AM Phillip Trucktech Snowman Rally, sat 5th March
Rd01, KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship
Class Roundup, M2 to Pro4
“It was a perfect day,” said newcomer to senior rallying Justin Gunning with Stuart McBride in the Ford Fiesta R2, little more than half a second ahead of the Vauxhall Adam of another newcomer Robert Proudlock, with Steven Brown, who might have fared better had it not been for a fractured power steering pipe which lost all the fluid in the first two stages. Ashleigh Morris and Martin Haggett had a fairly trouble free run in the R200 into third place ahead of the MG ZR of Scott Peacock and Craig Wallace which was plagued with alternator and non-charging problems on the first two stages and again in the third test after ‘repairs’ had been made at service. The car also burst a water hose but the crew were still in contention for the class win until the final stage when a rear wheel bearing collapsed. Meghan and John O’Kane admitted to being in a few ditches on their way to fifth in class with the Fiesta but just managed to stay ahead of the Nova of Stephen Fraser and Alan David Grant which had a gear selection problem during the day. Terry Smith and Kenny Foggo were the final class finishers in the Suzuki Swift on their second Snowman Rally although the car had no back brakes for SS2. After setting fastest M2 class times on the first two stages, Keith and Mairi Riddick were forced out on SS3 when the MG ZR broke a driveshaft. The car actually suffered loss of brakes on the first stage with Mairi proudly proclaiming that for the first time ever, she bled the brakes on a car so that they could continue. James Campbell and Ricky Finlayson had to retire their Talbot Sunbeam Ti when the alternator bracket broke and an attempt to replace it with a spanner bolted into place didn’t quite last the distance. Peter Beaton and Dean Ross retired their Honda Civic with clutch failure.
First time out in the ex-Mark McCulloch Ford Escort Mk2, James Brims should be re-named, James Grins! The former Subaru pedaller was fair enjoying himself in the RWD machine with Iain MacDonald. They finished less than half a minute clear of the similar car of John Crawford and Karen MacLeod with the ex motor cycle racer claiming to be a mite rusty after 12 years out of a rally car. Even so, he had to cope with a puncture on SS1 half way through the test and then lost the exhaust on SS3. Paddy Munro and Dave O’Brien were third in another Mk2 half a minute clear of the Vauxhall engined BMW E30 Kenny Wood/ Gordon Chalmers which was a bit “wayward” on the first stage till they softened the suspension. Rhuaridh Campbell and Shaina Archibald were pleased enough with fifth in the Sunbeam as this was their first finish on Snowman Rally. Last crew home in the class was the Mk2 of Jim McDowall and Finlay Donnan as there was no way back from a Maximum in the first stage when they got a puncture. The pace was there though, as they were catching cars on the final two stages. Steven and Mary Wood failed to finish when they rolled the RWD Fiesta.
First time out in a McConnell Motorsport prepped Mk2, Thomas Gray with Tom Howie fair enjoyed all the extra power despite one or two spins! However, the biggest problem was getting into the bluidy thing. Apparently Trevor spent three days trying to move the seat back to allow Gray’s 6ft 4in and 21 stone frame to fit in. Even then he still looked a bit cramped! Only seven seconds behind Gray at the finish were Brian Ross and Jamie Mactavish but well pleased with that as it was the first run out for the Escort’s new engine and gearbox. David Wilson and Callum Atkinson put their BMW off the road in SS1 and Hamish Grant and Stewart Hurst were forced out with mechanical problems in the Escort.
Subaru mounted Keir Beaton and Iain Thorburn won the M6 class from the Subaru of Duncan Campbell and Michael Cruickshank who lost a bit of time on the first two stags with a car that was trying to swap ends. The Evo8 of Ally Reid and Donald Urquhart were third having survived a “a few scary moment son some slippery downhill sections” and replaced a burst bush on the rear suspension at second service. Matt Calderwood and Philip Sandham were fourth after adjusting the new rear suspension which had the car sitting too high over the first two stages while Andy and Alison Horne were fifth in Kris Tennant’s BITZ Subaru. Orrin McDonnell and Eoghan Anderson rounded off the finishers in their Subaru with Sandy Fairbairn and Ian Murray having to retire when they first squashed the exhaust flat in the Evo and with no spare parts, the repairs only lasted until mid way through SS3. Jan Budge and Bruce Lindsay were forced to retire their Subaru when the clutch failed and as for Ross Macdonald and Matthew Johnstone they suffered perhaps the hardest luck story of all when the Evo9’s engine failed on the way to the rally start.
The class finishing order here was Binnie, Armstrong, Macbeth and Beattie with the Evo6 of Scott McCombie and Charley Sayer-Payne finishing fifth having had trouble with the sequential gearbox which was refusing to select gears cleanly, promoting Scott to having to use the clutch. Michael Renton and John Shepheard were sixth in the Subaru ahead of the Evo of Keith Morris and Terry Mallin which was puzzlingly down on power: “I thought it was me over the first two,” said Keith, “but Millbuie proved it wasn’t – it’s just straight, turn , straight, turn, straight again, another turn, and we were miles down on everyone else.” Kevin Crawford and Andrew Stevenson lost time on the first stage with a puncture in the Evo9 and finished ahead of the Evo9 of Aileen Forrest and John Forrest. Final finishers were Willie Paterson and Tom Hynd having lost around six minutes in SS3 when the Lancer’s ignition just cut out and failed, but they managed to finish. First time out in the completely stripped and meticulously re-assembled Proton Satria Evo, Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry were forced to retire when the turbo heat shield caught fire. Specially sourced, the part was to supposed to prevent such an occurrence, so they wisely called it a day before any real damage was done. Angus Lawrie and Paul Gribben were forced out when the Lancer’s engine failed and Alistair and David Dalgleish were going well in their Evo9 till: “At the end of a long straight in Millbuie we felt it losing power and then looked in the rear vision mirror and saw smoke! We were flat out at the time but think (hope!) it’s just the turbo.” They retired.
Top 2WD crew Peter Stewart and Harry Marchbank won the class and scored a mighty impressive 15th place overall but according to Harry: “We were slaughtered in Millbuie, we just don’t have the power of the bigger cars.” The identical Peugeot 208 Rally4 of Richard Stewart (Snr) and Carin Tait-Logan were second – in a class of only two cars.
The ‘heavyweight’ class was won by Bogie from Milne, McCombie and Hugh Brunton finishing fourth after finding the cause of his down on power engine on the first two stages. Robert Adamson and Jamie Edwards were fifth first time out in the new Fiesta Rally2. Struggling with his new LHD Fiesta, Donnie MacDonald finished sixth ahead of the John Morrison/Peter Carstairs Fiesta R5 which mysteriously cut-out near the end of SS3 and they coasted round a 90 Left before it fired up again and ran perfectly after that! Stuart and Marc Irvine were 8th in the Hyundai Accent WRC but just pleased to finish after a feverish week trying to get the electric sorted out on the beast which they managed later on Thursday night – and too late to fire it up to see if was OK as it would have annoyed the neighbours! John Rintoul and Laura Connell were ninth in the Fiesta R5 having broken a driveshaft in SS1 and had to drive through SS2 before getting it fixed at service. At least John Wink and Neil Shanks finished in the Hyundai i20 R5 although they got a Maximum in SS3 when they had to wait for the breakdown crew to pull the car out of a ditch. Not so lucky were Ian Forgan and Chris Lees who failed to finish when the Fiesta R5 went off the road at speed, but was pulled up rather sharply when it hit a tree stump. The car suffered an awfy severe dunt and the crew were shipped off to Raigmore Hospital with a varied selection of fractures. Here’s hoping they’re both OK.