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Paul MacKinnon celebrated his third victory on the Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally in the early hours of Sunday morning, taking a comprehensive win from Daniel Harper.
The Ford Fiesta R5 driver started the third and final loop with a 36-second lead over Harper’s Mini JCW WRC, but the combination of a big moment and brake problems for Harper allied to sensational driving from the Mull man left the local celebrating after the 17th and final stage.
Starting the last stage up the Glen and over the Lochs back into Tobermory with two and a half minutes in hand, MacKinnon promised he would drive the 15-miler like he was coming home from work.
After the rain, the heavy rain and the torrential rain – with some sunshine and clear skies mixed in – came the fog. Paul and co-driver Paul Beaton shipped 55 seconds to their nearest rivals, but neither cared.
“That’s fantastic,” beamed the winner at the finish. “After the disappointment of 2016 [when he went off the road] and then having to wait for three years, this is just fantastic. The car’s been great and I have to say Daniel [Harper] has driven really well – we really had to keep it all going this afternoon.
“But that last stage, jeez, I thought we’d seen everything, but that was an absolute nightmare. The conditions were atrocious. I couldn’t see a thing in the fog, but I just so relieved and so chuffed to make it.”
A Mull regular since 1993, Harper admitted he was happy with second after total brake failure through Ben More and Scridain.
“I think it was a heavy landing that broke the brake pipe,” he said. “But we came through two stages with nothing. We put the car back into road mode, but still trying to bring it through wasn’t easy.
“The moment came on the Hill Road, we flew just a bit further than I thought we would over a crest. We were in the ditch for a good hundred yards after that. Look, I’m happy to get it home and we’ll be back for more next year. I love this place.”
Ahead of the event, much of the talk was of who would win the Mk 2 Escort battle. Those honours went to David Bogie. The five-time Scottish Champion delivered an inch-perfect drive to score a maiden Mull podium with third.
Nine-time winner Calum Duffy’s hopes of top two-wheel drive went out the window when he spun twice and stopped to change a puncture that wasn’t punctured on the second run over Mishnish Lochs. He dropped more than two minutes, but recovered to finish fourth with a stunning final stage to edge Jonathan Mounsey’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 by one second.
Eddie O’Donnell rounded out the top six in his Escort.
Stevie Irwin (Vauxhall Nova) and Mark Constantine (Opel Corsa) were the class winners outside of the top 10.