MacCRONE AND DUFFY SET UP MULL THRILLER
Dervaig duo John MacCrone and Calum Duffy have set up a thrilling finale to the 47th running of the Beatson’s Mull Rally after a second Leg dominated by weather and tyre choice.
MacCrone, the 2013 winner, saw his overnight advantage of 45-seconds reduced to just 36s, with tonight’s final four stages remaining.
After Derek McGeehan was fastest through this afternoon’s opening test at Ardtun, it was MacCrone and Duffy who shared fastest times through the following eight stages.
Significantly, nine-time winner Duffy was quickest in four of the final five tests as he demonstrated he was getting more confidence behind the wheel of his bespoke Skoda S2500.
MacCrone though, sharing his Ford Fiesta R5 with Uddingston’s Stuart Loudon, knows he faces a tough evening.
“We’ve done what we aimed to do this afternoon, and that was to hold on to the lead,” he said. “Now we have to focus on tonight, and make sure we get make the right tyre choice in the changing conditions.”
Parts of Mull were battered by torrential rain this afternoon, while others appeared to dodge the rainfall. The result was a number of confused drivers juggling between slicks, intermediates or full wets. By the end of the afternoon, most were on full wets.
The battle for overall honours, which had looked to be a three-way fight, was diluted on the day’s second stage at Loch Kinloch when Paul Mackinnon went out. The Tobermory driver spun his Subaru Impreza, blocking the stage and causing a 35min stoppage. Thankfully both drivers are ok.
Another local favourite, James MacGillivray, who had been lying seventh, retired his Impreza when it suffered a driveshaft failure on SS11.
Multiple Scottish rally champ David Bogie, making his Mull debut, at one time looked on course for a podium finish in his MkII Escort. But a combination of the treacherous conditions and broken wiper motor delayed him: he heads into the evening fourth, just 19s behind the Impreza of Lewis Gallagher. The third-placed driver from Tobermory is 4mins 37secs behind Duffy.
And Fergus Barlow found himself on something of an economy run through the middle loop of three stages. The Tobermory driver left final Service having forgotten to refuel his Ford Fiesta R2. But after driving ‘economically’ and short-shifting, he managed to limp to an emergency Service halt with just a ‘thimbleful’ of fuel remaining.
“That was close,” he laughed as he exited SS12, “but we’re still in the rally.”
The action restarts tonight at 21h53 with the longest stage of the rally, the 21.89-miler at Calgary Bay, followed by the final three stages before finishing in Tobermory.
BEATSON’S MULL RALLY — POSITIONS AFTER LEG 2 OF 3:
SS6 DRIVER QUOTES:
3. John MacCrone: Very slippy in there. We’re just bedding ourselves into the rally again. But slippery than I expected. We’ll just go steady for the firs three stages and see what they guys right behind me do: then we’ll react accordingly.
1. Calum Duffy: very slippy. Standing water; but a clean run. Could have been better. e chose the tyres for the next two longer stages, so we’ll get better.
2. Paul Mackinnon: Just kept it steady. Enjoying it though. We’ll keep the pace up and try to close the gap to the guys ahead. But we’re having fun.
11. Lewis Gallagher: That was ok.
5. Jonathan Mounsey: Slippy, but it definitely woke me up. The tyres were coming on toward the end of the stage.
14. David Bogie: That was ok. Neat and tidy. Really enjoying it, but now’s the time to push.
9. James MacGillivray: That was slippy.
10. Derek McGeehan: Nice to get back into the daylight again.
20: Shaun Sinclair: We’ll get the wet tyres on now: looks like it’s going to pour. But that was good.
25: Fergus Barlow: We came through there with no intercom. Did the stage just with hand signals, and it was tough.
SS8 DRIVER QUOTES:
3. John MacCrone: Really wet and tricky in there. Lot more challenging considering we did it on slick tyres which had been sat still getting cold for ages.
1. Calum Duffy: Car’s good now after the changes we made overnight: just on the wrong tyres.
11. Lewis Gallagher: Very slippy now in the rain. Just concentrated on keeping my head together in there.
5. Jonathan Mounsey: Very happy in there. Stage very wet.
14: David Bogie: Lot of standing water. Enjoyable stage, but very, very tricky.
9. James MacGillivray: That was fine. Lot of muck on the road pulled out by the cars in front cutting the corners.
10. Derek McGeehan: That was ok: I’m still enjoying it.
20. Shaun Sinclair: Delighted with that. The tyres were coming in nicely towards the end of the stage.
22. Matt Tarbutt: Opted for slicks this morning, but would have done better with inters.
7. John Cope: We were on the right tyres, which gave me a lot of confidence in there. Enjoyed it.
18. Doug Weir: Pretty tricky. Lot of standing water on top of smooth tar. I just need to be a bit more confident.
25: Fergus Barlow: Thankfully we got the intercom sorted. That was a good, fast stage. A lot better.
32: Ross Marshall: That was good. Tough to find grip. But the co-driver’s giving me the thumbs-up, so I must have one something right.
30: Pete Gibson: We had one moment in there, just before the finish. But we survived: just difficult to judge the pace.
17: John Cressey: Powersteering’s sorted: just had no grip. Brings smile to your face when you have wheelsman in 4th gear!
16: Alan Gardiner: Slicks on the back: very wet; no grip. But we’re here. and I’m smiling.
21: Donnie MacDonald: Absolutely loving it.
12: Eddie O’Donnell: Problems with the electrics, wipers and gearbox. we got through that one because the co-driver was operating the wipers by tugging a loose wire.
SS9 DRIVER QUOTES:
3. John MacCrone: That was one of the toughest stages I’ve ever done: we were sideways all the way through it. We’ve got slicks on, and I’m not sure it was the right choice.
1. Calum Duffy: Slippy, but happy. Soft slicks, so I’m happy with our performance.
11. Lewis Gallagher: We’ve changed tyres and the set-up, and the car’s a lot better. We’re on inters.
5. Jonathan Mounsey: Happy. It was very slippy for the first mile or so, but I enjoyed the stage.
14. David Bogie: We spun, then stalled and had to reverse out of it. Plus the wipers are not working, and it’s raining hard. Not ideal, but we’ll battle on.
9. James MacGillivray: We slid a wee bit wide at the last hairpin and caught a bit of mud: but we’re ok.
10. Derek McGeehan: Loved that.
20. Shaun Sinclair: That was unbelievably slippy. Glad to have got through unscathed.
22. Matt Tarbutt: We went for a ‘cut tyre’, but it didn’t make much difference to the grip.
7. John Cope: We didn’t find that stage too bad. Really enjoyed it. We’ve got inters on.
18. Doug Weir: That was good. Had the right tyres, and we went better through that than we did last night. Far more enjoyable.
25. Fergus Barlow: We’ve made an error. We didn’t fuel-up at service and I’m not convinced we have enough fuel to do this loop of three stages. We’ll just have to short-shift a lot and keep our fingers crossed.
32: Ross Marshall: Good stage, and we managed to get heat into the tyres.
30: Pete Gibson: We kept the same tyres from this morning, and it was the right decision. Happy with that.
17. John Cressey: If they had ’Strictly Come Dancing’ for cars, we’d have won that after the way we were billing about in that stage. It was brilliant.
16. Alan Gardiner: It was ok. I’ve got wets on the front, so I’m looking for rain. And looking at the sky, I think it’ll find me.
21. Donnie MacDonald: Good to get a clean run through after the problems we had in there last night. It’s sensational: typical Mull.
SS11 DRIVER QUOTES:
3. John MacCrone: Happy enough. But really tricky, and very wet. Decided to be cautious. Hard going.
1. Calum Duffy: That was ok. Lot of shiny black tar and standing water. Very tricky.
11. Lewis Gallagher: Really slippy: lot of torque-steer.
5. Jonathan Mounsey: We had a whole rally’s worth of moments in that stage: but boy was it fun! Brilliant!
14. David Bogie: Very difficult with all the standing water. It’s raining harder, and our wiper motor is getting even slower. Just hoping to get the car back to service.
10. Derek McGeehan: Very slippy. We came past James MacGillivray, who has parked his car up on a grass bank: both guys are ok.
20. Shaun Sinclair: That was terrible: conditions were so bad that for much of the stage the car was in control, and we were just passengers. But we’ll be here to make a charge tonight.
22. Matt Tarbutt: Think we’re going to swap to full wets at Service. Nothing else seems to be working in terms of grip.
7. John Cope: Very tricky, but we’re happy with that stage. We softened the car a bit this morning, so that’s made it better.
18. Doug Weir: Tricky: very wet. Car’s going fine, so can’t complain.
17. John Cressey: Really enjoying it. But I think we’ll change tyres at Service.
16. Alan Gardiner: Not bad. It felt ok. But we definitely need to put full its on now.
21. Donnie MacDonald: I got held up behind the MkI Escort in front of us: I’m livid. We were stuck behind him for four male. We’ve got 4WD and the right tyres. It cost us a barrowload of time. He should have let us pass. Not happy.
SS14 DRIVER QUOTES:
3. John MacCrone: Good enough run: had to be reasonably safe because of the conditions. Lot of standing weather in there.
1. Calum Duffy: That was ok: happy with that. Lot of standing water. All to play for tonight.
11. Lewis Gallagher: Fine run: slippy though.
5. Jonathan Mounsey: All sorts of issues with the car, but we’ll nurse it back to Service.
14. David Bogie: The rally’s been great fun to drive, but the weather is making it really difficult to get the power down. Just need to fill myself with loads of coffee now for tonight.
10. Derek McGeehan: Really tricky trying to identify the standing water.
20. Shaun Sinclair: Broken driveshaft, but she’s still going. Hopefully we can limp back to Service and get it sorted.
22. Matt Tarbutt: Changed to wets, so the car has a lot more feel: and I’m more confident. It’s all about survival now.
18. Doug Weir: Tricky: We’re still going: very wet and tricky.
17. John Cressey: Good fun: really good fun.
21. Donnie MacDonald: I’m in better form now: had a bit of a rage earlier, so sorry about that. That was a brilliant run: our notes have been sensational so far..
7. John Cope: We had a puncture in there and had to stop to change it: probably dropped around 3mins.