North of England duo win Mull Hire Classic Rally

The winners, Andy Beaumont and Andrew Fish in their Sunbeam Rapier H120. Photograph: John Fife

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Report and photographs John Fife

Andy Beaumont and Andrew Fish won last weekend’s Mull Hire Classic Rally on the Isle of Mull in their 48-year-old Sunbeam Rapier H120.

The north east of England crew repeated their victory of the inaugural 2017 Mull Classic Rally which they won by 39 seconds. This time their winning margin was much closer, just 23 seconds, on an event which included 14 Timed Tests and three ‘Regularity’ sections.

The runners-up were in fact the best ‘local’ crew, with Fraser Hughes from Conon Bridge and Peter MacInnes from Fortrose taking second place in their Mazda MX5. They were actually the fastest crew through the timed tests, but lost out to the more experienced Beaumont and Fisher on the regularities.

Perhaps they might have done better had they acted a bit more sensibly. Just as they did on the 2018 event, they contested the whole rally with the top down on their convertible car. And it rained all day. That meant their time cards and paperwork were thoroughly wet giving the rally officials added complications when recording their times out in the field. Whatever, the sight of this madcap duo cheered up the wet and bedraggled marshals no end. Their efforts also rightly earned them the popular, but entirely unofficial, ‘Nutter’s Award’!

Unlike the ‘big’ Mull ‘Special Stage’ Rally in October each year, which is run over sections of closed public road, the timed tests on this ‘Targa’ style event are all held on private ground and some Forestry and Land Scotland forestry sections. As for the regularity sections, these are contested over precisely measured stretches of road where crews have to maintain a set average speed. This requires a delicate touch on the throttle and some serious concentration from the navigator, for every second over or under the target times will incur penalties.

The cars are different too. At the main October event competitors use specially-prepared competition machines, whereas ‘Targa’ rally cars are all pretty much standard production models, with many people using historic and classic cars for added enjoyment.

Finishing third overall were Craig Wallace from Kirriemuir and Clifford Auld from Dromore, a repeat of their podium performance on the 2017 event. Just missing out on third place by 10 seconds were the Northern Ireland crew of Michael Reid and John Lindsay in their MG Midget.

Best of the island crews were father and son team Simon and Finn Thomasson from just outside Dervaig. In this their first Mull event they finished 23rd overall in their Toyota Celica.

Tobermory’s Fergus and Craig Barlow finished 26th overall. Having spent the past 14 years in New Zealand, Craig was back home visiting the family when younger brother Fergus announced that they were doing a rally in the family Ford Fiesta. Despite puncturing a tyre on only the second test, they completed the whole of the first half of the route using a ‘Spacesaver’ wheel until they managed to borrow a new wheel and tyre at the Lunch Halt.

Normally a front runner on the ‘big’ Mull Rally each year, Salen’s Eddie O’Donnell Jnr finished a disappointing 28th overall from a field of 39 entries. Gallant as ever, Eddie blamed his navigator, daughter Amanda – who had just come off night shift and stepped straight into the Peugeot 206 rally car!

One place behind the father and daughter team were Tobermory’s Shaun Fisher and Oban’s Ross Graham in a Vauxhall Astra, while Tobermory’s Chris Warden with Ian Mills from Barnoldswick finished 34th in a Fiesta.

At the finish, winning co-driver Andrew Fish was very complimentary about this new event on the island saying: ‘It was superb. We really enjoyed it and the competition tested us both.’

Runner-up Fraser Hughes added: ‘Given we were so close at the finish, perhaps we will take it bit more seriously next year!’

Top Ten

1  Andy Beaumont/Andrew Fish (Sunbeam Rapier H120) 20:01

2 Fraser Hughes/Peter MacInnes (Mazda MX5) 20.24

3 Craig Wallace/Clifford Auld (Toyota Corolla G6R) 20:37

4 Michael Reid/John Lindsay (MG Midget) 20:47

5 Ryan Hay/Niall Thomson (Toyota Paseo G6) 20.52

6 Ian Buchanan/Gemma Conroy (Subaru Impreza) 21:15

7 Alan Patterson/Bob Shearer (Ford Puma) 22:05

8 Ian Rae/Muriel Rae (Citroen C2 VTS) 22:13

9 Richard Wardle/Jonathan Mounsey (Ford Escort Mk2) 22:15

10 Andrew Tong/Emma Steeley (Peugeot 205 GTi) 22.20


Selection of Photos show:

IMG_0008 – The winners, Andy Beaumont and Andrew Fish in their Sunbeam Rapier H120

IMG_0085 – The winners, Andy Beaumont (left) and Andrew Fish (right) with Fred Mclean of Mull Car Club

IMG_0173 – Runners-up Fraser Hughes and Peter MacInnes in their Mazda MX5

IMG_0176 – Runners-up Fraser Hughes and Peter MacInnes in their Mazda MX5

IMG_0872 – Runners-up Fraser Hughes and Peter MacInnes in their Mazda MX5

IMG_0076 – Runners-up Fraser Hughes (centre) and Peter MacInnes (right) with Fred Mclean of Mull Car Club

IMG_0106 – Third placed Craig Wallace and Clifford Auld in their Toyota Corolla G6R

IMG_0046 – The Northern Ireland crew of Michael Reid and John Lindsay finished 4th in their MG Midget

IMG_0036 – Simon and Finn Thomasson in their Toyota Celica

IMG_0037 – Fergus and Craig Barlow in their Ford Fiesta

IMG_0154 – Father and daughter team, Eddie and Amanda O’Donnell in their Peugeot 206

IMG_0833 – Shaun Fisher and Ross Graham in their Vauxhall Astra

IMG_0068 – Pre-rally Scrutineering checks at West Coast Motors, Craignure

IMG_0071 – Pre-rally Scrutineering checks at West Coast Motors, Craignure

IMG_0877 – An eclectic mix of cars parked up at the warm and welcoming (and dry!) Salen Hotel lunch halt.

IMG_0887 – Marshals get ready to set the cars off again for the second half after their lunch time stop.