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Scottish Malts

Scottish Malts Monday -  Day 1

40 crews from afar afield as Hong Kong and USA were flagged away from the front of the world famous Turnbery Resort by Norman Dewis, the well-respected Jaguar test driver, at 8.30am this morning.

Despite the strong winds requiring the start arch to be staked into the ground Norman, whose racing exploits as a Jaguar test driver and tales of his friendship with Stirling Moss entertained crews at the pre-event gathering, insisted on flagging every car away despite his increasing age.

The cars ranging in age from the 1930’s to the late 80’s went straight into the two testes at the resort.

The second test was held on the only smooth portion of runway still remaining of the original airfield where the grand prix had been held in 1952 and where Norman had once raced

Following the test, crews were soon into the morning regularities prior to the third test of the day at the Kames racing circuit where a number of local spectators turned up to watch,

A prominent article in last Friday’s Scotsman provided spectator information, The test proved a challenge with several crews picking up penalties around the circuit.

Coffees and bacon butties from the coffee on the circuit were appreciated by the crews.

An early casualty of the event was the Aston Martin of Urs and Denise Mezger whose alternator failed the night before the event. Fortunately, thanks to HERO Arrive & Drive they were able to start latein HERO’s TR4 and caught up with the event at the MacDonalds Hotel Kinloch Rannoch.

Following an excellent lunch at the Glazert Hotel Lennoxton crews headed North along the first transport section of the afternoon though some stunning scenery. Most cars were trouble free. The HERO Assist mechanics and sweeper crews were able to deal with a number of mechanical problems from stuck wipers to inoperable clutches.

The highlight of the afternoon was a visit to Glenturret the home of Famous Grouse where the navigators were offered the opportunity to sample a free Dram. Each crew member was given a free miniature so that the drivers could enjoy the whisky once the days driving was over.

Leaving Glenturet the crews continued North tackling regularities to the West of Blair Atholl taking crews in an area where the regularities provide a major challenge on HERO’s Le Jog. On Tuesday morning crews will actually tackle one of the Le Jog regularities _ made a little easier as it will be  tackled in daylight (LeJog has never tacked this regularity in daylight)

There is a party atmosphere at Kinloch Rannoch this evening with crews and officials swapping stories of their exploits and performance during the day . Everyone is looking forward to day 2 with its challenging tests, demanding regularities and a visit to the Balmoral estate.

Scottish Malts Tuesday – Day two

Day two started from the banks of Loch Rannoch outside the Macdonald Kinloch Rannoch hotel, where crews had spent a restful night. The weather gods were once again smiling on the crews as they awoke to find bright sunshine and a cloudless sky with mist rising off the loch and a Christmas card look of the mountain with a dusting of fresh snow. Most of the crews were keen to get a photograph of the view before leaving.

The first regularity of the day (Tummel Forest) took crews to Blair Atholl for the first of the day’s demanding tests.  Three crews (cars 1 Angelini/Di Paolo, 3 Thomson/Holding & 33 Forsyth/Lumley ) emerged unscathed with zero penalties at the end of the regularity.

HERO had been granted permission to use the roads within the grounds of Blair castle provided all cars could be cleared before the castle opened to the public. This had meant a slightly earlier start than usual, but the crews were not in any way concerned as the challenging Blair Castle test brought grins to many crews’ faces. Best performance on the test going to car 32 (Walker/Toohey).

From Blair Castle the transport sections took crews via Edradour Distillery and Dewar’s World of Whisky to the coffee halt at Kenmore before tackling the second regularity of the day. No crew completed this section with zero penalties but several managed to pick up only one or two seconds.

Two tests at Dungarthill, a venue not visited for a few years, saw a battle develop between cars 36 and 32 with only one second separating them on the first test. Whilst car 36 (Baker/Baker) clearly out-performed everyone on the second of the tests.

The third regularity of the day (once again no crew came away unscathed although several took penalties of only seconds) took crews to lunch at Dalmunzie in glorious sunshine was followed by a visit to Balmoral, which quickly became the highlight of the day as crews had been granted permission to drive into the grounds and park outside Balmoral Castle – allowing for a fantastic photo opportunity and a treasured souvenir of the event.

Two further regularities (with excellent performances from several cars) where followed by a final test within the Aviemore Highland Resort (honours once again being shared by cars 32 and 36) and a well-deserved break at the Highland Hotel before the crews took the A9 to Inverness for dinner at Drumossie.

The day had been full of interest and challenges and the excellent weather had allowed the crews to thoroughly enjoy the spectacular scenery. The rest of the week promises to be just as good. No one had been forced to retire and although the HERO Assist Mechanics had been needed on a few occasions, they’d had a fairly relaxing day.

Day three will be the ever popular Speyside loop.

Scottish Malts Wednesday -  Day three

Day three of the 2012 Scottish Malts Classic Reliability Trial and Tour started overcast and hinting at rain as the cars completed the first test of leg three. Drumossie A was a short slalom and reversing manoeuvre at the rear of the hotel. At first it was thought that following several long tests, Drumossie would not prove popular. This was far from the truth as it was clear that the crews loved the fast flowing nature of the test. Best performance on test one going to car 30 (Gresley/Gerber), closely followed by cars 36 (Baker/Baker) and 19 (Godfrey/Godfrey).

The first regularity of the day saw no crew with clean sheets, although there were several with penalties below ten seconds. Cars 18 (Pitts/Briggs) and 32 (Walker/Toohey) picked up zero penalties on the second regularity with several crews one or two seconds behind. Regularity three was on private ground in Rosarie Forest, allowing the organisers to place timing points at much shorter distances. There were no clean sheets on this section, with the best performances going to cars 20 (Bricknell/Winter) and 29 (Williams/Francas) who picked up three seconds each.

From Rosarie the crews checked in at the PC at Strathisla Distillery, which has to be considered as one of the prettiest distilleries in Scotland and certainly the most photographed.

The Knock Hill Regularity followed where cars 35 (Vant Hoff/Felsbourg) and 36 (Baker/Baker) collected no penalties and several others picked up only one second.

Lunch was at the exclusive Huntly castle Hotel. Several crews remembered the superb lunch of a few years ago when the Malts last called there. No-one was disappointed as the Haggis with whisky sauce was excellent. The owners and staff where very welcoming and everyone was made to feel special.

From lunch the crews went into the first of the afternoon regularities where only one car (19) was to avoid collecting any time penalties.

A series of Passage Controls and Main controls at Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, The Cooperage and Macallan allowed crews a chance to savour the essence (if not the taste at this stage) of Speyside.

The Macallan PC was immediately followed by the second test of the day on the Macallan Beat, a private tarmac road perfect for a hill climb test. Best performance on this test being shared by cars 19, 32 and 36.

The final regularity of the day took crews through some of the best country roads on Speyside, and a number of competitors commented on how much they had enjoyed the final section. Whilst no-one came away with zero penalties, the crew of car 19 collected only 2 seconds, with cars 13 (Osborne/Osborne) and 36 close behind with only 4.

The weather had again been kind as the early morning missed and overcast skies had cleared by lunch time and once again the event was blessed with a sunny and warm afternoon.

The only retirement had been the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Car 16 (De Vargas Machuca/Wallace) which had succumbed to head gasket failure.

Car 14, the Mercedes of Ruth and Edward Hug had expired at the top of the Macallan test. However, with the help of the HEO Assist mechanics this was soon back on the road as it was discovered to be a blocked fuel filter.

Day four will see the crews start to work their way south for the final two legs.

Scottish Malts Thursday -  Day 4

Day four of the 2012 “Malts” once again started with a test in the car park of the Drumossie Hotel. Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin always had some concerns that the crews may find the hotel tests too short and perhaps uninteresting.  His doubts turned out to be totally unfounded as the test turned out to be one of the most popular.

Best performance on test one was shared between cars 19 (Godfrey/Godfrey) and 32 (Walker/Toohey). A short drive followed to the ground of the Inverness football ground where the second test of the day took place. Honours once again being shared by cars 19 and 32 with car 36 (Baker/Baker) only one second behind.

The first regularity of the day saw Cars 13 (Osborne/Osborne) and 19 with zero penalties with several others picking up only one or two seconds.

From there another short road section took crews to the passage control at the Culloden Battlefield. The early morning mist had not yet cleared, adding to the atmospheric and sombre feeling of the moorland.

The first of the Loch Ness Regularities ran without problems and car 19 once again took best performance with the “usual suspects” only seconds behind.

“Nessies Revenge” became a challenge for organisers and crews as a call to Peter from the marshal heading for the last timing point put the well-oiled organising team into action – a concrete pump and lorry delivering concrete to a building site were blocking the road and the driver refused to budge, even though the driver admitted he had no permission to act in this way and had not informed the council. When told that the organisers would have to reroute and inform the police of their intentions to use roads not on the original route map and why this action was necessary, the driver remained adamant that he would be there all day. Course officials and marshals arrowed a reroute, left a marshal at a critical junction and put up a notice at the point the crews re-joined the route. Only ten minutes was lost from the schedule which crews absorbed at lunch, and only the final timing point was lost. Best performance went to car 19 picking up zero penalties, whilst car 29 (Williams/Francas) was close behind picking up just one second.

By the middle of the morning the mist had cleared and the crews were under sunny and clear skies. The temperature during the day rose to 20 degrees and several crews in the open cars started to develop tanned faces.

Lunch was at the Invergarry Hotel and as on previous days the food was excellent and plentiful.

From lunch the crews went into the first of the afternoon regularities honours on this occasion going to car 19 with zero penalties. The regularity had started from the Commando Memorial and it was strange to look across to Ben Nevis and the range of mountains all covered in snow when the temperature was 20 degrees, the sun was shining and everyone was in shirt sleeves.

Road works around the entrance to the Ben Nevis distillery caused a delay of about ten minutes, but the schedule easily allowed this to be absorbed and no-one had any problems.

The crews then completed the last two regularities of the day along some of the best roads and most stunning scenery. No-one came away without penalties on regularity five, although cars 19 and 20 had just one second each. The final regularity took crews along a narrow and twisty country road running along a river with some amazing rock formations. Best performance on this final regularity was shared by a number of crews who picked up just one second penalty each.

The final test of the day was held in the grounds of Inveraray castle where seven cars collected zero penalties (cars 3,13,19,24,30,35,36)

Everyone commented at the finish that the day had been first class and enjoyed by all. A clear sky, warm evening (and later a full moon) found most crews sitting outside the hotel before and after dinner – with the breath-taking view of the loch in front of the hotel.

There had been no further retirements and the HERO Assist mechanics had been occupied carrying out minor repairs and adjustments.

The final day of the event will take the crews back to Turnberry via the iconic Rest and Be Thankful. Hopefully the weather will be kind and remain sunny until the last car crosses the line.

Scottish Malts Friday - Day 5

Day five and the final day of the 2012 Scottish Malts Classic Reliability Trial started from outside the Loch Fyne Hotel on a day that hinted at the possibility of rain, although the overcast skies quickly cleared and no rain materialised.

The first transport section took crews around the shores of Loch Fyne, presenting everyone with stunning and breath-taking views.

The first regularity of the day – the famous Hell’s Glen – saw three crews with zero penalties, cars 29 (Williams/Francas), 32 (Walker/Toohey) and 33 (Forsyth/Lumley), with several others on one or two seconds.

A short link section took the crews to the bottom of the famous (or should that be infamous!) Rest and Be Thankful. Recent work on both the forest access road and the hill itself made the long drive up to the test easier on the cars than had been anticipated. That, and the fact that Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin had built in a 15 minute allowance to drive the forest road, meant that no-one had to be concerned about driving the “hill”. Some re-grading work on the test surface had beenrecently carried out and this caught out a few of the regular competitors who realised that corners had to be taken a little different than in the past as the grip had changed. It was clear from the grins on the faces of all the crews at the top of the “Rest” that everyone was enjoying themselves. Several asked Peter, who was watching from the top, if they could have another go. No-one had expected him to agree and so the polite but firm “sorry, no” came as no surprise. Not many crews realised that the land owner, Andrew, and his son-in-law, Stephen, were watching from the top and enjoying every minute. A number of crews excelled themselves on the test but best performance went to car 32 (Walker/Toohey), just 2 seconds ahead of the crew of car 36 (Baker/Baker). The last car to drive the hill was the Riley Brooklands, car 1 (Angelini/Di Paolo). At the start of the day it had appeared that the car may be faced with having to retire, but the HERO

Assist mechanics discovered that a mechanical fault could be easily cured by the fitting of a replacement bolt, allowing the crew to continue without further problems.

Two regularities followed before an early light lunch at the Duck bay marina on the banks of Loch Lomond. Two crews, cars 18 (Pitts/Briggs) and 19 (Godfrey/Godfrey), earned zero penalties on the first of the two regularities, whilst 28 (Claussen/Claussen) and 29 (Williams/Francas) picked up zero penalties on the second.

Lunch saw all the crews relaxing and preparing for the final afternoon of the event and the return run to Turnberry. A short transport section took the crews to the passage control at Auchentoshan distillery, before they took on the Louden Hill regularity. No one came away from this regularity with zero penalties. However, the “usual suspects” (the crews that by now we were expecting to do well on these sections) picked up just 2, 3 or 4 seconds.

The final two regularities, Cessnock and Kyle, saw two crews, cars 25 (Baird/Hardy) and 33 (Walker/Toohey) pick up zero penalties on the first and cars 18 (Pitts/Briggs) and 25 (Baird/Hardy) got zero on the second. Both regularities saw a number of crews with just one second penalties.

Peter had got ahead of the crews to ensure everything was in place for the finish and was horrified on arrival at Turnberry to discover a large twin trailer vehicle transporter with Swiss plates parked right in the middle of the final test of the event, and no sign of the driver. The plates indicated which vehicles he had come to collect and a quick scout around by the marshals found the driver in the club-house coffee shop. His request of “where can I park” was met with “anywhere except there”. The driver soon had the transporter moved to another location and the test was set up in plenty of time to receive the course car.

The penultimate test (the airfield) saw car 36 (Baker/Baker) take the honours with 20 (Bricknell/Winter) and 32 (Walker/Toohey) close behind on the same time. The final test of the event saw cars 32 (Walker/Toohey) and 36 (Baker/Baker) share the best time.

A short drive took crews to the official finish line outside the front entrance of the hotel where they were welcomed with a celebratory glass of champagne and the final miniature of the event, a special Turnberry whisky. The grins and smiles on everyone’s faces clearly showed that the event had been a great success and there were numerous comments about the route and the tests, with more than one crew asking if they could start again!

That evening, competitors, officials, marshals and guests congregated for the awards dinner at the Turnberry. Several people spoke and all were very complimentary. HERO’s club president Lord Steel of Aikwood was the principle guest, and after a short speech presented all the awards and medals – much to the delight of the crews.

Peter had kept very quiet about the Spirit of the Rally award, deciding to present it to George Cowley, one of the marshals. George was with the event all week, marshalling two or three times a day at different locations. He had been due to marshal with a friend, but only days before theevent his friend had to pull out, leaving George with no time to find a replacement. After discussing the situation with the chief marshals, George concluded he could carry out his duties alone. Despite finding himself in some lonely locations, George greeted everyone with a smile all week and carried out his duties thoroughly, without complaint and without error. The award was well deserved

On Saturday morning as the crews departed, many remarked that they would be back on future Malts and other HERO events. Remarks like “superb roads, great tests, excellent hotels, wonderful food, great camaraderie, and new friendships made” were heard in the foyer as everyone left.

The “Malts” had been a great success and had left everyone wanting more. Why not join us on our next event to see what makes HERO events so special.



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