22 Oct: Mull Targa Rally report

… Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Targa Rally, Sat 13 Oct …

It wasn’t so much a whitewash, as a white rose wash, with 4 Yorkshire crews in the top six, plus one from Derbyshire, ahead of the best Scots crew who finished sixth on the 2018 Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Targa Rally. Perhaps even more of a shock to the system was the fact that a 46 year old, 1300cc motor car finished equal 2nd overall in amongst the more ‘modern’ machinery.

However, in this case, ‘modern’ is a relative term as there were some rather ‘special’ vehicles in the entry list which had been bought (or rescued from recycling centres) with little in the way of motor sporting heritage for this particular event. The emphasis here was on sporting enjoyment although quite a few are regular Targa Rally competitors and they displayed a bit more knowledge of the rules and nature of the competition. Mind you that didn’t stop the numpties from entering and taking part and thoroughly enjoying themselves despite their lack of such essentials as maps and timepieces.

Bevan Blacker and Abi Ruddock splashed their way to a 40 second victory in their Peugeot 106 over the Suzuki Ignis of Geoff Dean and Suzanne Barker. They were quicker over the timed tests than Geoff and Suzann with the Ignis pairing closing the gap a little on the Regularity Tests – but don’t ask me how. The method of computing results from Regularity timing has me thoroughly baffled so thank goodness the Saltire Rally Club stalwarts were helping out the Mull CC squad and Raymond’s rally results emporium.

The idea is simple, to traverse a measured distance at a set average speed with time penalties added for early or late arrival. As for calculating the points to be scored or deducted, that’s for sharper minds. Perhaps it was no wonder then that three of the top four navigators were ladies, or is that a dangerous sexist accusation these days? Whatever, a good and intelligent multi-tasker would appear to be a vital requirement to enjoy success in this sport.

Past experience must also help too. For instance, Bevan contested this event last year and finished 50th o/a while navigator Abi competed with her Dad in an Escort Mexico and finished 7th. This event was the first time that Bevan and Abi had got together, and what a result. The pair led all the way from start to finish and proved the theory that neat and tidy round the sodden Timed Tests was the quickest way to a good time although Bevan did admit to one scary moment or three when the Peugeot got into a bit of a tank-slapper on Test 11 in Fishnish Forest.

“We borrowed a tripmeter and used that for the first time,” said Bevan, “so that helped. The tests were excellent, they were nice and slippy although I nearly lost it in one test when the car was side to side in and out of ditches for 100 yards. We loved it.”

There was actually a tie for second place at the finish between the Suzuki of Geoff Dean and Suzanne Barker and the Lancia Fulvia of Andrew Johnson and Dave Boyes. The tie decider was the faster time on the opening test of the day where Geoff was 4 seconds quicker, although Andrew was penalised 10 seconds for striking a cone – but quietly adamant he didn’t touch it, but said nowt! A real sporting gent, eh?

That’s not to criticise the Marshals or the Observers, as it has to be mentioned in passing that it rained a bit on Mull on the Saturday. Like all day. The only time it relented was when it was drawing breath to drop more on the poor sods standing out in it trying to keep tabs on progress and time keeping.

It appears that Traffic Cones used as Test markers must be treated like an endangered species. Look but don’t touch, as penalties will be applied.

Anyway, Geoff and Suzanne got the runner-up award in their 150 quid scrapyard dodger. The car was driven from Yorkshire to Mull, did the Targa and was driven home again afterwards. How’s that for cheap motor sport, although they did have to buy a tyre. They punctured a rear tyre on Test 5 and had to do Test 6 with it like that before changing to the spare.

Andrew Johnson and Dave Boyes finished third in their Lancia, but despite the car’s age and heritage, Andrew didn’t spare the poor wee thing. Apart from the Cone penalty the duo had to contend with a misfire on the second run through Fishnish timber yard when a watersplash flooded the engine compartment and filled up a spark plug well, but that was easily fixed. They also dropped time when they sped past a Code Board and had to back up to see what it was. Easily done in a left hand drive car when the driver has to look out for the Code Boards which are usually placed on the left and shout across to the navigator while keeping an eye on the road.

He also might have broken a finger: “I broke it two months ago,” said Andrew, “and I think I’ve done it again. It’s the same finger and it’s aching quite a bit.”

Top Scots were Craig Wallace and Clifford Auld in 6th place in the Corolla despite damaging a brake disc on the first stage of the day and carrying on despite some “braking deficiency” problems and no handbrake (just don’t tell the Polis) while Ryan Hay and Niall Thomson lost out on the top six by 7 seconds in their Toyota Paseo.

Allan Clark had been in the hunt for top points early in the day till an alternator problem dropped his Avenger back while Alan Ross lost out on the top ten when he beached the Citroen in Test 11 and had to get pushed out by Marshals. Duncan Cameron might have done better than 24th overall had it not been for his navigator, one Tom Hynd Esq. Despite his years of experience, Tom explained: “I’m messing up the Regularities. We were having ‘discussions’ in-car, which doesn’t work. In fact we actually got on better when Duncan told me ‘to shut the f up’!”

One Regularity also caused a minor problem for Martin Oglesby in the Kadett: “We met a horse on the road – was that a case of force majeure, or horse majeure?” Oh, please yourselves. Malcolm Davey, the number 2 seed in the MGB lost time with a puncture while Richard Wardle was having a trying time in the Escort he had just acquired. He contracted the services of Jonathan Mounsey as navigator and had to impart his vast knowledge of co-driving skills accumulated over 50 years to Jonathan who learned his new ‘craft’ in an hour on public roads the day before the rally, with Richard muttering: “He’s a better Nav than me now!”

Alexander Ireland did well too. He finished 50th o/a on his first ever event with his Dad navigating the family Corsa – and he only passed his Driving Test the week before.

There were some other sterling performances from the ‘nutters brigade’ led by Fraser Hughes and Peter McInnes who left Tain at 3am in the morning in their Mazda MX5, did the rally and then headed back immediately to the Ferry Terminal for the last boat to get back home – and had no hood on the Mazda. Wet doesn’t cut it, neither does drookit, but one wonders just how Peter managed with his paperwork in the pouring rain!

Speaking of drookit, a certain Drew Struthers allowed enthusiasm to get the better of him at one Test start when he sprayed the poor, already sodden, Marshal with a fine layer of mud from the Avenger’s wheelspin. He was dreading the return visit to the Test, but the mud-caked Marshal was non-plussed by the whole experience commenting: “You’ll no’ can get me this time – it’s dry here!” Mull Marshals are a different breed, eh?

And surely the best ‘Pace Note’ of the day was uttered by the normally cool, calm and collected Iain Thorburn: “No, No, No, No, No, where the f*** do you think you’re going?” as (Alan) Clarky ‘the Desperate Dairyman’ overshot a junction at full pelt.

The success of this year’s event (and last) has already made more than a few folk think about setting it up as an annual fixture, perhaps earlier in the season with the ‘big’ Mull running later in the year as usual, and given the enthusiasm and enjoyment of those who participated, this might actually be a good idea.

Top Ten
1 Bevan Blacker/Abi Ruddock (Peugeot 106) 26m 27s
2 Geoff Dean/Suzanne Barker (Suzuki Ignis Sport) 27m 07s
3 Andrew Johnson/Dave Boyes (Lancia Fulvia) 27m 07s
4 Dave Leadbetter/Cath Woodman (BMW 318Ti) 27m 14s
5 Tom Spencer/Sam Spencer (Vauxhall Corsa) 27m 29s
6 Craig Wallace/Clifford Auld (Toyota Corolla G6R) 27m 49s
7 Ryan Hay/Niall Thomson (Toyota Paseo) 27m 56s
8 Kevin Savage/Phillip Savage (Suzuki Ignis Sport) 28m 11s
9 Mark Standen/Ian Canavan (Proton Satria) 28m 45s
10 Fraser Hughes/Peter MacInnes (Mazda MX5) 28m 52s

Full results on: www.Scotresults.co.uk