The 2016 Mach 1 Stages event at the fomer RAF base at Machrihanish, outside Campbeltown in Kintyre, ran on
2nd and 3rd July.
The third running of this highly popular venue on the choke of the Mull of Kintyre saw another record entry of over 100 crews complete the online entries on the night they were opened – in just under an hour.
The organising team’s yearlong efforts together with many local businesses and assistance, saw the team heading up to Machrihanish days before the event to set up the 12 stages.
There was a distinct lack of a gentle mist rolling in from the sea in this part of the Mull of Kintyre to greet the crews on this two day and 12 stage spectacular. In fact the noon start on Saturday saw storm clouds looming and torrential rain pounding the airfield for 4 hours prior to the start.
As noon approached with the stages looking fantastic, a lone bagpiper [Andrew Gray, a competitor] greeted the first of 106 cars to the start line, and as the countdown begun the sun decided to shine.
With 8 stages on Saturday and 4 on Sunday it was sure to be a challenging two days.
The first to set the pace was Oban’s Shaun Sinclair [above] in his Subaru WRC S9 setting fastest times on the first 5 stages. Hot on his heels were Bruce Edwards in the Darrian T9 GTR, Alistair Inglis [2015 winner] in the Lotus Exige, John Marshall in his Subaru Impreza and Alan Kirkcaldy in the immaculate 2.5 Millington powered Escort mk2.
Early victims of this demanding venue were Craig Rutherford – who put in a late entry on Thursday evening only to have his steering fail on a fast left hander on Stage 1, sending him off the road and into the immovable 1980s military grade fencing putting an end to his event.
A total of 35 cars failing to finish the entire event, it was certainly living up to its reputation of treating the venue with the respect it now earns.
As the afternoon stages were well and truly underway and the weather starting to give the crews some dry weather, thus making various trips to the tyre vans to decide what compound of tyres to choose, the weather decided to suddenly take a turn for the worse and with heavy showers then scorching sunshine it was catching out many crews with the wrong tyres.
The stages were halted for about an hour when car number 84, the Rover Metro of Paul Hunter and Angus McNeil [otherwise known as Johnny Bin Bags, no idea why!!!] barrel rolled on a very fast right hander – and with the SOS board displayed the emergency crews were called. Both members of the team were taken to hospital for check-ups but Angus was complaining of neck and back pains and as a precaution the air ambulance flew him to Glasgow for more thorough checks. Furtunately it was only tissue damage and bruising and he’ll be on the mend soon – unlike his car which is being scrapped.
With stages 9 and 10 running slightly late the rest of the competing crews completed the Saturday stages, the overnight leader board was:
- Shaun Sinclair, Subaru S9 WRC 44.37
- Bruce Edwards, Darrian T9 GTR 45.09
- Alistair Inglis, Lotus Exige 45.13
Battles in Class 1 were going on between Steven Hay and Jamie Miller. Class 2 was between Sean Robson, Greg Inglis and Tom Howie. Class 3 was between Stuart Walker, Stephen Thompson and Alister McArthur. Class 4 was between Bruce Edwards, Alistair Inglis [top] and the ever popular visitor from Ireland, Barry McKenna from Den Motorsport. Class 5 was rounded up with the battles of John Marshall, John Rintoul in his Hyundai Accent WRC [below] and 2014 overall winner, Tom Morris, in the MG Metro 6R4.
With an early start on the Sunday the weather was glorious and tyre choice was the same for most crews.
With Sinclair holding an overnight lead of just over a minute it was looking good for the Oban driver piloted by Fred Mclean from Mull.
Unfortunately gearbox failure saw the transmission lock up as they were entering a chicane and the WRC was going no further.
This retirement propelled Edwards and Inglis to 1st and 2nd spot with Marshall closely behind in 3rd and Rintoul in 4th. It was looking like anybody’s win but when Rintoul and Grierson had a coming together out of a chicane sending them both into a spin [and taking out 30mtrs of fencing[ it was game over for Grierson who came off worse.
Event and Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship sponsor Tom Blackwood of Blackwood Plant Hire – piloted by Gordon Winning, finished a very respectable 21st overall, despite both members of the team feeling unwell on the Saturday morning.
As with the previous two years, the top three cars were separated by seconds and this year was no different. The top three of Edwards, Inglis and Marshall were separated by just 12 seconds going into the last stage so it was anybody guess who was taking the win.
In a cruel twist of fate the Clerk of the course applied penalties to Edwards and Inglis for striking route markers and as such this allowed Marshall with Dave Robson on the maps to clinch the win.
This meant the top three overall for 2016 were:
- John Marshall/ Dave Robson Subaru 86.01
- Bruce Edwards/ Jim Smith Darrian T9 GTR 86.09
- Alistair Inglis/ Colin Inglis Lotus Exige 86.19
And the class winners were as follows:
- Class 1 winners: Steven Hay/Stephen Brown Vauxhall Corsa.
- Class 2 winners: Sean Robson/Ben Diamond Citroen C2R2.
- Class 3 winners: Stuart Walker/ Lewis Brown Skoda Fabia S2000
- Class 4 Winners: Barry McKenna/Julie McGuire Ford Escort Mk2 [above].
- Class 5 Winners: John Rintoul/Ross Hynd Hyundai Accent WRC.
The organising team would like to thank everybody who made this event possible – Machrihanish Business park for the superb venue, the competing crews/Marshalls/rescue and recovery as well as the enormous band of set up teams /officials and scrutineers.
A special thank you must as always go to the people of Campbeltown and Kintyre for making our annual trip to this gorgeous part of the world make us feel so welcome.
Until next year we thank you all.
David Hatrick, Event organiser
Note: Images were made available and are copyrighted to Gavin Brown [West Coast Photos] and Eddie Kelly [Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography].