Bulletin 7 - 21st June 2016

Alistair Hutchinson, Renault Clio © West Coast Photos
Alistair Hutchinson, Renault Clio © West Coast Photos
Gareth White / Harry Marchbank, Peugeot 208 © West Coast PhotosNeil Thompson, Vauxhall Corsa  © West Coast PhotosStuart Walker, Skoda Fabia @ West Coast PhotosStephen Bethwaite / Ann Forster, Vauxhall Nova @ West Coast PhotosChris McCallum in his Ford Escort Mk2

Gareth White / Harry Marchbank, Peugeot 208 © West Coast PhotosNeil Thompson, Vauxhall Corsa © West Coast PhotosStuart Walker, Skoda Fabia @ West Coast PhotosStephen Bethwaite / Ann Forster, Vauxhall Nova @ West Coast PhotosChris McCallum in his Ford Escort Mk2


CUB Clio crew claim Crail.  Alistair Hutchinson was the happy pilot and his steady drive netted him our maximum points on round 5 of this year’s championship.  Alistair owns a couple of Clios and this blue and yellow livered version is the ‘older’ one that has seen a lot of service but was the one to serve him well this time out. Alistair, and non-registered co driver Andrew Hutchinson, showed a good pace all day and experienced no problems; his only suggestion would have been to use harder compound tyres if only he had some.  Wining class 3 and taking 6th overall was a cracking result and made the long trip from Mickleton worthwhile.  And having playing his Joker on the rally too, Alistair now takes over at the top of the driver’s list.  Having scored highly on the 4 events that he has started this year, this good form looks championship-winning material so it will be interesting to see who will apply pressure over the final 3 rallies.


The Peugeot 206 of Gareth White and Harry Marchbank were our 2nd placed crew in 9th overall.  Gareth wasn’t a very happy man at first service as he was showing down in 19th place so he decided to lowered the suspension a little and bolt on new tyres.  This shrewd move gave him more confidence and the times improved too; by the end of the day he’d won his class as well.


Only 11 seconds behind, and rounding off the top ten overall, was Neil Thompson.  He called upon the services of Chris Purvis for duties in the silly seat of his Vauxhall Corsa on this rally and renewed an old partnership.  Neil was another unhappy driver at first service because of some panel damage to the nearside front panel / corner when he found a large tractor tyre right on his line into a tight corner on stage 2.  No mechanical problems surfaced as the event unfolded, just his tidy little car looked a bit battle weary.


The ever-positive Stuart Walker was next along in 11th position.  He was introducing a youngster from Mull, Lewis Brown, to co-driving and the new pairing worked well.  There were no mechanical problems this time out having replaced his sick engine from Ingliston with his spare engine.  Only some front panel damage inflicted when overtaking another competitor on the opening test was recorded.  At the end of the day, the Skoda Fabia would be just 2 seconds behind Neil Thompson.


Our next points scorer was Shona Hale.  She hitched a ride with late entry, the non-registered Michael Glendinning, and they would set off running into SS1 as the last car on the road.  No issues to report other than the driver ‘bust’ his ankle jumping / falling off the trailer the day before the rally !  They ended up in 13th overall.  Kenny Moore was out again in his immaculate Hillman Avenger and was another to report an almost trouble free day.  He had to call in a replacement co-driver as Dick Wardle got his dates mixed up and committed to another offer of rallying in Donegal that weekend.  Kenny’s only issue was when he hit some tyres at the bottom of the circuit and ended up in the grass but with fairly minimal time loss.


Stephen Bethwaite and Ann Forster were first time visitors to Crail and found the stage layout very fast for their little 1400cc Vauxhall Nova.  But they loved it.  They suffered no gearbox gremlins this time to slow them down although Stephen did report hearing a few more rattles and knocks by the end of the day.  The timesheets showed they finished in an excellent 21st overall and were the 3rd championship contenders to take a class win on the rally.  And with the use of a Joker, Stephen now jumps to 7th driver while Ann takes over at the head of the co-driver’s table.


Chris McCallum was yet another driver with a new man alongside him in his Ford Escort Mk2.  Going into the first long stage of the morning in 22nd place, he then hit some tyres; damaged the steering; lost over 2 minutes and at the lunchtime service was in a lowly 32nd position but back on the up.   Once a new steering arm was fitted, Chris felt they he was going well in the pair of afternoon stages and his times were now well inside the top 20.  He’d end up being classified as 25th overall.


The Peugeot 205 of Alistair Haw / Chris Lees came home in 27th after a reliable, trouble free run.  The boys were well chuffed with their day and are already looking forward to contesting our next round, the Tyneside.  Next along was the similar car of Kevin Mathers and Craig Forsyth.  Kevin’s ‘other car’ wasn’t quite ready for this event so he tried using some different gear ratios to see if that would help his cause.  It might have done but a big spin on SS2 lost them about 30 seconds and then they hit a pothole on the next test and this damaged the hub.  They were 39th overall.


Stephen Thompson and David Crosbie were next and shown as 43rd overall.  This just doesn’t do them justice after a great run until the last stage.  They would start the final run in their Ford Escort Mk1 in 10th overall before hitting a rock that knocked their prop shaft off.  They managed to cobble a fix and struggled through to the finish but the stage maximum time was awarded.  In reality, this was probably a lot better than all the extra minutes it took them to make it to the stop line.  A poor return for a great effort.


Colin Butler was out in the Tango Clio from the MSS stable and had a trouble free run although he wasn’t really enjoying himself.  The thought of packing in had occurred to him but encouraged by the ‘young un’ sitting alongside him, Joe Hutchinson, he thoroughly enjoyed the final stage.  Perhaps they should have had that conversation at 9 o’clock on rally morning !


And our final finisher was Karl Knox in his Vauxhall Nova.  This was Karl’s first ever rally and he recruited an experienced driver in the shape of Pete Gibson to guide him around.  Teething troubles with the ‘new’ car meant oil was seeping out from the sump gasket and his Dad and Uncle did a fix of sorts in first service.  Then a misfire slowed progress but by the finish of the rally they felt they were going quicker.  Praise coming from the left hand seat at the end of the day was that Karl had listened and done as told so hopefully we have a bright prospect for the future.


Our list of retirements from this event is very short as we only lost 3 of our championship contenders during the day.  The husband and wife team of Tom and Sue Hynd were first to go when starting their second lap of the first stage the gearbox gave up; current leading driver Barry Renwick was next when he and Paul Hughes retired from 3rd overall as their Proton succumbed to the same electrical issue that forced them out of the previous rally at Ingliston; this just left Alistair and Colin Inglis as our final retirees as they cut short stage 3 when lying in 5th overall as they had big concerns over the high water temperature in their Honda engined Lotus Exige.


A big ‘thank you’ to Robert Ness and all his team at Glenrothes Motor Sport Club for their efforts in running both a Senior and Junior rally that was well received.  The use of 3 laps of the Crail airfield pushed 4 of the 6 tests run into longer than usual stages.  Lots of crews enjoyed these 11 plus mile stages and despite the surface breaking up on the line into a couple of chicanes, there were few complaints heard.


Our next qualifying rally is the Tyneside Stages sponsored by Retro Motorsport. This is scheduled for Sunday 7th August and will be our first visit of the year to Otterburn Ranges.  The Regulations were recently published with online entries opening last week.  And it’s good to see that the Organisers already have a full list with entries queuing already.  There’s a new man at the helm for this rally but he has lots of experience of being Clerk of the Course at Otterburn.  We wish Ed Barber well as he brings some freshness to the Tyneside. The rally website is http://www.alnwickmotorclub.co.uk/tyneside-stages-rally where you’ll find more information.


Images courtesy of West Coast Photos ©