21 Jun: Crail Tales & Gossip

… Crail Tales …

Breaking and entering, without the breaking part! When Murray and the boys turned up at Crail on the morning of the rally to get Brian Watson’s car out of the trailer and get the van ready for servicing, there was no sign of Kenny who locked up the van the night before and gone to his lodgings. It is alleged by certain members of the group that Kenny had simply slept in, but that was the most charitable excuse on offer. Anyway, the boys removed the front n/s quarterlight on the van passenger door using a screwdriver round the rubber to gain entry. All they had to do later was re-fit the glass! Job done.

Drew Barker appeared with his ‘new’ Corsa courtesy of a two and half year build. Based on a donor car which was ‘saved from the scrappie’ Drew has installed a 1600cc Bill Falconer engine, so it’ll be quick! He first drove the car the day before the rally and wasn’t happy so went home and changed the front struts finishing at 10pm on Friday night. The mood was still sombre first thing in the morning, but the smile started to appear as the day wore on and he got used to the new machine finishing 24th o/a and 4th in class – with more to come.

All credit to the Glenrothes MSC organising and marshalling team. They must have spent an awfy long time and expended humungous amounts of energy setting up the stages with tyres and bales. To those outside the physical side of things, we often take for granted that stages are set up in a twinkling with a few arrows festooned around the route. This was a mammoth job and richly deserving of praise and thanks.

Speaking of the organising team some ingenious, or devious, mind had come up with the idea of creating a ‘Do’nut’ autotest style obstacle. It was installed near the start of the 3rd and 4th stages where cars leaving the start line would just about get into 2nd gear before encountering a large bale obstacle which necessitated a 360 degree spin around it. The idea was inspired by seeing such things on WRC events and after clearing it with Motorsport UK introduced it to their own event. It was placed directly in front of one of the spectator bankings for all to see the successes, failures and sheer embarrassments.

Spotted sitting on a trailer at Crail was Mike Stuart’s red-top Ford Escort Mk2. Apparently it had been delivered there for collection by its new owner – one Mark McCulloch Esq. Speaking of Mark, the McCulloch/Haining family BMW was there and had been entrusted to the hands of young Lewis Haining for his first run out in a proper rear wheel drive rally car. After destroying a set of front tyres with understeer, Lewis was finally getting the hang of rear wheel pushing as opposed to front wheel pulling when his outing was curtailed by the studs shearing off the rear o/a wheel and the wheel got jammed in the rear arch with such severity that it kinked the base of the rear ‘C’ pillar, so he was out!

In a similar bout of trouble was the Escort of Andrew Plunkett which also shed a wheel when the wheel studs sheared and put him out of the running.

Graeme Rintoul was out of luck at the weekend and out of the top twenty when he got a Maximum with the Fiesta in the 3rd stage: “All the tread came off the front tyres and the juddering was so bad we had to slow right down to finish the stage.” He also lost two bolts from the exhaust down pipe but according to faither Jim who was co-driving: “I couldn’t be bothered getting under it to fix it.” Aye, dedication to the cause right enough, eh?

Jamie Miller finished out of the class points when the wee Citroen got a lorry tyre jammed underneath it: “The tyre had obviously been pulled out by an earlier car and we just happened to be next on the road and rumbled on to it,” he said. Another who hit a lorry tyre was Grum Willcock whose Manta showed the signs with a well stove-in rear o/s quarter, fortunately behind the wheel, but then he compounded his problems with a Maximum on the penultimate stage – when he came in a lap early!

Sandy Coghill was another non-finisher at Crail with his beautifully engineered 1800cc Rover 100 Metro when the crank sensor failed. He had retired the car from the Leuchars event last month but that was due to the co-driver taking ill. This time he had Billy Hamilton sitting in the hot seat just desperate to get back in a rally car as his own Opel Kadett is still in many bits. Now Billy’s thinking he’s a Jonah!

Some of the returnees from Rally Barbados turned up at Crail sporting deep brown tans, all that is except for Nikki Addision. She was still as peelly waally as she was before she left. “I did go out one day to the beach to get a tan, ” she said, “and just burned, so I stayed in the shade after that.” Apparently the cocktails on offer in that sun-kissed paradise were some consolation!

Last man home at the end of the rally was James Clark in the Audi TT. He scored two Maximums on the first two stages when a hose blew off and lost all the water in SS1, but he managed to get it fixed and back out for the final three stages. Not quite so lucky was Martin Farquhar, his Peugeot 106 also sprung a leak – an oil leak.

Andrew Hutchison’s retirement was caused by driveshaft failure in the Renault Clio and Phil Jobson was off early too. The Escort had snapped a half-shaft and the broken bit was jammed solid in the diff. Bob Cumming got three stages done before the clutch failed in the Astra and Sandy Arbuthnott managed to finish 35th in the Focus despite a broken wire in SS4 which earned him a Maximum.

What does cold tyres and cold brakes do? Ask Robert Ness. He hit a tyre marker then clipped a bale removing the Subaru’s front bumper on the first stage. He was lucky, there wasn’t much damage but later the radiator sprouted a leak and that was him out with one stage to go. Jamie Stewart was in similar trouble with his Peugeot 205 striking a marker in the first stage and losing the front bumper. But it was either the diff or a broken driveshaft that caused retirement.

When the oil pressure switch failed on John Paterson’s Corsa on the first stage, that was an easy fix. Not so the failure on the second stage: “All the bolts pulled out of the gearbox mounting, they stripped right out of the alloy gear casing!” So no chance of an easy fix then.

Suspecting that something was afoot when the Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Championship co-ordinator was spotted leaving Crail early prompted an enquiry to which Davie Hatrick, for it was he, replied: “I’m running in the Men’s Health 10k in Glasgow tomorrow.” Glutton for punishment that he is, he then revealed: “and I’m doing the Loch Lomond 10k next weekend.”

And finally …

A rather colourful and extremely descriptive reason for retirement. Martin Watterston had to pull out of the rally, not because there was anything wrong with the Subaru but according to Martin, his co-driver, Kenny, “was ill – all over the dash!” Anyone any idea how to deep clean a flock dashboard?