UBC        RALLY HEBRIDES 2010- 20 & 21 AUGUST 2010

Success despite the Gales

Lewis Car Club’s final preparations for UBC Rally Hebrides were thrown into disarray last Friday when gale force winds hit the Hebrides during the afternoon, evening & overnight.

Calmac – who work closely with LCC in their support of Rally Hebrides – advised the Club on Friday morning of the probability that the MV Isle of Lewis might not return to Stornoway that afternoon, which was confirmed later that day.

Ten Rally Teams were due to travel on that sailing, and full marks to them that they remained in Ullapool on Friday night after Calmac gave notice of their decision that the Ferry would sail from Ullapool at 6am on Saturday morning. This schedule would ensure that these cars should arrive in Stornoway in time to still take part in the Rally, these ten cars to be ‘tagged on’ for stages 1 & 2 to allow time for Scrutineering & Documentation, while maintaining the rally’s time schedule.

(Also stranded in Ullapool overnight were members of 63 Car Club (Elgin) coming over to assist Lewis Car Club with the running of the Rally)

LCC were unable to erect Stage Furniture (signage) as planned on Friday due to the high winds, which meant an early start would be necessary for stage set-up teams on Saturday morning. A dedicated team assembled at Rally HQ in Stornoway at 5am on Saturday morning, and their first task on arrival in the Castle Grounds was to remove a fallen tree from the route!

Following the overnight conditions, the Stage through the grounds was made all the more challenging for the rally crews with wet leaves & fallen twigs littering the route.

Running car 1, Calum Buchanan was in trouble in stage 1 when a rear wheel clipped a large stone on the downhill section at the Woodlands Centre, resulting in a big ‘moment’ for the Uig charger. He had to stop to change the damaged wheel on his Escort Mk2 before getting back into action.

The slippery tarmac also caught out Donnie Campbell, going off on the High Road, clear of the route, but unable to regain the road even with his Subaru’s 4WD. His car was to remain there until the completion of Stage 2, when it was recovered by Shire Motorsport Recovery. Following a check-over on his Impreza at the service halt, Campbell went on to complete the rally.

Another car in trouble in the Grounds was the Ford Anglia of Allan MacKay, who went off under braking between the flying finish and the stop line.

The highly developed Anglia finished up on it’s side, but was largely undamaged, continuing after also being recovered when the stage was over.

Shaun Sinclair also went off, causing serious suspension damage on his borrowed Subaru. The Impreza was recovered but retired as it couldn’t be repaired in time.

And Ruary MacLeod emerged from SS1 with a lot of mud around the front nearside corner of the Civic.

After service and the lunch halt at No1 Pier car park, it was on to Stages 3 & 4 over the fast undulating roads across Melbost Farm. These two stages ran incident free, although Andrew Morrison’s Escort Mk 1 had a minor glitch in the engine’s electronics, and Neil Morrison also had progress interrupted with a mysterious & brief loss of power in his Sunbeam. The cars ‘stretched their legs’ on this fast & open stage, and by this time all the ‘co-drivers’ who had donated money to MacMillan Cancer Support had big wide grins on their faces!

And after a re-group at Pier 1, a Rally Car procession headed for the Lewis Karting Centre under Police Escort, for stages on the tight & twisty Karting Circuit, where a large number of Spectators were to witness just over two hours of high octane action as one by one the rally drivers attacked the Tarmac Superspecial with gusto.

The Rally Stage is run in the opposite direction to the Karts, and with corner markers removed, drivers soon began to take big ‘cuts’ through the corners. The cars were split into two groups here, and by the time the first group had completed their two stages a section at the rear of the circuit resembled a Rallycross circuit, as the cars had been ‘straight-lining’ the corners through the gravel traps.

The action was halted after an incident involving Alasdair Graham’s Subaru Impreza. After going off-line on the approach to his last corner of the rally, the lack of grip on the wet grass sent the blue Impreza sliding towards the outer tyre banking, the car striking the banking and gently rolling onto it’s roof. Rally rescue services were quickly on the scene, and Graham and his ‘co-driver’ John Macaskill emerged unhurt from the upturned Subaru.

Alasdair now faced a race against time to repair his Impreza in less than two weeks, in time for the Hankook Merrick Rally in Galloway, and he’s been overwhelmed & humbled by the offers of Impreza body parts from Island car enthusiasts to help him get his car back into shape. Most notable was the donation made by rally enthusiast Norman Ferguson (Newmarket), who – having a complete Subaru Impreza less engine – arranged for Woody’s to take the car [which was transported FOC] to Inverness as a donor for body panels.

One of the highlights at the Karting Centre stage was Reay MacKay’s handling of his Impreza WRC, the Fort Augustus driver repeatedly powersliding his car in a four-wheel drift around the top ‘spoon’ corner of the circuit.

The Rally Observer appointed by the MSA was full of praise for the organisation and running of LCC’s third Rally Hebrides, the event now a firm fixture in the Scottish Rallying calendar, and post event, all the drivers who took part expressed their interest in returning for 2011.

The exact figure raised for the Western Isles branch of MacMillan Cancer Support is not yet known, but one of the highlights at Scrutineering was the sum reached at auction for the co-driver seat in the Ford Anglia – the bidding rising to the point where Donald (Cudaig) Macleod donated £600 to do the entire event in the Anglia with Allan Mackay from Brora.