Argyll drivers hit the road at Granite Stages Rally

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Fergus Gray and Eoghan Anderson in their BMW 130i.
Fergus Gray and Eoghan Anderson in their BMW 130i.
John Kean and Malcolm McDonald in their Peugeot 205.
John Kean and Malcolm McDonald in their Peugeot 205.

THERE were Argyll drivers spread through the field at Leuchars recently for the Granite Stages Rally organised by Aberdeen and District Motor­sport Club.
John Kean and Malcolm McDonald were once again out in their 106 GTi powered Peugeot 205. Seeded at 64 out of 66 starters, they were determined to improve their placing after their disappointing performance at Ingliston.
They started well but partway into stage three were forced to slow down with a bad vibration coming from the rear of the engine. A quick check revealed it was only the exhaust working loose so stage four was run at full throttle and it was back to the service area where service crew member Frazer Shaw ably sorted out the problem.
This cost the team about a minute and a half but they were confident they could claw the time back over the final four stages. And as the day progressed, John was gaining more confidence in the car and a committed drive over the afternoon stages took the car to fourth in class and the team finished 30th overall. On stages five and six they set the 26th fastest time – a big improvement on previous outings.
Jamie Miller was co-driven by Ross Carbry (who is more accustomed to sitting behind the wheel and not shouting encouragement/jabbing the driver in the leg with his pencil/screaming/trying desperately not to be sick).
Whatever preparation he had done, it was to prove worthwhile. The service team were witnessed still trying to get the car to drive in a straight line in service on the Saturday morning.
Four-wheel alignment may have been slightly wasted on the Lochwinnoch Motors/
J Plant Hire-sponsored Nova as it barely ever has all four on the ground at one time.
Jamie and Ross, despite getting stuck behind some slower cars once the splits and merges came into play, pushed hard right from the start and set very quick times over the morning stages. The pair managed to keep everything in shape and on the tar (nearly all the time) to secure first in class one and 23rd overall.
The final local lad out in the silly seat for the first time was Eoghan Anderson from Cairnbaan. Eoghan had made it clear how much he admired Fergus Gray’s BMW 130i at previous events and, when the opportunity arose, Fergus was kind enough to let Eoghan guide him around the fast stages at Leuchars. The pair clearly enjoyed it and judging by the style that Fergus adopted, sideways all day with late braking a must, it would appear that either there were some wrong/late notes being delivered, Eoghan was taking to it like a pro or neither of them had a clue where they were going. Regardless, it was a whole heap of fun to watch.
The event was won by Alan Kirkaldy in his Mk2 Escort, chased by last year’s winner, Alistair Inglis, in the very nimble Lotus Exige in second and a storming drive from Gordon Morrison in third. Gordon ably assisted by Oban’s Calum MacPherson, who is really starting to get the best out of Morrison, who is, in turn, really beginning to realise the potential of his TEG Sport Subaru. Surely not too long before he takes a step or two further up the podium.
The pace shown by all cars right through the field, including the J1000 Juniors, was immense and showed just how much the level of competition in the national championship has risen yet again this year.
The fourth round of the championship is the Kingdom stages, hosted by Glenrothes Motorsport Club, this year a dual venue event with stages at Crail and also at Leuchars. The next outing for most Argyll crews will be their home event, Mach 1, at Machrihanish on the July 15 and 16.