22 Aug: Grampian Classes 7-11

… Grampian Forest Rally, Sat 10 August 2019 …

Class 7 – RWD Up To 2050cc 16v

Thirteen seconds separated  the Escort Mk2s of class winners Duncan MacDonald and Neil Ross from runners-up Paul Mcerlean and Niall McKenna in a pretty close fought contest. Duncan survived a two-wheeling incident on one stage while Paul had a bit of a misfire early on, but it was cured when he switched fuel pumps. Bob Adamson and Jane Nicol admitted to one ditch incident where the Escort’s tail was where it shouldn’t have been and finished third. Alistair Brearley and Paul Barbet were 4th  with Alistair saying: “The stages had everything today – speed, flow, dry, slippery, that was the best event of the year.”John Brownie and Gordon Ritchie prevented an Escort whitewash with 5th in the Opel Kadett with John echoing Brearley’s opinions: “The stages were fantastic, we had a ball. That last one in particular was very testing, twisting  and turning.” Mark McCulloch failed to finish when a halfshaft failed and Rhuaridh Campbell put the Sunbeam off in the last stage.

Class 8 – 2WD Over 2050cc

Having tussled early on with Mark McCulloch (Class7) Iain Wilson and Chris Williams finished top 2WD, 10th o/a and scored the Class 8 win in their Escort Mk2, despite a puncture for half the stage in SS2. Now that he has announced his retirement from the sport, success seems to be favouring Gordon Murray who finished 2nd in class with David O’Brien, 40 secs behind Wilson. The Murray Mk2 almost behaved itself, although it did have a wee oil leak that needed an eye kept on it and it did bend a steering arm in a ditch, but that was more likely to be Gordon’s fault than the car. Keith Robathan and Steven Brown were 3rd in the BMW. Keir Beaton suffered propshaft failure in the first stage: “We got to the first corner 800 yards into the first stage,” said Keir, “then bang, bang, clatter. The car was still on the ramp at half 7 last night.” Jamie McIntyre had a mechanical issue in the 3rd although he later got it going and back out in the afternoon, but out of time.

Class 9 – 4WD (Non Class 10 or 11)

Michael Binnie and Claire Mole scored a pretty impressive 4th o/a along with their class win finishing over a minute clear of Thomas Gray and Harry Marchbank but the gap might have been closer had it not been for a puncture on the first stage for the Gray Lancer. Ian Baumgart and Sinclair Young scored 3rd in class with the Subaru but the car was sporting a rather uncharacteristic dent in the front n/s bodywork at the finish: “I hit a branch,” said Ian, “but it’s panel damage only.” Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray were 4th in the Lancer ahead of Martin Craik and Richard Wardle in the Subaru but they were another crew to puncture a tyre in the first stage and later had throttle problems. The Duncan Campbell and Gavin Chisholm Subaru had intercom problems during the day but still scored 6th ahead of the Subaru of Max and Callum Redpath although they finished the rally with brakes on just 3 wheels. “We damaged the o/s rear calliper,” said Calum, “so we just blanked it off and carried on, and then the intercom failed in the final stage.” Bill Nicoll and Ian Shiells were 8th in the Evo9 while Paul Collins “loved it” and finished 9th in class with Robert Wood in their Impreza. Mike Moates and Mat Johnstone rounded off the top ten in their Subaru followed by Brett McKenzie and Susan Shanks but the Subaru was down on power and not pulling well out of the corners: “It might just be an air leak,” said Brett hopefully, “I’m having to change down to get out of the corners.” The crew also had intercom problems but one can’t help wondering if this was deliberate on Brett’s part – with Susan in the car! There was a shock in store at the finish when the Mike Grant and Graham Kelman Subaru pulled into the rally finish. They are beginning to make habit of this – finishing rallies that is! However, true to form, they did have ‘issues’ like no 3rd gear, then burst the exhaust into the turbo in SS5 and crawled through SS6 to get a finish. Newcomers Darren and Greg McDonald were delighted to finish in the GC8 and said: “That was better than the Speyside,” an opinion shared by Steve McGregor and Malcolm Vie who finished 14th in the Evo3 saying: “That was excellent, better than expected.” Neil and Ian Philip were 15th in the Subaru, and after a trying day said: “It wouldn’t start off the starter motor this morning,” said Neil, “so we had to keep the thing running all day.” Final class finishers were Aileen and John Forrest in the Evo5. Both Martin Scott and Matthew Thomson ended their Grampian outings in a Grampian ditch!

Class 10 – Group A 4WD, S2000 & R4

Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick took the class win from ‘star of the rally’ Scott Beattie and Peredur Wyn Davies (see Main report) with the Lancer of Keith Morris and Terry Mallin finishing 3rd who had pulled up to the start of SS2 to be told by the Marshal: “You’re rear tyre is flat – 5,4,3,2,1” – so they went and did the stage with 3 inflated tyres. Alan Dickson/Martin Forrest were 4th and Kevin Crawford/Andrew Stevenson were 5th despite two ditch excursions in SS2. Calum and Claudia MacLeod were 6th in the MG S2000 but a bit off the pace as Calum explained: “It’s the first time the MG has been out since the 2016 Speyside. I couldn’t get gears at the start of the last stage. Eventually I got first and we set off and it seemed to be much better on the move,” and then admitted, “I’ve been slapped a few times!” That’ll be for going slow then, eh? Final finishers in the class were Robert Harkness and Michael Curry first time out in the ex-Taylor Gibb Evo9 but they lost a huge chunk of time in the final stage. “We dropped it off the road at a hairpin,” said Robert, “and with no spectators around we had to get it out ourselves by jacking it up and pushing it and jacking it up again.” Non finishers included John McClory with a faulty and noisy centre diff and Alan Wallace who retired in the final stage with the Evo6 in an Aberdeenshire ditch.

Class 11 – WRC And R5

The final class went to Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton ahead of John Wink and Neil Shanks who had a better day in the Hyundai. First time in the forest with his Fiesta R5 John Rintoul and Ross Hynd were pleased with their performance; “It’s hard work but very forgiving,” said John, “you have to rev and keep on it to get the best out of it but you get away with things too. We came over a Crest Right into a Left, but I came over too quick, thought I might not make it, and hit brakes. The car stopped, turned in and we were away – great things these R5s.” Bruce McCombie was the only non finisher in this class when the Focus got on the loose at an open right and tipped over into the long grass.

Grampian Rally – [Main Report]

Grampian Rally – [Stage Times]

Grampian Rally Classes – [1-6]