… Beatson’s Mull Rally – Class Roundup …
It was a Proton 1-2 in Class A for the 1400cc cars with James Hall taking the honours in his Proton Compact from the Satria of Chris Woodcock. Newcomer Stewart Dodds had been having a rare old tussle with Hall and was leading the class till he slid of the road with three stages to go: “I only did 5 stages last year,” said Stewart, “but I was hooked, that’s why I came back for more.” Hall had originally led the class after the first four stages on Friday night: “I was leading the class till the last stage then somehow I dropped 20 seconds to Stewart. Maybe he found a short cut!” Overnight he bled his brakes and de-glazed his pads ready for another attack on Saturday. George Winder scored an impressive third in class having borrowed his son Lewis’ Junior 1000 Nissan Micra. The only all-lady crew of Louise Thomas and Emily Easton-Page (her first Mull!) finished 8th in class in the Mini, and Jim Brindle and Shona Ingram didn’t. Their Mini’s engine expired on the final stage on Friday night. Darren Thompson went off on the first stage of the rally bending the Nova’s back axle but managed to change it at service and then retired for good on the penultimate stage on Saturday night.
Fergus Barlow had been lying as high as 11th place overall at one point in his Ford Fiesta R2 until a fuel pump problem in one stage dropped him back behind the Vauxhall Corsa of Mark Constantine in Class B. “Wet weather suits us” said Constantine, “but I’m still worried about young Barlow catching me.” He did, and won the Class by just over a minute from Constantine and third placed Alec Brown in the Peugeot 106 who had been suffering from a virus all weekend. Gareth White would have been in contention, but for two punctures in his Peugeot 208 R2, having to stop mid-stage to change one of them, adding: “I’ve been driving like a vicar, it’s too wet, the roads are like rivers.” Having earlier sorted out suspension and handling problems on Friday night, Neil Thompson was another expected front runner who lost out when the Corsa developed fuel pump troubles on Saturday afternoon but it was replaced for the final Leg. Thomas Gray had been on course for a good finish till his Fiesta R2 slid off the road and knocked a front wheel off. Steven Paterson posted some good times in his Corsa early on until he stripped all the planet gears off the diff on the 4th stage on Friday night, but fitted a standard diff to enter the Super rally. Nick Rintoul cowped the Skoda big time in Loch Ken on Saturday afternoon, thereafter taking no more active interest in proceedings! Donald Bowness had a busier than expected Friday night: “The alternator bracket snapped and the wiring loom chafed through, then the clutch release bearing seized and we spent the night in Bayview Garage fixing it.” After all that effort it was disheartening for the crew to retire at the end of Saturday afternoon. Beefy Fraser has a minor panic when the spotlights on the Avenger failed on Friday night, explaining: “The switch melted! But we’ve got a new switch.” Tony Fleming dropped 7 or 8 minutes on the Friday night when he stopped his Peugeot 205 to help another crew put out an underbonnet fire.
Chris ‘Curly’ Haigh won Class C in his Ford Escort Mk1, but Ian Chadwick was never far behind in his Honda Civic. Haigh finished 8th overall with Chadwick 12th and hoping that he could have been closer. The ever grinning Ian Chadwick remarked: “She goes well for a 130,000 mile engine, I’m having to adjust from a left hand drive Skoda on the Cork Rally to a right hand drive Honda here,” said Chadwick. Darren Moon was third in his Escort although Grum Willcock was in contention till he slid off in the Ben More stage, bent a driveshaft and broke a wheel in his Opel Manta. Ross Hunter had been expected to go well in his 2 litre Peugeot, but broke a driveshaft mid stage in Calgary on Friday night. Ross Marshall was another favourite to disappear from the points when he knocked a wheel off the Escort on Penmore on Saturday afternoon. Mike Storrar didn’t even get as far as that when 3.5 miles into SS3, the engine lost power, tightened up, then went bang. “Under the bonnet there was oil and aluminium everywhere,” said Mike, “and I thought Honda engines were bombproof.” Kevin Dunn lost out on Friday night when he was faced with an unenviable decision. The Nova was sliding towards a bridge parapet on a very wet stretch of road and it was either that or straighten up and miss the parapet. He straightened up – and went down a banking, across a burn and head butted the banking on the other side. Gordon Halley exited the first stage with no lights on the Escort after a wire came off, but got it fixed for SS2. However Gordon and Jeff were more concerned with their competition number¨”This is the second time we have been the two fat ladies,” they said referring to their start number of 88, “We had that number in 2014 as well.” Gary Dillon’s Honda was well rolled in SS8, and was originally reported to have damaged every single panel on the car. However Gary corrected this erroneous report when he later gleefully pointed out that the passenger door was undamaged.
MacCrone, Duffy and McGeehan collected the silverware in Class D with Shaun Sinclair finishing fourth ahead of Matt Tarbutt and Alan Gardiner. Steven Ronaldson lost out when the Escort slid off the Hill Road on the final night and bent the steering, and the crew simply ran out of time getting it out and fixed. John Marshall retired the Subaru with “no electricity” after the alternator failed and the Darrian of Bruce Edwards slithered off the road in Knock on Saturday afternoon. Billy McClelland put his Subaru off in Calgary Bay after hitting a bump. No damage, but stuck. Brian Pringle retired his Subaru on the first stage of Saturday night: “It was just before we got to Ulva School, all of a sudden there was lots of noise and no gears,” he said. Robert Mathieson was another to retire his Subaru with gearbox failure.
Despite his adventures, Eddie O’Donnell survived to win the Historic class in his Escort ahead of Martin Healer’s Escort and the Saab 96 of Paul Darlington.