… Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, Sat 14 Sept. 2019 …
Class 1 – 2WD Up To 1450cc
Barry Meeke and Sean Topping won the 1400cc class in their Nissan Micra from the MG ZR of regular Class 1 winners Scott Peacock and Robin Neil. It’s over 20 years since Barry first took his younger brother (the ‘boy’ Kris) navigating for him and just recently returned to the driving seat himself. Commenting on his class win, he said: “I started too late to be a rally star.” Not having run over any hedgehogs this time, Scott Peacock had little to say for himself but he was fair chuffed at his final stage time: “I beat Bert (Iain) Haining by a second in his BMW and I took 30 seconds off my time second run through Cairn Edward.” (He lied, he actually took 31 seconds off his earlier time – Ed). He then added: “I’ve got plans to put a 1600 engine into it for next year.”
Class 2 – 2WD Up to 1650cc 8v
First time across the water in the Galloway forests, Mervyn Wilson and Darragh Sheridan took the class win in their Escort Mk2 saying: “We broke a couple of wheels but that was down to a couple of rough bits after the BRC boys had been through!” Donald Peacock and Albert Connolly were second in the Peugeot having: “Slipped off into a hole in SS1. It was just a wee hole, so we got back out, then Albert dropped his papers all over the gearlever and handbrake,” said Donald. Bryan and Scott Gourlay were a distant third in the Peugeot, but a lucky third at that: “We were nearly off in MacKay’s ditch in Cairn Edward (where Johnnie cowped the Fiesta ST last year!) and then survived a broadside drift in another stage with only one wheel on the road and the other three in the ditch,” laughed Bryan, “and then over the intercom I heard ‘Well held’ from Scott.” Jim Stephenson didn’t finish when he put the Sunbeam off the road in Cairn Edward.
Class 3 – 2WD Up To 1650cc 16v
The Toyota Corolla of Raymond Doyle and Kevin Duggan peched up to the finish line at Threave with Raymond explaining: “It’s just a failing crank sensor, it’s making the engine sound rough, but we’re here.” And they took the class win from Jude MacDonald and Michael Cruickshank in the Fabia: “I was driving like Miss Daisy today. It was middle of the road all the way just to make sure I won the Junior championship – and a day spent with Tapio Laukkanen.” Fraser Smith’s finishing record is improving greatly these days as he and Steven Brown finished 3rd in class in the Honda: “We hit a rock, but no puncture and then caught a car in the last stage.” The Cowan family were 4th and 5th in their respective MG ZRs with Niall Jnr and Callum Shanks (satisfyingly!) pipping Pop Cowan and ex-footballer and weight lifter Clare MacKenzie by nearly a minute. Niall was another driver to narrowly avoid ‘Mackay’s ditch’ in Cairn Edward, while ‘the girls’ finished 6th and 7th. Caroline Carslaw and Charley Sayer-Payne in the Fiesta finished well clear of the Peugeot 106 of and Nikki Addison and Rachel Matheson. Caroline admitted to “one wee broadside moment” while Nikki endured another arduous outing: “We’ve had a steering problem all day. It keeps tugging and pulling under acceleration and even on the straights. We had a good look at service but couldn’t find anything wrong so just carried on.” Chris Lawson failed to finish when the Corsa left the road in SS2.
Class 4 – 2WD Up To 2050cc 8v
That Rally Finland trip must have really done Douglas Watt some good. He and Ian Parker scored the class win again in their Ford Escort, but there was just ONE second between them and the Escort of Paddy Munro and Keir Beaton at the finish. “We were down 6 seconds or so to Paddy going into the last stage,” said Dougie, “but we borrowed Paddy’s b*lls and beat him by a second.” Paddy on the other hand had to keep an eye on his gearbox: “We broke the casing this morning on the first stage and got it patched at service. We’ve had to keep topping it up with oil all day.” John O’Kane parked his Escort in a Black Loch ditch while Brian Little’s Escort G3 was spotted parked up outside the public telephone box in new Galloway looking rather squashed after a roll in Cairn Edward.
Class 5 – Historic Cars
It was good to see Stuart Egglestone back behind the wheel (more detail in the Blethers section) in his Historic spec Escort with Brian Hodgson alongside. This event was treated as a shakedown ahead of November’s RAC Rally to see if he would be physically fit enough to tackle such a long event and they promptly won the class from the Mitsubishi Galant of a smiling Tom Coughtrie and Ian Fraser. And why was Tom smiling? “This is the first completely trouble free rally we’ve ever had with this car,” said Tom, “we did lose a bit of time in SS4. It was very loose in there, and this is a big car, it was moving all over the place.” Yorkshire’s David Brown and Steve Bielby were 3rd in their Mk2 with David admitting: “I went to sleep in SS2, I was 25 seconds quicker second time through it in the afternoon even on knackered tyres!” A disappointed John Lowe was 4th in class with Dave Robson in the Escort: “I threw away 3rd in class, ” said John who finished 22 secs behind Brown, “I lost time and confidence in Black Loch, I just threw it away.” Andrew Robinson and Graham ‘Grum’ Wilcox were 5th in their Escort and finished the rally with a bit of wood jammed in the back wheel and tyre: “The stages were mint,” they said at the finish. Re-united in rally crewmanship (as opposed to verbally abusing all and sundry on their irregular commentary outings with the Becksport SRC TV team) Andy Kelly and Roy Campbell were 6th in the Mk1 complete with cracked windscreen: “We landed with a bump on a bridge and the windscreen cracked, then on the last stage the alternator bracket broke, the fan belt came off and the engine started to run a bit hot, but we’re here.” Final finishers were Ian and Dawn Milne in the Mk2 although the Mk1 of Paul Rawson failed to make it when the Mk1’s engine expired as he booked into service.
Class 6 – FWD Up To 2050cc 16v
Bobby Mitchell and Craig Wallace won the class in their Fiesta ST from the similar car of Johnnie Mackay and Emily Easton-Page. “That was fun,” said Bobby, “we got close to a few ditches, there’s a couple of rattles somewhere and we had puncture on SS4, but my new word is ‘tidy’.” A confidence building run resulted in second in class for Johnnie: “It started coming together in SS4, and I must have been trying harder in the final stage as Em was screaming at me – and I wasn’t listening.” They sound just like an old married couple already, eh?
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