… Colin McRae Forest Stages, Class Roundup …
David Stokes and Guy Weaver won the Colin McRae Historics Rally in their MkI Escort by 40 seconds from the similar car of Stanley Orr and Phil Sandham. “There was plenty of grip today – other than when you were sliding into oblivion,” quipped Stokes, ” but we did get away with a big tank slapper in Drummond Hill. You need a bit of luck sometimes.” Orr was hampered by a gearbox which was getting stickier as the day wore on: “It didn’t really slow me down too much but it wouldn’t change gear when it was warm although it was OK when it cooled down.” Jim McRae and Pauline Gullick were third in the V8 Firenza: “You don’t often hear a driver complaining about too much power, but in those conditions today, I could have done with half as much!” Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride were the best of the Porsche runners: “The grip got better as the day wore on,” said Nutt, “I enjoyed it.”
Scott MacBeth won the 1450cc class in his Nova but struggled over the final two stages. “I wasn’t feeling well between stages 4 and 5, headachey and feeling sick, but there’s no fumes inside the car.” He stuck with it to win from the Nova of Angus Lawrie who had suffered a puncture, while Derek Connell retired his Nova with alternator failure. Linzi Henderson finished third in class in the MG while John Martin retired his Skoda when he slid off the road in Drummond Hill and damaged the front n/s corner and suspension.
In the 1650 8v class Iain Haining was top finisher in his Nova less than 20 seconds clear of Charles Blair in his Peugeot 205, but Blair didn’t score any Peugeot Challenge points: “I opted not to sign-on this morning,” he said, “I’ve already clinched the Ecosse title but Adrian Stewart and Blair Brown are still neck and neck for second place and I wanted to stay out of it.” As things turned out, Stewart punctured a tyre in the final stage and Brown took top points after a pretty close fight all day. Simon Hay was the final finisher in his 205 with Scott Peacock losing out with a faulty wiring loom: “We changed the ECU last night,” he said, “and repaired a leaking oil sump gasket – with silicon! But it was the Master Switch wiring which let us down today. We need a new loom.” Colin Baxter failed to finish when the Peugeot slid off in the third test and Andrew Chalmers put his Peugeot off in the final stage. Steven Bellshaw retired on the first stager when his P:eugeot came off second best with a log pile.
The third highest 2WD finisher overall was the 1650 16v class winner, Alasdair Graham in his Vauxhall Corsa, finishing in a stunning 14th overall placing. Both he and the Mk2 Escort of Greg McKnight started the final stage dead heating on total times, but McKnight punctured a tyre, and victory belonged to Graham. The Honda Civics of Duncan Campbell and Ross MacDonald finished third and fourth with Duncan solving an electrical problem after SS1: “It was cutting out through the stage. We don’t know why, but we disconnected the trip meter and changed up the gears sooner!” Kieran Renton failed to finish when the Fiesta’s engine failed and he also had a problem with the power steering early on in the day and James Robertson clattered a log pile with the wee Citroen which damaged the rear axle.
Steve Bannister finished second 2WD overall in 11th place in the Escort and won the Historic Class (as opposed to the ‘other’ Historic category) from Steven Smith in the Mk1. Matthew Robinson broke a half shaft in Drummond Hill putting him out of the running.
Nigel Barber’s Astra Sport won the FWD 2050cc class (with more than 8 valves) from Gerry Murray in the borrowed Ford Focus, but Nigel was lucky. He took a big chunk out of a tyre in the first two tests but the tyre didn’t deflate. Jake Anderson was third in his Fiesta and Darren Christie was fourth in his Peugeot 309, but for the fourth event. his rear pads fell out of the callipers. Now there’s a Winter project for someone! Ian Forgan was having a gentle shakedown run-out ahead of Crail, but put the Ka off in Craigvinean, softly. No damage, but stuck. Nick Thorne (Civic), John MacLeod (Focus) and Callum Atkinson (Fiesta) all had mechanical failures.
Amongst the more impressive drives during the day was Calum MacKenzie’s sixth place finish in his Escort Mk2. This was only his third event in 18 months and he was on the case right from the start, apart from one moment in Errochty: “I was about 10 ft off the road at one point – but I got away with it”. Joe Price was second in his Mk2 from young Mark McKnight. Mark reported no problems but on one of the road sections, fellow motorists were bemused to see the passenger door swinging open and a crash helmet was waved furiously out of it. Co-driver for the day, Helen Brown wasn’t calling for help, she was trying to chase a wasp out of the car! Quintin Milne didn’t get far, breaking the axle casing on the third stage and Grant Inglis retired in SS5 when the Mk2 lost compression and lapsed on to 3 cylinders.
Scott Kerr scored the 2WD over 2050cc class win in his Mk2 from Donald Brooker in the BMW with Robert Harkness heading home early after an off in the first stage and Colin Aitchison had a problem with the Chevette in the final stage and went OTL.
Dale Robertson had a relatively untroubled day out (just one burst brake pipe this time) winning the Group N class, particularly when Fraser Wilson got stuck in the first stage with a dud fuel pump. Calum MacLeod was second by only half a minute from Gordon Cunningham who was having a run out in John McClory’s Subaru.
Thorburn took the overall win and the class from Faulkner, Armstrong, Groundwater, Brown and Gallacher with Bruce McCombie suffering two punctures in the final stage. Brian Ross was delighted with 8th in class ahead of Alasdair Anderson and Scott McCombie. Mark McCulloch lost out with a puncture which damaged the steering, Chris Collie had an engine problem and John Rintoul lost fuel pressure. Amongst those who finished their rally prematurely, i.e. amongst the trees, were Donnie MacDonald, Brian Watson, Freddie Milne and Jim Forman.