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Scottish Rally - Sunday 9th June 2002

There were no major dramas leading up to this event with the car being undamaged from the Argyll Stages in April.

The Scottish Rally is an international rally being run over two days with the Scottish Championship field competing only on the Sunday. The team headed off to Dumfries on the Saturday taking the opportunity to view some of the action in the Glentrool forest complex. We then headed back to Dumfries at night to get the car scrutineered. An early start was on the cards as we were running ahead of the international field. This meant that we would get the stages in better condition than if we went after the internationals but it also meant that the first car left Dumfries at five past six in the morning.

It was quarter past seven before we left the start which brought us to the first stage just after eight o' clock. The first stage was in Ae forest and was 19 miles long. The team had a steady run through the opening stage to set the fastest time in class by about ten seconds. Ian then made an error when booking into the next time control which left us with a four minute penalty.

Stage 2 went very well and we were able to up the pace in here setting fastest time in class again this time by 20 seconds over six miles. There was one 'moment' near the end of the stage when we went over what was described as a 'big jump' in the notes. We hit the jump quite fast not expecting it to be that big. The car must have been four or five feet off the ground at the highest point and it took a bit of effort to get it under control again before the next corner.

The first service halt was next and we were able to get some provisional results. These showed that we weren't the only crew to make a mistake at the time control after the first stage and lots of other crews had also picked up time penalties. We were now sitting third in class due to the time penalties as we had set fastest time on the first two stages.

On to stage 3 which again went very well setting another fastest time in class. Stage 4 went much the same with another fast time. Not only were we fastest in class but we set 25th fastest time overall which wasn't bad for a little 1300 car.

Back into service again and this time the results showed us leading the class by about a minute and a half. Everything was looking good until Sam was doing a routine check on the front suspension when he noticed it was all loose. When he tried to tighten it up it all fell apart leaving us with about 6 minutes to rebuild it from the spares that we had with us. Unfortunately the repair was quite complex and it took a bit longer than the time we had allocated to us. Sam and Brian did a brilliant job in getting us out again and we were only five minutes over time which led to another 50 seconds in time penalties.

Stage 6 had been cancelled due to the condition of the stage so we were now heading to the fifth and last stage which was a rerun of the 19 miles through Ae. Even with the additional penalties we still had a 40 second cushion to take into the last stage. Everything was going well and we setting a decent pace without taking too many chances but then disaster struck. About ten miles in with 9 miles still to go the car started to handle strangely. After a few corners Gordon had identified this as a rear wheel puncture. We then had to decide whether to stop and change it, which would cost about three minutes and any chance of the win, or to try and continue to end which could cause us to go off with the handling being so bad. We eventually decided to go on and had a couple of spins and lots of intersting moments before the end of the stage. We got to the end unscathed but didn't know if it would be enough to retain the lead. We didn't have time at the end to find out the times as we has to change the puntured wheel before heading off back to Dumfries. We arrived at the service area to find that we had just done enough winning the class by 8 and a half seconds.

We had a very eventful day with time penalties and punctures but it was all worth it in the end taking first in class and 28th overall.

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