… Kingdom Stages Rally, 02 Nov …
Although Andrew Kirkaldy and Peter Carstairs won a wet, slippery and treacherous Kingdom Stages Rally at Crail from Joe McKeand and Callum Shanks in the runner-up spot, it was a superb third place overall that earned Greg Inglis the 2019 Cobble Shop Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship driver’s title by one point from year long rival Kyle Adam. If it was any consolation, Adam’s co-driver Fiona Moir clinched the 2019 Co-driver’s title as Inglis’ co-driver Ian Parker hadn’t contested all the rounds.
Apart from the rain, Crail was almost in benign mood. As one spectator commented: “At least it’s not freezin’, this is the warmest Crail I’ve ever attended.” Aye, obviously a visitor or a tourist, eh?
Also obviously, this was to be a 4WD day on the tarmac. Or perhaps not. Kirkaldy’s Mk2 Escort was out of the blocks faster than a Red Bull whippet, 7 seconds quicker than the Lotus Exige of Alistair Inglis and Harry Marchbank. It was left to Alan Wallace and Darren Robertson to restore some credibility to the total traction brigade in the Lancer with a time some 18 seconds slower than the white frisbee. Next quickest was young Harry Chalmers and Andrew Logan with a scintillating time in their Subaru just 4 seconds behind the Lancer. Greg Inglis was already on the pace, 5th quickest, two seconds up on the Fiesta R2T of Finlay Retson.
Already missing was top seed John Rintoul. In fact, he didn’t even start. The throttle sensor failed as the boys were taking the Fiesta R5 off the trailer before the rally start. It was either no throttle or full throttle – nothing in between. Hardly ideal for these conditions. And with no spare that was him out before he had started.
It was Kirkaldy again in SS2, this time 12 seconds up on Inglis Snr with McKeand only a second behind. Fourth quickest was the indecently quick Fiesta of Retson displacing Chalmers, Inglis Jnr and Wallace.
It all went ‘bladders up’ for Retson on SS3. The potent wee Fiesta got too much wheelspin off the line as it scrabbled for grip, and in one of the slowest understeering ‘offs’ seen since Noah thought about building a boat, the car slid helplessly off line at the first left hander and beached itself astride a lorry tyre marker. Even worse it blocked the stage ahead of the top three seeds who were already on their first flying lap. As a result of which Kirkaldy and the two Inglis’ had to stop and were credited with the fastest time of the next fastest driver, one Alan Wallace Esq. No advantage gained and nothing lost.
And there was more. 100 yards after leaving the start of the stage, the bonnet blew up on Chalmer’s Subaru. It wasn’t a case of a forgetful crew member, the pins broke. Instead of pulling over to close down the bonnet, Harry kept his foot down, peering around the edge and through the gap at the bottom losing only a minute and a half to the fastest boys. Incredible. That dropped him to 7th place overall with McKeand and Kyle Adam benefitting.
By this time, the sun had poked through the grey clouds and the track was drying, although the word ‘drying’ is a relative term in such tricky conditions. Even so, Inglis flew round the stage taking 19 seconds out of Kirkaldy to share the outright lead with his rival at the end of 4 stages. McKeand set third quickest stage time in the absence of Wallace whose Lancer was sidelined with centre diff failure. Chalmers was 4th quickest ahead of Inglis (Greg) and Jamie Stewart/Kevin Mollison in the Peugeot 205.
Into the 5th stage and Kirkaldy set about retaking the lead – while Inglis Snr didn’t! The orange Lotus hit a patch of water, aquaplaned and spun a series of 4 perfect 360 degree rotations before coming to rest astride a tyre wall. Little damage, but it would need more than a few platefuls of porridge to get the beast off the rubber mountain. McKeand was 2nd quickest through here ahead of Greg and Alan Stark in the Lancer, Kyle Adam, Chalmers and Jonathan MacDonald/Chris Wareham in the Peugeot 306. Greg Inglis dropped a little bit of time in the conditions but was still holding 3rd overall behind McKeand with one stage to go.
There was no stopping Kirkaldy now and he romped round the final test 6 seconds quicker than the McKeand Subaru with Adam getting 3rd quickest in his 1600cc Mk2 ahead of Chalmers, Inglis and Stark.
Jamie Stewart’s excellent run earned him 7th place and 2nd in class behind Inglis Jnr and that was despite no brakes in SS2 and losing what he thought was oil pressure. Turned out the pressure was OK, just the drive belt for the pump was slipping! Frank Pinder had a good run in the Evo3 to finish 8th and Fergus Gray’s BMW was good to watch, and even better to listen to, as it growled into 9th place with MacDonald’s 306 scoring 10th.
Richard Sutherland might have done better than 11th overall had his Opel Manta not broken a driveshaft – helped on its way by getting a bump up the rear end from a locked up, overbraking, tail-gating follower! Ross Chalmers was 12th in the Subaru missing after an unintended excursion into a field, with the Dalgleish boys’ Subaru in 13th place.
In 14th place overall was the 2nd in Class 2 runner (behind Adam) Robbie McTaggart in his Peugeot 106 ahead of 3rd in class Colin Hay (faither of Stephen) and 4th in class Ewan Stanhope in the Corsa Maxi. Eamon Kilmurray was the Class 1 winner in his Citroen C2 GT.
It was therefore a slightly relieved but very upbeat Kirkaldy who took the win in those treacherously slippery, uncertain conditions: “I loved those last two stages, they were really fast, super quick,” said Andrew, “I’m just glad the Escort is in one piece – so my brother (Alan) can’t moan at me!”And as rain washed sun sank into the North Sea, it was time to go home. Wet, weary and bedraggled, but good craic.
- 1 Andrew Kirkaldy/Peter Carstairs (Ford Escort Mk2) 68mins19secs
- 2 Joe McKeand/Callum Shanks (Subaru Impreza) +2:13
- 3 Greg Inglis/Ian Parker (Lotus Exige) +3:03
- 4 Kyle Adam/Fiona Moir (Ford Escort Mk2) +3:51
- 5 Harry Chalmers/Andrew Logan (Subaru Impreza) +4:06
- 6 Greg Stark/Alan Stark (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +4:45
- 7 Jamie Stewart/Kevin Mollison (Peuegot 205) +4:48
- 8 Frank Pinder/Ian Murray (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo3) +5:13
- 9 Fergus Gray/Kenny More (BMW 130i) +5:21
- 10 Jonathan MacDonald/Chris Wareham (Peugeot 306 GTi) +5:22
- Eamonn Kilmurray/Derek Cassells (Citroën C2 GT)