… Albar Trophy Rally/Junior Rally, 01 Sept …
Colin Gemmell and Derek Keir won an action packed ‘Albar Trophy Rally supported by Lochlie Construction’ at Kames although if you weren’t there you might think a 2 minute winning margin was pretty decisive. Of course it was, but it’s how such a victory was achieved that was enticing. No doubt the low entry put some bystanders off, but that was their loss. It was a most enjoyable day out.
On the first stage of 16 Gemmell tied with Ross Auld and Amy McCubbin, the two Mk2s sharing identical times. On the next one, Gemmell was a second quicker and a second quicker again on SS3, then on Stage 4 they tied – again.
At that point Gemmell was 2 seconds in the lead but at the end of the fifth stage, it was Auld who was in the lead, albeit by 7 seconds. That was down to a lurid full-360 degree spin coming out of the ‘Chicken Run’ where the blue Escort just got one back leg on to the wet grass and whipped itself round faster than a dose of the hot curry trots: “I thought if I kept the boot in, it would pull itself round – it didn’t,” said Colin. Fortunately it was wide open territory and there was nothing to hit.
Whether it was sheer joy or red mist, Auld chucked it away in the next stage. The lead Escort was blasting round the Kames circuit at an unabated rate of knots, and missed the braking point for the Split. With blue smoke billowing from the four locked up wheels, the Escort slid well past the left turn, and since reversing on a stage is not an option, he missed the second loop and got a stage maximum time. A great shame, because there was little between the two.
That pitched Andrew Blackwood and Richard Stewart into second place in the Fiesta ST which retained its position for the rest of the afternoon as it three-wheeled its way round the bends. There was joy too in third place as the Opel Kadett of Billy Hamilton and Donald Durrand behaved itself after a series of mechanical malfunctions over recent events, although there were a couple of spins and one stall which widened the gap to young Blackwood.
There was more brain fade, sorry, brake fade behind the top three when Hugh Murdoch on his first lap of Stage 6 almost caught Duncan Ferguson on his second loop. It was like Guy Fawkes’ night as the blue smoke told it’s own story. With his windscreen full of white Mk2 bootlid, Murdoch missed the Split and he too was docked a maximum stage penalty – and you’d think at his age he’d ken better!
That meant Graham Bruce took fourth place overall but might well have been higher had it not been for a spin on to the wet grass in the third stage. With the wheels spinning and the car going nowhere, David Aitken had to get out of the co-driver’s seat and push the Mk2 back on to the road. They lost well over 2 minutes with that escapade.
Duncan Ferguson failed to capitalise on that incident, and others, when he had his own moment of brain fade, the white Mk2 almost missing its braking point for the chicane, locked up and smacked the tyre markers. The only damage was to the front valance but over 3 minutes were lost firing up the stalled engine.
In between Auld and Ferguson, Murdo Bruton not only finished his first ever rally, but got a result. He was sixth in his self-built and awfy smart Citroen C2 which attracted a lot of complements from the old hands around the service area.
Murdoch finished 8th and Willie Pollock didn’t. With everything else that was going on (or off!) ahead of him Willie was in line for a decent result with the Mk1 but felt the gearbox tighten on SS6 only to become a ‘box full of neutrals in SS7. There were no bangs or grinding, just nothing, so Willie is hoping that it’s just bearings that need replaced.
And if you thought the Seniors were misbehaving, they had nothing on the Juniors, where the competition was even more fraught. On his first visit to Kames, Kyle McBride and Jane Nicol were the early leaders in the Junior 1000 Challenge but they rolled out of contention on Stage 13. Exiting a fast right the Toyota got a rear wheel on the grass, the tail slid out, caught the tyre wall and tipped the Aygo into a roll. Mostly panel damage but that was them out of the rally.
Six seconds behind McBride’s Toyota at the lunch halt, Ollie Hunter and Richard Crozier converted that to a six second lead after the next two stages in their Peugeot and extended their lead all the way to finish. With McBride’s demise, Cameron Davidson and Ian McRae finished runners-up half a minute behind the leaders in their VW Up!, with Cameron adding: “The last two times I was here I put it off – but I had my sensible head on today and I’m still in the championship points.”
There was a tie at the finish for third place with Owen Paterson and Callum MacPherson clinching a podium finish on the 14 year old’s first ever rally. Their Peugeot was a second quicker on the opening stage of the day than the Toyota Yaris of Jack Hall/Robin Nicolson relegating them to fourth, but the battle here might just have been decided on the 4th test when Jack locked up under braking and slid into the Split, rather than driving into it.
Justin Gunning was fifth just 20 seconds ahead of Letisha Conn, but Letisha had a costly mistake on the 6th test when the Citroen locked up on the approach to a square left and slid on, straight up a grassy banking. No damage, just valuable seconds ticking away.
Tom Johnstone was top Nissan Micra runner in 7th place ahead of the similar cars of Aaron Webster and Erica Winning who had a big spin in the fifth test, but got back off the grass and on with the game.
Marcus McElwee was initially in the hunt until driveshaft failure in his Toyota on the third stage and he missed the fourth while the team repaired the car but got back out on Stage 5 to finish 10th.
But what a great day out with good competition. The threatened rain didn’t really come to much with three, short passing showers and the newly refurbished and enlarged cafe proved to be an inviting and tantalising emporium of sugary treats and fatty meats. The ideal excuse to get out of the rain!
1 Colin Gemmell/Derek Keir (Ford Escort Mk2) 21m 38secs
2 Andrew Blackwood/Richard Stewart (Ford Fiesta ST) +02m 00s
3 Billy Hamilton/Donald Durrand (Opel Kadett) +03m 13s
4 Graham Bruce/David Aitken Jnr (Ford Escort Mk2) +04m 02s
5 George Ross Auld/Amy McCubbin (Ford Escort Mk2) +04m 48s
6 Murdo Bruton/Niall Cowan Jnr (Citroen C2) +05m 32s
Junior 1000 Results
1 Oliver Hunter/Richard Crozier (Peugeot 107) 24m 34secs
2 Cameron Davidson/Ian McRae (Volkswagen Up!) +00m 31s
3 Owen Paterson/Callum MacPherson (Peugeot 107) +01m 14s
4 Jack Hall/Robin Nicolson (Toyota Yaris) +01m 14s
5 Justin Gunning/Stuart McBride (Škoda Citigo) +01m 31s
6 Letisha Conn/Ian Crosbie (Peugeot 107) +01m 51s