally, Wink and three times Scottish Rally Champion Ken Wood flew to Germany to discuss a deal with Hyundai Motorsport to run a car in the Scottish Championship and they collected it three weeks ago. “We had a wee ‘off’ on Stage 2,” said John, “it was just a half spin and we ended up with the nose in a ditch. There was no damage and we reversed out easily. Then on the fifth test we had a puncture, but the car is fantastic. I just can’t wait till the next event.”

Gina Walker took maximum points in the Juniors section of the Scottish Championship in her Citroen C2, but second place ensured that Andy Struthers in his C2 still has a healthy lead with one round to go when dropped scores will come into play. Max Redpath was third in his Peugeot 205 and he is still in the mix too.

John McIlwraith finished an impressive 20th overall taking maximum points in the Subaru Cup. Michael Robertson was second and still leads the category from Colin Baxter who was third on the day, but this could all change when ‘dropped scores’ have to be discounted on the final round.

Having borrowed/hired Quintin Milne’s Evo9 for the rally, Fraser Loudon claimed to be taking things easy: “I don’t want to damage Quintin’s car,” said Fraser, “he’s had enough bad luck this weekend!” Ouch.

Family harmony reigned inside car 35. Instead of Mairi Riddick co-driving for wee brother Keith, it was big sis Kirsty who was ensconced in the left hand bucket. Apparently Mairi had hurt her back at work, and no she wasn’t lifting up her pay packet – she’s a nurse. Overworked and underpaid and she’s still a lovely person. Anyway, Kirsty stepped in to help out, but as the unchivalrous Keith explained: “It’s a good job Mum produced two – I’ve got a spare!”

There was drama of another sort inside car 74. Kevin Crawford and Claire Martin finished 13th in class without a mark on the Lancer, but there was one moment of anguish. “Claire broke a nail,” said Kevin. Unfortunately I failed to understand and comprehend the degree of gravity that a situation such as this engenders, commenting: “I don’t know what she’s worried about, the other nine look perfectly fine and colourful.”

It was nice to see Chris Collie out and about once again although Mike Moates may think twice about asking him to co-drive again. Given the experience and the pace that Chris (used to?) have one could have expected genuine tuition and gentle encouragement. Nope. According to Mike: “The only tip I’m getting in here is Go, Go, Go – it’s a hoot.” Mind you he’d probably go faster anyway if he wasn’t laughing so much.

Dave Weston Jnr was another surprise visitor at the Grampian, but he was just spectating, although he still has itchy feet he said. He had his young son Owen with him, but it looks like there is trouble ahead there too. Owen prefers motor cycles.

I’m sure we all wish Graeme Sherry congratulations on his new career. The full time haulage company man and part time rally driver claimed to be taking up a new profession at the Grampian: “I’m taking up horticulture,” said Graeme, “I’ve been in the trees more than on the road. One time we had to get pushed out of the bushes by spectators.”

You have to feel for Shug ‘Uncle Shooey’ Steel at times. No, seriously you do. Shug is an inveterate smoker, but Graeme (Sherry) wouldn’t allow him to smoke in the van all the way up the road from Lanark to Banchory. Anyway, Shug spent the time wisely. He managed to make over 200 roll-ups on the way north. He was easy found at service, just look for the fag reek.

New fact. Shona Hale bakes exceedingly good cakes. She was co-driving for James Campbell in the Sunbeam and had brought along the cake boxes to feed the boys and any other waifs who happened to be passing. Purely in the interests of investigative journalism and quality assessment I had a cake, or two, and the caramel shortcake was seriously quite scrumptious. Perhaps that’s why James finished 3rd in class. Less cakes and he might have been first!

And finally …

Here’s a question worthy of Mastermind or Pointless, take your pick, but Ian Milne had a wasp in the car on one of the stages. He obviously wasn’t trying hard enough for the bold lad had time to pause and reflect: “If we were doing 70 mph in the car and the wasp was flying around inside the car – what speed was the wasp doing?” As I said he wasn’t concentrating on the job in hand, but seriously, has anyone out there got an answer to this conundrum? And if you have got an answer can you please show your workings? As the teacher used to say.

And finally, finally …

Well, I thought it was funny. Paul Bird is a senior member of the Frank Bird Poultry Farms Group in Cumbria when he is not rallying. The company has six poultry farms and buys chickens from other farms right across the north of England and the Borders, and they supply to food manufacturers, processors and retail outlets right across the country. So it’s big business. Anyway, this remark was overheard from an interested spectator – “Paul was driving like a chicken trying to out-run Colonel Sanders with a shotgun.” Please yourselves, I still think it’s funny.