24 Jul: Mach 1 Stages – The Classes

… Mach 1 Stages Rally, Sat/Sun July 14/15 …

Class 0
One starter, and no finishers, with Dean Ross and Peter Beaton retiring their 1 litre Peugeot 107 at close of play on Saturday.

Class 1
Having sourced a replacement engine for the unit blown up last time out at Crail, Cameron Craig and Ewan Lees scored a well earned victory in the 1400 class in their Peugeot 205 after a relatively trouble free run. “It’s bog standard,” said Craig, “the last one was scrap and it was easier to install a replacement than trying to fix it, but the ‘new’ engine feels good.” Not quite so fortunate were the Autopoint team where the Volkswagen Polo thought it was going to Machrihanish for its holidays and didn’t want to exert itself. Over the course of the weekend, Martyn Douglas was kept busy, or at least his faither Gary was: “We changed a driveshaft and a balljoint during Saturday and then had to change the gearbox overnight,” they said, “on Sunday morning, the clutch cable broke and then first gear broke.” Despite all that Martyn and Brian Pringle finished second in class some 2 minutes behind Craig. The indefatigable Innes Mochrie and Paul Hunter were third in their Rover Metro restored to showroom condition after its inversion here last year and a more recent trip into the trees at the Double Hillclimb a couple of weeks back. Naturally the Mochrie Metro required some TLC during the weekend: “We lost the use of first gear from the start,” said Innes, “it was OK holding it in to get off the line but it just kept popping out during the stage. We had a few moments at the far end of the Taxiway and at one point we thought we were going to collect a Finkelstein!” And for those who don’t know what a Finkelstein is, think German round of the WRC. Trouble is, the Germans never made it Machrihanish, did they? James Strachan was 4th in his Peugeot 106, Malcolm MacDougall 5th in his Nova and Martin Farquhar was 6th (and final finisher) in his Peugeot 106.

Class 2
Donald Bowness and ‘new’ co-driver Andrew Blackwood scored not only a class win, but also a magnificent 11th overall in the 1600 Vauxhall Nova. Navigating for the first time, the Junior 1000 Challenge driver was a bit apprehensive prior to the start of such a long two-day event, but Donald said: “He did really well. He didn’t miss a thing and he kept me right both days.” Michael Harbour and Ian MacDougall were 2nd in the Citroen C2 and finished 14th overall. They managed to take time out of the Nova on the shorter tests but on the longer ones there was no catching Bowness. First time out in the ex-Greg Inglis Citroen C2, Jamie Miller and Ian McCulloch were delighted with the car and with 3rd in class: “This is a big step up from the Peugeot,” said Jamie, “although a similar driving style – lift off and the back steps out! It’s immense through the chicanes. This is the first time driving it. When I bought it from Greg I took it to the sticker place, then brought it here.” After a bit of an off day, Kyle Adam ended up 4th in class with the Mk2. Tyres, changing conditions and long, fast stretches all conspired to frustrate him on Saturday but he was much quicker on Sunday’s wet stages. Steven Alexander finished 5th in class in his Citroen Saxo and first time out in the rain with the Honda Civic, Fraser Smith was 6th. Joe Pringle was slow off the mark on Saturday morning but speeded up in the afternoon: “It was running too hot this morning,” said Joe, “so I couldn’t push too hard. It was all about trying to keep it cool.” Then on Sunday morning the Corsa threw a rod: “Probably because it got too hot yesterday,” he added. Similar overheating problems afflicted the second Canal Garage Honda Civic of Donald Cameron and the car retired after the first stage on Sunday morning. David McIntyre missed the Split on the final stage of the rally, and classified as a non-finisher, while John Kean’s Peugeot retired on SS6.

Class 3
Another excellent performance by the MG Maestro of Ross McCallum and James Ralph resulted not only in a class win, but 12th overall. However, they were lucky: “We hit a tyre marker on the final stage,” said Ross, “it was kicked up by the car ahead of us and we hit it with the n/s front corner but got away with slight panel damage only.” Chris McCallum (no relation) and Stephen Clark finished 2nd in their Mk2 with Stevie “doing a grand job on his second ever rally”, said Chris. Robert Marshall and Lewis MacDougall had a trouble free run in the Mk2 with Michael Robertson and Murray Milne 4th. As ever, the Honda Civic didn’t quite finish the rally in the condition it started. Although such a term has to be qualified in the case of Robertson, more a question of adding to his established collection of scuffs and scrapes. This time he removed the rear bumper but only after trailing it half way round the long stage and finished another test with the tail gate acting as an air dam. Hamish Grant and Stewart Hurst were 5th in the Mk2 while the Ross twins, Gary and Alan were 6th in the MG TF. Barry Groundwater retired his Mk2 on the second stage of Sunday morning and Greg Inglis didn’t get any farther either. First time out in the 1800cc Lotus Exige he was going extremely well until the alternator failed on SS11.

Class 4
Edwards, Blackwood, Gardiner and Gemmell were the top scorers in Class 5 (and in the top ten overall) but Ricky Wheeler finished top Historic car and 5th in class in his Warrior engined Mk2. Andrew Scott and Ian Robertson were 6th in their Mk2 with Freddie Milne finishing 7th, but lost out on a top ten finish after an ‘off-piste’ excursion on the final stage on his first time out in a Mk2. Alistair Inglis was first to strike trouble on the day (see main report) but Fergus Gray wasn’t far behind him. The BMW’s clutch failed on the first stage and the team missed the next 3 tests fixing it.

Class 5
Morrison, Paterson, Watson, Gibb, MacDonald and Wallace were the top six in Class 5 but not too far off the pace was father and daughter team James and Kerrie MacGillivray. It was Kerrie’s first time out with faither and James’ first run out since last year, so they were both pleased with an uneventful run and an unmarked Impreza. Stuart Paterson broke a driveshaft, Willie Paterson (no relation) was forced out on SS10 when the Mitsubishi started to puff out blue smoke, and first time in four wheel drive Alan Stark missed the final two stages when he spun the Impreza and it beached itself astride the turf and tarmac taxiway.