Official Event Preview

2013 Tunnock’s Mull Rally Preview

Scotland’s — and many people say, Britain’s, even the world’s — most intense, fastest and demanding Tarmac event, the Tunnock’s Mull Rally, roars into action for the 44th time this week.

As the late autumn darkness closes in on the island on Friday, October 11, the near 120 crews head out into the first of 19 stages and 157 miles of high speed, all-out action over three days and nights.

Much of the attention will focus on the battle between the two drivers who finished first and second last year, Dervaig duo Calum Duffy and John MacCrone.

Plus, fellow Mull driver and 2005 winner, James McGillivray, returns to action determined to last longer than the 100-metres his Ford Escort MkII did last year before being halted by a mystery electric gremlin.

From south of the Border, John Cope from Walshaw, third last year, returns in his Impreza, while Richmond’s Tony Bardy has repaired his battered Nissan Sunny GTi-R after ending last year’s event upside down.

Duffy, last year’s winner, has had his Ford Escort MkII refitted in Ireland ahead of the high-speed event. But significantly, he admitted this year’s Tunnock’s Mull Rally will be his first action since victory 12 months ago. Increased work commitments have limited his time for rallying.

“I’ve no trepidation about going into the rally without having rallied since last October,” Duffy, co-driven again by brother Iain, stated matter-of-factly.

“I’ve done it before and everything’s been fine, though it might take a couple of stages just to shake the rust off.

“It’s also a long rally, which works in our favour, because if we drop time on Friday night, we can usually pick it up on Saturday.

“I’ve also nothing to prove: we’ll just go out there, do the best we can, put the times up on the board, and if someone comes along and beats them, then fair dues to them.”

MacCrone meanwhile, who has been contesting the British Rally Championship in his Culina Citroen, returns to the island in his M-Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta S2400, co-driven by Glasgow’s Stuart Loudon.

Only the car’s second outing, the engine — a 2.4-litre, rather than the 2.0, 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.

“It’s always great to come back and do, what I think, is the best rally in the world,” John said. “We came close last year, but we’ll really need to up our pace if we’re to beat Calum. But it’s definitely going to be fun.”

Rounding off last year’s top three, John Cope returns having just rebuilt the gearbox of his Subaru Impreza.

It’s more than 10 years since someone from off the island won the Tunnock’s Mull Rally, and this year all drivers will have to adapt to a number of changes.

“Most of the changes this year have been introduced to offer the thousands of spectators more opportunities to view the cars in action,” Iain Campbell, Clerk of the Course, explained.

“Friday night has the first two stages centred around the junction in Dervaig, and the opening Leg even finishes in the village at the end of the seventh special stage.

“The biggest change comes on Saturday afternoon when after completing the two southern stages of Scridain and Gribun Rocks, the northern loop of three stages are run twice. This gives the spectators the opportunity to see the cars for a second time in the daylight.

“The closing loop mirrors that from 2012, with the action starting with the blast up Glen Aros, through Dervaig village and over Mishnish Lochs.

“That’s followed by the final stage, ‘The Long One,’ 22-and-a-bit miles that finishes outside the Churchyard in Dervaig. Only then will we know the winner of the 2013 Tunnock’s Mull Rally.”

Tunnock’s Mull Rally — Top 10 seeds:

1. Calum Duffy (Dervaig) / Iain Duffy (Dervaig) Ford Escort MkII;

2. John MacCrone (Dervaig) / Stuart Loudon (Uddingston) M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2400;

3. Tony Bardy (Richmond) / Neil Colman (Stockton-on-Tees) Nissan Sunny GTi-R;

4. John Cope (Bury) / Robert Fagg (Kirkmichael) Subaru Impreza;

5. James Macgillivray (Salen) / Ian Fraser (Salen) Ford Escort MkII;

6. Daniel Harper (Barley) / Chris Campbell (Barrowford) BMW Mini Cooper S;

7. Eddie O’Donnell jnr (Salen) / Matt Ratcliffe (Tobermory) Ford Escort RS;

8. Tristan Pye (Bishop Auckland) / Andrew Falconer (Inverness) Subaru Impreza;

9. Jonathan Mounsey (Settle) / Richard Wardle (Pickering) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI;

10 John Cressey (Long Preston) / Martin Cressey (Long Preston) BMW Mini Cooper S.


Loudon wants to go one better

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”


David Mann Comeback on Mull

Former National Rally Champion David Mann is preparing to return to action for the first time in two years at the Tunnock’s Mull Rally in North-West Scotland, previously known as the ‘Tour of Mull’, next weekend 11th – 13th October.
The East Anglian mushroom farmer – a popular figure throughout the sport over the past three decades – has employed local knowledge in the form of Oban-based codriver Chris Hamill as regular navigator Alun Cook is unavailable.
Mann’s decision to return behind the wheel of his Group N Kumho Tyres Subaru WRX, having not done a full rally since finishing fourth in category on the Tour of Flanders in Belgium in September 2011, is partially due to a desire to fulfil a lifelong ambition.
He explained:
“It’s a rally I’ve always wanted to do but have never got there for one reason or another. “We have been trying to sell the car and have had some interest but, as we still have it, I thought perhaps we should use it again! “It’s a unique event as I believe it was the first to use closed public roads. “It started as a road rally in 1969 and they used to do forest stages at one stage too. “Now it’s a closed road rally and is very specialised – there are a lot of very quick local drivers and also a hard-core of people who travel up and do it every year so, as I’m very
much out of practice, I’m putting myself up to be shot down to an extent.” In addition to long-time sponsors Kumho Tyres, Waveney Mushrooms, Nortech, Compomotive Wheels and Mintex, Mann has gained additional help from Seafood Temple Restaurant – an award-winning Oban-based eatery owned by co-driver for the weekend Hamill’s partner Eilidh Smith.
The Suffolk star has also invested in the latest lighting technology available with a fully LED solution from British manufacturer Lazer Lamps Ltd.
Mann is seeded 14th in a field of well over a hundred and boasts a good track record on tarmac-based island road events, having won the Manx National Rally in 2003 en-route to taking the National title.
“We tried to do the Woodbridge Stages a few weeks ago but had an engine problem and didn’t get passed the first stage, so it was a bit of a disaster. “So we’ve put another engine that Stuart Hall (the boss of rally car preparation specialists Nortech) had.”
A total of 19 stages, covering almost 160 miles and split over three legs, face the crews on Mull, beginning on Friday night in Tobermory and ending in the early hours of Sunday morning.