McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally, April 23
Class Roundup C1 to H2
Despite an altercation with a banking at the finish of the last stage, the MG ZR of Robert Tonge and Sean Newlands survived to take the class win – also helped by the fact the Snowman class winning Skoda Favorit of Tommy Sutherland and Ryan Renwick didn’t finish.
Three ditches were survived by Martyn Erskine and Kieran Hyslop on their way to the class win in their Peugeot 206 Cup including one half spin at a Right9 in SS4 which Martyn justified by: “The speed was fine – it was the corner that was too tight!” Scoring an excellent and well deserved second in class was the Peugeot 106 of Nikki Addison and Rachel Matheson. They finished the rally with virtually no exhaust after it broke on SS3 and then broke some more later on. Apparently successive efforts to effect repairs with plastic cable ties came to nought prompting the thought – why didn’t we have metal cable ties? The highlight of their day was Gartly with screams of delight drowning out the un-silenced rally car at the stage finish! The Peugeot 205 of Chris Baillie and Brian Foggo finished third having bent a front strut in SS3 but they just kept going. David and Danny Sutherland were fourth in class In another Peugeot 205 but David was pleased enough with that as his last rally was way back in 1993 – in a Talbot Sunbeam. David MacLeod and Tom Bell were fifth in their Peugeot 106 with David recalling that he only provided Tom with one moment “to reach out and hang on to the grab handle in SS7”. Calum MacDougall and Tommy Logan were the final finishers in their Citroen Saxo on their first event as a crew and first time out in the car. Andrew Logan and Calum Fraser cowped their Peugeot 205 in SS3 and that was their event run.
Craig Smith and Charles Mackenzie won the class in their Vauxhall Astra having coped with a puncture in SS7 and a dance with a ditch in the final stage. The Opel Manta of Graeme Sherry and Ewan Lees looked a bit tattered around the edges as it drove into the Elgin finish in second place – “It’s only the fibreglass bits,” said Graeme. A fairly trouble free run earned the Opel Kadett of John Brownie and Gordon Ritchie third in class with only a puncture on a road section to report. Colin Patterson and Gary Clark had to cope with a ‘dodgy steering balljoint’ in their Escort which caused “some wayward steering at times” on their way to fourth in class. Alistair Brearley and Paul Barbet might have done better than fifth was it not for an overheating problem with the Escort in SS7 and then Alistair chose harder tyres for the final two stages – wrong move, apparently. Newcomers Liam Richardson and Darren Kennedy had an “amazing day” in their Peugeot 306 on their way to sixth in class despite “two ditchy moments!” Just to finish was an achievement for first timers Edward Noble Liam Bremner in their Fiesta ST although they had anxious moment at the start of SS6 when a fuel pump relay failed – but they had a spare in the car! Final finishers were Robert and Ross MacRae in their Escort having survived “a big hairy moment at one corner in Stage 8. I almost went the wrong way but we got it sorted!” Greg Grant and Iain Macleod retired their Focus ST170 in the final stage while Colin Baxter and Alvin Campbell were forced out earlier with engine problems in the Peugeot 205.
One of the bigger classes in the entry list, C5 was won by the Subaru GC8 of Scott Mutch and Greg McDonald. First time out for five years they “survived just two ditches today!” and also had to replace a seal which was leaking brake fluid. Jordan Anderson and Clare Mackenzie were second in their Impreza despite having “a bent shock absorber, a knackered clutch and the fuel pump switch was playing up”. Jan Budge and Bruce Lindsay were third in class in another Impreza with Jan from Thatcham saying “good stages and well worth the trek”. The Subaru of Mike Grant and Graham Kelman lost out on third place by just two seconds but their main concern was “Did we beat Sandy?” referring to great pals and rivals, the Arbuthnotts. And yes they did. Sandy and Ian Arbuthnott were sixth behind the Subaru of Darren McDonald and Sarah Young which actually tied on the same total time as Grant/Kelman with Mike getting the place with a faster time on the first stage. Darren was running in a new engine and suspension but had a slight moment of panic when “the engine lapsed on to three cylinders – then cleared itself. Phew!” The Arbuthnotts were sixth in the Focus but there was only ten seconds in it, although Sandy had an excuse, “We had a turbo leak somewhere and were losing boost pressure.” The Ford Escort of Niall Philips and Michael Moates was seventh with Niall noting that there were quite a few tight corners following ‘flat’ crests which caused a few tank slappers during the day. Neil and Ian Philip survived an ‘off’ in Gartly but managed to get the Subaru out and keep going with Alan Wallace Martin Forrest finishing just seven seconds behind them in their Evo7 after a puncture in SS7. The Mazda 323 of Cameron Black and Ian MacDougall survived a “wild Scandy flick on the very last 90Left in the final stage – but at least the spectators got a good show!” Donald Murray and Morgan Redpath reckoned they were lucky to finish as there was evidence of oil smoke from the Subaru over the last two stages while Mike Moates and Gary McDonald were also pleased just to finish with exhaust problems and a down on power flat four engine. Also down on power was the Evo5 of Iain Urquhart and Michael Mackenzie but they thought it was an electrical issue rather than mechanical. The final class finishers were Thomas Rapson and Michael Sutherland who had spent three minutes in a ditch in Coachford before getting the Subaru out. The Subarus of Brett MacKenzie, Scott MacDonald and Matthew Thomson all failed to finish with mechanical issues.
Not only did Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson win their class by nearly 4 minutes, they finished 20th overall and top 2WD in a Pinto engined Mk2 Escort! First time out in his new Vauxhall Magnum, Keith Robathan with Ian Nicoll was pleased with his finish and whilst he reckons the back end of the Vauxhall is better than his Escort, the front needs some work. David MacLeod and Eamon Boyle failed to finish with their Sunbeam Ti. No reason was given but ‘an informed source’ let slip that the jerry cans had diesel in them!
Nine seconds determined the winners of the H2 class but only after Donald Brooker and Tony Booth in the Subaru Legacy came from behind to set a final stage time some eleven seconds quicker than Jim Robertson and Mike Curry in their Ford Escort. A further seven seconds behind were Jack Ingleby and Grania Watson in the Ford Mustang after a rather cautious run through the Speyside stages in the 600 bhp beast. Charles Hopkinson and Gerry Bryden were fourth in the Escort Mk2 with Ian and Sandy Milne the final class finishers in their Mk2. Ernie and Patricia Lee got stuck in a stage when the BMW broke its gear linkage and the boys had to go looking for them to effect a rescue!