Machrihanish success for Oban rally team
AN OBAN rally driver and his Mull co- driver roared to victory and the top of the podium at the fourth Mach 1 race last weekend held at Machrihanish.
Like Lewis Hamilton who won the British Grand Prix, at Silverstone, on Sunday, Shaun Sinclair, and Fred Maclean’s Subaru WRC 2,000cc motor was in a class of its own across all but one of the road race’s 12 tarmac stages at the former RAF base.
Clerk of course, Colin Harkness, said: ‘Shaun and Fred have put on a sterling display all weekend.’
Spectators had a feast too, as organiser David Hattrick and Dunfermline Car Club, the Mach 1 promoters, of this fifth stage of the Scottish Tarmack Rally, had changed the route in conjunction with MACC Developments Ltd.
En route to their win in a total of 106 minutes 36 seconds, Sinclair and MacLean led from the second stage and accelerated away to finish 1:26 ahead of the nearest challenger, second placed Nigel Feeney and John Sandham’s Mini Countryman 1,600cc.
Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship leader Alan Kirkaldy and co- driver Cameron Fair, in a 2.5 litre Ford Escort, had to settle for third in 108.47.
The superlative drive came after Sinclair, 48 and MacLean, 42, failed to finish in the same car last year due to gearbox problems.
At the prize giving ceremony Sinclair, the owner of Sinclair Plant and a father of four, said: ‘Thanks to Fred we did what we had to do and put last year’s diaster behind us.’
At the Mach 1 rally’s inaugural year, 2014, Sinclair and co- driver Ruaridh Allan, campaigning a Ford Escort 1.8, finished a creditable 39th. The following year, 2015, in the Escort, but with a capacity boost to 2.5 litres, and a new co- driver Sarah Sinclair, they failed to finish.
Their Subaru World Rally Car (WRC), sponsored by B Watson and Son Haulage, with its flat four engine and four-wheel drive, is one of the greatest rally cars of all time, coveted by many a boy racer.
Sinclair added: ‘It is a great rally, I am surprised there were not more cars attending this weekend.’
Ardrishaig’s Donald Bowness and co- driver Chris Lees, in a Vauxhall Corsa 1400, were popular winners of class one.
Campbeltown’s Neil McAllister and Stephen Lang, driving the Campbeltown Motor Company-sponsored Peugeot 205 1360, finished 31st, more than 30 places higher than their first year in 2016.
Glenbarr mum, Lois Fell, driven by her son George in a Ford Puma 1600, also had a great Mach 1, finishing 34th.
Muasdale’s John Kean and Malcolm MacDonald failed to finish for the first time since they first entered the race in 2015.
The clash with British motorsport’s biggest event of the year might explain why the entries were down by about 20 cars compared to last year.
It did not put off the spectators and more than 600 people, judging by ticket receipts, braved Saturday’s persistent drizzle. On Sunday an even larger crowd basked in the sun to support the racing teams.
MACC Developments Ltd, business manager, Malcolm McMillan said: ‘Dunfermline Car Club worked with us on changing the route for this year and it has been great for the spectators.
‘From the spectators’ point of view it has been the best Mach 1 event ever and next year we hope to further improve with some sort of covered spectating area.’
Sinclair and MacLean’s matt black Subaru lifts a wheel as it pushed through a corner.
Shaun Sinclair and Fred MacLean at the prizegiving.