16 May: Border Counties Report

 … Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, Sat 14 May 2022 …

There will be no big report from the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally because it was a BTRDA round as opposed to a Scottish Championship counter, but I did manage to catch up with most of our lot who were taking  part. By all accounts a good rally and the stages were well received despite pre event fears that the FLS graders had been through! Such fears proved to be unfounded as they were mostly smooth and held firm.

Winners by 14 seconds were Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh in their Ford Fiesta Rally2 ahead of the ‘return to rally’ star of the Speyside David Henderson and our own Chris Lees in the Ford Fiesta R5. Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson were third in their Ford Fiesta ahead of their departure to Rally Portugal the following day. Perry Gardener and Jack Bowen were fourth in their Ford Fiesta R5.

Once again the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 of Michael Binnie and Claire Mole was in exceptional form finishing fifth behind the more modern ‘supercars’ but ahead of the Lancers of Russ Thompson and Richard Hill. It might have been a risky outing so close to Michael’s local event the Jim Clark in two weeks time, but it provided valuable seat time ahead of his biggest weekend of the year.

But here’s the thing. Michael recalled that his first ever event was the 2016 Border Counties and the first ever stage he encountered was Cardrona. He and Greg Halfpenny finished 30th overall that day on their debut in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo5. Not bad, eh? But he wondered what his time was back then compared with what it was today. On the 2016 event, the Cardrona stage was a 4.26 mile test which Michael covered in 4m 50s. This year, the stage was nearly half a mile longer and he dispatched it in 4m 13s. Big difference, eh?

Matthew Hirst was eighth in another Fiesta R5 just four seconds clear of John Wink and Neil Shanks in the Hyundai. Had it not been for a rear puncture on SS2 they may well have been inside the top six overall.

Local driver Ian Baumgart with Sinclair Young had an excellent run in the Subaru finishing 12th and it was good to see John McClory and David Hood back out in the Lancer and despite the lack of recent mileage, finished 13th just behind Ian and Sinclair.

Robert Adamson and Jamie Edwards finished just off the pace on the day as they had to keep a wary eye on the temperature gauge of the Ford Fiesta Rally2 which was showing signs of overheating at times and they finished 15th.

Top 2WD runners were Steve Bannister with Callum Atkinson in the Ford Escort Mk2 finishing in 16th place while Speyside surprise Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson were only four seconds behind the Malton Missile in their Pinto engined Mk2.

James Campbell and Ricky Finlayson were lucky to make the start of the rally with their Talbot Sunbeam Ti when the service van broke its gearbox at Golspie (that’s an awfy long way from Jedburgh) but local lad ‘Steve’ McQueen came to their rescue and lent them his van – rally folks are nice, eh?  Anyway, the boys finished 39th overall after a day spent struggling with a car which was over fuelling. It was OK on the move but getting it off the line was a struggle on road and on stage.

Worthy of a mention was young Yorkshire lad Lewis Hooper who finished in 41st place in his Nissan Micra. Co-driver Steven Brown was very complimentary about the lad’s car control and speed and pointed out that Yorkshire might be seen in some quarters as not so much Scottish, but not English either!

In 47th place overall having not managed to break anything this time were Ernie and Patricia Lee in the BMW with veteran Donald Peacock in 52nd place in the Peugeot despite the energetic urgings of young Keith Riddick. Mind you, nothing is more of a foreign thought than the sight of a Donald Peacock breaking out into an ‘urge’!

Those were the fortunate few. Grant Inglis and Gavin Chisholm ended their rally in a ditch with the Mk2. They had caught Walter Henderson in the first stage and got smashed lights and a cracked windscreen for their efforts so Walter kindly pulled over at the start of SS2 to let Grant through. Grant was honest enough to admit that the red mist was still in place and it was his own fault he ended up in the ditch as Walter sailed past!

As for Walter and Jim Kinloch they didn’t manage to get much further when the bolt holding the Escort’s oil pump pulley sheared and it was being held on only by the ‘key’. Michael Cruickshank was co-driver for first time rally driver but regular rallycrosser Ansko Pitkanen in her BMW MINI Cooper. Apparently she also works as a film stunt woman but Michael survived her first foray into the forests, but she’s certainly quick, although they only managed three stages. Richard Crozier was out with Rob Wilson in a Lancer but they didn’t get beyond SS4. I think that’s everyone, apologies if I missed anyone