Skip to content

Flying Scotsman ’24, Syd Stelvio Leg Three – Loch Lomond to Gleneagles – 180 Miles

Flying Scotsman ’24, Syd Stelvio Leg Three – Loch Lomond to Gleneagles – 180 Miles

Motorsport is a cruel business, one minute you’re flying high and the next you’re sat on the side of the road, with your hopes and dreams in tatters. It’s not unusual for fate to get involved on the final day of a rally, but today fate was sticking her fingers in everywhere, right from the word go.

First to earn her scorn was the perennially reliable Riley Sprite, of John Lomas and Pete Johnson. The car has had an incredible run of trouble-free rallying, and at breakfast JLo and Pete were discussing tactics for the day, determined to cement their third place in the event. Trouble was brewing though, and the Riley began to cough and splutter before it had even left the start. Plugs were changed and points were adjusted in a desperate attempt to diagnose and rectify the problem, but in the end a terminal fault with the fuel pump would end their hopes of a podium finish.

Into third then went Kurt Vanderspinnen and Iain Tullie, and as news came through at the first coffee halt of the morning of JLo’s demise the two crews at the front of the pack knew they had a touch of breathing space, and the fight for victory was truly a two-horse race. Of course, nobody would wish the retirement of a competitor, and it doesn’t do to front up fate, for she will always force you to stare into your own reflection.

Out of the coffee halt and into the third regularity of the day, and easily one of the most scenic and fun to drive. At this stage of the game though exuberance is a fool’s errand, best to caress the car, get her to the finish that is oh-so-close. That would certainly have been the manifesto in the front running Frazer Nash, driver Theo confessing the previous evening that he would be nursing the car to the end, hoping nothing major fell off the 91-year-old machine.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be and not far out of the third reg the rear axle on the Nash sheared in two, ending their seemingly unassailable challenge and leaving Theo and James to contemplate what might have been. It was a spiteful interference from fate, merciless even, but sometimes that’s rallying.

This promoted Dyas and Appleton into first and Vanderspinnen and Tullie into second, and one would expect Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham into third. There was to be another intervention though, as news filtered through that Owens and Bloxham had missed a time control and suffered a thirty-minute penalty, plummeting them into the lower echelons of the field and spoiling their charge to the podium.

It was a calamitous morning, a bookies nightmare, full of twists and turns and there was still the afternoon to go. At lunch the top two seemed comfortable in their newfound positions, and as long as they kept it together then it would surely be a win for perennial nearly man Paul Dyas, and his navigator Mark Appleton, nobody would want to take that bet though. The fight for third was anyone’s, with seconds separating several protagonists and with three regularities and a test to finish things off the battle was well and truly on.

Theo’s father, Martin Hunt and navigator Bob Mannix went into the final acts of the day in third, but with Clint and Brad Smith in the Bentley and Anthony Boland and Anthony James in the Talbot breathing down their necks. Gerd Buehler and James Ewing were in touch as well, now up to sixth after beginning the day in ninth.

Nobody was blinking, for any error one made, another made a mistake somewhere else, everything balanced on a knife edge. The last regularity was a tricky little number, in and out of farmyards, with treacherous slots aplenty, waiting to trip up the unwary, fate watching on, ready to deliver a final twist. By the time the cars got to the line there was one crew in the fight for third who had enjoyed a better afternoon, and one final change of position as Clint and Brad Smith took third place by 21 seconds, ahead of Martin Hunt and Bob Mannix who had slipped to fourth.

That left Kurt Vanderspinnen and Iain Tullie in second and a triumphant Paul Dyas and Mark Appleton in first, delighted with their victory, although both would of course have rather fought for it on the road. That doesn’t take away what is a tremendous achievement though, and for the man who often finishes second a well-earned win at last. “A wet weekend in Scotland” said Paul, “what more could you want?!”

After the final top three enjoyed the champagne celebrations, it was time for everyone to catch a breath after a final day like no other. A breathless end to a tremendous competition, that reflected the event as a whole. Now the celebrations can begin, before we count down the days to doing it all again next year.


We use cookies to give you the best experience of using this website. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.