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First time out in the new car, first time with the new co-driver and first time on this event – so no pressure there then! Delighted to have Roy Kemp on the notes for the first time. Roy is an electronics engineer based in Aberdeen. Roy has competed regularly in the past on tarmac events, but this was his first ever gravel event.
No problems at scrutineering, and Saturday dawned bright and sunny. A perfect day for it, or so we thought as we headed off on the long road section to SS1. Missed the measured mile so did a U-turn to calibrate the meter, then ended up out of position at the start of stage 1. The other crews kindly let us passed to get our rightful slot.
Off into stage 1, with Roy Kemp, my new navigator reading the route notes like the last 3 furlongs of the Derby! Only realised how far adrift we were when he called hairpin left and the road went right! Was his first time in the forests, but after another couple of miles he picked up where we were and we were fine from then on, although it did cost us about 30 seconds in the first stage.
Off on the long road section to Clash (makes you appreciate how compact the Snowman is by comparison!) and another fault free run through there. Really getting to know the car now, and a bit more confident on the brakes which meant a respectable run through. Last time in Clash was 20 years ago as a spectator so to be back there as a competitor after all that time was awesome. Far and away the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on!
From there to SS3, and again another straightforward run. Helped greatly by the fact that someone in front had removed one of the downhill chicanes! Only moment came when the driver got confused at one of the chicanes and came out heading left when he should have been heading right. Soon sussed it though when I realised my intended route was blocked with spectators, photographers and a radio car.
Off to service, where the car required nothing done to it, only to hear the tragic news of the death of a fellow competitor, Graham Lewis. Headed out of service with a heavy heart, but unsure as to what to do. We didn’t know the guy, and didn’t want to be disrespectful by not carrying on. We agreed we would do whatever the organisers decided. If they decided to continue then so would we. However we were 4 cars from the start line of SS4 when the decision was taken to stop the event and head back to Aberdeen.
Handed in the time cards, put the car on the trailer and headed for home. Was thoroughly enjoying the event but the decision was the right one.
Many thanks to fellow club members Dave Retson for helping carry our spares and Davie Falconer for agreeing to help out at service. We gave him nothing to do, but wouldn’t have competed without the peace of mind of knowing that he was there to assist if required. Here’s to a trouble free event on the Scottish!

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