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McRae Stages - Saturday 27th July 2002

There was a bit of work to do to the car following the Scottish Rally. The rough conditions had damaged the underside of the car quite badly and a bit of welding was required to put it right.

The McRae stages had moved to Perth this year. This meant we were in forests which hadn't been used for rallying for many years.

The event started well and we set a quick time in the first stage to leave us leading the class as we arrived at the first service halt. There were no problems in the first stage and there wasn't much to do at the first service other than a general check over.

On to stage 2 and it was in here that things started to go wrong. After about two miles we heard funny noises coming from the back of the car along with some funny handling characteristics. At first we thought it was a puncture but the car was going too well for that. After the stage we discovered it was a broken spring on the back suspension. Another couple of miles on and then the engine started to struggle with the car sounding very rough indeed. We kept going and managed to get to the end of the stage without losing too much time.

On the road section between stages 2 and 3 the engine stopped completely. Just before it had stopped the rev counter had been jumping about quite wildly which pointed to it being a problem with the ignition coil. Luckily we have a second ignition coil under the bonnet so we jumped out and swapped all of the leads over and tried to restart the engine. It fired up first time so were able to continue and make our way to stage 3.

Stage 3 was going quite well but five miles in we went off into a big ditch. The car was stuck quite far in but there were quite a few spectators around and they got to work on trying to push us out. We got pushed back onto the road and had only lost around four minutes. Unfortunately the front of the car had suffered quite heavy damage during the crash and the front wheels weren't pointing the same way. This meant we had to limp out slowly for the last 9 miles of the stage. We got out of the stage OK but then suffered a punture on the road section meaning we had to stop and change it.

Sam and Brian had their work cut out to try and repair the damage to allow us to tackle the last stage. The priority was to get the steering sorted out so that the car was pointing straight. They had 25 minutes to do what they could and with about 30 seconds to spare everything was put back together and we were able to get going.

With the car having had such a rough time we opted for a nice steady run through the last stage to get the car to the finish. After everything that had happenned we arrived back in Perth 50th overall (from a field of 100) and second in class.


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