Rally Hebrides 2011 hailed the best so far!
Lewis Car Club, and the Rally Hebrides organising team are on the crest of the wave of positive feedback they have received – both verbally and via e-mail – from spectators, drivers, ‘co-drivers’ and mainland Motorsport Officials following Rally Hebrides 2011.
The fourth running of the most prestigious Motorsport event in the Western Isles has been hailed by many as the best yet, with the drivers relishing the challenge of the additional mileage added to both the Castle Grounds and Melbost Farm stages – the additional mileage becoming a reality through the co-operation and support of the landowners, tenants, companies and individuals, and the work put in by Car Club Members over evenings & weekends in the weeks & months leading up to the rally.
Soon after the Car Club launched the seat availability in the rally cars, there was a scramble to secure them, with all the seats sold by the close of business on the Monday prior to the event – a large percentage taken by people who had previously experienced the thrill & excitement of being in a rally car.
As is now customary, the Club had withheld three passenger rides with selected car/driver combinations to auction at scrutineering on the Friday evening.
The auction this year held a lot of anticipation with a seat available in Allan Mackay’s highly developed Ford Anglia, Reay Mackay’s MG Metro 6R4, and the Ford Escort Mk2 of Yorkshire rallying legend Steve Bannister.
The anticipation was well founded with these three seats alone raising £2250 for the Western Isles branch of Macmillan Cancer Support. Donald (Cudaig) Macleod secured the seat in the Anglia for the second year running, while ‘Buddy’ Mackay won the seat in the Group B Metro. And Lewis Car Club founder member Malcolm (Kiwi) MacLeod was delighted to secure the opportunity to sit alongside the ‘Malton Missile’ in his Escort Mk2.
This is the Centenary Year for the Macmillan organisation, and the third year that the organisation has benefitted from Rally Hebrides – in line with the funding needed to train an additional Macmillan Nurse over three years.
Along with the many talented drivers from across Scotland, the 2011 event was given further credibility with the participation of another rallying veteran – three time Scottish Champion Ken Wood bringing his Jaguar V6 engined Triumph Dolomite Sprint across to Stornoway for the first time.
Over the years Wood has exclusively rallied British Leyland/Austin Rover products, winning his titles in a TR7V8, an ex-works Rover SD1 and an MG Metro 6R4. He was the first Scottish driver to get his hands on a 6R4 in the autumn of 1985.
After being flagged away from the Ceremonial Start by Stornoway Trust Chairman Charlie Nicolson, the drivers had to contend with extremely tricky conditions on sections of the rally following the heavy rainfall on Friday evening and Saturday morning.
And having done so, a number of cars fell by the wayside during the event, including Bannister, who’s Cosworth BDG engine dropped a valve on the road section to Steinish. Others to suffer mechanical failure were Shaun Sinclair, Brian Watson and Peter Garrow with broken driveshafts, Garrow breaking a halfshaft in the Grounds, and again on the Melbost Farm stage, but managing to replace them to stay in the rally.
Ken Wood put the Dolomite off in the Castle Grounds, damaging the side & front of the car, including the radiator. ‘Co-driver’ Stewart Campbell assisted the team in effecting temporary repairs, and the Dolomite arrived at Steinish to a round of applause for stages 3 – 5, and completed the rally.
Rally Hebrides has now established itself within the Scottish rallying calendar as an event savoured by the participating drivers, with all of them expressing a desire to return in 2012.
The exact sum raised this year has yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to exceed the sums raised in previous years.
And while the sums raised at the rally are to the benefit of the supported Charity, there is additional benefit to the Island economy through the staging of the rally. Some of the drivers & teams have been known to extend their visit to the Western Isles, taking a holiday around taking part in Rally Hebrides.