16 Nov: Kirkaldy wins Kingdom

… Kingdom Stages Rally, Sat 10th Nov …

It’s just a pity that the Leuchars based Kingdom Stages Rally has to be held behind closed doors, or in this case, locked gates, as spectators are not allowed. That’s down to the fact that Leuchars is an active airbase with a reserve runway. Making the point is one wee sentence on the ‘One Day Visitor Permit’ issued to all who attend which proclaims: “Please note, manoeuvring aircraft ALWAYS have right of way.” As if anyone would want to take one on! Point noted.

Would-be spectators were therefore denied a cracking battle, albeit one seen from afar. First time out for almost a year Alan Kirkaldy ran way with the win whilst his brother Andrew recovered from a slow start, and steep learning curve, to finish 2nd overall on his first rally.

There were more celebrations for Michael Harbour and Ian MacDougall who clinched the overall 2018 ‘The Cobble Shop’ Scottish Rally Championship driver and co-driver titles. There was nothing unusual in the fact that he didn’t smile much during the day, he takes it all so seriously, but by close of play he was nearly most smiling. Odd, very odd, but very welcome!

After Friday’s rainstorms and wind, Saturday was bright, dry and nearly warm. As Kirkaldy the Younger warmed up in his ‘brand new’ Mk2 after his ‘sabbatical’, Reay MacKay opened the scoring with his new LHD Fiesta R5+. He was fastest by 3 seconds from Kirkaldy, but it all went sour on the second run: “If it had been RHD drive I would have got away with it,” smiled Reay, “I was just too far over and ht something on the front right.” It wasn’t so much a puncture as a sudden tyre deflation but it cost him 14 seconds to the new rally leader, and that was it. Alan wasn’t up for being caught once he got his nose in front.

Older brother and sports and GT racing driver Andrew Kirkaldy was quick out of the box too and just got quicker. Fifth quickest on the opening test driving Alan’s ‘old’ car he was 3rd quickest on the second and set about catching 2nd placed Ian Forgan. That became academic on the 6th test when Ian’s Subaru caught fire. A con-rod punctured the block and hot oil ignited on the turbo. Whoomf! He hit the fire extinguisher button while Ian Paterson stopped to help with his hand-held and the fire was quickly put out. Engine failure is bad enough but hopefully the fire damage isn’t too severe.

Thereafter Reay MacKay consolidated his 3rd place behind the flying Kirkaldys, but he had to keep a watchful eye on the Subaru of Brian Watson. Brian matched the Fiesta’s pace on a couple of tests, but lost out on the twisty sections: “It doesn’t have a great steering lock,” said Brian, “so I struggled in the tight bits.”

Greg Inglis was flying too, in the Lotus Exige with its standard 1800cc ‘K’ series engine, and he finished 5th place just ahead of the MG Maestro of Ross McCallum who equalled his best result of the season with 6th, but not enough to snatch the Cobble Shop title from Harbour.

Bob Adamson impressed with his improving pace in the Fabia S2000 finishing 7th and he’ll be one to watch next season while former Scottish Tarmack Champ Ross Fernie made a rare appearance in his Subaru and finished 8th. Just behind him was Keith Robathan now with a side exhaust on the BMW allowing all six cylinders to let themselves be heard echoing across the runway. Minted, absolutely minted till a wee misfire on the final run interrupted the glorious mechanical symphony. And it passed the Noise Check. Thank goodness the NC isn’t carried out above 6000 rpm!

Rounding off the top ten was former Scottish Champ, Jimmy Christie who dropped a bit of time on the final stage: “It stalled on the start line,” said Jimmy, “I had just fitted the lights for the final run and I think they were drawing a bit more power than I thought.”

Another driver making a rare appearance was Robert Thomson finishing 11th in his Lancer just ahead of the battling 1600 Citroen C2s of Michael Harbour and Jamie Miller. They finished less than half a minute apart. Kyle Adam wasn’t far of the pace in the Escort finishing 3rd in class just ahead of the Honda Civic of Fraser Smith. Expected front runner Des Campbell disappeared in SS2 when the Peugeot 206’s starter motor failed stranding him mid-stage and Ross Pringle was out of luck when a crank sensor failed and he got a maximum in the second stage.

Gavin Lloyd won the 1400 class in his Nova saying: “That’s the first class win I’ve had since my Sunbeam days in the 1990s!” Finishing 2nd in class was the MG Metro of Innes Mochrie only 16 seconds behind the Nova at the finish. Co-driver for the day was 14 year old daughter Kirsty Mochrie: “This is my first rally – and I’m loving it!” Gaun yersel girl. Malcolm MacDougall finished 3d in the Nova ahead of Martin Farquhar’s Peugeot 106 while Cameron Craig suffered another bout of bad luck when the Peugeot 205 broke a driveshaft on the first stage.

Having written his VW Polo off at Otterburn, Martyn Douglas had borrowed a Nissan Micra and was under strict parental orders to drive to finish: “All I needed to do today was get a finish and I would clinch the Cobble Shop 1400cc title and top Junior.” According to the team he was driving like Miss Daisy, but he did what a man has to do – then Dad and the rest of the boys soaked the poor sod with champagne. Cheap stuff of course!

1, Alan Kirkaldy/Keir Beaton (Ford Escort Mk2) 45:49
2, Andrew Kirkaldy/Peter Carstairs (Ford Escort Mk2) 46:15
3, Reay Mackay/Robert McDonald (Ford Fiesta R5+) 46:31
4, Brian Watson/Sean Donnelly (Subaru Impreza S11 WRC) 46:42
5, Greg Inglis/Eoghan Anderson (Lotus Exige) 48:39
6, Ross McCallum/James Ralph (MG Maestro) 48:53
7, Robert Adamson/Jane Nicol (Skoda Fabia S2000) 49:03
8, Ross Fernie/Michael Cruickshank (Subaru Impreza STi) 49:10
9, Keith Robatham/Phil Sandham (BMW M3) 49:45
10, Jimmy Christie/David MacFadyen (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 49:54

Class 1: Gavin Lloyd/Gordon Clark (Vauxhall Nova)
Class 2: Michael Harbour/Ian MacDougall (Citroën C2-R2 MAX)
Class 3: Greg Inglis/Eoghan Anderson (Lotus Exige)
Class 4: Alan Kirkaldy/Keir Beaton (Ford Escort Mk2)
Class 5: Brian Watson/Sean Donnelly (Subaru Impreza S11 WRC)