Just a week after springing an enormous comeback on the World Rally Championship round in France, Stuart Loudon will be back beside his 2012 driver, John MacCrone as they look to go one better than last year’s result on the Tunnock’s Mull Rally.
In 2012 John and Stuart finished a remarkable second overall in a 1600cc, two-wheel drive, low class Ford Fiesta R2 against far more powerful machinery, much of which had twice the driven wheels. This year, they are back in a Ford Fiesta but this one is a completely different beast: four-wheel drive, 2400cc naturally aspirated engine and a phenomenal history behind it.
The Fiesta S2400 has been developed by M-Sport, the team that runs the World Rally Championship campaign for Ford. This is only the car’s second outing, the engine — a 2.4-litre, rather than the 1.6, and producing 325bhp — is sitting in the bodyshelll that Miko Hirvonen took to victory in Monte Carlo.
In it’s new configuration, the car has been designed for competitors using the S2000 in national championships.
“I can tell you very little about the car,” says Stuart, “Malcolm and Matthew Wilson have both been out giving the car a shakedown and both say that it is incredibly quick. John says that sound is brilliant.”
“The car has only ever been out once before on the Malcolm Wilson Rally with this engine in it. The bodyshell is the one that Mikko Hirvonen used to win the 2010 Monte Carlo Rally, so plenty of history and no pressure on us!”
With Stuart only returning from Rallye de France Alsace late on Monday he has to be at the Tunnock’s factory in Uddingston for 5am Tuesday until he finishes on Thursday afternoon. This doesn’t leave much time for John and him to recce the stages before the action starts on Friday night.
“John has been out and checked the stages already and is posting me his notes this week. I’ll tidy them up and check them over before arriving on the island. Many folk think that as John lives on Mull he doesn’t need someone reading notes on the stages. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t use notes. No matter how well you may think you know a road, there is a definite advantage in having someone calling out the lines, the cautions and bringing a driver on.”
“It will be strange switching my brain from WRC mode to UK National rally mode. I need to remember the different timing system, that we can use emergency service should we have a problem and that, most of all, this is an amateur event, albeit run to a high standard, but it is primarily for fun. Having said that, we are going there 110% committed to win it. The competition will be tough but we are there to be first home come Sunday morning”