16 Jun: Summer Stages Crail Report

… Summer Stages Rally, Sat 9 June …

The aptly names Summer Stages organised by Glenrothes Motorsports Club lived up to its name. Sunshine, barbeques, sun cream and sunburn. Everything you would expect from Crail in June (apart from heavy rain and winds which thankfully never materialised).

The event format went down a treat with the later start and 5 stages with a quick turnaround in between service it certainly brought a smile to most crews faces.

First car off the line at 12.25 was Gordon Morrison and Calum MacPherson in the Subaru Impreza. Gordon had recently dropped down the championship points ladder due to a couple of non-finishes but this event was one he wanted to win. That is indeed what he did and in spectacular fashion setting all 5 fastest stage times. Calum commented after Stage 4 that the car was working perfectly as were the crew and he did admit to Stage 4 being the best stage he has ever had with Gordon.

It wasn’t an easy run for Gordon though as local driver John Rintoul in the Fiesta RX2000 was clipping at his heels all day but just didn’t manage to beat him.

The first STRC retirement was Ian Patterson in the Subaru Impreza who barely got 100 yards when the Subaru’s front driveshaft failed, putting an end to his championship hopes on the day, Ian was recovered after Stage 2, stuck a new shaft on and used the rest of the day as a test ahead of next month’s Mach 1 Stages at Machrihanish.

Class 5 saw Alan Wallace have a steady run finishing 9th overall and it looks like he’s bagged full class points on this round. Martin Watterston was another welcome sight in the Subaru who reported early on having tyre issues. In the heat of day, the rears went off sending him into a spin and up on top of a lorry tyre beaching the Subaru for around 30 seconds. Martin managed to finish the day in 24th overall and 12th in class, but more importantly looks like he’s now sitting 3rd overall in the Championship. Iain Findlay in the Evo4 had a trouble free run gaining valuable championship points.

Class 4 wasn’t as well represented as previous events but none the less the competition was still fierce, Colin Gemmell with the Cobble Shop manager Derek Kier in the co driver’s seat had a great day with no issues to report apart from a spin at the end of Stage 4 in front of the spectator areas. Colin said this was deliberate but Derek doesn’t think so!

Tom Blackwood in the immaculate yellow and black Mark 2 Escort was clipping at the heels of Gemmell all day, but just missed out on top spot in the class, Unfortunately they had issues on Stage 3 with the rear tyres going off. It was so loose Tom actually thought they had a puncture, the driver’s side has some additional black marks down it, but rest assured at the time of writing this report it’s probably already repaired knowing Tom. Stage 4 was going well until the air compressor for the paddle change decided it didn’t want to play and Tom had to revert back to the gearstick to change gear. Stage 5 and everything was sorted at Service so they went out for a clean last stage and tried to maintain their position. 6th overall and second in class at the end of the day for the Ayrshire crew.

Class 3, where do we start? Probably the most hotly contested class in the STRC at the moment and Crail was no exception, Ross McCallum in the MG Maestro continued with his consistent finishes and perfect driving, Ross commented after the event he didn’t really have any issues, just a slight tweak of the suspension and passing slower cars all day was the most the team had to report, and 8th overall and 1st in class was a great end to a great day.

Willie Beattie in the Mark 2 Escort was also pushing hard all day but unfortunately his father, also called Willie, clipped a tyre on Stage 3 and rolled the car, albeit a soft roll. There was still some body damage but thankfully no injuries to the crew. Willie Junior finished 10th overall and 2nd in class.

Ross Auld – now here’s a story for you. Ross received a delivery to his garage on Tuesday night. It was all boxes of engine parts, so Ross started the task of bolting it all together. Finally on Thursday night at 5pm Ross fired up the car, loaded it on to the trailer and caught the Ferry from the Isle of Arran to head to Crail on Friday. The Car was unloaded, scrutineered and then driven 15 miles to and from St Andrews and that was the running in process complete.

Not exactly what Ross wanted but the car performed well with only some minor checks of tyre pressures to do, they finished 11th overall and 3rd in class on the day. Ross will now have more time to have the engine re-mapped and fully checked over ahead of the next round, well done to Ross and his Team.

Michael Robertson in the Honda Civic nearly managed a damage free event but decided later in the day the Civic didn’t really need parts of the front bumper. Michael finished a very respectful 14th overall and 4th in class. Roy Ness in the Fiesta ST managed 31st overall and 10th in class. Graeme Rintoul in the Fiesta had issues with electronics from the off, but persevered and finished 44th overall and 12th in class.

Class 2. Car 44, Donald Cameron in the Civic picked up maximum championship points finishing 23rd overall and 1st in class. Newly registered Joe Pringle in the Corsa kit car finished 22nd overall and 2nd in class picking up his first points of the season. Gary McDermaid in the Peugeot 106 finished 27th overall and 3rd in class, with nothing more than a spanner check and wash the car will be ready very soon for Mach 1 in July.

The Hillman Tiger of Beefy Fraser continued to impress the spectators finishing 32nd overall and 4th in class collecting more valuable championship points. Eamon Kilmurray managed a finish in the C2 GT finishing 34th overall and 6th in class. Alan Watt in the Saxo and Gary Coutts in the Fiesta swapped places all day but in the end it was Watt who finished 2 seconds ahead of Coutts in 35th and 36th overall place respectfully.

Class 1 again was very well represented but with the high attrition rate it meant Martin Farquhar looks like he has clinched full championship points in the STRC albeit finishing 41st overall and 4th in class on the day. The other 106 of James Strachan finished 2mins behind Farquhar and took second place points in the championship class points. Sue Hynd has made a welcome return to the championship, and with Tom in the co-driver’s seat they took a stage max on Stage 1 after breaking a shaft but managed to repair it at service and complete the day earning some points.

The other man that I feel must get a few words against his name is Billy Hamilton, Billy recently suffered engine failure at the last round of the championship and spent many a long hour rebuilding it. Bear in mind Billy resides in Wick, some 8+ hours from Crail to only get a couple of stages before the engine let go again. We sincerely hope this hasn’t put Billy off and would love to see him back out very soon.

Retirements on the day, and there were plenty unfortunately, meant the STRC championship points will make for interesting reading over the next few days. Current leader Martin Douglas in the Polo Cup car broke a gearbox on Stage 1 meaning that the overall position passed to Michael Harbour in the C2 R2. Unfortunately Michael rolled the car after clipping a tyre chicane on Stage 4 putting an end to his day.

Robert Marshall decided to pack up the Mark 2 Escort after having issues with oil pressure and didn’t want to damage the engine, and Greg Stark didn’t have much luck either when he called it a day after taking a stage max on stage 1. Ron Walker had a nightmare day after changing class from 1600 to 1400 and not gaining any points. Cameron Craig in the 205 was looking like he was going to be joint leader of the championship until the last and final stage of the day when the engine let go. Robert Cumming in the Astra was having a blast of a day until Stage 4 when they loaded the car on the trailer after gearbox failure.

By David Hatrick

Summer Stages Rally Results:
1 Gordon Morrison/Calum MacPherson (Subaru Impreza) 46m 10s
2 John Rintoul/Ross Hynd (Ford Fiesta RX) +00.30
3 Alan Gardiner/Robin Nicolson (Ford Escort Mk1) +01:19
4 Colin Gemmell/Derek Keir (Ford Escort Mk2) +01.26
5 Tom Morris/Colin Harkness (Metro 6R4) +01.36
6 Tom Blackwood/Gordon Winning (Ford Escort Mk2) +01.50
7 Sean Will/Kieran Will (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo5) +02.39
8 Ross McCallum/James Ralph (MG Maestro) +02.46
9 Alan Wallace/Darren Robertson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6) +03:19
10 Willie Beattie/Steven Beattie (Ford Escort Mk2) +03.30

Class Winners:
Stephen Bethwaite/Ann Forster (Vauxhall Nova Sport), Donald Cameron/Martin MacCabe (Honda Civic), McCallum/Ralph, Gemmell/Kerr, Morris/Harkness

Unofficial STRC leader board:
1, Ross McCallum
2, Martin Watterston
3, Martin Farquhar