Daniel Harper celebrated a superb second Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally victory when the event finished in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Mini JCW WRC driver was delighted to top the podium, 19 years on from his maiden 2002 win.
Daniel said: “It’s been a long wait for this second win and I think that actually makes it better than the first one. I always, always wanted to win driving a Mini and I know this is a big one, but it’s still a Mini!
“As always, this has been a fantastic event – but it’s been tricky. The weather’s never straightforward and we took a bit of a gamble on Saturday morning, taking a slick when we thought it would dry up a bit. That’s what this rally’s all about. It’s great to be back after missing last year [due to COVID-19] and we’ll be back next year.”
The Englishman was the last non-Muileach to take victory on what was a typically challenging all-asphalt event. Local hero and winner last time out Paul MacKinnon retired from the lead when his Ford Fiesta Rally2 MkII suffered an engine problem on Saturday afternoon.
The second leg of the event was a heart-breaker for local fans with Dervaig’s John MacCrone also departing after an engine issue of his own in another Fiesta Rally2 MkII following the Mishnish Lochs 3 test.
For the first time in its history, the Mull Rally was a round of the British Rally Championship and the arrival of the nation’s finest and fastest drivers was a source of immediate action. Matt Edwards, chasing a hat-trick of BRC titles, was one of the first victims of the event, sliding off the road on the third corner of the opening stage.
Having recovered from significant damage to the right-rear of his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, the Welshman’s recovery drive to move up 135 positions to fifth at the finish – setting a string of fastest times and breaking stage records along the way – was one of the stories of Saturday.
Edwards’ countryman Osian Pryce was, however, the BRC master of Mull. Running a sister Volkswagen from the Mel Evans Motorsport team, Pryce delivered the perfect drive to score maximum points and a superb second place.
Happy to have furthered his lead at the top of the BRC standings, Pryce said: “This is what I came here for. It’s been a difficult rally, having to try to manage the pace and everything from around three corners in has been quite tough on roads I don’t know and in a car which hasn’t given me complete confidence. But we’re here.
“Will I come back, definitely. We heard a lot about this place and, like I said before, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to come up here in the first place.”
William Creighton was another star BRC performer, finishing an outstanding 8th to score maximum Junior points in the British series.
Mark Constantine (Vauxhall Corsa), Kyle White (Peugeot 208 R2), William Creighton (Ford Fiesta Rally4) and David Bogie (Ford Escort) also celebrated class success on the island – with Bogie’s sensational third overall meaning Eddie O’Donnell (Ford Escort) picks up the class D award.
The Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally is, of course, more than just a motorsport event. It represents an annual pilgrimage for thousands of marshals, team personnel and fans – the island’s 3000 population is comfortably doubled during rally week.
Absent from the calendar due to COVID-19 last season, local businesses were delighted to see the Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally back.
Sarah Fraser opened The Little Bespoke Bakery in August last year and worked tirelessly to fuel everybody through rally week.
“It’s been an amazing week,” said Sarah. “We’ve had such a busy week, with the recce and the rally itself. I’m from a rallying family myself, so I understand the appeal of the sport and it’s been so nice to meet folk from all over the place.
“In terms of the business, the rally offers a very welcome extension to what’s already been a really busy season. We know the winter means things will quieten down a wee bit, so knowing we’ve got an event like this is a huge boost. All of that said, it’ll be quite nice to get some sleep next week – it’s not often that we’re open until two o’clock in the morning!”
Sleep is something clerk of the course Andy Jardine and his whole team are looking forward to after another stellar event.
Andy said: “What can I say? I’ll start by thanking more than 300 volunteers who give up their time to come here and allow us to run this great event – we simply couldn’t manage without them.
“We’ve had a good clean rally this year. OK, there have been some small issues, but nothing this superb team couldn’t cope with. The weather’s thrown us the odd curved ball, but this is the Western Isles in October, we’re ready for that.
“Missing last year was pretty tough to take for us, the crews and the spectators, but I think we’ve come back with an absolutely superb rally. The competition was intense and it was a shame we lost some of the local heroes on leg two, but I don’t think you’ll hear anybody complaining about another Daniel Harper win. He’s almost a local here!
“But now, I think it’s time for a wee dram. Maybe two…”
1, Daniel Harper/ Chris Campbell (MINI JCW WRC) 2h 16m 40.3s
2, Osian Pryce / Noel O Sullivan (VW Polo R5) +4m 37.3s
3, David Bogie/ John Rowan (Ford Escort Mk2) +7m 36.6s
4, Fergus Barlow/ Craig Barlow (Subaru Impreza B13) +11m 58.0s
5, Matt Edwards/ Darren Garrod (VW Polo GTI R5) +12m 04.3s
6, David Wright/ Paula Swinscoe (Ford Fiesta R5) +13m 03.2s
7, Scott MacBeth/ Neil Shanks (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +13m 29.7s
8, William Creighton/ Liam Regan (Ford Fiesta) +14m 08.0s
9, Tristan Pye/ Andrew Falconer (Subaru Impreza) +14m 25.3s
10, Stephen Thompson/ Larry Higton (Ford Escort Mk2) +14m 39.2s
Report by: Sandra Evans / WordsPR