Tony Jardine’s Scottish rally report



After some technical difficulties and a puncture on day one of the RACMSA Rally of Scotland, Gordon Noble and I finished third in class and 21st overall in our Ford Fiesta R2. The Sky Bet/ProSpeed team had a difficult job as we pushed hard to make up places on Sunday despite running with a broken front suspension.

Being the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), there were thrills and spills from start to finish among the crews as they struggled to overcome punishing stage conditions to claim valuable series points. Norwegian driver Andreas Mikkelsen dominated the event with five stage wins to establish a 26.4-second lead over Finland’s Juho Hänninen. Frenchman Bryan Bouffier was third.

For the Sky Bet team, it was rewarding to bring our Kumho-shod R2 home to a podium finish in Perth after 14 stages totaling 184 kilometres. The Scottish stages are tough, so I’m pleased to have finished the rally in one piece. We had lots of dramas on Sunday as the left front suspension was in danger of collapsing. It was a case of nursing the car through arguably the four fastest stages of the event, plus we struggled with some intercom problems. The car took so much punishment and there were so many other cars off that it was mainly about survival.

There were rocks everywhere on the Errochty stage on Saturday and we punctured our front left tyre which we had to drive on for two kilometres, risking breaking the driveshaft. That slowed us up and after navigating through rain and fog on Saturday night to get to stage eight I must say we were relieved when the test was cancelled due to the worsening conditions.

Gordon, a highly experienced co-driver, was navigating for me for the first time during the rally. He said afterwards: “I knew some of the stage conditions were going to be bad, but I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was on Drummond Hill and Errochty. They were treacherous in terms of rocks and mud, and our visibility was at a minimum through there as half our screen steamed up. We were trying to preserve the car but it was a truly demanding event. Ultimately, we have achieved what we set out to do which was to make sure we reached the finish ramp. It has been challenging but fun.”

Thirty-seven cars started the event in front of Stirling Castle on Friday evening. British driver Guy Wilks retired on the final stage after climbing back up to ninth place following an off on stage five. There was also disappointment for the top Scottish names in front of their home crowd including Lanark’s Alister McRae and Dumfries’s David Bogie.

Mikkelsen’s win was his first in the IRC, and at 22 years old he is the youngest IRC event winner. The weekend’s results have now set up what promises to be an enthralling six-way battle for the title in Cyprus next month.

By Tony Jardine

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