Sin­clair flies to sec­ond place in Snowman Rally

The Oban Times - - Sport -

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.

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