MacGILLIVIRAY LEADS: DUFFY AND MacCRONE BATTLE BACK
Nine years after his last victory on home soil, James MacGillivray grabbed an early initiative in the 45th running of the Tunnock’s Mull Rally. The Salen farmer conquered the treacherously slippery surfaces, as rain battered a number of the opening stages, and heads into Leg 2 with a 30-second lead over closest rival, fellow islander Calum Duffy.
Fastest through the opening five stages, MacGillivray — who last won the event in 2005 — was delighted with his performance through the opening six stages.
“Yeh, we’re pleased with that,” MacGillivray, co-driven by Salen’s Ian Fraser, admitted, after clambering out of the Subaru he hired after the engine in his Escort failed on an event in June.
“To be honest, the conditions have certainly favoured us, but we’ve still had to go out and deliver the goods. We’ve done that tonight, but there’s still a long, long way to go.
“We dropped a wee bit of time in the final stage, but we were concentrating on making sure we were here tomorrow. Now we can focus on that.”
And while Duffy shaved three-seconds off MacGillivray’s advantage in the night’s final test, it was last year’s winner John MacCrone who was quickest through the 10.84-miler Hill Road/Achnadrish test.
“We made a good push on the hill: it’s was my only chance really to make full advantage of he wee car, because if it’s dry tomorrow the big cars will hit us hard,” MacCrone, co-driven by Larkhall’s Stuart Loudon in the Tunnock’s and Castrol-liveried Ford Fiesta R200, said.
“But I had a big moment as we came into Dervaig: two wheels up on a rock, which was pretty scary. Still, we’re still here and we’ll mount as big a push tomorrow as we can.”
MacCrone though will be kicking himself in bed tonight, despite taking 13s off MacGillivray in the final test.
The 24-year-old, starts tomorrow 3:12 behind the overall leader, but he dropped 2:32 on the opening test when he slid into a ditch.
Fortunately, his mum, dad and friends were literally close-by and all pulled together to get him out and back on the road, though he headed to SS2 in 63rd place.
Duffy, meanwhile, despite his public air of confidence, will be disappointed to find himself 30s off the lead. His Escort suffered gearbox problems through eh first three stages, before being fixed at service.
There were a couple of notable retirements. One of the pre-event favourites, Carlisle’s Peter Taylor suffered water ingress problems with his Fiesta S2400, causing him major visibility problems.
“I could only see through the bottom 3in of the windscreen,” a disillusioned Taylor admitted after exiting SS5. “We had to stop twice because we literally couldn’t see where we were going.”
There was also disappointment and frustration for Jimmy McRae. The veteran five-times British champ had to park-up his MkI Escort after it suffered fuel problems at the end of SS2. He hopes though to be back for tomorrow’s stages.
And there as major disappointment for brother and sister crew, Nick and Kelly Mathew from Canada. The duo had to retire their Subaru on the opening stage with mechanical problems. They too aim to return to action for Saturday’s tests.
But there was good news for Mull resident Ally Currie, making his debut on the event on his 17th birthday.
Co-driven my Peter MacCrone — John’s uncle — the youngster emerged from SS5 60th overall, and ninth in class behind the wheel of his Peugeot 106
45th Tunnock’s Mull Rally — Overnight positions after 6 of 20 stages:
1. James MacGillivray (Salen) / Ian Fraser (Salen) Subaru Impreza 51mins 31secs;
2. Calum Duffy (Dervaig) / Iain Duffy (Dervaig) Ford Escort MkII +0:30;
3. Tristan Pye (Bishop Auckland) / Andrew Falconer (Inverness) Subaru Impreza +1:52;
4. John MacCrone (Dervaig) / Stuart Loudon (Larkhall) Ford Fiesta R200 +3:12;
5. Douglas Weir (Ellon) / Linda Brown (Ellon) Ford Escort MkII ;
6. Jonathan Mounsey (Settle) / Richard Wardle (Pickering) Mitsubishi Evo VI +3:41;
7. Tim Stell (Denby Dale) / Mike Yates (Mirfield) Mitsubishi Evo VII +3:48;
8. Shaun Sinclair (Connel) / Chris Hamill (Oban) Mitsubishi Evi VIII +4:12;
9. Derek McGeehan (Draperstown) / Darragh Mullen (Ireland) Mini WRC +4:38;
10. Billy Bird (York) / Plug Pulleyn (York) Vauxhall Chevette +4:50.