15 Apr: Lookback at DCC Stages

… Rally Roundup & Blethers …

Looking as happy as a two-tailed dug (that had lost both its tails) was Tom Blackwood. The resplendently yellow Escort proved to be as stubborn as its owner on the Saturday morning of the rally when it refused to fire up. Even when they got the beast (the car that is, not Tom) started, it refused to run cleanly. It would tick over OK, but the minute it got the throttle it just died, and resisted all attempts to find the cause. The first retirement of the day!

There was ‘joy’ of a rather different order later in the day in the Blackwood camp. Young Andrew (Blackwood) celebrated his first roll, first time out in the Fiesta ST. “The car just dug in, flipped on one side, cleared the roof and landed on the other side,” said Andrew, “before it rolled back on to its wheels and we were able to keep going.” Back at Service the team lunged into action using helmet nets to cover the side windows and tank tape to cover the rear side windows. Front and rear screens were OK, and Amy McCubbin even managed to hand-finish the graphics across the taped out windows – pure class! Was Pops annoyed or upset? Nope. “When Andrew landed the car back on four wheel he was already in 1st gear,” he said. Doncha just lover a trier, eh? As it was Andrew finished 43rd o/a but had it not been for his Maximum on SS2 then he might well have finished in the lower 20s.

There was some excuse for John Marshall when he wrong-slotted on SS5 as the lad was in considerable discomfort at the time. When the Subaru smacked a bump in the stage, the jolt cracked one of the ribs which he broke last year when he was ski-ing. No wonder the lads were trying to make him laugh. Quite a few folk mentioned ‘the bump’ during the day. There was a patch of mismatched tar at the far side of the circuit which was OK going clockwise but caused problems on the anti-clockwise runs.

Tom Morris was pleased enough with 4th place in the Skoda: “I had a problem with the flat-shift on the morning stages,” said Tom, “somehow we lost two bolts out of the shift change mechanism on the gearbox mounting, so the shift itself was OK, but it just wasn’t working properly.” Once fixed he was up and running again, till he stalled it on the start line of the final stage.

Alan Gardiner was forced out of the rally in the Mk1 when he damaged a front strut. The boys actually repaired the strut only to find that the cross member was bent.

Alistair Inglis had a new co-driver at the DCC Stages, one Jane Nicol Esquiress. This was apparently a one-off as an obviously very concerned Alistair explained the reason why his brother wasn’t there: “Colin had to do ‘farming’ things.” Nice of him to take such a detailed interest in Colin’s vocation, eh?

Cumbria’s Nick Stamper was very complimentary about the circuit on his first visit to Ingliston. “We managed to spin twice,” said the Subaru driver, “then lost a minute on the third stage when we took a ‘slight detour’ en route and had to drive round the Marshal to get back on the stage. He and Mark Casey finished 17th.

Losing well over 3 minutes on the 3rd stage cost Michael Robertson quite dearly as the Civic finished 28th o/a and 10th in class. “We hit a bad bump in the tarmac,” said Michael, “which cracked an alloy wheel and punctured a tyre, but what we didn’t realise was, the jolt had activated the Master cut-out switch and we spent ages trying to figure out why it wouldn’t re-start.” Once going again they got back to service and fitted a new wheel.

He doesn’t half moan a lot, albeit cheerfully, but there’s little that Jim Rintoul likes better than a spot of tinkering and he was looking quite pleased with himself at Ingliston. “We’ve found the cause of an oil leak we’ve had for some time,” said Jim, “there’s a twist in the sump casting. It’s in two parts and they don’t quite match up. We had tried everything in the past to find the cause, but the last time the engine was out and cleaned, we noticed it.” He went on to navigate Graeme to 20th o/a in the and the engine repair proved worthwhile as it kept Graeme’s Championship title hopes on track ahead of the new car which is due soon. It looks like the old shape Fiesta will be replaced by a slightly less older ST.

Speaking of new cars, Ian and Craig MacIvor were at Ingliston and rumour has it they’ve bought a Honda Civic.

Defying the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks was Alan Wallace, well almost. He’s got a new flat shift system in the Lancer, but kept making silly mistakes: “It’s OK going up the ‘box but I keep going for the old ‘H’ pattern shifter coming down! Dohhh,” then added, “there is one modification I will need to make though. We mounted the gear display indicator in the centre of the dash when it should be dead ahead – where I can see it!”

There were big smiles in the Graham Bruce camp as he’s now got a sequential 6 spd shift in place of the previous 5 spd manual and finished 5th in class in his Mk2.

Gareth Dalgleish was worried about the Subaru first thing in the morning when it wouldn’t start and there was some smoke, but it all cleared up and he got 6 stages done before a wheel bearing collapsed.

Stuart Grant was having his first run out in the lime green Escort Mk2 since this event last year and was trying out his new flat shift. He finished 19th but there will be more to come, surely.

There was more bad luck for Billy Hamilton when the Opel Kadett’s strut top ripped out of the inner wing and broke a bottom balljoint when the car “hit something.”

And here’s a shock for the system. Mr FastbutSafe, Brian ‘Beefy’ Fraser had an ‘off’. “I was meant to go right,” said Brian, “but I was going left, no matter what Iain was shouting, I was hellbent on going Left. Just pure brain fade!” The car locked up but ran over two cones which got wedged under the car, damaging the valance, and the poor Marshal had to pull the rascals out. Brian was fair upset at the amount of ‘carnage’ underneath his pristine Avenger – although a magnifying glass was needed to spot it.

In trouble of a somewhat different sort was Robert Wood’s new co-driver, Ryan Griffiths. he was a wee bit taller than Robert’s previous co-driver and couldn’t fit in the Fiesta. Put it this way, if he was an Air Traffic Controller at the nearby Edinburgh Airport, he wouldn’t need to sit in the Control Tower. Anyway, the boys set to with spanners and jemmies to shove the passenger seat back and down so the big lad could get in. It worked, they finished 36th o/a and 9th in class.

Alan Stark was lucky to finish, albeit in 35th place. The Lancer’s gearbox broke on the final stage which meant he got a Maximum and cost him a top 20 finish. Euan Blair burst a brake pipe in the Sunbeam but that was an easy fix while Peter Oag was forced out when the Citroen’s C2’s gearbox failed.

Adam Hanner had an eventful rally. On the first stage, the Peugeot 205’s back end stepped out over the mini roundabout and put two wheels on the grass. The resultant spin was halted by a tree! Back in service, the lads ratchet strapped the front end back into shape and poured Radweld into the radiator. Fingers crossed off they went again – and finished 18th o/a and 4th in class. Excellent work, eh?

Paul Orchiston retired the Audi TT with a twisted prop shaft which he showed me. Twisted? It looked as though someone had tied a knot in it. It must have been metal fatigue – the 2 litre motor doesn’t have that much torque, does it?

Andy Chalmers retired his Subaru with head gasket failure, Bob Cumming broke his Astra’s gear linkage and got a MAX and still finished 50th and Kayleigh Strachan got no farther than SS5 when the Saxo’s gearbox broke. Dave Cranston broke a bottom front suspension arm in the Astra which pulled straight out of the chassis.

Ex Peugeot 205 and Citroen C2 rallyist, Jordan Black popped in to Ingliston. He was buying a set of alloys – for his van! How times have changed, eh? His priorities have changed too, looks like he will be giving up stock car racing too – he gets married next month the poor sod lucky chap.

Star-gazing … Spotted amongst the crews were some wise old men offering sage advice about set-ups, racing lines and navigational instruction including Johnstone Syer, Chris Wagner and Tony Jannetta who was over from the States attending a funeral and dropped into Ingliston to renew auld acquaintances.

And finally …

Gordon Adam was spotted getting wheeched about in a wheelchair by grandson Connor. He injured his ankle last year, but it still wasn’t right so had to go back into hospital recently for another ‘fix’. If you fancy being put off your lunch ask Gordon what they did to it. It still makes my blood creep thinking about it. Fortunately he’s on the mend as long as he takes it easy and stays off his feet – some hope! As Gary explained: “The garage is at the top of a slope behind the house so we thought we were safe, there was no way he was going to get up there. First night after the op, I was in the garage with Kyle and guess who pops his head round the door to find out what was going on and tell us we weren’t doing it right?”

And finally, finally …

In a somewhat pensive and reminiscent phase during the morning as aircraft came and went at Scotland’s busiest airport, Rab MacDonald revealed that he once flew solo in a glider around Ingliston when he was an Air Cadet and Edinburgh Airport was better known as RAF Turnhouse. He was none too chuffed when one wag asked if that was before the Wright Brothers or just after.