It was a great weekend on the Isle of Mull with Rally cars travelling from all over the UK to attend the 44th Mull Rally. Mini Sport had 3 MINIs competing and Martin page, driver of No. 55 MINI of the Mini Sport fleet has written this report for you:
Three cars from the Mini Sport Rally Team journeyed to Mull for the annual October “trip round the island.”
Once across the water, the cars had final preparations completed and set up honed and pace notes were checked by the crews. By the afternoon of the Friday, there was nothing left to do but ponder the weather …dry or wet this year? The weather was bone dry with blue skies and not a cloud in sight and a touch of ice on the night stages through the end of the Calgary and Penmore stages to keep things “interesting”. One thing about rallying on Mull, it pays to be an all rounder!
Car 55 of Martin and Heidi dispatched Stage 1 through the dark of Friday night, which included the superb Mishnish Lochs stage to Tobermory. No incidents to report however Stage 2 was cancelled due to a car off the road.
There were 6 stages to get through on the Friday night, taking the Mini Sport team down the west side of the island and right down to the south west for the two runs through the Ardtun stage.
The Ardtun stage is only 2.6 miles long but it’s a tight, bumpy, jumpy, skittery, gravelly, slippy little ribbon of tarmac which has the mid stage Ardtun jump just after a dip following a long straight and very fast right hander. You can lose somewhere between” almost everything” and “definitely everything” here!
Martin and Heidi were hurled skyward over the jump, to land partly in the ditch on the right hand side so a fair bit of flat out “lawn mowing” was undertaken until grip was re-established by the two wheels still on the tarmac. The second run through was to be taken slightly less vigorously over the jump…. it didn’t feel that way but there was no need for the “lawn mowing” this time! The final two stages of the night went well and the crew returned to Tobermory for the following mornings day time stages.
Saturdays weather continued to be bone dry and sunny. The MINI had been re-fettled overnight by the hard working service team and the rear suspension of the MINI was softened to improve handling.
Stage 7, Penmore took the crews down past Calgary Bay and back to Dervaig, an 11 mile stage to blow the previous nights cobwebs away and then on to Stage 8, Scridain.
Scridain , at just 4 miles, is a blast right along the rocky beaches on the west of the island and can be a little slippery in wet weather. No such problems for Martin and Heidi this time as the weather was literally melting the tarmac. About two miles in, the number 10 Mini Sport MINI of John and Martin Cressey was seen unfortunately upside down at the side of the road. Both crew were ok and waving as Martin and Heidi went by.
Stage 9, Griburn was cancelled due to a crashed rally car and the crew was directed straight to Tobermory for main service. Twenty minutes later service and re-fuelling was complete and they were sent out to Stage 10, Mishnish Lochs. A favourite stage over the 6 mile road between Tobermory and Dervaig.
The stage starts with a very fast section past the Lochs and combines hairpin bends up and down the hill into Dervaig. MINI 55 was generating some serious heat by now and the floor pan was so hot it melted the plastic seat belt cutter and filled the car with smoke!
Again, unfortunately they passed the Mini Sport MINI number 6 of Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell parked up mid stage with broken suspension. They had been going extremely well on the revised suspension set up and had been as high as third place overall.
Immediately after the Mishnish Lochs stage was the very short road section to Stage 11, The Hill Road. The surface is similar to the Ardtun Stage but twice as long. The road takes the cars up over a very steep hill, across a very bumpy plateau where the road is very broken and then plunges down the other side to Torloisk and then on to Balnagown.
The mid section had Martin and Heidi broadside down the road for a while when the bumps threw the back end of the MINI out of line. The car came to rest across the road and stalled but only 15 seconds was lost.
The rest of the days stages were dispatched well with just a change of front tyres before the final two stages. Again the MINI was given a thorough service for the final leg of the rally which took the crews around the island in the dark again. The first stage took crews up the lengthy Glen Aros and over Mishnish Lochs, a good 14 mile stage and then back down the west of the island for stages 17 and 18 and back to Craignure for final main service.
The last stage of the rally is “The Long One”. At 22.5miles it takes crews from Killiechronan along the coasts beaches and cliff roads and over to Calgary Bay and on to the finish in Dervaig.
The spot lamps on MINI 55 had been failing during the night stages which cost some time and on one of the road sections they lost all the MINI’s lights!
Martin and Heidi gave the Long One some stick and brought the MINI home to Dervaig in 27th place, achieving their aim of getting into the 20’s this year. They were also rewarded with the Clitheroe and District Motor Cub “Best Crew” award.
Much thanks goes to all the Mini Sport Team and in particular to Mini Sport rally technician Michael Anderson for his mastery of rebuilding engines and to Daniel Harper for the set up advice and everything else.
It was a shame that we didn’t get all three Mini Sport cars home, but believe me…they were going some!
Martin would also like to mention his hard working service and management team of Ian Pennington, Davy Stuart, Sandra Pennington and Claire Page and two daughters Ems and wee Martha who worked so hard polishing up the rally car!
Thanks also to those MINI fans who were doing the star jumps on the Griburn and Mishnish Locks …it helps! And finally a big thank you to Heidi for keeping me on the “straight and narrow!”
You can find the full results here!