17 Aug: Tyneside Stages Roundup

… Glendinnings of Prudhoe Tyneside Stages Rally, Sun 5th August …

Peter Taylor executed a passable impression of Guy Fawkes at the Glendinnings of Prudhoe Tyneside Stages Rally. He lit the blue touch paper at the start of the first stage and promptly disappeared over the horizon. With Andrew Roughead in the hot seat, the Fiesta WRC driver finished just over 2 minutes ahead of the field setting fastest time on all 12 stages and beating the Bogey on three of them.

Faced with this explosive onslaught, Rory Young and Alan Cathers were best of the rest finishing second overall in their Fiesta R5. They were very lucky though when the car punctured a tyre between stages 2 and 3, or so they thought. When they got out to the change the wheel they found the tyre intact, but a stone jammed between the brake calliper and the inner wheel had cut clean through the rim splitting it in half. They finished almost a minute clear of the Subaru Impreza of Gordon Morrison and Calum MacPherson, with Morrison left shaking his head and muttering: “Looks like I’ll need to get myself a World Car!” Gordon did have a wee problem though: “We’ve got issues with the brake fluid boiling,” he said, “coming into Service they’re fine, but the pedal goes to the floor when you go out again, and the brakes don’t come back until you get air following through the grille and wheels.” Not the sort of worry you want in a place like this, eh?

However the 4WD brigade didn’t have things all their own way. In glorious sunshine, the Otterburn Ranges looked almost benign offering up unusually dry surfaces and lots of grip. This was a day for the Mk2 Escorts to shine. Having swapped his 2 litre engine for a 2.5, Ross Brusby scored 4th overall by 20 seconds from the similar car of Mark Jasper with John Stone rounding off the top half dozen in his Fiesta S2500.

Less Hastings finished just outside the top ten in 11th place overall, and John Marshall didn’t. Still nursing a sore ribcage he wasn’t far off the top six times till SS7 when the Subaru’s prop shaft broke.

Stephen Bethwaite won the 1400 class in his Nova by almost a minute from Gina Walker driving David Martin’s Astra with Cameron Craig taking 4th in class but top STRC points. Malcolm MacDougall did his points collection no harm at all with 7th in class on the day and 2nd behind Craig.

Stevie Irwin was top 1600 runner in his Nova finishing a mighty impressive 13th overall and taking top STRC points for his efforts. Michael Harbour was second in his Citroen C2, with Beefy Fraser finishing 6th in class. Otterburn veteran Barry Lindsay lost out when his Peugeot 106 left the road at high speed just over a crest into the Flying Finish on the first stage.

The Scots were in command in Class 3 with our lot filling the top six places. Just 25 seconds separated the top three with George Ross Auld’s Escort holding off the similar car of Robert Marshall. Having replaced a broken diff overnight after the Solway Coast Rally, Kenny Moore was third in his 2 litre Avenger with the Honda powered MG Maestro of Ross McCallum finishing 4th on his first visit to Otterburn: “The suspension needs work here,” said Ross, “we’re getting bump steer and it’s pulling and tugging, so we need to sort out the geometry.” Willie Beattie was 5th in the Mk2 and Michael Robertson 6th in his Civic.

Speaking of young Robertson you have to marvel at his commitment (lunacy?) as he turned up at Tyneside without Notes, having entered the night before when he finished Solway in one piece. He didn’t realise you couldn’t buy Notes on the day. Having taken photographs of the Notes on his phone and using a small scale map, off he and Murray (Milne) set. And you know what, never having set eyes on the place the pair did remarkably well over the first three stages before Barry Lindsay (who had retired) offered them his Notes. Nice one Barry, but full marks to Michael and Murray for their efforts. They also picked up a 1 minute early arrival penalty which cost them a place otherwise they would have finished 5th in class.

Rory Young and Gordon Morrison finished 2nd and 3rd in Class 5 with Lee Hastings 8th. On his first ever visit to the Range roads, Jim McDowall was 10th in class and Alistair Dalgleish 12th. Mind you, Alistair had a strong incentive to finish, and finish in one piece: “Dad showed me a bullet casing he found in the grass, and waved it in front of my face,” said Alistair, “and threatened me if I broke it after the trouble in Dunoon.”

Neil Thompson made a welcome, but brief, re-appearance at an event with his Corsa Kit Car. He retired on the first loop when the alternator belt flew off. He re-fitted it and it broke, and by the time he got back to service the battery was flat. Neil said: “For someone who works in an electricity generating station, to run out of electricity is bad advert.” James Thomson didn’t get much further, the Nova pulling off the road just after a square left shortly after the start of SS3 with a broken driveshaft.

Michael Harbour now leads the Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack series by 7 points from Ross McCallum. Cameron Craig is 3rd and Gordon Morrison 4th. Martyn Douglas has dropped back to 5th but is still top Junior ahead of 6th placed and 2nd Junior, Michael Robertson. Things will start to get even more interesting now (and complicated!) as dropped scores come into play.

1 Peter Taylor/Andrew Roughead (Ford Fiesta WRC) 50m 55s
2 Rory Young/Allan Cathers (Ford Fiesta R5) +2:02
3 Gordon Morrison/Calum MacPherson (Subaru Impreza) +02:52
4 Ross Brusby/Sam Collis (Ford Escort Mk2) +3:15
5 Mark Jasper/Don Whyatt (Ford Escort) +3:35
6 John Stone/Jack Morton (Ford Fiesta S2500) +3:48
7 Peter Stephenson/Patrick Walsh (Ford Focus WRC) +4:36
8 Michael Glendinning/Charley Sayer-Payne (Subaru Impreza) +4:56
9 Rob Snowden/Mark Fisher (Ford Escort Mk2) +5:22
10 Kenny Brown/Alan Brown (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6) 5:58