What car do you rally ?
‘Snowy’ a Ford Escort Mark 2 stage rally car fitted with 1600cc Rover K series engine‘. It’s been in the family ( so to speak) since I acquired it from Neil Routledge in 1987. Then it was fitted with an all steel crossflow 1600cc producing around 122bhp. Modern engines have progressed so much that the current engine produces nearly 200bhp and possesses much more favourable driving characteristics. It’s just a shame that the potential of the driver has progressed equally in the opposite direction!
I also rally ‘Silver bullet’, a road rally spec mark 2 Escort, fitted with a 1600cc crossflow. I bought it as a 4 door left hand drive from the brother of Richard Hill (he of Evo and Historic fame) he later asked if he could buy it back!
How long have you been rallying and what was your first event?
I started in 12 car events driving as Mark 1 Escort, navigated by Ian Robinson – who will remember being stranded in the middle of a hedge at a square left just outside Little Orton with ½ a tree protruding through the footwell.
My first stage event was competing against Colin McRae ( well his name was on the entry list to). On the Fellside stages in West Cumbria. My navigator was Billy Murray from Brampton, we had loads of problems including a leaking fuel tank, culminating in a roll leaving us upside downacross a farm track near Pica. Isn’t it funny how you remember every detail of where your rally ended!
What is your best result?
2nd overall on the Roger Albert Clark Rally 2008, but also after many problems winning the class and finishing 27th overall on the 2003 Park Stages (now the Merrick) was a huge surprise and lead to the Scott Adam Memorial Trophy (1600cc Scottish Champion) in 2003.
What is your favourite car?
Aston Martin DB9 – I hope I never own one as that would mean I’d given up rallying.
Who is your favourite driver?
Ari Vatanen – he had the ability to wring the ultimate out of whatever he was (& is) very antiquated machinery – seat of the pants driving.
What is your dream rally and why?
Monte Carlo. It has to represent the toughest challenge to drivers with flat out, dry, twisty, tarmac stages. Interspersed with unpredictable weather and difficult tyre choice ….Oh & a glamorous finish venue of course.
What is your most memorable rally experience ?
Otterburn Summer Rally, in the early 1990s. In gratitude for the work done to the car, I’d asked Ron Green to sit in. Flat out downhill to cattle grid and up the other side the clutch slave cylinder piston popped out. Well, we just stolled up the stage to sit in the sun & speculate. But then we spotted some fluid on the tarmac & I had a thought…
‘We had some oil in the boot, cos it had been losing as bit, and if we found the piston’ – well we did and cobbled together a repair. The rest of the event was spent passing Skodas (not the type you get now) and we finished the rally.
What are your future plans?
Would like to contest the ANECC stage championship and do as many road rallies as time will permit. I’d like to encourage my daughter, Caroline, to gain experience navigating both in road and stage events.
Anything else you want to say ?
Over 20 years ago, I used to say, ‘one day I’d love to do that’. Well to those of you who are reading this and saying the same thing. I say there’s no reason why you can’t! Road rallying costs very little & that’s the way to start – with a standard car. I wish more youngsters would get involved & SMC is a great place to start.
Photos © H.R.Gibbon / B. Lindsay / C. Lodge / Spadeadam Motor Club