Syd Stelvio Rally Report Flying Scotsman Day Three
After 600 miles over three days, in just about all of the weather the north of the UK could throw at us, the Flying Scotsman 2022 is complete, with those that have made the finish having taken the finishers flag at the famous Gleneagles. Champagne was served to all of the finishers on the crew cut grass in front of the hotel, shorn as short as one would expect from a world class golfing facility, and whilst golf will always ruin a nice walk, there was nothing that would ruin the last days driving for the competitors. Unless of course anyone was to suffer a mechanical retirement in sight of the flag.
Three is the Magic Number for Scotsman Winner 202281 cars began the last leg, with William Medcalf and Andy Pullan leading the machines away, the number 18 Bentley holding tightly onto the lead it had held since the first miles of the first day, all that time ago in Hexham. Martin Hunt and Bob Mannix, in the raucous and much smaller Frazer Nash BMW 328 would certainly chase them hard and with 3 tests and 5 regularities still to be completed there was still plenty to play for.
Plenty of competition left then, and to remind everyone that this would not be a tour into the finish the day was set to be bookended by tests, offering the chance of twists until the end. The twists at the start of the day though would be up through the most northerly part of the Cairngorms and a climb in altitude with snow capped peaks seemingly everywhere. The threat of rain had again not materialised, and the landscape was drenched in the soft glow of the early morning sunshine, although as the climb up to the lofty heights of The Lecht was completed everyone was feeling the chill of the wind as it howled over the tops of the mountains. The thermometer read one above zero, but with the wind chill factored in the mercury would have been dropping well below freezing, but for the view commanded from this height it was well worth it, that is if anyone could wipe the tears from their eyes for long enough to see it!
The snow in the distance was a reminder of some of the less pleasant conditions experienced on this rally, the hailstorm that blew across Scotland yesterday for example, but the sunshine was a reminder of just how blessed we have been for the most part and, on reflection, the landscape has been all the more spectacular for the snow. But enough of this discourse on the glory of the landscape, back in the competition and by lunchtime things were getting tense. Out front the Medcalf Bentley was still flying, now with a 30 second lead over Hunt and Mannix in second place, but the fight for third was getting interesting. Paul Dyas and Ian Tullie, third overnight after Paul Crosby’s demise, had slipped to fourth, with Theo Hunt and James Galliver over taking them on the score sheets. The crews had been level on times leaving the start in the morning, but now the young duo in the Frazer Nash had scraped out a ten second lead over their more experienced counterparts. It would be youth vs experience and David vs Goliath with the diminutive but more nimble Nash up against the towering Bentley, but the Nash was struggling, pinking and missing, the odds were swinging back in the favour of the big Bentley.
By the flag it would be the Frazer Nash that would triumph, in the end beating Paul and Ian in the Bentley to third place with the same margin of 10 seconds. Second would be secured by Martin Hunt and Bob Mannix, their chances of an assault on first place gone after they had made a mistake during the afternoon. It would make it a family affair on the podium, and perhaps next time Theo and Jimmy can go one better and beat Theo’s old man.
That of course meant that first place and the victor’s champagne would go to the imperious William Medcalf and Andy Pullan, with a lead that they never let slip. It was a dominant performance and a win that both were clearly delighted with, taking the opportunity to douse each other with their glasses of champagne as they crossed the line. “Thank you to Mr Pullan, it’s all in the nav, I just do as I’m told” was William’s self-effacing view on it, although as Andy pointed out “This is William’s third win now, and I’m delighted that this is my first. A great competition, really tight throughout.”
Of course, the competition element of the Flying Scotsman is but one part of something much greater. For most it is just about finishing, for completing a challenging route in cars that really might be better suited to enjoying their retirement. But for these people this is a celebration of these machines, an opportunity to show them to a public that hold a fond fascination for them, evidenced by the sheer amount that showed up along the route to wave the cars through and by those that gathered in the rain at the finish, clapping and cheering just as loudly regardless of the position in which the crew finished. It is also about keeping these old machines moving and inspiring the next generation, who will become the custodians of these motorcars, long after the current crop of internal combustion engines becomes obsolete. Youngsters such as Hugh Sutton, 14 years old and competing with his father Tony, and doing a bloody good job too. These are the people that will one day need to care for these cars and ensure there’s and the sports survival. Now though it is time to celebrate late into the night, to honour the tradition of this competition and observe the achievements of all those that have finished, as well as those that have tried. Until next spring, when we line up again in these grand old cars for another thrilling competition, with another entry no doubt populated by special cars and extraordinary competitors from all over the globe.