09 Aug: Hardie wins Solway Coast

… www.usedcarparts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally 2018, Sat. 4th Aug …

Things that go Dunt in the Day …

David Hardie and John McCulloch took the honours on last weekend’s www.usedcarparts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally. Winners of this event twice before, they were up against hot favourite and 5 times winner, Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry, but an awkward landing over a yump in the first stage ruined their hopes of their 6th victory in a row on this event. Lee Hastings and Alistair Wyllie also upheld local honour with second overall ahead of Gordon Morrison and Calum MacPherson.

This year the Costa Del Solway again treated its visitors kindly. It wasn’t too sunny or too hot, although bright and cool ensured a grand day out for the spectators who gathered at the top of Brown Hill to see the rally cars aleaping and ayumping as they sped around this excellent venue.

Top seed and first car away was the Subaru Impreza of Mark McCulloch, but he wasn’t first back to the Service Area at the end of that first loop of two stages. It was the yellow Subaru of David Hardie that clocked into the Control first followed by Hastings and Morrison.

Hardie and Hastings actually tied on the same time over the first test with Morrison, Ian Forgan and John Marshall all sharing second fastest. Over the second stage, Hardie broke away from the rest a good 13 seconds up on the pursuit with Hastings and Morrison tied on second fastest times.

As for McCulloch, he appeared with the Subaru looking a bit sorry for itself drooping a bit on a front corner: “We bent a steering arm when we landed after a jump. It was well bent,” and when pushed further, added, “Aye, well, we were up a fair height!”

At least he re-appeared, got fixed and went back out although he missed SS2, but Stephen Thompson didn’t and neither did Ian Paterson. They both fell victim to a treacherous patch of moss under the trees at the end of the first stage. In fact, it caught out quite a few of the early runners but those first on the scene got the worst of it. As Ian explained: “It was 300 yards from the end of the first stage, I could see it coming so I braked early on the straight, down two gears to 3rd, then turned in. I felt the rear go light, and thocht ‘this isnae guid’ and dropped it to 2nd to try and power it out, but it was still sliding. So I told Harry ‘assume the crash position’ and the n/s rear corner just caught the tree and spun us 360 in the air. It was a fair wallop.” Then added: “I should’ve kent, it was the same tree Mark hit last year.”

It was the same for Stephen Thompson, the Fiesta R5 rear corner just caught the same tree, clattered a wheel and broke the suspension: “When the car initially understeered and then gripped, I thought I had caught it said Thompson, “but then the back end just broke away.” So any thoughts he had on improving on his runner-up position from last year were instantly dashed.

It was a bad stage for the Patersons, as brother Stuart retired his Subaru with a collapsed wheel bearing: “I went for the brakes,” said Stuart, “and there was nothing there.” Alan Wallace wasn’t far behind on the retirement list when the Mitsubishi’s clutch failed and Jim Sharp retired from the rally at the end of the first test when he took a bit poorly, so here’s hoping he’s OK.

Morrison went quickest on the third test from Hastings and Hardie, but it was Hardie who was back in control over SS4 from Morrison and Forgan, with Hastings 4th quickest. And as they pulled into the halfway break, 34 seconds covered the top four. Local man Richard Dickson, who only does two rallies a year, this one and the Galloway Hills, was a remarkable 5th in his 10 year old Subaru, with Bob Adamson rounding off the top six now that he’s getting to grips with the screaming Skoda.

After lunch, Hardie and Hastings tied over SS5 with Forgan taking some time back from Morrison but there was no Stage 6. The stage was cancelled after the red flag had to be put out after 20 or so cars. The cattle grid near the end of the test had been damaged so the remaining cars drove through at road speed. The stage was shortened for the final run later in the afternoon so no-one lost out too much.

Hardie was quickest over the penultimate test with Hastings setting fastest time over the last one, but Forgan was unable to close the 9 second gap to third placed Morrison: “I think he woke up over the last two,” said Ian, “he just took off.”

Adamson moved into 5th place and John Marshall finished 6th when Dickson broke a driveshaft and dropped two places as he limped out.

Colin Gemmell was top 2WD runner in 8th place in the Mk2 ahead of Stewart Dodds in the Nova and Michael Harbour rounding off the top ten in his Citroen C2.

At the finish, the winner said: “We were very cautious this morning. Six years ago I had a big incident in the first stage. The stages were better in the afternoon, they didn’t quite dry out, but they were better,” and then added, laughing, “I suppose folk will say I only won because Mark didn’t finish!” They might be the fiercest of rivals but they are still the bestest of friends. Mind you that might have something to do with the fact that it’s Mark’s Dad who co-drives for David!

Gemmell also won Class 4 – he was the only one entered in the 2WD over 2 litre class! He might have done better than 8th overall, but for an overshoot and stall on the 5th test: “I think the Note was wrong, we turned in too early but so did everyone else – we just went that bit further and then stalled.”

Michael Roberson was a deserved Class 3 winner in his Honda Civic: “That was a good day. We ‘shortened’ the Notes, taking a lot of stuff out, and they were spot on. We’ve done a lot of work on the car and it’s paid off.” Ross McCallum kept his Tarmack title hopes alive with 2nd in class with the MG Maestro: “This is our fourth time here – and only finished once,” he said, “we had to be careful this afternoon. With the stages being run in reverse direction there was mud across the braking areas this time.” Chris McCallum (no relation) was 3rd in class in his Mk2 while Ross Auld was sidelined on the penultimate test: “We landed awkwardly after a jump,” he said, “with one wheel touching down first which twisted the propshaft and stripped all the teeth off the diff!” Kenny Moore retired his Avenger on the previous test with a similar problem when his diff broke and the Lotus Exige of Greg Inglis was spotted parked up mid stage off the road, although whether mechanical or ‘off’ we dinnae ken.

Michael Harbour was the class of Class 2 finishing over half a minute clear of Donald Bowness in the Nova but Donald had a heckuva scrap with Des Campbell in the Peugeot 206, the two of them finishing 4 seconds apart. Fraser Smith was the best of the Canal Garage Honda Civic twins in 4th place with Donald Cameron 8th, but in between those two Jim Robertson wheeled out the Citroen C2 (in place of the Mk2) to see if he had cured the misfire (he hadn’t) and finished 5th ahead of Beefy Fraser in the Avenger. Kyle Adam was 7th after a trying day, succumbing to the slippy, mossy bits (but without damage) at least twice.

I don’t know what Stewart Dodds had for breakfast but he must have fed some to the 1400cc Nova as well. He not only won Class 1 but scored a remarkable top ten finish overall amidst some illustrious company. “The first two stages were treacherous,” he said, “from flat out grippy tarmac to moss in the glens, but it was really good.” Simon Hunter was 2nd in his Peugeot 205 with Martyn Douglas 3rd in the VW Polo and still running the standard gearbox which was less than ideal for round here. Joe Walker was 4th ahead of Cameron Craig who admitted to two overshoots in the Peugeot on the slippy bits: “Even on the 2nd run this afternoon there were that many cars off ahead of us dragging mud back on to the road,” he said. Joel Simpson was 6th in his Micra, and Chris Woodcock wasn’t. The Proton’s engine was popping and banging all the way through SS1 and he called it a day in SS2: “I think it’s the throttle position sensor and I don’t want to cause any more damage to the engine.”

1 David Hardie/John McCulloch (Subaru Impreza) 36m 41s
2 Lee Hastings/Alistair Wyllie (Subaru Impreza) +0:21
3 Gordon Morrison/Calum MacPherson (Subaru Impreza) +0:25
4 Ian Forgan/Chris Lees (Subaru Impreza) +0:51
5 Robert Adamson/Jane Nicol (Skoda Fabia) +2:05
6 John Marshall/Scott Crawford (Subaru Impreza) +2:14
7 Richard Dickson/Roger Alcorn (Subaru Impreza) +2:15
8 Colin Gemmell/Tom Hynd (Ford Escort Mk2) +2:29
9 Stewart Dodds/Robin Neil (Vauxhall Nova) +2:48
10 Michael Harbour/Ian MacDougall (Citroen C2R2MAX) +2:56

Class 1: Stewart Dodds/Robin Neil (Vauxhall Nova)
Class 2: Michael Harbour/Ian MacDougall (Citroen C2R2MAX)
Class 3: Michael Robertson/Murray Milne (Honda Civic)
Class 4: Colin Gemmell/Tom Hynd (Ford Escort Mk2)
Class 5: Richard Dickson/Roger Alcorn (Subaru Impreza)
Class 6: David Hardie/John McCulloch (Subaru Impreza)