16 Aug: Solway Coast Blethers

… News and Blethers from the Solway Coast …

Getting quicker in the Skoda Fabia S2000 is Bob Adamson. He finished an excellent 5th o/a, and this despite a problem in the morning: “The handbrake wasn’t working,” said Bob, “we were up bankings and all over the place trying to get round corners. I managed to get a new master cylinder from Dom Buckley to fix it.” And added: “Dom must really despair when he sees me coming, I always seem to be needing something for the car.”

Just outside the top ten in 11th place was Peter Stewart in his VW Polo S2000, first time in the hot seat for almost a year. “If I get through the first stage, I’ll be happy,” said Peter, “if I get through the second I’ll be ecstatic, because that’s the furthest I’ve got here. And if I get through the third stage I’ll feel like I’ve won.” So he did alright then, eh?

Finishing 17th o/a and 2nd in class was Ross McCallum: “This is my fourth time here and I’ve only finished once before,” said Ross, “I’m still learning about Route Notes so this will be handy for tomorrow’s Tyneside Stages.”

Remember last year? Ross Auld spent the night in Lee Hastings’ workshop repairing the front n/s suspension and hub of his Mk2 after a bad bump and then travelled to the Tyneside for the Sunday event. Well, he was back again this year and intent on doing both rallies, but Lee had a quiet word with him before the rally: “The Garage is shut!” Thus forewarned, Ross stayed out of the scenery this time, but a bad landing after a jump twisted the propshaft which then stripped all the teeth off the crown wheel and pinion. Robert Marshall came to Ross’ aid and loaned him his spare diff, so repairs were effected at Dundrennan this time. No need for the heavy equipment back at Lee’s place.

Making his Solway Coast debut was Des Campbell, previously known to us all as ‘Dangerous Des’ but he’s somewhat older now, and more sensible. Anyway, he finished 13th o/a and 3rd in class in the Peugeot 206 despite his unfamiliarity with the place and after changing a starter motor.

Jim Robertson’s Citroen C2 looked a bit bedraggled at the end of SS4, as if it had been caught and cuddled by a hungry lion. “The car just dived off the road on a straight stretch with no warning,” said Jim, “and we spun into a barbed wire fence.” The resultant scratch marks were many and deep and made quite a mess of the normally pristine paintwork, so that’ll take a bit of tapping out, filling and polishing.

Andrew Varley’s Ford Escort Cosworth didn’t last long, having to be rescued from mid-stage 4: “The suspension broke and damaged the driveshaft,” said Andrew, “and then a rosejoint broke, so that was it.” Ewan Murdoch didn’t even get that far when his Ford Focus snapped a bottom balljoint.

Michael Robertson’s Honda Civic was looking remarkably presentable at Solway after it’s Machrihanish misdemeanours. “We’ve got two new rear quarter son the car,” said Michael, “and we managed to find second hand panels in the same shade of blue so it looks very professional.” The car was still on the 15 inch rims that he first used at Mach1: “Ronnie Thom recommended some 15 inch Yokohamas and they’re very good,” he added. He won his class and finished 10th o/a.

Making his arrival noticed at second service was Gareth Hooper. His Opel Manta had burst the exhaust downpipe on the road section on the way in so they had time to weld it and fix it. They also had to replace a punctured tyre when he slid off the edge of the concrete road in SS2 and bent a rim. He finished 20th.

Gareth and Kenneth Dalgleish didn’t make the finish at Solway. They burst a pipe underneath the turbo on their Subaru Impreza and reckoned they didn’t have enough time to fix it. Although they managed the repair and did all 7 stages, they were classified as OTL. Pity that, they were setting top 20 times before the trouble.

Kevin MacIver is pretty switched on when it comes to mechanical things. Apparently he spotted something was wrong when anti-freeze and water were coming out of number 3 cylinder in his Mk2. The head gasket had gone, with Kevin adding: “And the engine has just been rebuilt too.”

Making a bid for the oldest crew in the rally, Hugh Murdoch had teamed up with Ian McRae in Hugh’s Mk2 but a rocker came loose and although it was getting noisy they reached the end of SS3 on 3 cylinders. They missed SS4 to fix it and did SS5 and 6 but then pulled out as the rattle was back and getting worse.

How did we manage before tie-wraps? When the ignition pack ‘fell off’ his Vauxhall Nova, Malcolm MacDougall and the boys resorted to a selection of different sized tie-wraps to ‘secure’ it. The end result looked worse than the efforts of a panic-stricken drunk on Christmas Eve trying to wrap his wife’s Christmas present bought in the local service station on the way home from the pub. But it did the job. He finished 43rd.

Bum deal …

A year after the now notorious incident concerning one of motor sport’s volunteers and the invention of a new warning sign for Marshals to display at competitors, there was a familiar figure striding about the Service Area. To mark the anniversary of one of the most ill considered judgements in Scottish (and British) rallying this anonymous figure made light of the incident. Apparently a fan from across the water (Ireland) had sent the miscreant an odd gift of even stranger apparel, complete with lipstick smacker embellishment and to be worn with pride. Nice one, eh?

And finally …

John Marshall was off the pace, and there was a painful reason for that. It’s six weeks since he broke 3 ribs while water ski-ing on holiday: “I thought I was fine,” he said, “but I should have stayed at home. I actually felt OK – till that first landing over the jump at the top of Brown Hill!” Ouch, having suffered broken ribs myself in the past and having ‘friends’ hellbent on making me laugh, my blood creeps every time I think about it.

And finally, finally …

Top seed and five times winner of the Solway Coast, Mark McCulloch failed to make it six in a row when he bent a steering arm on his Subaru Impreza following a hard landing over the jump at the top of Brown Hill on the very first stage. The former owner of said car, one Ian Wilson Esq, himself no stranger to pies and over indulgence, had the temerity to accuse McCulloch as ‘the author of his own demise’ by suggesting that it was Mark’s own fault as he’s the heaviest driver to ever have sat in the car! Mark responded by informing said critic that it was simply because the car was being driven faster and flying further than it had ever gone by its previous owner. I make that one-all, eh?