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Scottish Malts

Friday 10th September

The final day of the event saw the crews awake to heavy rain, with at least one driver of an open car opting for an umbrella held up over the car at controls rather than go to the trouble of putting up the hood – better weather being promised within a few hours.

The route from the hotel took the crews into the first of the two morning regularities; to be followed by a passage control at Edradour Distillery, one of the prettiest and smallest distilleries in Scotland. This had originally been defined as a Main control, but the unexpected arrival of two coaches required the cars to clear the venue as quickly as possible – a passage control avoiding the need for the crews to wait.

A second regularity took the crews to Glenturret – home of the Famous Grouse. Competitors were to pick up the last of the souvenir miniatures – one specially labelled for the event, and the other a Snow Grouse miniature, available only through the visitors centre or through the duty free and export market.

A short road section via a Passage Control took the crews to lunch at Lennoxtown.

Two afternoon regularities took the crews back to the Turnberry for the final tests of the event at the Caddy Shack and Spa car parks before the ceremonial finish and champagne welcome outside the main front entrance of the Turnberry luxury resort – with Ailsa Craig clearly visible in the sun at the end of what had been a wonderful week.

Overall honours went to car 11 the Rover P4 of Robert and Susan McClean, who had been consistent throughout the event, picking up just 65 penalties on the regularities and 91 on the tests, giving them total penalties of 155. Second place went to Dr Jonathan Frankel and Dr Hugh Bradford in the Alfa Romeo Guilia Super (car 19) with total penalties of 255. Third place being taken by car 18, the borrowed Porsche crewed by Derek Reynolds and Edward Beedie – total penalties of 340.

The evening concluded with the awards presentation dinner, where Tony Mason was the surprise guest speaker. Tony entertained competitors, marshals and officials before presenting the medals and awards. On sitting down to dinner, crews were delighted to see the winning car appear in the room with them having been concealed behind carefully placed screens and two large curtains.

Two Bronze, two Silver and three Gold medals were awarded (a full set of results are available to download from the website). Amongst the notable awards presented was the Spirit of the Event which went to Gerry Simpson and Joy Hewson. Gerry’s Mini had expired on day one and he had returned the car to the Turnberry, where he collected the HERO Arrive and Drive Lancia Fulvia Zagato. Not knowing if he would like the car, Gerry drove to Skye to meet up once again with Joy, who had remained in period dress even when she volunteered to take up marshalling duties whilst waiting for the Zagato to appear.

As the evening drew to a close, the marshals presented Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin with the “Cone Crusher Award” for his exploits at Rest and Be Thankful earlier in the week – the award being the remains of the cone he had flattened.

Without exception, competitors all commented on how fantastic a week they’d had. A number joined the HERO Premier Members scheme before leaving and will now enjoy discounts on all HERO events from 1st January 2011, and many remarked that they would be back.

Thursday 9th September

The Thursday morning re-start from the Morangie Hotel in Tain was followed within seven minutes by a driving test at the disused world war two airfield Balnagall, giving crews a quick wake up call. Honours going to the Porsche of Mike and Simon Baker – car 33; closely followed by car 10, John Rondeau and Dennis Greenslade in the Jaguar MK1.

A run to Inverness via Dalmore distillery to collect the first souvenir miniature of the day took the crews into the second test of the day at the car park of the Caledonian Thistle football ground. Drivers looking down on the site from the elevated dual carriage way nearby must have wondered exactly what sort of match was being played that day. On this occasion, cars 10 and 33 shared the honours, having taken exactly the same time.

The crews made a brief half at the visitors centre of the historic Culloden battlefield before embarking on the two morning regularities. The promised rain staying away at least for the time being.

The ever popular test at Glenfarclas distillery caught out a few crews as the organisers had reversed the route of the test used in previous years – making the site look totally different. Visiters and staff at the distillery took advantage of the various viewing points to watch the cars. On this occasion the quickest car was the Elan of Stuart and Susan Tait (car 22) who took one second off the Jaguar (car10) and the Healey (car 25).

A short trip to Dowans Hotel for lunch and a well deserved rest was followed by the loop through Speyside and the traditional visit to several of the well known distilleries and the Cooperage

A coffee halt was then followed by the three afternoon regularities leading to the overnight halt at the Loch Rannoch Hotel overlooking the loch at Kinloch Rannoch. The afternoon run being spoilt for one crew (the Healey of White and Woodham) when they were forced of the road into a ditch by a Landrover driver who deliberately swerved towards them. Unfortunately they were unable to note down the number. The crews following were able to lend assistance and the Healey was soon back on the road, having fortunately sustained no damage. The crew were a little shaken up and so the regularity became more a case for them of driving at the correct speed without actually calculating the times at landmarks. This did reflect in overall positions at the end of the day as the Healey dropped to 6th overall.

Overall position at the end of day four was still being held by the Car 11 (Rover – McClean and McClean), followed by Car 19 (Alfa Romeo – Frankel and Bradford, with Derek Reynolds and Edward Beedie in the borrowed Porsche (Car 18) moving up to third place.

Would the final day bring yet more surprises?

Wednesday 8th September

The Wednesday restart from the Sligachan Hotel on Skye took the crews into a short regularity on a glorious sunny morning – allowing the crews to see Skye in all its splendor.

The first test of the day was to take place at Skye airport with the first car due at about 8.50am. The organisers had been made aware that massive blades destined for a new wind farm on the mainland had been stored alongside the runway; having been shipped to Skye as the easiest location to undertake the difficult road journey. Unfortunately, a sudden change in plans meant that at the very time the crews were to compete on the test, three of these huge blades were to be moved by road under police escort. However, a site meeting between the clerk of the course, the test commander and the load master the evening before had resulted in a plan which allowed the test to take place, although a delay was inevitable. The plan worked and the crews were all able to complete the test, with overall honours going to car 33, the Porsche of Mike and Simon Baker.  A further minor disruption occurred when the pilot of a light aircraft decided he wanted to take off during the time the cars were still on site – providing the odd sight of cars on the runway and a plane on the grass taxi strip running parallel with the runway (should this not be the other way around!!)

A regularity from Lochalsh took the crews to the main control at Applecross which was then followed by a stunning regularity through some of the most spectacular scenery to lunch at the Myrtle Bank Hotel, Gairloch – once again the crews were treated to a superb meal, including langoustines caught that very morning in the local bay.

The Passage control after lunch was at the Drumchork Lodge Hotel, home of the smallest distillery in Scotland, and the only one still operated in the same manner as many of the illegal one-man distilleries would have operated centuries ago – a small pot still with all the work done by hand using simple kitchen utensils and wooden hand-held stirrers. The distillery is in a small shed next to the hotel and is well worth a visit.

Two further regularities took the crews to the final test of the day at Little Ferry Kart Circuit, near Dornoch. It was now early evening, the mist had descended and the wind picked up – totally different from the weather experienced at the start of the day on Skye. As always the crews thoroughly enjoyed the test on the Kart circuit, with honours going to Car 10, the Jaguar of the Jaguar of John Rondeau and Dennis Greenslade, who narrowly beat Mike and Simon Baker in their Porsche by one second.

The crews then dispersed to their hotels in Tain and Dornoch for a good meal and a well earned rest before the restart on Thusday.

The top three positions had remained unchanged from day two, being held by Cars 11 (McClean and McClean), 25 (White and woodham), and 19 (Frankel and Bradford). Best performance on the regularites still being held by Robert and Susan McClean

HERO’s mechanics had not been too busy, with the main problems being experienced by the TR of Patrick Burke and Clare Nedin which had started to use more oil than expected and was having problems with the fuel injection system. However, a little t.l.c. kept the car going and although they were forced to miss the last test, the car made it to the last control of the day. Robert and Joshua Scorah had changed to the MGB Roadster as fuel problems continued to affect the Alfa, and following Gerry Simpson’s retirement of the Mini with drive shaft problems they had changed to the HERO Arrive and Drive Lancia Zagato – Gerry quickly becoming a fan of the car’s performance on the tests.

Thursday will see the crews go into the Speyside area for the traditional “distillery day”.

Tuesday 7th September

Blustery showers greeted the crews at the start of day two of the HERO Scottish Malts Reliability Trial, with just the hint of sun trying to break through the cloud bank. As always happens – the rain stopped as the last crew left the control.

Three regularities via controls at the Kilmana Viewpoint and Kilmelford took the crews to a superb lunch at the well known Ballachullish Hotel.

A run to Fort William lead to the only test of the day – Torlundy. A low speed test on the one-mile tarmaced section of Torlundy Forest had crews come up with a variety of ways of dealing with the concept. A mixture of Regularity and Test, complete with secret timing points and stop lines, Torlundy presented the crews with a challenge new to HERO, and one which will no doubt be repeated. Best performance on the test was shared between Car 10 (the Jaguar of John Rondeau and Dennis Greenslade) and Car 25 (the Austin Healey 100 of Chris White and Ken Woodham) both crews picking up just two seconds of penalties on this test. John’s Jaguar had ended day one on the end of a tow rope following failure of the clutch slave cylinder. A quick trip to the local garage at Inveraray soon had the problem solved when a suitable seal was located – allowing the crew to rejoin the event at lunch

Heading up the crews who performed well on the regularities were Robert and Susan McClean in the Rover P4-100. The 8 penalty points collected on Day Two when added to the 14 from Day 1 giving them a total penalty of 22 seconds at the end of day two. With just three gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze now up for grabs, Competition was hotting up.

Overall positions at the end of day two had changed as cars 25 and 11 (the Austin Healey and Rover P4) had swapped places. Whilst the Alfa Romeo of Jonathan Frankel and Hugh Bradford remained in third place.

HERO’s mechanics had been kept busy with the continuing fuel problems of the Alfa Romeo 1750. Whilst the Porsche 911 SC of Mark and Simon Baker had to be assisted onto the ferry following an overheating problem. Once again the two mechanics were able to resolve the problem so that the crew could continue.

The day had ended on the Isle of Skye, where crews were located at several hotels. Not content with sending the competitors the easy way over the Skye bridge, the organisers made use of the unique and world famous Glenelg ferry. The five minute crossing for no more than six cars at a time taking place on the only ferry with a deck which can be rotated to allow cars to disembark directly onto the jetty. The see-saw action of the deck meaning that the Volvo of Tony Davies (the CLO) couldn’t disembark until the 4×4 of Clerk of the Course, Peter Nedin, had moved to the centre to allow the lowered ramps to dip down to the jetty! This ferry is a must for those wanting a fun way to get onto Skye.

Day three will see the crews start with a regularity and driving test on Skye before the route takes them via the North West and across the highlands to an overnight at Tain and Dornoch

Monday 6th September

A host of non-event related reasons had caused the start list on the 2010 Scottish Malts Rally to be lower than expected and down on previous year’s. Never-the-less, the 12th running of the “Malts” attracted a competitive and eye catching field of cars, which were flagged away on Sunday morning from the Turnberry Luxury resort by the Clerk of the Course to the accompaniment of the resort’s own piper.

On Saturday, crews had been well looked after by the resort, being greeted with a glass of champagne as they entered documentation (held in the board room at the hotel). Scrutineering had taken place in the Green’s Keepers workshops – better equipped than most garages, with four post lifts and full workshop facilities. The evening had been spent at a BBQ buffet organised in and around one of the main function suites, with the chef cooking sword fish on an open BBQ on the veranda.

Following the ceremonial start, the crews went immediately into the first of two Turnberry tests outside the SPA complex. The second test took place in the car park of the caddy shack alongside the championship golf course. Leading honours on test one went to car 33, the Porsche 911 of Mike and Simon Baker. Unfortunately an error on test two demoted the pair as the best result went to car 10, the Jaguar Mk1 of John Rodeau and Dennis Greenslade.

The two tests were followed by two regularities either side of a test at the Kames kart circuit before main controls at distilleries in the Glasgow area. The second of which, Glengoyne, offered a dram of 17 year old to the non-driving members of each team. The co-drivers of course being honourable and protective of their drivers need to adhere to the non alcohol rule insisted on having their crew-mate’s dram.

A first class Lunch at the Buchanan Arms in Drumen was followed by the first of two regularities separated by a test at the famous Rest and Be Thankful hill-climb – always popular with the crews. The clerk of the course got a bit carried away when checking this test and completely flattened one of the cones in his 4×4. Honours on the “Rest” once again going to Car 33, the Porsche.

The Hell’s Glen Regularity was followed by the final test at Inveraray Castle before the crews pulled into the car park of the nearby Loch Fyne hotel for a well deserved evening meal and overnight stop.

First, second and third places on day one went to Car 25 (Austin Healey 100 of Chris White and Ken Woodham), Car 11 (Rover P4 of Robert and Susan McClean) and Car 19 (Alfa Romeo Gulia Super of Jonathan Frankel and Hugh Bradford),

Not everyone had such a good day. The Alfa Romeo crewed by father and son Robert and Joshua Scorah succumbed to major fuel problems when the fuel cap became dislodged and a loss of fuel meant that the particles at the bottom of the tank got sucked into the filters and twin Webbers. Fortunately the sweeper crew and HERO Assist mechanics were quickly on the scene. The carbs were stripped and fuel filters cleaned, but the pump had been damaged. The car was nursed to the finish of the day where a replacement pump was sourced, hopefully allowing the car to continue on Tuesday.

Car 10, the MK1 Jaguar of John Rondeau and Dennis Greenslade experienced a blown clutch slave cylinder during the afternoon and was towed to the overnight halt by the sweeper – where the crews were confident that the part could be stripped and cleaned, allowing them to continue.

The Mini (Car 12) of Gerry Simpson and Joy Hewson was not so fortunate when failure of a CV joint at the end of the day lead to the car having to be retired. However, HERO’s Arrive and Drive program kicked into gear and as this report was being prepared, Gerry was considering the offer of a replacement car in the form of the Lancia Fulvia Zagato.

The Arrive and Drive program was an instant hit with Derek Reynolds and Edward Beedie on Sunday afternoon. Their Porsche had overheated and blown the engine on the way to the Turnberry. Despite the best efforts of the HERO Assist mechanics, the car could not be repaired on site. A dejected crew advised the Clerk of the Course of their misfortune and were immediately offered the chance of a replacement Porsche. Derek and Edward couldn’t believe their luck, and were lying 4th overall at the end of day one.

Tuesday night will see the crews reach Skye – more details to follow.

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