MacCRONE LEADS AFTER LEG 1 AS MacKINNON STAGES FIGHTBACK
LOCAL HERO JOHN MacCRONE heads into the second leg of the Beatson’s Mull Rally holding a 45-second lead over the Skoda S2500 of old rival, and nine-time winner Calum Duffy. But while 2013 winner MacCrone’s Tunnock’s-Liveried Ford Fiesta R5 sits at the top of the leaderboard, the fastest car through four of the opening five stages was Paul Mackinnon’s Subaru Impreza.
But the Tobermory driver, piloting a Subaru Impreza S14, left himself with a mountain to climb when he slid off early in the opening stage — which was held in wet conditions, following the rain which fell after the drivers had made their tyre choice expecting a dry road — the 6.77-mile test at Mishmash Lochs. The error cost the 2011 winner 6mins 48secs, dropping him to 138th and last place.
But Mackinnon dusted himself down and powered his way to fastest times in the next four tests as conditions dried. He took 22s out of MacCrone on the 14.51-miler Hill Road, before shaving another six second on the first run through the 4.63-miles at Lock Kinloch.
On the night’s penultimate stage, the 4.79-mile Knock 1, he was nine second faster than MacCrone, before topping the timesheet in the 19.92-mile final test at Glen Aros by carving another 17s off MacCrone’s lead.
“We’re settling into it now. The car’s better now, and I’m making up for my brain fade on the opening stage,” McKinnon said at the end of the final stage, having reduced the gap to MacCrone to 5:42, and hauled himself up to 12th.
“We’re not looking at the leaderboard. Calum and John will go off and do their own thing at the top, but hopefully we can join them on Sunday.”
While MacCrone, co-driven by Uddingston’s Stuart Loudon, were satisfied with their performance, despite suffering gear issues in the final stage, the biggest frustration was felt by Duffy.
Debuting his bespoke Skoda, he struggled to maximise the car’s performance, complaining of it being “skittery”, and then making the wrong tyre choice for the night’s final three stages.
Despite his problems, Duffy heads into Leg 2 in second place trailing MacCrone by 45s, and more than two minutes ahead of the Subaru of third-places Lewis Gallagher from Tobermory.
And while Jonathan Mounsey — whose rally looked over when he blew the centre diff on his Mitsubishi in the morning’s shakedown — holds fourth, five-times Scottish Rally Champ David Bogie sits fifth on his Mull debut.
“I’m happy enough,” he said, after finishing the night’s final stage in his Ford Escort MkII. “It’s a learning experience with the tyres on these surfaces. It’s good to get Leg 1 out of the way. tomorrow is when I want to make a push.”
Three of the Top 10 seeds retired on the opening Leg. While mechanical problems stopped Tony Bardy’s Ford Focus WRC on SS3, Daniel Harper — who had held third after SS2 — retired on SS4 with mechanical problems in his Mini. Then, on the night’s final test, Tristan Pye was forced to stop his Subaru with mechanical problems having entered the stage in fifth.
The action restarts on Saturday with SS6, the 2.62-mile test at Ardtun. Leg 2 consists of nine stages, before the final four stages in Leg 3, which gets underway at 9.15pm.
BEATSON’S MULL RALLY (Top 12 after Leg 1 of 3)
1. John MacCrone (Dervaig)/Stuart Loudon (Uddingston) Ford Fiesta R5 44mins 39secs;
2. Calum Duffy (Dervaig)/Iain Duffy (Dervaig), Skoda Fabia S2500 +0.45;
3. Lewis Gallagher (Tobermory)/Sam Boulds (Chorley) Subaru Impreza +2.54;
4. Jonathan Mounsey (Settle)/Richard Wardle (Pickering) Mitsubishi Evo VI +3.39;
5. David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Escort MkII +3.40;
6. James MacGillivray (Salen)/Ian Fraser (Salen) Subaru Impreza +3.55;
7. Derek McGeehan (Draperstown)/Arthur Kierans (Monaghan) Mini WRC +4.02;
8. Shaun Sinclair (Connel)/Neil Shanks (Elgin) Subaru Impreza S9 WRC +5.03;
9. Stephen Thompson (Kirkudbright)/David Crosby (Thornhill) Ford Escort MkII +5.25;
10. Matt Tarbutt (Huddersfield)/Joff Haigh (Huddersfield) Subaru Impreza +5.31;
11. John Cope (Bury)/Clive Molyneux (Blackburn) Subaru Impreza WRC +5.42;
12. Paul Mackinnon (Tobermory)/Daniel Barritt (Barrowford) Subaru Impreza S14 +5.52.
SS1 DRIVER QUOTES
1. Calum Duffy: Very, very slippy out there. I thought I might have picked up a rear picture, because I hit something halfway through the stage.
3. John MacCrone: Really tricky at the start of the stage. Unbelievably slippery. We slowed down as we got to where Paul Mackinnon had gone well off at Jct 6. Both the guys are ok.
4. Daniel Harper: Like an ice rink out there. Really really slippery. We’ve broken the front wheel, so we’ll need to change it!
5. Jonathan Mounsey: Slippery, but car behaving itself.
6. Tristan Pye: Very slippy. We had slicks on; completely the wrong tyre. Should have been on inters.
7. John Cope: Darn slippy. Lots of areas where it was extremely slippery.
8. Tony Bardy: We’ve got gear selection problems: won’t shift down from 2nd to 1st. We had two wee spins.
9. James MacGillivray: Big problem: we need to get used to the lack of grip. The end of the stage was a nightmare.
2 Paul Mackinnon: Totally the wrong tyre. Just went off. Will crack on.
10: Derek McGeehan: Very slippy, but no problems. But our brakes are smoking, so we need to get moving.
11. Lewis Gallagher: Few scary moments: on slicks. There’s not a lot of grip.
12: Eddie O’Donnell: God, that was slippy. But it was good!
14: David Bogie: That was the hardest stage I’ve ever driven. In the dry conditions, I fitted the hardest slicks on the rear: then it rained. It was horrible: but we’re still here fighting.
15: Billy Bird: That was absolutely perfect: we got to the end. Soft slicks on.
16: Alan Gardner: Slippy, but i think I had the right tyres fitted. Looking forward to getting to service.
17: John Cressey: We could do with 4WD and an extra 100bhp!
18: Doug Weir: That definitely woke me up. Just glad to get to the end of the stage. On slicks: inters would have been better.
20. Shaun Sinclair: Been off: hit a wall. Pushed-on too hard too early on cold tyres in the wet! Not a lot of damage: should be fine.
19: Steven Clark: Don’t know what’s wrong: the car is revving high. I’ve been driving without using the throttle, but mysteriously the problems seems to have cured itself.
21: Donnie MacDonald: Went off five corners into the stage: just over-steered off. Done a wee bit of damage to the front bumper.
30: Pete Gibson: Hated every minute of it: a nightmare. Juts wanted to get to the end of the stage.
SS2 DRIVER QUOTES:
1. Calum Duffy: Bit of a better stage, but not fully into it yet. Tyre pressures now coming in: but the car still too skittery. We’ll make some changes at service.
3. John MacCrone: Bit too dry for me: but w head clean run. Car’s moving about too much for me, so we’ll make changes at service.
5. Jonathan Mounsey: She’s an old girl, but she certainly sang down that road. Phew … I’m out of breath. That was brilliant.
6. Tristan Pye: That stage was better: new car, and now really getting into it.
4. Daniel Harper: Steering affected by a bump we hit through the stage.
2. Paul Mackinnon: Really disappointed with SS1, but SS2 was comfortable. I took about a minute out of Daniel in front of me. It’s not often I get into a car like this, so i’m going to enjoy every minute I can get.
7. John Cope: Better stage: off to service now.
9. James MacGillivray: That was vey good: the tyres came in within two miles. Nice clean run.
10. Derek McGeehan: Taking a lot of time to get my confidence in. I’m not interested in the time, just want to get through to service.
8. Tony Bardy: Gearbox behaving better now. I’m just not fast enough at the moment.
11. Lewis Gallagher: Very quick stage: we’re making up some time and ground.
12. Eddie O’Donnell: Loved that stage. Happy with that. Great to see all the spectators at the side of the road.
14. David Bogie: Certainly better than SS1, but still very slippy. I’ll put softer tyre on at service and then push-on through the rest of the night. I know the pace the guys at the front are running, so we’ll have a coffee and then go for it!
15. Billy Bird: So far, so good. Car good, driver slower.
16. Alan Gardiner: Baptism of fire on SS1. Thoroughly enjoyed that stage.
17. John Cressey: That was a better run. No idea of our times, but we’re having a blast. It’s great fun.
18. Doug Weir: This stage was a lot better. More content to push on in the dry.
20. Shaun Sinclair: Intercooler problems and the steering’s bent, but we’re thru SS2, so we’ll just push on.
22. Matt Tarbutt: Lovely fast stage. The first one was horrendous.
21. Donnie MacDonald: bit of a confidence downer in the first stage, and really just took my time through SS2.
32: Ross Marshall: Good stage. I was on the right tyres: really good.
SS5 DRIVER QUOTES:
1. Calum Duffy: That stage was ok: it’s been a mixed night. We made a few changes at Service, but we kept soft slicks on, and that was completely the wrong tyre choice. They dropped off their performance midway through the stage. It was like driving on jelly.
3. John MacCrone: We’ve got a wee bit of a problem: it’s not going down the gears correctly. But we concentrated on getting trough the stage safely. That said, our brakes are glowing pretty impressively.
2. Paul Mackinnon: We’re settling into it now. The car’s better now, and I’m making up for my brain fade on the opening stage. Tyres went off through the stage and we dropped a bit of time. Bt we’re not looking at the leaderboard. Calum and John will go off and do their own thing at the top, but hopefully we can join them on Sunday.
5. Jonathan Mounsey: Good stage: we had some major air through there. We’re using this car 120%. Considering after shakedown we don’t the we’d be rallying because we blew the centre diff, to be here, and performing the way we are is fantastic.
7. John Cope: Not too bad: reasonable run through there.
9. James MacGillivray: That was fast. We got a bit of gravel at the rocks, but we got through.
10. Derek McGeehan: Stage was good. But I don’t like it: never have. I also started losing the brakes. But we’re here, which is the main thing.
11. Lewis Gallagher: Awesome: just awesome. Really good. Loved it. Car’s handling brilliantly.
14. David Bogie: Happy enough. It’s a learning experience with the tyres on these surfaces. It’s good to get Leg 1 out of the way. tomorrow is when I want to make a push.
20. Shaun Sinclair: I lost a bit of concentration in there, but my co-driver quickly pulled me back.
18. Doug Weir: That was really good. Brilliant fun. I could really attack that stage: loved it. Great conditions for rallying.
17. John Cressey: The alternator’s gone, and basically I’ve been driving the car without any power steering: it’s been hard work. But we’ll get it sorted for tomorrow.
16. Alan Gardiner: Tyres soft, and they went off towards the end.
22: Matt Tarbutt: That was absolutely mint. I was hanging off the door handle. Brilliant stage.
23: Chris Haigh: That was quite fast enough for me, thank you very much. But it was brilliant. Loved it.
21: Donnie MacDonald: That was just sensational/ Loved every minute of it. I’d love to turn round and go back out and do it again. I’m ecstatic with that.
12: Eddie O’Donnell: Just got 1st and 2nd gears, so it’s been tough and we’ve dropped a load of time. Hopefully we can get it sorted for tomorrow
32: Ross Marshall: Really good stage: but it was tough.
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