… Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, 11 Sept 2021 …
Neither Nissan Micra of Stephen Whitford and Philip Morrow and Barry Meeke and Jarlath Kelly finished. Perhaps no real surprise there, due to the amount of bickering that was going on between the crews as they waited in the re-group before service. Stephen thought the stages were fantastic while Barry explained the cause of a rear puncture: “Too much air over a yump!” If they drove as well as they talked they might have fared better. Marcel Freling and Karen Robinson didn’t finish either, the MG3 coming to grief at ‘Rory Young’s corner’ in SS4.
Having raised the suspension on their Honda Civic after the RSAC Scottish Rally, Fraser Smith and Steven Brown took a well judged victory in Class 2, even though the handling had been detrimentally affected by the change. Just 13 seconds behind them were Niall Cowan Jnr and Callum Shanks in their MG ZR and had it not been for a broken driveshaft on the first stage, the class outcome might have been different. Having dropped nearly a minute to Smith, Cowan fought back with 3 fastest stage times but Smith did just enough to clinch the class. Scoring one fastest stage time, Scott Peacock and Charlotte McDowall were delighted with 3rd, first time out with a new engine in the MG ZR. Niall Cowan/ Chris Wareham were 4th in the MG3 despite a puzzling loss of power in SS2 and 3 when an electrical fault was traced to a faulty ECU. Kevin Duggan and Keith Bovaird were 5th after losing over 3 minutes in SS1 with a punctured radiator in their Peugeot 206. Bryan and Scott Gourlay were the final class finishers after troubles with the Peugeot 205 jumping out of gear in the first three stages.
Peter Stewart was back on form with the Peugeot 208 Rally4 after a disappointing run on the RSAC Scottish scoring an emphatic Class 3 victory and finishing 15th overall, a remarkable feat given the pace of the rally. It was also good to see Kevin Rae back in the co-driver’s seat and he fair enjoyed his run. Jack Cairns and Martin Brady were 2nd but penalised for striking a chicane with the Fiesta Rally2. Richard Stewart and George Myatt were 3rd in the other Peugeot 208 Rally4 with Ashleigh Morris and Martin Haggett 4th in the Fiesta R200 after picking up a puncture on the first stage when they had to go ‘off-road’ to get past a crashed car. Eamon Kelly and Conor Mohan were seeking ‘seat time’ in their Fiesta Rally4 ahead of the Trackrod Stages, but parked the car backwards in a ditch in SS2 although they managed to get out for the afternoon run. Ewen Tindall and Andrew Roughead were out of luck again, this time the turbo failed in the Fiesta R2T on the final stage!
Second time out in the Mk2 Brian Ross and Jamie Mactavish scored the Class 4 win ahead of Jordan Anderson and Clare Mackenzie who burst the Peugeot 306’s exhaust in the final stages. Third placed Johnnie MacKay and Emily Easton-Page scored a lucky 3rd when the Fiesta ST’s grumbling gearbox finally broke just as it was leaving the Stop line of the final stage. The Fiesta ST of Bobby Mitchell and Craig Wallace stopped in SS5 while Paddy Munro and Dave O’Brien’s Escort was sidelined with a failed crank sensor.
Top 2WD runners on the day were Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry finishing 12th overall in their Escort Mk2 ahead of the Toyota Starlet of Shane McGirr and Darren Curran. Both drivers had to contend with issues during the day, Mark had a leaking brake pipe and Shane punctured on SS4. Alister MacArthur and Chris Robertson finished 3rd despite an ‘off’ after hitting something and damaging the steering. It happened at the same place as Rory Young in SS4 while Alistair Brearley and Paul Barbet had no intercom for the full afternoon and a tyre went flat on the last mile of SS6. First time in the words for 10 years Jim McDowall was out with son Jamie in the Escort Mk2 and finished 5th ahead of Rhuaridh Campbell and Shaina Archibald in the Sunbeam with Rhuaridh commenting: “We had a bit of a wobble at the front. I don’t know what it is, but it got us here,” and added: “Brilliant, best rally this year.” Tommy Heard and Greg McCutcheon rounded off the finishers in their Mk2. Steven and Mary Wood had gearbox failure in the Fiesta while Jim Robertson and Colin Maxwell disappeared in SS2 and Willie Pollock with Helen Brown retired the Mk1 in the final stage.
Paul McErlean and Niall Mckenna in their Mk2 were the only starters and only finishers.
Michael Renton and John Shepheard were a tad lucky in SS4 when the Subaru Impreza cleared a yump – and landed in a ditch, but they got away with it. Jan Budge and Bruce Lindsay were 2nd in class having lost time in SS1 when a turbo pipe blew off the Subaru and Cameron Black and John Jack were delighted with a class placing in the Mazda 323, second time out in the car. Mike and Michael Moates ran out of road with the Subaru in SS5.
First time at this event as a competitor Niall Devine (he had been at previous Galloway Hills rallies in a social capacity – on the bevvy!) was pleased with the class win as he and Liam McIntyre were seeking a run out in the Mitsubishi Evo9 ahead of the Bushwhacker Rally. Ian Baumgart and Dave Robson were 2nd in class in the Subaru ahead of the Evo9 of Liam Regan and David McElroy which had lost a lot of time in SS3 with a puncture. Duncan Campbell and Michael Cruickshank were 4th having fixed the Subaru’s brakes after SS2 when a boulder got jammed in the caliper. First time out for 2 years, Ian Dickson and Dean O’Sullivan were 5th in the Evo9 and Matt Calderwood with Philip Sandham were 6th in the Evo7 needing a steady run to renew their confidence in the new engine. Rory Young was enjoying his first run out in Fiesta Rally3 till the car got sucked into a ditch on SS4 and not to be outdone, Graeme Sherry accomplished a similar a feat with his Subaru.
In a hotly contested Class 9, the Evo7 of Scott Beattie and Paula Swinscoe led home the Evo9 of Angus Lawrie and Paul Gribben first time out in their self built car ahead of Kevin Crawford and Andrew Stevenson in another Evo9. Willie Paterson and Tom Hynd were a fortunate fourth as they rushed out of the last stage without stopping – they had holed the Evo9’s sump! Aileen and John Forrest were 5th in their Evo9 with Ronnie Horne and Steven Kerschat completing the finishers in a Subaru which was showing signs of an altercation with a chicane: “We went into the chicane at 90mph,” said Ronnie, “the brake pedal had gone right to the floor.” It wasn’t so much the chicane that caused the damage, but there was a log pile behind it! And yet they still finished, no mechanical damage, just cosmetic. Michael Binnie retired with a blown turbo and both Scott MacBeth and Keith Morris crashed out. Scott McCombie had a problem with either a diff or the gearbox while Robert Harkness were spotted parked up in the final stage.
Overall winners, David Bogie and John Rowan scored the class win in the MINI ahead of Garry Pearson and Niall Burns in the Skoda. Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson were 3rd in the Fiesta WRC ahead of Niall McCullagh and Ryan McCloskey in a Fiesta R5. Having sorted out a rear wheel spherical bearing which was causing the Hyundai to rear wheel steer, John Wink and Neil Shanks were 5th ahead of the Fiesta WRC of Martin Cairns and Kenny Bustard. Had it not been for a a boost pipe blowing off the turbo on the start line of the first stage Ian Forgan and Chris Lees might just have done better than 7th in their Fiesta R5 but they still finished ahead of Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair. The Armstrong Fiesta R5 was setting top times in the morning but gear selection issues plagued the car in the afternoon although he still finished ahead of Bruce ‘Lucky White Heather’ McCombie and Michael Coutts. The Focus WRC got stuck in 6th gear in the first stage and although it was ‘fixed’, the problem hasn’t been cured. Bob Adamson and Jane Nicol were 10th in the Fiesta R5 ahead of the Fiesta R5 Evo of Chris McGurk and Gary Byrne. Rounding off the class finishers were John Rintoul and Ross Hynd seemingly acquiring a dose of ‘McCombie luck’. The throttle position sensor on the Fiesta R5 failed on SS1 and then a turbo pipe blew off in both SS2 and 3 – and he burned his hands trying to fit it back on! Milne and Hamill both struck trouble with their Fiestas while Jason Mitchell and Peter Ward initially lost time with a puncture in the Fiesta Rally2 before it retired in SS4. Sean Devine and Martin Forrest rolled their Fiesta R5 in SS3. All was under control on a long fast corner with the car drifting nicely till a wheel tripped into a hole and over they went.
Stanley Orr and Graham Henderson won the class in their Ford Escort RS1600 from the Mk2 of Dave and Jamie Forrest which inherited 2nd place when they passed Andy Kelly and Roy Campbell parked up in their Mk1 just 500 yards from the stage finish with a blown engine. According to Andy: “We suddenly lost oil pressure – and then it went bang!” That also meant that Paul Rawson and Paul Wild gained a 3rd place finish in their Mk2 remarking this was their third Galloway Hills, but first finish! George and Jacqueline Bryson completed the finishers in their awfy smart Mk1 but there were no heroics as they were just having a ‘test’ ahead of the RAC in November.
Richard Spink and Nigel Hutchinson in their Ford Escort RS 1800 had a bit of a fight on their hands with the Mitsubishi Galant of Tom Coughtrie and Ian Fraser which closed the gap on the class leader over the final two stages but just lost out by 16 seconds. Duncan Ferguson and Alexander Murphy finished 3rd in their Escort BDG with Andy Johnson and Jim McSherry 4th in their Chevette. Ernie and Patricia Lee gave their new BMW engine its first airing taking 5th in class ahead of Donald Brooker and Tony Booth In the Subaru Legacy. A slightly out of puff Ian and Dawn Milne pulled into the final Control in their Escort with Ian exclaiming: “That last stage – it was 100 miles an hour down the hill!”