22 Sep: Galloway – News & Blethers

… News & Blethers …

There was a sizeable crowd of family members and friends at the rally finish to greet the new Scottish champions. It was the first time that the son of a former Scottish Rally Champion had won the national title. Andrew Gallacher’s Dad, Drew who passed away in 1997, won it 4 times, first in 1973 followed by a hat-trick of wins in 1978/79/80. His Mum, Sandra, was there at the finish and cousin, Arthur Gallacher, who has been the Workshop Manager at Malcolm Wilson Motorsport for the past 20 years. There was as much jubilation inside the car as well as outside at the finish. Rumour has it that Andrew ‘did a do’nut’ in one stage and Jane was seen waving a Saltire from the side window, but since this type of practice would be frowned upon by those who oversee the sport and take a dim view of such antics, the truth was that Andrew just spun the Focus mid-stage and Jane was wiping away tears of joy with a large blue hankie!

It was good to see the Faulkner and Foy pairing back in the woods at Galloway with Peter looking particularly well despite the amount of ironmongery supporting his left leg. It reminded me of something Barry Sheene once said when he claimed that he couldn’t walk past a scrapyard if the big car carrying magnet was in operation as he would get dragged in! I think he was joking but Peter is well on the mend after his big accident with John Faulkner in March earlier this year. It was also Mike’s first time out since the accident on the Snowman so both were feeling a bit rusty and perhaps a wee bit apprehensive before the start f the Armstrong. “I think Peter felt better first time back in the car than I did,” said Mike, “but it took a wee while to get back into it.” On that basis, 13th overall was an excellent result.

Bruce McCombie was at the pre-rally Test Day but didn’t make the rally start. The turbo started rattling so they stopped to investigate and they found bits in the sump. They still had the old turbo as a spare and which had been re-conditioned but apparently there was summat up with that too, so no rally.

Another crew who had an eventful pre-rally adventure was Aileen and John Forrest. The night before they travelled down they were driving through Aberdeen with the car on the trailer when they had to take to the pavement to allow a fire engine with blue lights through the traffic – and goosed a wheel, so that had to be changed before continuing. Then on the morn of the test day they came out of the hotel to take the trailer up to the Test Day and the axle broke. How lucky was that? Imagine what could have happened if it had broken on the drag down from the north. Anyway, Ken Wood asked the hotel owner if there was a blacksmith nearby so that they could get it welded and the chap said there was a local steel fabricator. Where? asked Ken, and the guy pointed across the garden to a place on the hill. Ken took the trailer over and the guy put it up on his forklift, had a look and said leave it with me while you go and do your rally. He didn’t just weld it back up, he jigged it and did a proper job. Ken was well chuffed and remarked on the hospitality and helpfulness of the Gallowegians.

Alan Dickson spent the day at the test “messing about with suspension settings” and remarked: “I should have left them alone, we’ve ended up back where we started!” He also tried a couple of practice starts and after telling everyone to stand well back in case of flying stones and grush, he focussed his mind on the job, got all set to go, revved up, clutch out – and stalled. Yes, he did feel quite silly.

Claire Mole took time out of a hectic few weeks to do the Galloping Hills with Michael Binnie. She has been moving her ‘The Mole House’ shop premises in Kelso and now has a prominent position on the corner of the Square. If you’re ever in the area pop in for a browse and buy, especially with Christmas in the offing. You could pick up some ideal gifts (made on the premises!) for the house and home. I didn’t realise the girl was so talented. I’ll need to pay a visit with the Missus. Check out her Facebook page.

David Bogie debuted his new Skoda Fabia R5 at the Galloway Hills Rally. As Martin Wilkinson of CA1 Sport explained: “The car was sitting in the workshop in full tarmac spec when David suggested that he would like to use it ahead of Wales Rally GB – that was 4 days before the rally!” The team set to and had the car ready for the Galloway Hills test day: “I wanted to try the car before we went to Wales,” said Bogie, “we won’t get a chance otherwise as we’ll have to head down to Wales a full week before the International for the recce and the promotional work. It’s almost exactly the same as my current car although it has a little more power, 3 or 4 bhp, but it has more torque so it was good to get some miles on it before we head down.” Bogie also tried out some DMACK run-flat tyres: “They don’t give the same level of grip as the ‘ordinary’ tyres, you’d expect that anyway, but that was a worthwhile exercise ahead of Wales too,” he added.

Robert Harkness re-appeared on stage having bought Donald Brooker’s Subaru Impreza. Having started his ‘career’ in Avengers and Sunbeams and then lately used a BMW this was his first run out in a 4WD machine. And when asked why, responded: “I was bored at home and just wanted to see what four wheel drive was like. I saw the car on Facebook and went for it.”

Another old-timer making a re-appearance was Walter Henderson. This was his first run out in a recently acquired Historic spec Escort Mk1 with a Pinto engine.

It’s been 5 years since Greg Pollock last sat his bum in his Mk1 Escort rally car. That’s because Greg now lives in Canada and drives a Peterbilt truck specialising in moving ‘overisized stuff’. Anyway he was back home seeing the family and this coincided with the local Galloway Hills so brother William who looks after the car (and sometimes has a wee shottie himself!) prepped it for Greg to have a run at the Test Day and then on the rally. Greg had his Canadian girlfriend, Alysee, with him and gave her a run at the Test Day. She thoroughly enjoyed it. And how did I know she was Canadian? She was wearing one of those thick tartan lumberjack shirts – just like the guys and gal in the Monty Python lumberjack song. She said it was cold in Galloway – and this from a girl who lives in a country with Eskimos and polar bears! Greg and Helen Brown finished 31s o/a and 1st in class. No bad, eh?

Speaking of foreign parts, the Flanders Rally Championship has had a regular visitor from this part of the world over the past season. After a few outings in the Scottish Tarmack Championship last year, Finlay Brock has been taking his Ford Fiesta ST to Belgium this year: “It’s cheaper going to Belgium than Ireland or the Isle of Man,” said Finlay, “we drive down to Dover, have a 35 minute trip on the train through the tunnel and then it’s never more than a 3 hour drive to the Belgian events depending on which part of the country the events are being staged. We leave at mid-day on a Friday, recce on Saturday and do the rally on Sunday returning early doors Monday.” He added: “We looked at taking the ferry but it’s cheaper to drive and with entry fees anywhere between 100 and 200 Euros and then up to 200 Euros for Insurance, it’s very reasonable. We usually hire a house for the weekend for the team and family and that works out about 20 to 30 Euros per head – and the organisers are very helpful!” Apparently the spectators are also very welcoming and enthusiastic with barbecues and beer on offer if a crew stops nearby. Worth a thought, eh?

The 17 year old pairing of Johnnie MacKay and Rhys Stoneman had a sudden and violent conclusion to their day’s rallying when they rolled their Fiesta ST in the final stage. Both lads escaped injury, but are now facing an expensive repair bill which may well curtail future sporting endeavours. The question was asked – are they youngest ever pairing in forest rallying?

There was what appeared to be a touch of male bonding at the Galloping Hills Rally, or was it just an attempt downright bribery, when Freddie Milne called over a certain ‘Motorsport News’ reporter to his service barge and said: “I’ve got something for you.” Intrigued, our hero went over to see, whereupon Freddie dug into the coolbox in the van and handed it over saying: “I saw this and thought of you.” It was a small pot of genuine Russian caviar. Who knew our hero had such exotic tastes? There was just one thing wrong with this attempt to curry favour – it was a very small pot!

And finally …

Apparently one of the most appreciated highlights of this year’s Galloway Hills Rally was the gift of two tubs of Glen Urr Farmhouse ice cream to each crew at the final Passage Control. Amongst the flavours on offer were haggis, beer and malt whisky. This caused a few troubles. Michael Hendry didn’t get a spoon with his tub and Mark McCulloch refused to give him his own spoon, while according to Freddie Milne, Patrick Walsh tried to keep and eat both tubs!

Galloway Hills – [Main Report]
Galloway Hills – [Stage Times]
Galloway Hills – [Class Roundup]