McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally, April 23
Class Roundup M2 to Pro4
There was one heckuva two way scrap going on in the M2 class between Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown in the Vauxhall Adam and Justin Gunning and Keith Fair in the Fiesta R2. On stage times there was never more than three seconds between them but it all went wrong for Justin in Balloch when the car just skittered wide on the loose surface and ended up in a ditch. It was only inches from the road but the car was well sunk. As for Robert, “It was a good day – spot on!” Second in class were Scott Peacock and Craig Wallace in the MG ZR ahead of Stephen Fraser and Alan Grant who were a tad lucky to finish. They needed a helpful push from spectators when the Nova overshot the last corner on the last stage and it was pushed over the Finish line. Terry Smith and Kenny Foggo were fourth in the Suzuki Swift after a puncture in SS8 while Howard Alexander and Martin Young arrived at the rally finish with the Focus trailing great clouds of reek. They didn’t know what it was but it smelled of oil! Also puzzled were Keith and Mairi Riddick as fluid was seeping into the MG ZR cabin and they didn’t know what it was or where it was coming from, so the trailer was called for. Out of luck too were Meghan and John O’Kane when a ditch stopped play in the penultimate test and the Fiesta ST suffered front end damage – and especially after one of the most impressive handbrake turns ever seen in the Cooper Park stage – worth a watch on FB!
Paddy Munro and Dave O’Brien were the winners here in their Ford Escort but only twelve seconds behind was the Ford Escort of Dougal Brown and Lewis Rochford on their first visit to the forests since 2017. Paddy was a wee bit lucky though. He caught the brakeless Michael Renton and just as Michael pulled over to let him past, Paddy pulled over to the same side and he bumped the Subaru’s tail end, “but we’re still friends” said Paddy. Snowman class winners James Brims and Iain Macdonald fared less well this time in their new-ish Mk2 having spent half a minute in a Gartly ditch and had a puncture on SS7. Having a more fraught time but still finished fourth were Jim McDowall and Shona Hale. The Escort was fine but the crew had run out of jelly babies! Graeme and Kyle Morrison were the final class finishers but were lucky to reach the finish after a 75 mph tank slapper in the penultimate test. Rhuaridh Campbell and Shaina Archibald retired the Sunbeam in service and didn’t make the last two stages while Kenny Wood and Gordon Chalmers retired the Vauxhall engined BMW in a Ben Aigan ditch while the Escort of John Crawford and Karen MacLeod was spotted parked up off the road in the same stage.
Making yet another return to rallying, following several retirements from the sport (Golf is sh*t* apparently), were Gordon Murray and Phil Sandham who had a rather lonely time wining the class in their Escort Mk2 as no-one else finished. Pity that, there could have been a real story here as David Wilson and Callum Atkinson were going like a rocket in the BMW E30 until Balloch when the BMW left the road after a Left6 into slight right and was stopped by a telegraph pole. Thomas Gray and Dave Robson were going well too in the Escort until the propshaft failed. Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna had to retired the Escort with clutch failure while the Escorts of Hamish Grant/Stewart Hurst and Brian Ross/James MacTavish were retired with mechanical failure.
There was little to choose between the top three Subarus here with Ian Baumgart and Mark Fisher taking the class win ahead of Keir Beaton/Iain Thorburn and Duncan Campbell/Michael Cruickshank whose car was sporting some n/s front corner damage, “I didn’t see anything, but I heard it!”. Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray were bit off the pace in the Evo6 but said everything was OK while Martin Crombie and Duncan Daun were fifth in the Impreza after an off in Balloch while Derek Duncan and Adrian were forced out with an overheating Subaru.
Armstrong , Binnie, MacBeth, McCulloch and Angus Lawrie filled the top five palces in this class with returnee Chris Collie and Ricky Finlayson sixth after snapping a Mitsubishi driveshaft in the first stage of the day on the start line but fixed it after Cooper Park. After that he got faster during the day but nearly too fast: “I was almost in the trees 300 yards into the final stage!” William Paterson and Tom Hynd continued their good form with seventh in class in the Lancer although they were concerned about a rear end vibration powering our of corners. Scott McCombie and Charley Sayer-Payne were eighth in the Lancer ahead of Kevin Crawford and Andrew Stevenson who had to stop in the first stage and replace a broken wheel. Michael Renton and John Shepheard lost the Subaru’s brakes for the last five miles of SS7, Aileen and John Forrest were eleventh after an “exciting day” with Ronnie Horne and Steven Kerschat final class finishers in their Subaru. Scott Beattie and Paula Swinscoe were up for a fight with the front runners as usual but the Mitsubishi was well cowped in Gartly. Last out in 2014 the returning Alex Vassallo and Richard Crozier had been setting some pretty decent times in the Subaru despite a broken driveshaft in SS2 before a ditch halted progress in Balloch! Keith Morris and Terry Mallin were forced out when the Mitsubishi broke a timing belt and Keith was looking a bit apprehensive regarding what he might find when he opened up the engine. In similar trouble was the Evo8 of Robert Thomson and Kyle Mackintosh and they were spotted later taking bets with Keith about whose engine repairs would be most expensive!
Richard Stewart and Carin Tait-Logan were surprise winners of the class in their Peugeot 208 Rally4 but only because the sister car of Peter Stewart and Harry Marchbank was forced out with a failed coil pack.
The order in the ‘big banger’ class was Bogie, Henderson, Milne, McCombie and Wink with the Fiesta R5 of Hugh Brunton and Drew Sturrock in sixth place. Hugh looked a bit disappointed: “I’m just a bit off the pace, it’s not quite where I want to be but I’m making progress” although he was concerned about the back end “feeling a bit loose”. Bob Adamson and Jamie Edwards were eleventh in the Fiesta Rally2 ahead of John Rintoul and Ross Hynd in the Fiesta R5 and the Hyundai WRC of Stuart and Marc Irvine had survived a scare when the clutch pedal went to the floor in Cooper Park, but it came back at first Service when they changed tyres. The Fiesta R5 of John Morrison and Peter Carstairs was overheating at the end of SS4 so they pulled out.