… Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, 10 September 2022 …
Rd7 (of 8) 2022 KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship …
+ Galloway Gathering +
The rally organising team from Solway, Machars, South of Scotland and East Ayrshire car clubs were faced with a difficult decision when Thursday’s (8th Sept) tragic news regarding the nation’s sovereign was announced. Rallying is a nomadic sport by nature and it was felt that the rally provided an opportunity to bring rally folk together for a communal commemoration, hence the decision to go ahead. Prior to the rally start, the organisers held a 2 minute silence and rally driver Scott Sloan played the most appropriate and moving ‘Lone Piper’ lament ‘Sleep, Dearie, Sleep’ on the bagpipes. All competing cars and Official vehicles also displayed a special commemorative black windscreen sunstrip supplied by the organisers and approved by the Championship sponsors. There was no champagne spraying finish when final results were announced, just firm handshakes (and a few hugs!) all round.
Addendum … After that moving wee service my Big Pal Jaggy was spotted sitting quietly under the tailgate on the built-in rumble seat of that week’s press appraisal vehicle, a Land Rover Discovery. A wisp of smoke from the pipe curling up into the still forest air as he sat there lost in thought. The melancholy notes of the bagpipes had apparently triggered emotions from exactly 15 years ago on that very same weekend. Back then he had been on holiday in the Highlands and was having dinner with Lady B when he got a phone call to be taken at the hotel Reception desk – no mobile phone signal there! He was told to get his *rs* back down the road pronto, there was work to be done, and he spent the next day in a certain World Champion’s office in Lanark handling press enquiries from the world’s media. A black day in Scottish rallying.
The rally organisers faced and dealt with another difficulty. Only 59 crews took part so the original 3 stages run twice format was changed to 2 stages run thrice. Given the nature of the Galloway tests, the format worked very well. No one knows why entries were so few although increased fuel and travel costs are thought to have deterred the usual Irish invasion while a few other entries were lost from Grampian based crews as a mark of respect.
There was high drama amongst the ladies with Meghan O’Kane doing her championship hopes a pile of good by finishing top Lady driver. Having crashed out on the Grampian, Aileen Forrest had acquired the ex-Kevin Downes Evo8 to protect her series lead as her own car wasn’t going to be ready in time. Unfortunately the engine failed in SS4 when she was leading the category. Ashleigh Morris then took charge until her untimely visit to the shrubbery in SS5 leaving Meghan to take the win despite a puncture in SS3.
On such a warm and sunny day it was surprising to see Duncan Daun with wet feet. He had been co-driving Cameron Black’s Mazda 323 when the car sprung a coolant leak at the end of SS3. With another stage to do before service a mad scramble ensued to cut and re-fit the hose and then top up the radiator. A bottle of orange juice and drinking water wasn’t enough but this being Scotland there was a plentiful supply nearby. Unfortunately, Duncan inadvertently went for a dook when he was trying to fill up the bottles with water from a nearby burn. Nomex bootees are not waterproof!
Another driver dependent on the Herculean efforts of his co-driver was gentleman Tom Coughtrie. When a tyre on the Fiesta sprung a leak, Big Fraze sprung into action to change the wheel. A second puncture later in the day instigated a recurrence of the procedure where Fraze jacked the car up, took the wheel off, replaced it, let down the jack and packed it away again. Throughout it all, Tom stoically stuck to his post – sitting in the seat pressing the brake pedal as and when required! Now that’s teamwork.
Central servicing certainly has benefits with service crews able to relax ahead of the impending rush to refettle bent or broken (or both) rally cars after their trips through the stages. However, one enterprising service crew member spent the time in contemplative fashion while trying to catch his supper. Instead of waiting with tools at the ready for the return of Steve Bannister, Curly Haigh was spotted with fishing rod in hands on the banks of the Palnure Burn which runs along the edge of the Talnotry clearing. He was looking for trout – but they saw him coming!
A most welcome sight at the end of the final stage of a warm and sunny day was Jane Davidson handing out a tub of scrumptious Glen Urr ice cream to all drivers and co-drivers.
And finally …
The John Wink Hyundai Rally Team had booked rooms in a guest house for the Friday night and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality on offer, especially one Ken Wood Esq. The premises had an ‘Honesty Bar’ and the bold chap spotted a bottle of Old Pulteney on the shelf, a favoured tipple. Having poured himself a generous dram, he reached for the pen to note it down and to sign the ‘Honesty Sheet’ – only to find that the pen was dry! Apparently there was a need for another dram or two to ponder the problem.