… Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, 10 September 2022 …
Rd7 (of 8) 2022 KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship …
Classes Roundup …
Just the one starter and finisher in Class 2 and yet despite that Martyn Erskine and Kieran Hyslop didn’t make it easy for themselves with the Peugeot 206 Cup car. Having replaced the engine which blew up on the Grampian “It’s just a standard scrapyard engine but it feels better than the other one” the crew had to ‘borrow’ water to fill the radiator up at the end of the first stage when a hose came off. Worse drama befell them on the final stage when the car came to halt at the Finish the Marshals spotted an underbonnet fire. “We thought we smelled something,” said Martyn, “but it was just a Kevlar guard which caught fire and the Marshals put it out quickly.” As they clocked into the Talnotry finish the duo looked as though they were auditioning for a part in the Snowman pantomime!
Once again Peter Stewart and Harry Marchbank were untouchable in the Peugeot 208 Rally4 but this time they were run pretty close with Brendan Cumiskey and Martin Connolly only 20 seconds behind at the finish in their Fiesta Rally4. Nearly a minute behind this pair was the ‘old-tech’ MG ZR of Keith Riddick and Mairi Riddick. Justin Gunning was best of the Scottish Juniors this time finishing 4th in class with Steven Clark in the Fiesta R2 just eight seconds clear of Robert Proudlock and Andrew Falconer in the Vauxhall Adam. A clean run this time showing Gunning what he can do while Proudlock counted on a points scoring finish to secure the national Junior title. Niall Cowan Jr and Callum Shanks were sixth in the MG ZR after puncturing a tyre in SS1: “I hooked a stone with the front wheel and punctured a rear tyre, but didn’t realise till the tail end started weaving on a long straight into a fast Left!” Richard Stewart and Colin Maxwell in the other 208 Rally4 were seventh in class as Meghan and John O’Kane rounded off the finishers in the Fiesta after a puncture in SS3. Ashleigh Morris and Martin Haggett ended their day in a ditch in SS5 when the Fiesta R200 slithered off the road.
Andy Magee and Michael Johnston were the sole starters and finishers in their Ford Escort Mk2 and summed up their day in one word: “Grand.”
John Crawford and Josh Davidson won the class in their Ford Escort Mk2 from the Mk2 of Paul Thompson and Hannah McKillop fresh from their Welsh outing on the Woodpecker Rally the week before: “That one was just so fast,” said Paul, “and this one is fast too, but so-o-o tricky!” First time out in his recently acquired and first time in the forests for 17 years, David Hardie finished 3rd in class with John McCulloch: “It wasn’t fast, but it was fun!” Also first time out, for just three years, Chris Rankin and Alex Knight finished fourth in their BMW Compact ahead of a Covid recovered Alistair Brearley and Gerry Bryden in the Mk2. Even so, Brearley was struggling with a shoulder injury (from the Argyll Stages) especially when he encountered a rutted hairpin which tugged the steering wheel out of his hand and he had to engage 1st gear to climb out of the hole! Rhuaridh Campbell and Shaina Archibald were the final finishers in the Sunbeam although there were concerns about a “wee knock from the rear end.” Aaron Cunningham and Paul McGahon missed out on the middle two stages when the Mk2 punctured a tyre and damaged the suspension, but managed to run through the final two.
Paul Mcerlean and Niall Mckenna were on good form in the class winning Ford Escort Mk2 also finishing 17th and sixth 2WD overall with Willie Pollock and John Marshall second in the showroom shiny Mk2. Mind you, Willie had a “Dohh!” moment when the Escort punctured a tyre and the crew jumped out to change the wheel. When they opened the bonnet there was one 13 inch wheel in the well. Trouble was, the Escort was running on 15 inch wheels!
Taking his rallying seriously (as ever!) Mike Moates with Gary McDonald scored a class win their Subaru Impreza but only after Mike realised he had forgotten to switch the diffs on for the first two stages! Cameron Black and Duncan Daun were second in the Mazda 323 despite a burst radiator hose in the final stage. Liam Richardson and Darren Kennedy punctured a Subaru tyre in SS2 but were later spotted parked up in SS4 while the Subaru of Donald Murray and Morgan Redpath was also spotted parked up in the same stage.
First time out in the ex Brian Ross Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8, Scott Peacock and Craig Wallace scored a class win despite a wee bit of a struggle: “I was too often in the wrong gear, but this is my first time in a Turbo 4×4 compared to the Peugeot or MG.” Trying to adjust to a new pedal box in the Subaru, Orrin McDonnell and Eoghan Anderson were second in class having “marked a few dodgy places” on the Notes first run through the stages! Ian Baumgart and Michael Cruickshank retired the Subaru with burst steering while Ross MacDonald and Matthew Johnstone broke a driveshaft in the awfy smart looking Evo9.
Jock Armstrong and Cammy Fair took the class win ahead of Angus Lawrie and Paul Gribben with Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry finishing third (see Main Report). After a cautious start Willie Paterson and Tom Hynd finished 4th with Willie saying: “Good stages, no two corners the same.” Andy Scott and Patrick Walsh were fifth with the Subaru of Ronnie Horne and Alan Edwards completing the finishing line-up with Ronnie in good form as always: “We got a ****** puncture on the way to the first stage!”
The class winners here reflected the overall placings with David Henderson and Chris Lees taking the class win along with their overall victory. David Bogie and John Rowan were second ahead of John Wink and Neil Shanks and the Hugh Brunton and Drew Sturrock pairing. Bob Adamson and Will Atkins were fifth in class in the Fiesta Rally2 after the usual series of contentious discussions with the team about tyre choice while Chris McGurk and Mark McGeehan finished sixth in their Fiesta R5 commenting: “It was so slippy in those first stages I thought I had a puncture – and I just want her home in one piece.” Tom Coughtrie and Ian Fraser rounded off the class finishers after a busy day in the Fiesta Rally2 having to twice change a wheel due to punctures. Having sold his Mitsubishi, Craig McMiken had his first taste of Fiesta Rally2 competition, but it was also his first proper run out on a rally for 8 years. After cautious start, the times were improving until the exhaust broke and they retired on the final stage. Stuart and Marc Irvine’s run of luck continued in Galloway, unfortunately it was bad luck. The Hyundai’s fuel system failed stranding the car in SS1.
Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson kept their 2WD championship title hopes alive with a close fought victory over series rival Peter Stewart in the Peugeot (Class 3) with less than half a minute between them. Stuart also scored a mighty ninth place overall finish in the Pinto engined Escort Mk2. As a measure of his determination he was planning on new tyres for each of the two runs, but after the first two stages there were no new tyres left in the tyre vans so did SS3 and 4 on the same tyres before changing to a different harder compound for the final runs. Second place in the Historic class featured a much closer duel between the Escort Mexico of Robin Shuttleworth and Malcolm Smithson and the Sunbeam of David Mcleod and Eamonn Boyle. Robin took the runner-up position by one second with David saying: “That was absolutely brilliant but the wee Sunbeam is just too underpowered for the long straights in Fleet.” Douglas and Graeme Menzies finished fourth in their Escort Mk2 despite a wee problem with the exhaust catching on some of the rocks.
Nick Kitching and Andrew Trollope were running in a new engine in their Ford Escort Mk2 and finished first in class ahead of the Mk2 of Jim Robertson and Mike Curry who lost a bit of time in SS2 when the fuel pump failed. Donald Brooker and Tony Booth were third in the Subaru Legacy although they were lucky to make the finish when “something broke” in SS6 but Donald had no idea what it was as the car was still running. Steve Bannister and Callum Atkinson retired their Escort in the final stage while Duncan Ferguson and Alex Murphy retired their Escort Mk2 in SS4. Jimmy Mills and Ashley Trimble lost time in SS2 when they overshot a junction and spun the Escort before retiring in SS5. The Escort Mk2 of Richard Spink and Nigel Hutchinson was another retirement in SS5, and perhaps ominously, Richard was heard to say after the first two stages: “I’ll need to tweak the Notes a wee bit so we don’t get caught out – it’s very fast in places!”