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2005 Tour of Mull... ‘The usual disasters’ Part 2

Feb 07,2006 by Julian Grattidge

In this, the second part of Jamie Smith’s 2005 Tour of Mull article, we pick up the action at the beginning of the Second Leg on Saturday. After an ‘interesting’ first night, the team our now out to compete in the Trophy Rally, and Jamie details the kind of determination required to ‘see things through’ Mull style!


Not read part one? Click Here



Image by kind permission of: www.ecossepix.co.uk

Saturday 15th

Unfortunately after a lot of hard work and various attempts Andy and Chris failed to fix the gear linkage problem so we would be continuing with only 1st & 4th - which isn't a bad set of gears - but it also meant that we ran out of time and failed to do anything with the fuel pump (not having a spare) so we were just hoping that it would work well enough to keep us going. After being re-scrutineered we set off for the daylight stages. The first afternoon stage SS8 was cancelled due to a bad accident; where one of the crew needed to be taken to hospital with a bad back. We did manage to get runs through SS9, SS10, and SS11; which were OK - but not spectacular. We lost time on the fast bits of SS10 from not having 5th gear (since there are a couple of really nice fast long bits on that stage). I did really enjoy going by Calgary Bay though - since Gunny was there to wave us on - which was nice having someone supporting us; and it is quite a pleasing point to rally through; especially since they had re-surfaced it and it was very smooth and consistent surface for that section. SS12 was cancelled due to a car losing its oil (and the chaos that it had caused), and then SS13 and SS14 were cancelled for the Trophy rally due to organisers running out of road closure time - though in fact they could have gotten us all into the stage ahead of the road opening car within the time. I don't know what happened there really. We finished in the middle of the small pack of Saturday afternoon Trophy rally finishers, which wasn't bad given our technical woes. For the final leg of stages another Trophy rally was run; to include those cars that had retired for minor problems on the Saturday afternoon stages. The first stage of the final leg is known as the "long one", for obvious reasons - being the longest stage on the rally at over 20miles. I really like long stages and tend to do better on them than I do on short stages; so I was looking forward to having a go - but was a bit worried about being caught by the EVO VI that would start the stage 1minute behind us.


Image by kind permission of: www.ecossepix.co.uk

We started the stage with the fuel pump playing up a bit; which meant a slow build-up of speed whilst we waited to get some engine load in high rpm in 2nd gear. Once we were rolling the stage was going quite well... up until about 2miles from the end when I got slightly off line over a crest and hit a stone just on the edge of the tarmac that bounced us into a ditch - which we crashed along for about 10metres before stopping 30cm in front of a radio car. We were about 5seconds behind the car that started a minute in front of us at that point; though I wasn't pushing to try and catch him - just driving my own stage. It was just the case of having a slightly too wide line around the corner that wouldn't have been a problem at all apart from the stone on the outside that launched us into the air enough to end up in the ditch. When the car came to a stop I slapped the car into 1st gear and we were off again within seconds; with a puncture; a bent wishbone; a bent rear beam and no power steering again. Ho hum. The good news is that the EVO VI that started a minute behind us took 1m50s to pass us after our "moment"; so we were well up on them in that stage too and would have been set for a reasonable stage time, which I feel happier about since we had done that without 5th gear for the fast bits. Sadly the fuel pump really played up for what would be our final stage; even taking into account all the bent bits that made driving the car a challenge. For a while it looked like we wouldn't be moving at all; since the car was failing to run at all a couple of times in the waits for the stage start. We were now last car on the road - with the road opening vehicle with its flashing lights sitting behind us. We needed a push by the start marshals to get off the line; with the car just crawling along... with it finally kicking into life on a hairpin about half-a-mile into the stage; and in combination with the bent steering I lurched into the bank on the outside of the corner at 10mph. All very embarrassing. After that it was just a slow drive with the car hiccupping all the way over the Mishnish Lochs back to Tobermory - so at the next passage control we just handed in our time cards. It would have taken us ages to drive down to Craignure to the service area; and it was unlikely that we would have got the car fixed enough to make the experience of driving the last few stages enjoyable.

This "early bath" from the second of the Trophy rallies did allow us to grab a shower and something to eat before heading down to the front in Tobermory to watch the finishers reach the final control; with the last cars heading into Tobermory about 5am.


Image by kind permission of: www.ecossepix.co.uk

 
Sunday 16th

Chris needed to get home for work on Monday, so we all left on the first ferry in the morning (after queuing for 4hours to be sure of a slot!) and then it was just the long drive home - with a particularly slow M6 due to roadwork’s and volume of traffic.

So, we missed the post-event partying, and the actual stages were a combination of my mistakes; and general "bad luck" - but the event itself was brilliant fun. The stages really are the most demanding tarmac stages I have ever seen, never mind competed on!

Article kindly supplied by Jamie Smith.

 
You can read more of Jamie’s rallying exploits and watch some great in-car footage by visiting: www.rallysmith.co.uk

 



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