… Mach1 Stages Rally, 13/14 July …
Machrihanish was in benevolent mood as crews arrived for the sixth Mach1 Stages Rally to be held on the Mull of Kintyre. It was sun-less, cold and windy, but it was dry, as the threatened rain did little more than tease us with low cloud clinging to the hilltops around the vast site. Temperatures rose on Saturday and again on Sunday, allowing a profusion of peelly waally legs to make a public appearance. A mostly unedifying sight indeed!
As for the rally itself, what it lacked in numbers it more than made up for it with excitement and drama. For a long time it looked as though last year’s rally winners Bruce Edwards and Jim Smith were on course to repeat their victory, but on the final stage of the day, they didn’t!
That left the way open for a surprise win by the ‘brothers Inglis’, Alistair and Colin. Going into the final 13.5 mile final stage the Lotus Exige was lying 9 seconds behind the leading Darrian.
Alistair had already taken 6 seconds out of Bruce on SS9, another 6 on SS10 and 4 more on SS11 to close down the gap, but would 9 seconds be just too much too far given the pace of the Darrian? The glint in Alistair’s eye suggested otherwise. It was the same sort of glint that the proprietor of Duthie’s of Montrose reserves for a potential punter who walks into the showroom thinking that he/she is only window shopping and ends up the surprised owner of some shiny new metal!
As events turned out it was Edwards who lost out. Despite being out of the car for a full year, Edwards’; driving style was exemplary and his lines inch perfect. The Darrian rarely looked out of shape as it flew around the old airfield. Having led from the first stage to the 11th few would have bet against another Edwards/Smith victory. They would have lost their dosh. Under braking for a sharp 90 right corner, taken at almost walking pace, the lightweight Darrian just nipped a tyre marker and rode up. As Edwards hit the throttle the car didn’t so much roll, as simply grip and fall over. With the car upside down the stage was red flagged and later cancelled.
Fortunately both Edwards and Smith were unharmed but victory was handed to the Inglis brothers.
Equally surprised were second placed John Rintoul and Ross Hynd. They had started the second day of the rally in fourth place behind Gordon Morrison and Calum McPherson who were in fact tied with the Inglis twins on Saturday night after a full day’s rallying. On the first 13 mile stage on Sunday morning, Morrison was 2 seconds quicker than Inglis to grab second overall but it all went wrong in the next one.
On the 10th stage out of 12, the Montana Subaru broke a rear suspension bottom arm. Whether this had anything to do with an incident on the opening stage the day before we’ll never know, but when passing a car the Subaru had brushed a kerb with the wheel rims. No punctures, but perhaps the car took a knock.
With Morrison sidelined, Rintoul was promoted to the runner-up position in his Ford Fiesta R5. A spin on the opening day of the rally had cost Rintoul a few seconds: “I spun at the first chicane, then cooked the brakes, my own fault,” said John, “had a big accident here last year so I’m still building up confidence.” Inglis opened up a gap of a few seconds on Saturday but on Sunday Rintoul started to close it down. With one stage to go, the gap between 1st and 2nd stayed at 17 seconds, then the red flags came out.
First time out in his new Fiesta R5, Tom Blackwood and Gordon Winning completed the podium line-up although Tom found his new car to be quite a handful compared to his Escort Millington Mk2. Like Rintoul, Blackwood was initially having issues judging braking distances, managing to rub a fence at one point and losing the front bumper but no mechanical damage.
Colin Gemmell and Richard Crozier were fourth in the Mk2 ahead of a very lucky Greg Inglis and Steven Brown. When the orange Lotus drove into final service at close of play on Saturday, the boys noticed the rear n/s brake caliper was hanging off: The mounting bracket had fractured although the brake lines were still intact: “I didn’t feel a thing,” said Greg, “it must just have happened at the stage finish.” That prompted a telephone call back to the garage at Montrose where a bracket was taken off another car and driven to Lix Toll where the handover was made to Colin who had driven to meet it. The rear brake and hub were rebuilt overnight ready to resume play on Sunday.
Donnie MacDonald and Chris Hamill rounding off the top six in his Mitsubishi, and who knows, Donnie might have done a wee bit better had he not been playing the gallery! At least he entertained the spectators using forest rallying techniques to slide around the corners .
Alan Oldfield and Ashleigh Morris were delighted with 7th overall in his Darrian on Alan’s first visit to the venue which he reckoned was well worth the 353 mile trip north and Alan Wallace and Darren Robertson continued their strong run of top ten finishes with 8th in the Lancer Evo6.
The 1600cc class winning Escort Mk2 of Kyle Adam and Fiona Moir scored an impressive 9th overall just ahead of the Subaru Impreza of Murray and Mark Grierson which had broken a prop shaft on Day 1. Just outside the top ten in 11th place overall was the Peugeot of Des Campbell and Craig Forsyth finishing 2nd in class just over a minute behind Adam. For once in his life, Des had the sensible head on. Resisting the urge to chase down Adam in the faster car, Des settled for a sensible pace and a (relatively!) tidy approach which was enough to keep him clear of the Ben and Andrew Wilkinson rapid Saxo. It was close, 3rd in class Wilkinson was only 8 seconds behind Campbell at the finish.
As for ‘Drive of the Day’, I reckon Innes and Kirty Mochrie would be in the running for that. Somebody should take Innes aside and give him a ticking off – a home brewed 1396cc Rover Metro shouldn’t be giving 2 litre cars a hard time, never mind the 1600 brigade! The wee thing was a treat to watch as it hurtled around the stages and it was over 13 minutes quicker than the Peugeot 106 of Martin Farquhar and Aiden Henderson. Cameron Craig might have made more of a fight for the 1400 class honours had the Peugeot’s gear linkage not broken on the second stage.
Those who lost out included top seed Ian Paterson with a burst brake pipe on his Subaru, Richard Sutherland’s Opel Manta broke a CV joint and Andy Horne retired his Darrian when he lost compression on one cylinder while Billy McClelland lost compression on more than one cylinder in the Evo3.5!
Colin Gemmell still leads the Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Championship at this mid way point but Kyle Adam’s class win means the gap between the two is now down to one point.
1 Alistair Inglis/Colin Inglis(Lotus Exige) 88m 32s
2 John Rintoul/Ross Hynd (Ford Fiesta R5) +00m17s
3 Tom Blackwood/Gordon Winning (Ford Fiesta R5) +01m18s
4 Colin Gemmell/Richard Crozier (Ford Escort Mk2) +02m28s
5 Greg Inglis/Steven Brown (Lotus Exige) +02m51s
6 Donnie MacDonald/Chris Hamill (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +03m29s
7 Alan Oldfield/Ashleigh Morris (Darrian T90 GTR+) +05m13s
8 Alan Wallace/Darren Robertson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6) +05m42s
9 Kyle Adam/Fiona Moir (Ford Escort Mk2) +06m06s
10 Murray Grierson/Mark Grierson (Subaru Impreza) +06m20s
Innes Mochrie/Kirsty Mochrie (Rover Metro GTI)