Team Minisport.com were again on the Isle of Mull this October for the annual closed public road tarmac rally. This year was the 40th running of the event and featured two special stages along the harbour front and through the town of Tobermory. The remaining 15 stages were held over Friday night, Saturday daytime and into the wee small hours of Sunday before all the crews would get some well earned rest.
Team Minisport.com entered their four BMW Mini Cooper ‘S’ cars, which featured the Framor Garage supported car of Finzean based Martin Page and Dundee based co-driver Martin Cressey.
The first seven wet and slippery stages saw the teams lead car of Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell storm into 4th place ahead of a number of four wheel drive and World Rally Cars, while the number two car of John Cressey and Stan Quirk were unfortunate to lose their gearbox on stage two. Meanwhile, Page and Cressey stuck their Cooper ‘S’ right on its nose over one of Mulls many humpback bridges but made it to main service with a very ill handling car. The Mini Sport mechanics repaired the loose supension and the crew continued free of time penalties.
With only a few hours sleep, Team Minisport.com took to the stages again, this time during daylight on the second leg of the rally. Harper and Campbell maintained their 4th spot over the next 5 stages and set 3rd fastest times on stages 8 and 10.
An overnight change of gearbox saw Cressey and Quirk return to the Trophy Rally, running alongside the main event and they quickly stormed into an early lead, over 3 minutes ahead of the next car.
Page and Cressey were meantime involved in a tight duel with team mates Ian and Gary Dawes, moving ahead of them by 15 seconds at the end of the daylight stages.
The final leg began again in the dark late on Staurday night and took the crews through the remaining five special stages starting with the 22 mile long Tuath/Calgary Stage. Page and Cressey went into the stage on a charge and were intent on making up more places in the dark.
A ‘4 left over crest’ had Page and Cressey in an unplanned sideways slide down the stage for a brief moment but they got away with it. Harper and Campbell, meanwhile continued to show ferociously determined driving, with a 2nd fastest time on Stage 15. The Mini Sport detemination featured throughout the teams crews with Page and Cressey coming out of stage 14 just 10 seconds slower that that of the Dawes’ and having to swerve to miss some loose cattle on another stage.
Final service at Craignure saw all four cars through with only routine checks and re-fueling carried out by the mechanics. With the Dawes’ having now swapped the lead over Page and Cressey by 26 seconds, a focused and determined drive over the final Hill Road Stage was called for if Page and Cressay were to retake their lead in only one stage.
At the top of the Hill Road itself the weather turned nasty and a downpour of biblical proportions ensued. With visibility down to a matter of feet Page and Cressey plunged down the hairpins and along Glen Aros to the finish line, stopping the clocks 1 minute and 53 seconds faster than the Dawes’ and securing the 2nd placed Mini Sport car home.
Harper and Campbell went on to finish 3rd overall with an incredible display of speed and car control and John Cressey and Stan Quirk won the Trophy Rally with Page and Dawes completing the four car finish with 16th and 17th in class respectively.
A fantastic result for Team Minisport.com with the whole team crowding onto the finish ramp to assist Harper and Campbell with the Champagne!