… Blackwood Plant Hire DCC Stages, Sat 25 April …
Going into the final stage of the Blackwood Plant DCC Stages Rally at Ingliston there were just 2 seconds between the leaders, and 5.8 miles of dry tarmac ahead. 2WD versus 4WD. 2.5 litres ‘au naturelle’ versus 2 litres with a turbo. Brucie versus Nige. Ashleigh versus Shona. Let battle commence.
As things turned out, Bruce Edwards and Ashleigh Morris ended up with a 25 second victory over Nigel Feeney and Shona Hale. So what happened?
Nigel Feeney arrived at Ingliston already late and all of a fluster. “I slept in” he said, “and so did my service crew – and they’re still not here!” He was lucky though. As a late entry he was on the reserve list and actually got a run, virtually last car on the road.
It was perhaps the best place to be on the first event of the year at Ingliston when the track is damp and ‘green’ from a Winter’s worth of weather. Even so, it was the devil’s skateboard that was fastest over the opening test, Edwards 4 seconds up on the Mk2 of Hamish Kinloch. Andrew Gallacher was the fastest of the 4WD contingent in his Escort Cosworth ahead of the Subarus of Colin Gemmell and the late starting Feeney by a second with Lee Hastings and Jim McDowall both on the case.
It just made you wonder what McDowall had for his breakfast. He must have crushed some Mars bars over his Weetabix and dowsed it with Red Bull. Whatever, Ian Paterson was ready to pack up and head for home: “It just cut out and died, so we pushed it off the track and waited for the stage to finish.” His day then got worse: “We were all ready to get a tow out, and I just tried the starter, and it fired up first time.” By goad, that boy can cuss.
Anyway, into Stage 2, and there was only one car under 9 minutes. “The car was all over the place in the first stage,” said Nigel, “one front tyre was at 47.5 psi and the other at 21!” Apparently the small matter of checking tyre pressures before the rally start had been overlooked in the rush, so his second run was a more measured and better prepared attempt, and it showed.
After a damp start it was now raining so there was little surprise that another 4WD car was second quickest. Gemmell was 11 second slower than Feeney and only 5 seconds quicker than Gallacher. Unfortunately for them, Edwards didn’t stick to the script and the rear wheel drive Darrian was fourth quickest. He was still well in the mix.
Then came Stage 3 and Feeney and Edwards tied on identical times with Gallacher only 2 seconds adrift. Epic stuff. Edwards was fastest over the fourth stage from Feeney, but by only 2 seconds with Gallacher a further 3 seconds adrift.
That meant at the half way point, Feeney had 7 seconds on Edwards with Gemmell third a further 13 seconds behind but 2 up on Gallacher. All four covered by a man-size Kleenex.
The first stage after lunch fizzled out quickly when the yellow flags stopped play. Apparently a cyclist had found his way on to the site through the fence, so then it was on to stage 6 where Edwards reduced Feeney’s lead to 2 seconds although Gemmell split them (4 secs down on Edwards but 1 up on Feeney) and Gallacher didn’t. The turbo failed on his new engine and he was out.
It all came down to Stage 7 – although they didn’t know it at the time because the final stage was cancelled – and Edwards set off like a ferret with its arse on fire. So too did Feeney, but: “I handbraked it round a hairpin and a trailing arm snapped! I managed to get over the Finish line with the wheel waggling backwards and forwards under braking and acceleration.” It wasn’t enough, and the Subaru dropped 27 seconds to the Darrian.
Colin Gemmell finished a strong third and was happy enough with that, first time out with a new ‘shell and still with the 2 litre engine: “The new ‘shell is lighter than the old one but we had a bit of a misfire today which I think is something to do with the cooling so we’ll need to have a look at that.”
A smiling Stuart Walker was fourth and making progress with the Skoda: “It was all a bit ‘understeery’ this morning but following advice I raised the rear a couple of times to 10mm higher and it was much better.”
Second 2WD runner was Hamish Kinloch in the eye-ball smacking yellow tinged orange Escort and Edward Todd completed the top six in his 2 litre GTM.
Lee Hastings finished seventh second time out in a new Subaru. He had debuted the car at the North West Stages but retired when an ECU failed and just wanted to give the new car a run. Stuart Baillie was a subdued eighth: “We had a misfire on the first stage and the car cut out a few times, but the second stage was better. Then on the third stage a brake pipe burst and we finished on the handbrake.”
Jim McDowall who started so well in the early morning damp dropped back a bit, but was still going well for a relative newcomer to 4WD: “We changed tyres after the first stage – and went 20 seconds slower,” said Jim, “It was still too wet for the new tyres over the morning stages. Once they warmed up they were OK but we lost too much time at the start of each lap.”
James Gibb rounded off the top ten and actually tied with McDowall’s final rally total but lost out on the first stage when he was 6 seconds slower.
Alistair Inglis failed to make the top ten as he continues his missionary work with the Lotus Exige: “We tested yesterday and set it up for the dry – then it rained today! The first stage was wet and it was understeering all over the place, so we changed it for the second stage and it was oversteering like a drift car. We spoke to Bruce Edwards and Alan Kirkaldy and got some advice and it was much better after that.”
Speaking of Kirkaldy, he finished the day in 12th place just 6 seconds behind Inglis so maybe he shouldn’t have been so free with his advice! But he did have a hiccup: “The flat-shifter got stuck in 2nd gear on the first test and cost me 40 seconds,” said Alan.
John Marshall was 13th giving his Mk2 a shakedown ahead of the McRae Rally Challenge although motor-racer Charlie Shaw didn’t get beyond the third stage when he holed a piston in the Escort.
Current Tarmack Champ Paul Ballantyne didn’t have a good day either, retiring the Clio with broken steering: “That’s the second time a power steering pipe has burst,” he said, “it happened before at the same place so we’ll need to have a look at it.”
At least he got some miles in, Gordon Winning didn’t make it to the start of the first stage: “We got through the Noise Test and left the boys with the car while we went to get the tea and bacon rolls in. Before we got there we got a phone call from the boys – they had found a broken camshaft bearing.” It could have been worse, imagine if it had broken during the first stage!
For once, Ross Carbry had a trouble free day with his Corsa winning the 1400 class from James Thomson and Archie MacCallum, but there was only 14 seconds between the three of them at the finish. MacCallum was lucky though, he broke a driveshaft on stage 5, the one that was cancelled, and had time to fit his spare. Michael Roberson was fourth in class first time out in a hired VW Lupo. The former Junior 1000 driver has a new Peugeot 106, but it wasn’t quite ready for Ingliston. Steven Hay’s points scoring run was curtailed early on the second stage when the Corsa’s gearbox failed and Scott Irvine broke a driveshaft in the Peug 205.
John Marshall scored the 1600cc win in his Escort from the Skoda Fabia of Nicky Rintoul which survived a violent encounter with a chicane bale on the penultimate test. Gavin Lloyd was third in his Nova ahead of the Citroen Saxo of Greg Inglis: “We had a misfire all day,” said Greg, “and we lost the power steering on one stage when the cam belt came off.” Neil Thompson lost out when he broke a driveshaft in the Corsa and Ross McSkimming retired the Citroen C2R” Max with no oil pressure.
Stuart Walker won the 2 litre class from Kinloch and Todd, and with Bruce Edwards taking the overall award, Stevie Hope took the over 2 litre class in his Escort but lost out on a top ten finish after contesting the first four stages with badly out of track front wheels: “I thought it was just slippy,” he said. Alex Adams was third in his Escort ahead of Fergus Gray’s BMW. In the big class it was Feeney from Gemmell and Hastings.
1, Bruce Edwards / Ashleigh Morris (Darrian T9) 51m 24s
2, Nigel Feeney / Shona Hale (Subaru Impreza) 51m 49s
3, Colin Gemmell / Chris Hunter (Subaru Impreza) 51m 52s
4, Stuart Walker / Julie McGuire (Skoda Fabia) 52m 55s
5, Hamish Kinloch / James Haugh (Ford Escort Mk2) 53m 07s
6, Edward Todd / Andy Brown (GTM Coupe) 53m 20s
7, Lee Hastings / Murray Coultard (Subaru Impreza) 53m 21s
8, Stuart Baillie / David Crosbie (Subaru Impreza) 53m 28s
9, Jim McDowall / Charlotte McDowall (Subaru Impreza) 53m 37s
10, James Gibb / Billy Gower (Subaru Impreza) 53m 37s
Full results: www.scotresults.co.uk