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Car 65, Don Murray and Andy Philip had their first retirement of the season on the Merrick Forest Stages Rally around Newton Stewart, in the Tim Finch Rallyesport prepared NessRallySport Subaru Impreza.
The team had been making excellent progress in the car during the day, and went into the last stage of the day, the 14 mile GlentroolForest stage, needing to maintain a strong pace to secure their first top 40 finish of the season. Don takes up the story;-
“We had been getting quicker and quicker all day, and decided to have a real go on the last test, given that we had driven about 6 of the 14 miles in the morning on another stage, so we felt we knew where we were going. We were on a real flyer and had had a couple of hairy moments earlier in the stage, but had managed to gather it all up and keep it pointing in the right direction. We then caught sight of the car which had started the stage a minute in front of us, and that was the added incentive for a further push over the last 4 miles.
We came into a section of the forest which consisted of a quick series of easy left and right curves, and unfortunately we lost our place in the notes. I then tried to tell Andy where I thought we were, and just at that point came sailing over a blind crest to find the road turning sharp right, off camber. I tried to throw it into the bend, but we drifted wide and as soon as the rear wheel hit the mud it just pulled the rest of the car in, and it was game over.”
The team were naturally disappointed as a review of the likely timings indicates that they could have finished comfortably in the top 40, which would have been another step forward in a season which has seen them make progress in times and confidence in every event this year. Don again;-
“Of course we were disappointed, but we got to do the vast majority of the stage mileage and had great fun in the car all day. Andy wants to take the blame for losing his place in the notes, and I want to take the blame for not slowing down as soon as I knew we were out of sequence with the route book. I think that’s a mark of how well we have worked together all year, that we are blaming ourselves and not each other!”
The car is now back in Carlisle and the boys are waiting to hear if they have secured an entry on the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, which is the closing event of the season. The event is being run as a memorial to Colin, and as a result many past rally champions from around the world are entering, so an early application is no guarantee of getting a slot this year.
Thanks again to Tim Finch and his boys who prepped the car. Tim was not available to support us on the day, so we are grateful to Colin and Warren for making the trip and yet again making us feel like a works team all day. Final thanks again to Ness Properties and Macritchie Highland Distribution for their financial support of our efforts, without which we’d have been out spectating instead!
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