MACH1 Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship report

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With 61 starters and 24 Cobble shop STRC registered the championship tables were always going to change on this mid-season two day event.

Sunshine was forecast for the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) course and that’s what was delivered. Some crews were hoping for rain but this year it wasn’t to be. Last year’s winner Bruce Edwards in the Darrian T90 GTR was favourite and since Bruce had not driven the car competitively since Mach 1 2018 we all thought he would be a bit rusty.

Bruce led from the start and set some impressive times throughout the two days but on the last stage he threw it all away and rolled the car as he clipped a large lorry tyre a mile from the finish line, unable to right the car and with the stage blocked the clerk of the course decided on the grounds of safety to cancel the final stage. This allowed Alistair Inglis in the lotus Exige and a previous Mach 1 winner to clinch the top spot.

Class 5 had 4 STRC registered this year and new to class 5 was Tom Blackwood in the gorgeous yellow and Black Fiesta R5+. Tom’s first event driving in anger and showed that with some tweaks here and there with suspension settings it’s a great car to drive. How well the car drives notwithstanding, there was a slight moment coming out of one of the tight sections onto the main runway when Tom ran wide and clipped a boundary fence damaging the front bumper of the car but kept the fence intact. Tom finished third Overall and second in class 5.

John Rintoul in another Fiesta R5 on the back of the recent win at Crail was on it all weekend but just couldn’t clinch the win this year, John finished second overall and took the class win.

Alan Wallace in the distinctive green and white Mitsubishi Evo finished a very well deserved 8th overall and third in class. Harry Chalmers was a Mach 1 virgin and loved every mile of the venue. Harry commented at the end of the event they we had no problems at all on day one and the car ran faultlessly all day to give him a real confidence boost to push on harder and let him get used to some new parts on the car. Harry kept it neat all day and came away with 23rd overall after day one.

Day two was very fast. Fastest he’s probably been in the car to date with these faster stages suiting faster cars Harry just had to push on brake late and keep it tidy and with that being said the team dropped to 18th overall due to some of the quicker cars retiring out.

Harry said: ‘I couldn’t be happier for how this event turned out for the team and are all delighted with the result and how far they have come.’

Harry also managed the full two days on the same Hankook Tyres Finishing 18th overall.

Alan Stark in the stunning Red Mitsubishi Evo had decided he was playing the long game and would drive accordingly. The plan went well and they played about with tyres trying to make them last for the two days. On the second last stage on the Saturday the manifold gasket started to blow and he lost a fair bit of power mid stage. The service crew managed to bolt it up again but the long stages were killing it and it usually faded about 2/3rds in each time.

On Sunday he decided to push on a bit and of course it bit him. The interior mirror fell off and he became aware there was a car coming up behind after a merge but wasn’t sure how close. He decided to do the next lollipop and then see where he was on the straight but in his enthusiasm got to him and he understeered into the bales bouncing off them, hitting his bonnet. He also noticed the brake pads were rattling more than usual and it turned out they had lost a pin. The team had to improvise with spare tyre borrowed from Allan Wallace which didn’t quite fit but they wired it in and it lasted.

Class 4 had 4 STRC registered crews this year and top spot and current championship leader (prior to Mach 1)  in class went to Colin Gemmell in the Mark 2 Escort. Colin had a trouble-free run on both days and managed to finish the event 4th overall just 10 seconds behind Tom Blackwood and second in class.

Alistair Inglis winner of the 2019 Mach 1 stages kept just ahead all weekend. Nothing could touch his car which stuck to the road like glue.

Inglis said: ‘Overall victory and a class win? Can’t get any better.’

Robert Marshall in the Mark 2 Escort was looking forward to some decent results but an issue on day one with the car losing all its water put an end to any real chances and on day two an engine mount broke putting an end to what Robert described as a perfect weekend.

Ross Auld was a welcome return the Mark 2 Escort and also managed a couple of days assistance in setting up the venue. Ross had managed to set some decent times on Saturday but late in the day the alternator belt snapped and took with it the dry sump belt causing the engine to cease. Ross loaded up the car and headed home and by the Sunday evening he had the engine out the car ahead of its rebuild.

Class 3 saw four STRC registered crews compete in Kintyre this year and top of the list was Greg Inglis in the Lotus Exige. Greg exited the last stage on the Saturday and noticed the rear brake calliper hanging off. A call was made to Montrose where a spare part was removed from a car and the handover was done half way between Montrose and Machrihanish. Greg finished a respectful fifth overall and took the class win.

Second in class and 16th overall was Michael Harbour in the Mark 2 Escort, on the back of electrical problems that saw the team fail to finish the last round at Crail the team have now got the car singing on the stages. Michael didn’t report any issues during the weekend and brought the car home in one piece.

Michael Robertson isn’t having the best of luck this season as the Honda Civic Type R driver reported issues with the CV joint that led to driveshaft and diff failure but as usual the team loved the event and will be back for sure.

Class 2, with eight registered STRC in class 2 the battles were all tensely close. Taking top honours in the class was Kyle Adam a full two minutes ahead of nearest class 2 car of Des Campbell. Kyle also managed a top 10 overall clinching 9th spot and despite some overheating at one point the car ran faultlessly doing his championship hopes no harm.

Lochgilphead local, Jamie Miller in the C2 R2 Max loves the track and had the luxury of booking indoor servicing. With navigator Ian McCulloch, his biggest problems were brake related but with some fluid changes and adjustments it was just all back to normal for the team finishing a well-deserved 17th overall and fourth in class.

Kayleigh Strachan in the Citroen Saxo finished 10th in class on the event and 35th overall but managed to pick up 14 points and 4th in class in the STRC.

Gary Coutts in the Fiesta commented after the final stage on the Sunday that on the second to last stage of day one he developed a few ‘minor’ issues. A change of driveshaft, ball joint, wheels and tyres seemed to cure the problem. With an early start on the Sunday morning the car was back on form. Loss of intercom on way to stage 1 and a half spin on stage 2 cost them a bit of time and after a few tweaks at service they were away again. The last stage of the day was cancelled resulting in a 30th overall and 7th in class.

Alan Watt was again out in the green Saxo and finished 8th in class and 41st overall. A great result for the team with no damage or mechanical issues to report.

Class 1 had four teams registered in the STRC this year at Mach 1 but only one managed to finish. Martin Farquhar in the 106 didn’t have any issues to report with the car and managed first in class in the STRC but second in class on the event and 37th overall.

Event Overall and Class winners: 1st Overall Alistair Inglis/Colin Inglis Lotus Exige 88.32, 2nd Overall John Rintoul/Ross Hynd Ford Fiesta R5 88.49, 3rd Overall Tom Blackwood/Gordon Winning Ford Fiesta R5+ 89.50.

Class 1 Martin Farquhar/Aiden Henderson Peugeot 106 114.47

Class 2 Kyle Adam/Fiona Moir Ford Escort Mk2 94.38

Class 3 Greg Inglis/Steven Brown Lotus Exige 91.23

Class 4 Colin Gemmell/Richard Crozier Ford Escort Mk2 91.00

Class 5 John Rintoul/Ross Hynd Ford Fiesta R5 88.49