Sinclair flies to second place in Snowman Rally
OBAN rally driver Shaun Sinclair made a flying start to his 2017 MSA Scottish Rally Championship campaign this weekend. The Scot finished second overall among an entry packed with talent on the Snowman Rally, based in Inverness.
Driving a McKinstry Motorsport-run Subaru Impreza WRC S14, Sinclair and Welsh co- driver Jamie Edwards, from Wrexham, were hoping for a strong start to the season ahead of the event.
Having contested a rally in Ireland the week before as a warm-up, the team felt confident of a top five placing on the Snowman, which used forest stages in and around the Inverness and Dingwall area.
The Sinclair Plant and Contracting-backed team decided to throw caution to the wind on the first stage of the rally, Meall Torr. The pair were joint fastest overall and led the rally after the opening test. The pair slipped into second place on the next stage as they encountered a treacherous surface on the wet and muddy gravel roads.
It was on the third stage where the team nearly came unstuck, however. Arriving at an artificially made chicane, the Subaru couldn’t turn in and stopped right in front of a large straw bale blocking their path.
The Subaru took an eternity to select reverse, and once it did, the crew were able to con- tinue, having dropped around 12 seconds.
In their haste to get going again, the ‘stage’ mode for the car wasn’t selected, meaning the car was down on power and not working correctly for the remainder of the stage. It was only after the stage the crew realised they had cost themselves valuable time in doing so.
Multiple Scottish Rally champion David Bogie flew through that third stage – and now held an advantage of 35 seconds over Sinclair.
Scottish champion Jock Armstrong was just a handful of seconds behind in third place – so Sinclair and Edwards knew they needed trouble-free runs through the final two tests of the rally in order to maintain that second position.
With the Pirelli-shod Subaru working well, Armstrong could only take a single second back from the team on the fourth test, meaning they entered the near 11-mile final stage of the rally with a nine-second advantage over their fellow Subaru driver.
Sinclair and Edwards pushed hard through that final stage. The team were second fastest behind rally winner Bogie – but crucially they were 15 seconds faster than Armstrong, who was overtaken for third place on the very last stage by the hard- charging Euan Thorburn.
Back at the finish in Inver- ness, Sinclair was delighted with a fine second place, and first finisher on Pirelli tyres.
Shaun said: ‘We would have snapped the hand off anyone offering us a top five result this morning. It’s a very strong entry in the Scottish championship again this year with some very quick people involved. To start the day with fastest time put us in the right frame of mind. It was disappointing to lose quite a bit of time in stage three, but we got back into the swing of things on the final two tests and we made very few mistakes.
‘I’m still learning the car as I’ve not done many miles in it – but altogether I feel like we have a strong team this year. We’ll need to continue this good start into the next couple of events in order to keep racking up the points, which is the most important thing. It couldn’t have gone much better today – so I’m very happy with the performance.’
Sinclair and Edwards head to the Scottish Borders next on March 18. The pair will contest the second round of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship, the Border Counties Rally, based in Jedburgh.
Last year Sinclair finished a fine third in the event, and he will definitely be looking to climb onto the top step of the podium this year.