So another Mull Rally drew to a close in an contented win for Calum Duffy.
No one threatened his early race pace and he has no peer for speed on the island when push comes to shove.
The Dervaig finish to this year’s event was most appropriate as Duffy and his neighbours could raise a glass on home territory rather than have to wait for a jaunt back from the traditional Tobermory end in all years gone before.
He is a popular winner but nearest behind the Ford Escort Mk2 pilot is the future.
A graduate of the Dervaig bear cubs program is John MacCrone and the young pretender in the new style contender from Ford…the R2, is on the verge of stealing the crown.
The early visiting threat from the Sassenach horde was led by Tony Bardy and his Nissan GTiR. The Japanese machine is four wheel drive and a picture to behold off the start line. ‘Thats my Rallycross heritage’, says Bardy where getting a fast start is essential as the races are short and if you are not first into the opening corner, you may have lost the race.
Bardy traded fastest times with Duffy over day one and the Saturday afternoon leg. But on the second to last stage the Nissan was off. ‘We never saw him’. said the following McCrone, ‘so he must be well off.’
He was …having reportedly rolled the car.
By that time young McCrone was Duffy’s closest threat and he took fastest time and over 20 seconds from the leader on the Glen Aros /Mishnish lochs stage to help bag 2nd place.
Would he push for victory? \No – I am just delighted to be second’, said the quietly spoken John. ‘I would have been delighted with 2nd and wouldn’t have believed it at the start of the rally’, he told me.
Eddie O’Donnell and his dad were back in 8th as the final leg began but he moved the venerable Mark 2 Escort up to 5th by the end. A wash and a polish and its back up for sale.
John Cope and Tristan Pye held up English and Subaru honour in 3rd and 4th place.
The competitive threat was gone and it was just a wee engine issue that the Duffy mechanics worried about in final service at Craignure. ‘Will you take it easy in case? ‘, says I. ‘No’, says Duffy…’if it breaks it breaks.’ It didn’t.
So 72 of the 120 entrants made it back to Dervaig after another running of Brian Moleneaux’s vision. The late Brian, from Blackburn in Lancashire, was the founding chairman of the Mull Rally. He came on holiday with his family and brought his friends back for the first ‘Tour of Mull’.
The rally is now firmly in the hands of the locals both in organisational terms and winnership.
It is a great annual festival of motorsport on the closed public roads and in the villages of Mull. It’s a family affair.
Many of the entrants come en masse for a fortnight with a full entourage of kids and pets and make Mull home. They are welcomed and fed, watered and given a roof in return for the biggest single lift to the Mull economy of the year.
They make the Mull rally – ‘the best rally in the world’.
My thanks to all on The Island of Mull and to Greg and the team at irallylive, to Breege at Oban Fm and to Caledonian MacBrayne for their support to make my rally possible.
See you next year.
Campbell Cameron, motor sports editor