The Kielder forest complex again provided the Special Stages for the second round of the Scottish Rally Championship last Saturday. The vast forest also lived up to its reputation in rallying folklore as ‘killer Kielder’ as there were 39 retirements on the Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally.
For Calum MacKenzie, his rally was over before it began when he slid wide on Friday’s shakedown, the rear of the Mitsubishi Lancer hitting some logs which severely damaged the rear suspension and some rear bodywork. As he did not have all the parts needed to effect repairs, the MacKenzie team sadly had no option but to load the car onto it’s trailer, and make for home.
John Morrison also suffered on this event “We had a slow start to the day. We had a couple of puncture issues on the first and the second stage. On Stage 3 we put the hammer down and we came back up the field from 21st - so the last two stages were fine. But the competition has been so strong, and if you have even the slightest problem, you’ve no chance” The final two stages saw a good recovery from Morrison, finishing the event in 11th spot in the Lancer Evo 9.
Calum Buchanan was battling with veteran Steve Bannister for overall 2WD honours, the rally going well in the early stages for the Valtos driver. Going into the final Stage Buchanan had a Class 8 win in his sights but alas it wasn’t to be, as he arrived ‘too hot’at a left hand corner with a tighter right hander immediately after it, approx 3 miles from the stage finish. The Escort was off the road in the blink of an eye, hitting the banking and severely damaging the left side suspension and bodywork. The ‘lows’ in rallying are rock-bottom.
Sparring partner Steve Bannister also went off at the same point. His Escort flipped onto its roof, before spectators managed to right the battered car and send it on its way - minus the windscreen - to complete the course.
It was a corner that caught out quite a number of drivers.
Gary MacLeod had entered the rally in the family Honda Civic – the car used previously by his brother Ruary. A minor gearbox oil leak was cured at service, and although he suffered a rear puncture on one Stage, MacLeod brought the Civic home in 55th place, but he hadn’t registered for the Ecosse Civic Challenge before the event.
Once again the Border Counties had proved to be a tough second round with 66 classified finishers, reigning Champion David Bogie making it two in a row in this years series, winning the event by 44 secs and aiming for a Championship hatrick.
The third round of the series is the CARS Recovery Granite City Rally in Aberdeen on the 16th of April.