Statement on 2017 Mull Rally

2017 Beatson’s Mull Rally — Statement

It is a matter of considerable regret for the organisers and the Motor Sport Association, the sport’s governing body, that the Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally cannot run as a closed road event in 2017 due to insurmountable insurance issues.

MSA Chief Executive Rob Jones explained the current situation:

“The Mull Rally runs under a private Act of Parliament. It has emerged that the private closed road legislation raises very significant insurance challenges for Mull this year, which was first thought to render the Mull Rally uninsurable.

“The MSA has been endeavouring to find a solution with its brokers. Whilst the brokers have offered a potential solution for 2017, this is unfortunately totally impractical as each and every claim under the policy would be subject to a very significant excess payable by the organisers, and one which the organisers cannot afford.”

Consequently the Mull Rally is unable to run as a closed road event this year. It will be the first time the world renowned three-day rally, which last year attracted a record-equalling 150 crews and generates around £1 million for the local economy, will not have run on closed public roads since the event was granted its Act of Parliament in 1990.

“This development has come as a massive shock,” Andy Jardine, Mull Rally Clerk of the Course, said on receiving the news, “as we were well on with a lot of the early work of setting the route and preparing the paperwork.

“As I understand it, the MSA has been working behind the scenes to try and agree a work-around but have been unable to come up with an acceptable solution. Our attention is now focussed on what can be done in the short timescale to make sure something happens over the weekend.”

Donald Brown, chairman of the Guardians of Mull Rally, admitted the cancellation of the 2017 Mull Rally will have a negative financial impact on the island.

“There’s no denying this is a huge blow to the Island and its businesses who work hard to welcome the competitors, volunteers and spectators each year to the island in October,” Brown said.

“The organising team is endeavouring to put on an alternative motorsport event for the same weekend on Mull. Naturally those plans are at a very early stage of development, but it’s hoped the new event will be attractive to Mull residents, competitors, volunteers and spectators alike.

“Initial feasibility checks have been started to see what can be done to mitigate the impact and hope we can rely on our regular visitors continuing to support us.”

The MSA and Mull Rally organisers fully acknowledge the Mull Rally’s economic benefit of around £1 million to the Isle of Mull.

It is hoped that following the conclusion of the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Jim Clark and Snowman rallies in July and August this year, that the Scottish Government will quickly adopt the new legislation recently passed in Westminster which will allow the Mull Rally to make a return in its closed road format in 2018.

Escort Challenge

MULL RALLY LAUNCHES NEW ESCORT CHALLENGE

Organisers of the Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally will introduce the R.A.C.E. Escort Challenge at this year’s event. The award is open to all rear-wheel-drive Ford Escort crews, and will feature an incentive for first time drivers.

The award, supported by leading Ford Escort proponents, Phil and Mick Squires of Rally and Competition Equipment in Stoke-On-Trent, are offering a £500 voucher to the challenge winner.

The iconic asphalt rally, which last year attracted a capacity 150 car entry, takes place on the Isle of Mull between the 13 and 15 October. The R.A.C.E. Escort Challenge has been created in recognition of the continued popularity of Ford Escorts in rallying, and it is hoped that the new award will attract top Escort crews that may not have previously considered coming to Mull.

Duncan Brown, Mull Rally Deputy Clerk of the Course says, “Ford Escorts have a strong heritage on Mull, with RWD versions winning 17 of the previous rallies. They are still popular today, over 20% of last year’s field were Escorts. We wanted to create a standalone award for the growing number of Escort crews, and we felt it was important that this award is possible for a newcomer to win.

We hope that R.A.C.E. Escort Challenge will attract new Escort crews from the U.K., Ireland and further afield. Perhaps some Welsh and English tarmac expects might consider this is the year to test themselves on Mull’s roads. The event has recently attracted a number of high-profile Escort drivers, including former British Champion David Bogie, who was as high as fourth in his first time competing on the event last year.”

The challenge is open to all crews who enter the rally in a rear-wheel-drive Mk1 or Mk2 Escort, or RWD Mk3-4-5-6 conversion – as defined by the Make/Model on the entry form and MSA log book. All forms of Escort shall be allowed – including historic models, and “hybrids” e.g. with Vauxhall or Millington engines, sequential boxes etc.

Crews will be scored on their overall finishing position, plus a handicap based the number of previous Mull Rally starts since 2000 as a driver. The crew with the lowest score wins. As with other class awards, the top three overall finishers are not eligible. Hence, the organisers think this category will be hotly contested.

COMPETITOR NEWS

COMPETITOR NEWS:

Jerrycan

If you’re planning to compete on the 2017 Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally, we would like to share some provisional route information to help you with your preparations. As the keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed, the MSA has included a new regulation in their Yearbook; Section R, as follows for very understandable safety reasons:

“38.1.7. Competitors may only refuel in areas, not being road sections, specifically designated by the organisers or by using commercially available pump fuel dispensed directly from pumps at filling stations on the rally route.”

As a result, the 2017 Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally intends (subject to MSA approval), to designate the Service Areas between TC(IN) and TC(OUT) as the specific and only areas where refuelling is allowed during the Legs. There is no intention to set up a stand-alone refuel zone this year. In addition, we are in discussions with the filling stations to determine which fuels and opening hours they are planning. The expected mileages between refuel points are given below, and we would encourage prospective competitors to ensure their cars can accommodate this route.

In summary, refuelling at Emergency Service locations will not be permitted and crews found doing so may be penalised. Details will be in the Supplementary Regulations which will be available on the Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally website in due course.

Start Leg 1 to Service A
22 stage miles + 17 road miles

Service A to end of Leg 1:
30 stage miles + 42 road miles

Restart Leg 2 to Service B
10 stage miles + 42 road miles

Service B to Service C
22 stage miles + 21 road miles

Service C to end of Leg 2
22 stage miles + 11 road miles

Restart Leg 3 to Service D
31 stage miles + 38 road miles

Service D to end of Rally
16 stage miles + 14 road miles

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TV Coverage

Beatson’s Mull Rally 2016 Official TV Coverage

Originally scheduled to be broadcast on Motors TV, the chaps at Special Stage TV have made the video of the programme available via Youtube. Well worth watching!

My long road back

John MacCrone: My long road back

For John MacCrone, the last 12 months have been like no other in his life. But a year on from the horrific crash which claimed the life of his friend, and co-driver Andy Mort, he returned to conquer the demons and win the Beatson’s Mull Rally. John spoke to Jim McGill about the challenges he’s faced, and what it meant to win his home event again.

win1

TWELVE MONTHS AGO, John MacCrone’s Beatson’s Mull Rally ended with his car on fire after the 90mph crash in which his co-driver, Andy Mort, tragically died. A fortnight ago, the 27-year-old from Dervaig returned home to tackle the high-speed rally on the island’s high-speed tarmac roads and sealed an emotional victory.

It’s difficult to even begin to comprehend the internal maelstrom of thoughts, images, memories and fears which must have tumbled around MacCrone’s mind in the build-up to the start of the rally in Tobermory on the Friday night.

But as he sat next to Uddingston’s Stuart Loudon — the co-driver with whom he won the Mull Rally in 2013 — in their 2016 Ford Fiesta R5, MacCrone had one goal: to win.

Sitting on the start line, in control of a high-powered rally car capable of reaching more than 100mph on narrow, single-track roads, and in autumn darkness with driving rain turning the surface even more treacherous, is not the time to allow self doubts or reflections of previous life-changing moments to rear their heads.

maccrone-leg-1

But MacCrone was ‘on it’ right from the start, setting fastest time through the opening 6.77-mile stage at Mishnish Lochs. It was a lead he was never to concede, eventually winning — after 18 special stages, 160 miles and a nailbiting finale — by 10s, ahead of his old rival and nine-time winner Calum Duffy.

As he rolled his Tunnocks-liveried Fiesta R5 to a halt in Tobermory after the flying finish, and confirmation reached him he’d won, the dam of pent-up emotion, stored privately for a year, burst through.

Head in his hands, still sat in the car with Loudon, MacCrone finally allowed the tears to flow. Outside, the crowd of family, friends, supporters and rival competitors, all too aware of the significant catharsis taking place in front of them, stood back and allowed the moment to unfold uninterrupted.

“It was one of those things we just had to have between ourselves,” Loudon, explained afterwards..

“The good thing was, everyone knew what was going on, and what John had come through: there was a huge amount of respect from everybody who gave us the time, and didn’t automatically pull the doors open.
“We have to thank everybody for that. It really was a fantastic, and very special moment.”

win5

For MacCrone, the moment might well be seen as the end of one phase of his life, and the start of another. But it is a life which will, forever, carry the memory of his friend, Andy, with him.

“This was difficult. What happened last year is something which has affected my life a lot: and in little ways you don’t think about sometimes,” MacCrone said. “I just knew I had to be here to do it.

“At the back of my mind, all the time, is what happened last year. When you’re rallying you’re not thinking about stuff like that, but it’s always there. This is something that’s happened which will never go away, and in many ways it’s surreal.

“It’s still something you think, ‘did that really happen? Was that real life?’

“To come back for the first time, a year after what happened, to win the rally is an absolute dream come true. It’s the absolute best thing that could have happened to me.”

win3

MacCrone’s road back to Mull started when he committed to do this year’s Scottish Rally Championship, with co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino. His performances improved throughout the season, culminating with a win in the Grampian Stages.

But he reflects that few people realised how big the challenge he faced was.

“A lot of people tipped us to go well in the Scottish Championship, but I knew it was going to be a struggle to come back … and go fast straightaway,” MacCrone admitted.

“My bottle on some of the fast sections has definitely … last year happened on a fast section … and to come back and drive fast, in the fast sections was a massive challenge.

“I took a massive knock to my confidence; you wonder about your pacenotes; about the car; about your tyres; you wonder if everything’s going to work ok? Then you start wondering, what if this happens?

“So we had to build that up over the year. It all came together for Mull, and that feels to me like the best place for it all to have made sense.”

win4

In many way’s this year’s Beatson’s Mull Rally was the archetypal ‘blank canvas’ for MacCrone. His pacenotes, the Holy Grail of confidence and speed for any rally driver, were destroyed in last year’s car fire.

“I had to write a whole new set of pacenotes,” he explained. “I went out with my brother Alasdair, and uncle Peter before the rally to write new ones, because Stuart was really busy before the rally at San Marino; so he was away. So I wrote new notes with them.”

And it’s that support from family, friends and fellow Muileachs which has been pivotal to MacCrone’s journey of recovery over the last 12 months.

“The support from Mull has been incredible. My family and my friends have had to put up with a lot from me: I’m probably not the most straightforward person in the world. I can be quite complicated at times … but everybody stood by me and supported me 100%.

“Even all the competitors; all the guys I was up against, they all wished me well, and it feels quite special, to have managed to do what we’ve done.

“I don’t feel I’m alone in enjoying this success. It feels like quite a widespread thing, so I’m obviously very, very happy.”

Jim McGill

All photographs copyright of LindsayPhotoSport