2000 – Murmur Chapter 8

Final Results after 18 Special Stages:

1   Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy (Mitsubishi Lancer)   2hr 34mins 29secs
2   Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte (Subaru Impreza)   2hr 34m 57s
3   Andy Knight/Graeme Noble (Ford Escort RS2000)   2hr 41m 18s
4   Daniel Harper/Daniel Barritt (Vauxhall Astra)   2hr 42m 59s
5   John Cressey/Ian Grindrod (Vauxhall Astra)   2hr 44m 36s
6   John Swinscoe/Paula Swinscoe (Ford Escort)   2hr 48m 34s
7   Stuart McQueen/Alistair Green (Mitsubishi Lancer)   2hr 49m 21s
8   Roger Binyon/Nick Bray (Mitsubishi Lancer)   2hr 50m 05s
9   James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy (Vauxhall Corsa)   2hr 51m 29s
10   Mark Jasper/Alan Snell (Ford Escort Cos)   2hr 52m 05s

And they said synchronised swimming would never catch on, eh? They should have been out there last night, what a display, it adds a whole new meaning to 'River Dancing'!

The 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally ended with a splash in the early hours of Sunday morning. Callum and Hugh Duffy stunned seasoned rally followers with a heroic and gutsy drive to clinch a last gasp victory on Britain's longest and toughest motor rally, the Philips Tour of Mull.

Nine times winner Neil MacKinnon led the rally by 8 seconds after the first 50 mile Leg over Friday night and into Saturday morning. He led again by 6 seconds at the end of the second 50 mile daylight section on Saturday afternoon. But it was on the third and final Leg late on Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning that the Dervaig father and son team staged a remarkable and memorable fightback.

On the first stage of the night, Duffy snatched back a massive 24 seconds to take the lead. MacKinnon responded with a time 15 seconds better than his rival on the next. It was Duffy's turn again by 3 seconds on the third stage from last setting up a grandstand finish.

MacKinnon turned up the heat yet again over the final two stages but it was on the last blast over the island's tortuous, winding roads, awash with rain-water that the deed was duly decided. Duffy's time of 11 minutes 39 seconds for the 14 mile stage was jaw-droppingly awesome.

The winning margin? 28 seconds after 152 miles of timed-to-the-second motoring over some of the most demanding roads in Europe in the third worst weather conditions the event has experienced.

It was Duffy's second win on his home event and he denied MacKinnon his record tenth victory. To give some idea of the pace these two were setting, twice winner in 1990 and '91, Andy Knight was third, over 6 minutes behind in the leading two wheel drive car.

Even so, it was a remarkable 1-2-3 for the home based crews with Daniel Harper first of the visitors in fourth place with John Cressey fifth and John Swinscoe sixth and first rear wheel drive car in his awfy smart MkII.

Stuart McQueen was top GrpN in the Lancer in 7th place and James MacGillivray sailed to victory in the 1600 class with 9th. Top 1300 runner was Chris Tooze in the wee Pyugget just outside the top ten in 12th place.

But they were the lucky ones. The atrocious conditions accounted for the hopes and aspirations of many crews. Last year's runner-up Dougi Hall cowped it in Mishnish on Saturday afternoon when lying third. Callum Guy had already disappeared into the bushes approaching Dervaig on Friday night and Eddie O'Donnell left the road on Saturday night bending his Escort's axle. As ever, Bill Bonniwell attacked the job with style striking one of the big rocks at Dervaig on Friday night with the rear end before doing the job properly two stages later, further adding to the growing list of retirements from the original 150 starters.

Walter Barr retired with a seized diff, and no, it wasn't seized by the bloke who previously owned it … Linda Allen retired the puce green Astra with electrical failure, and not because Cinderella mistook it for a giant pumpkin … Martin Healer's gearbox broke … Ronald Dunsmore's clutch failed … Giles Brooksbanks's engine blew up … Steven Clark broke reverse gear, although he was trying to reverse out of a hedge at the time … Dave Thwaites broke his throttle cable … George MacDonald got a puncture on the very last stage and dropped out of the top ten … so too did Paul Kirtley with turbo failure … and Willie Paterson was lucky to make it home in Postman Pat's answer to a rally car. He complained to the service crew about ill handling and they found the front wheel hub nut had disappeared. The wheel was only being held on by the disc pads. Guess what, they managed to borrow a spare hub nut from Callum Duffy's crew, nice one, eh?

And what about the workers? We couldn't have had an event without the dozens of the waterlogged, wind-swept individuals who floated gently at anchor at their various marshalling positions around the island. One Marshal remarked on an extremely unusual sight over at Ulva Ferry where a pink blob like a cow's udder was seen running around. No, it wasn't the drink, it was the conditions – it was only a dog which had been blown inside out in the wind! Honest, would I fib to you?

The 31st Philips Tour was a memorable event for many reasons, the weather, the camaraderie in the face of adversity, the friendly competition throughout the 150 car entry and the duel for glory at the head of the field. But for one man, we would never have had the chance to have these memories and this unique experience, thanks Brian.

That's yer lot for another year. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Tobermory, Sunday.

2000 – Murmur Chapter 7

Provisional Leaderboard after 14 (of 18) Special Stages:

1   Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte (Subaru Impreza)   2hr 03mins 34secs
2   Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy (Mitsubishi Lancer)   2hr 04m 04s
3   Andy Knight/Graeme Noble (Ford Escort RS2000)   2hr 08m 49s
4   Daniel Harper/Daniel Barritt (Vauxhall Astra)   2hr 09m 31s
5   John Cressey/Ian Grindrod (Vauxhall Astra)   2hr 10m 55s
6   Mark Jasper/Alan Snell (Ford Escort Cos)   2hr 11m 45s
7   Stuart McQueen/Alistair Green (Mitsubishi Lancer)   2hr 14m 03s
8   John Swinscoe/Paula Swinscoe (Ford Escort)   2hr 14m 14s
9   George MacDonald/Stewart Davidson (Nissan Sunny)   2hr 14m 29s
10   Roger Binyon/Nick Bray (Mitsubishi Lancer)   2hr 14m 51s

Bad news I'm afraid, 2300 Car Club have had to cancel the gondola race – it's too wet. Instead the 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally for cars will continue around the tortuous winding canals of Mull. Remember the 1,000 Lakes Rally in Sweden? That's just a splash in the dark compared to Mull's Rally of a Million Puddles … But back at the front is nine times winner Neil MacKinnon, the wily old stager has had his troubles though. Earlier this evening he started on slicks expecting to change over at the end of the first stage, but due to the Polis escorting an ambulance he missed his rendezvous point with his service crew and had to borrow some fuel from another competitor only to find that the McKinstry car needs a special tool to open the filler cap – that cost a lot of road time and earned a few cuss words … Callum Duffy had the biggest near miss of his career so far in the long one. A shock absorber broke while flat out in fifth and he went from lock to lock to try and save it, "It was gone, I had no chance, till the tail caught a tree and that straightened it up – pure luck!", now he's got a diff problem but hopeful that it can be replaced in service … Eddie O'Donnell didn't make the re-start in Tob this evening courtesy of his earlier bent axle … Mark Jasper did most of Mishnish with a front puncture … Daniel Harper whacked something, but got away with it, but has borrowed John Cressey's spare clutch release bearing … meanwhile Cressey is having gearbox trouble, "Twice I went for 3rd and got 1st, it's not nice when you are in a braking zone and depending on getting the right gear," he said … John Swinscoe's going well in the MkII, "but I don't know what to expect at corners, these 4WD machines are cutting them and spreading mud on the road, it makes it all twice as tricky" … Paul Kirtley was another caught out on wrong tyres, slicks don't cut much grip on hail stones … For those of us mere humans we can't imagine the horrors of racing trhough rain like stair-rods, stotting off the ground so hard it creates a mist. These guys are heroes out there to-night, and so too are the Marshals … Oh, and by the way, following our earlier appeal, John Woodward got parts from Derek Carless and Dougi Hall, only to find that the bellhousing was cracked so he didn't make the re-start.

That's yer lot meantime, more on the road later. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Craignure, midnight, Saturday.

2000 – Murmur Chapter 6

Provisional Leaderboard after 13 (of 18) Special Stages:

1   Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy (Mitsubishi Lancer)   1hr 41mins 30secs
2   Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte (Subaru Impreza)   1hr 41mins 34s
3   Andy Knight/Graeme Noble (Ford Escort RS2000)   1hr 45m 27s
4   Daniel Harper/Daniel Barritt (Vauxhall Astra)   1hr 46m 50s
5   John Cressey/Ian Grindrod (Vauxhall Astra)   1hr 47m 46s
6   Mark Jasper/Alan Snell (Ford Escort Cos)   1hr 48m 02s
7   Eddie O'Donnell/Billy McClymont (Ford Escort)   1hr 49m 06s
8   Stuart McQueen/Alistair Green (Mitsubishi Lancer)   1hr 49m 58s
9   John Swinscoe/Paula Swinscoe (Ford Escort)   1hr 50m 22s
10   George MacDonald/Stewart Davidson (Nissan Sunny)   1hr 50m 22s
11   Paul KIrtley/Jon Geldart (Subaru Impreza)   1hr 50m 29s
12   Lyndon Barton/Johnny Vance (MG Metro 6R4)   1hr 50m 46s

OK, so we got it wrong on the previous bulletin, but we never claimed bulletin writing was an exact science. Neil MacKinnon was actually leading the 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally after Stage 8 by only 3 seconds from Callum Duffy, but guess who's in front now after Stage 13? The 1998 Tour winner Callum Duffy hit the front over the last loop to hold a slight advantage before night falls once again. MacKinnon's Subaru suffered frontal damage at Torloisk when he skelped a wall and Duffy is struggling with a badly understeering Mitsubishi … Dougi Hall is definitely out following his roll in Mishnish Lochs …and Martin Healer also appears to have gone missing from his top ten position … Stage 13 was delayed due to an accident to top ten runners Steve Smith and Alistair Douglas. Rescue services were called after the Subaru vaulted a wall and landed on the beach … Daniel Harper is going well, but working hard like everyone out there, the rain on the final test was so bad, wipers couldn't cope and drivers couldn't see … Eddie O'Donnell aquaplaned off the road in Gribun and punctured both n/s wheels and bent the rear axle but is still going … Paul Kirtley had the wrong tyres, not half he didn't – slicks on the front! In this weather? … George MacDonald has moved into the top ten even with a half spin in Gribun … Mark Jasper has lost his power steering … Andy Knight wants a surfboard instead of a car … Guess what? The weather folk got it wrong again, they said expect showers. Wrong emphasis,they should have said expect dry spells … PLEA from the heart, John Woodward (34) needs an RS2000-to-Atlas prop-shaft to start to-night's Trophy Rally, can anyone help, call 07879 626666 … And now a word of explanation (no it's not an excuse), in order to bring you these bulletins, myself and 'Bulletin Bill' have to run ahead of the cars and try and get times from co-drivers. That's why we are ahead of the Official Results service at times and that's why the results shown in these bulletins is always clearly labelled provisional, but what the hell if we were perfect you wouldn't love us so much.

That's yer lot meantime, more on the road later. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Craignure, tea time Saturday.

2000 – Murmur Chapter 5

Provisional Leaderboard after 8 (of 18) Special Stages:

1   Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy (Mitsubishi Lancer)   1hr 9m 40s
2   Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte (Subaru Impreza)   1hr 9m 45s
3   Andy Knight/Graeme Noble (Ford Escort RS2000)   1hr 12m 4s
4   Daniel Harper/Daniel Barritt (Vauxhall Astra)   1hr 13m 16s
5   Eddie O'Donnell/Billy McClymont (Ford Escort)   1hr 13m 55s
6   John Cressey/Ian Grindrod (Vauxhall Astra)   1hr 14m 31s

Well, it's all go again, but at least it's daylight, that means they can see the rain! I don't know how the first three stages have gone apart from the times above but I'll pick up the gossip and stories later … but here's some gossip from Tob this morning … I first encountered Jo Tooze who co-drives for husband Chris in the wee Peugeot and she says, "I'd love some water, I'm really parched". Well ghast my flabber, where the hell was she last night, there was that much watter oan the island it nearly sunk … further down the field at 135 (you meet a nicer class of people there) is Donna Ingram and Louise Thomas. Donna used to co-drive for Dougie Ingram but this is her first time as a driver while Louise Thomas is having her first run as a co-driver, but as long as Louise learns nothing from her Dad she'll be fine. But they are both taking this 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally very seriously, they have their lipsticks taped to the top of the dashboard … Craig Dykes is having a good run this year, Dermot Common was faster than him last year but he's caught him twice this year and passed him, the second time when Dermot spun off at Calgary, but Dermot gave him a cheery wave … Robin Hamilton is well off the pace, he just can't stop the Metro misting up … Steven Clarke had a bad night he kept catching cars then on the penultimate test the gear linkage broke and he did the final stage jammed in 4th gear but Grandpa Clark has got it fixed amidst much cursing and invention … Fred MacLean couldn't get over the Philips Start Ramp on this afternoon' re-start, the Escort coulnd't muster sufficient pech to make the gradient, so he drove round it … And finally, a plea, from Ian Barclay in Peugeot 205 number 123. Last night he fell off the road at Dervaig and a big band of drookit spectators lifted him back on but he left his exhaust behind. He urgently needs it, if anyone finds it, call MacGochans and leave a message or phone Ian's mobile 0498 935917, or he might not re-start to-night.

LATE NEWS: Neil MacKinnon off in SS8, front end damage to Subaru, still going? … Dougi Hall rolled in SS6 at Monument, out? We think so … Eddie O'Donnell in trouble, petrol pipe off … remember leaderboard very provisional.

That's yer lot meantime, more later. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Mull Pottery, Saturday afternoon.

2000 – Murmur Chapter 4

Provisional Leaderboard after 5 (of 18) Special Stages:

1   Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte (Subaru Impreza)   49mins 04secs
2   Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy (Mitsubishi Lancer)   49m 12s
3   Eddie O'Donnell/Billy McClymont (Ford Escort)   50m 29s
4   Dougi Hall/Gareth Williams (Ford Escort)   50m 36s
5   Andy Knight/Graeme Noble (Ford Escort RS2000)   51m 33s
6   Daniel Harper/Daniel Barritt (Vauxhall Astra)   51m 38s
7   John Cressey/Ian Grindrod (Vauxhall Astra)   52m 47s
8   Mark Jasper/Alan Snell (Ford Escort Cos)   52m 56s
9   Martin MacLean/Andy MacLean (Talbot Sunbeam)   54m 24s
10   Martin healer/Martin Pettit (Ford Escort Cos)   54m 42s
11   Steve Smith/Alistair Douglas (Subaru Impreza)   54m 48s
12   Paul KIrtley/Jon Geldart (Subaru Impreza)   54m 51s

Oh, what a night. It was a night for fish and frogmen, not rally crews and marshals. According to Chris Paton who has competed on 30 of the 31 Tours so far, it was the third wettest in his memory. I'll drink to that. And then you wonder why us British talk so much about the weather?

So, after 5 out of 18 stages, the wily ol' 'reignmeister' himself is still at the top of the leaderboard on this 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally. He just looks so relaxed I don't think Neil MacKinnon has even noticed it's raining. OK, so I exaggerate a wee bit, but what a display of controlled power boating from the nine times winner. The only thing that phased him was seeing deer so close to the road at one point. Luck was with him too. When he got a puncture he was close enough to the stage finish not to lose much time.

As for the white water rafter, he looked a bit glum as he booked in at Tobermory in the early hours of the morning. Callum Duffy's Mitsubishi broke a rear arm on the 14 miler Ballygown/Hill Road and dropped valuable seconds. "I felt it was sitting on its ar*se" said Callum, but hey, he was 3 seconds behind the ol'man after 3 stages, the gap is still only 8 seconds, what a pair.

Eddie O'Donnell completes the local stranglehold at the top of the leaderboard at this point, in the top 2WD car, the Salen Silver Escort. Having borrowed a fan belt from Ronald Dunsmore he restored the Pinto to full health again, that's all it needed, it wasn't the alternator after all.

Dougi Hall held on to 4th place despite an indiscretion on the long one which required him to select reverse, and Andy Knight said he had tried everything to get the hang of the Escort 'kit' car, and now he was back to square one!

John Cope had a dismal night. The Escort is misfiring badly and it cut out altogether on the Hill Road, but at least he reached Tob … Daniel Harper needed jump leads at Dervaig to start the Astra for the last stage, "the battery's not holding a charge," he said but doesn't quite know the cause … Steve Smith is auditioning for 'come dancing' with the number of spins he's had … Mark Jasper's screen keeps misting up, and he can't see … Steve Davies had problems with the brakes early on but fine now due to water cooling effect! … George MacDonald passed Robin Hamilton's Metro at Calgary, "I saw a gap, took a gamble and then went for it" the masochistic sod is still grinning even though he had a hairy spin in the next one … Lyndon Barton is sliding all over the place, despite 4WD … Graham Shiel got passed by Duffy on the Dervaig hairpins, "I don't think I cost him any time, I didn't see him coming till he was on top of me – that boy has webbed feet!" … I'm worried about Curley Haigh in the MkI, he was grinning all over his face, "that was fabulous" he said, the poor soul must have flipped his lid and thinks he's on Madeira, not Mull … Stuart McQueen was tight lipped, "that was ph*kking hairy stuff, I'll need to change my undergarments" … the philosophical Ian Colman said, "we're still here – a lot of people aren't" … but what about Martin Maclean in the Sunbeam? Leading the class and in the top ten, "my 2 litre block cracked so I borrowed a 1600cc engine from Alan Clark". At the speed he's going I think Clarky lied about the engine, it must be a 3 litre! … and speaking of nutcases, what about Duggie Ingram? 22nd overall at the overnight halt, in a bluidy Mini! The puddles are taller than his car … John Swinscoe echoed the fears of many about the dense mist over the Hill Road … John Woodward has some sort of electrical problem but can't trace it … Tony Bardy's another masochist, "that one really suited the car," he smiled – or was it a grimace? … Frosty Smart won't rev above 4,000 and it's been like that since half way through the first stage … first time out in FWD, Donald Brown lost 2 mins in SS1 and can't understand it but seems to be going better now … James MacGillivray is back in the top 30 after losing 5 minutes on SS1 with a puncture … Gareth Jones spotted off in SS1 … Brian Otridge skelped a bank and went to play on the beach at Calgary … the laughing cavalier's off again. Bill Bonniwell was giving it yee-haa big-time and paid the price … Doug Weir and Duncan Brown are lucky boys this morning. The Nova kissed the barrier at Dervaig and flipped over it into the loch coming to rest upside down in the water. Spectators and marshals waded in to help and they regained the road eventually, but the last stage last night was completed with Duncan hanging out the space where the window had been with a borrowed torch to see where they were going. The lights had been wiped out in the accident. Words fail me, but crazy, nutters, locked up, and off their effing heads, spring to mind … Bob Cowe says he's going well, "that's because he's ignoring me quipped driver turned co-driver John Baird!" … and Postman Pat's wee motor went off in the sodden wet rain with driver Willie Paterson heaving a big sigh of relief – until the spectators pushed him back on, "the rotters!" he said.

That's yer lot meantime, more sodden news to come. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Tobermory, early hours Saturday, (too early, too wet, I'm bluidy soaked and I want my mammy)

2000 – Murmur Chapter 3

Provisional Leaderboard after 3 (of 18) Special Stages:

1   Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte (Subaru Impreza)   27mins 20secs
2   Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy (Mitsubishi Lancer)   27m 23s
3   Dougi Hall/Gareth Williams (Ford Escort)   27m 44s
4   Eddie O'Donnell/Billy McClymont (Ford Escort)   28m 23s
5   Daniel Harper/Daniel Barritt (Vauxhall Astra)   28m 40s
6   Andy Knight/Graeme Noble (Ford Escort RS2000)   28m 50s
7   Mark Jasper/Alan Snell (Ford Escort Cos)   28m 57s
8   John Cressey/Ian Grindrod (Vauxhall Astra)   29m 18s
9   John Cope/Tony Cope (Ford Escort Cos)   29m 32s
10   Steve Smith/Alistair Douglas (Subaru Impreza)   29m 43s

The 31st Philips Tour of Mull may have started dry in Tobermory but by goad it's wet now, and it's even wetter out on the west coast, with some of the drivers thinking the Atlantic Ocean is coming at them sideways.

Neil MacKinnon spun on Stage 3 at Loch Scridain and then picked up a puncture towards the end of the test but leads the rally by 3 seconds after 3 stages from Callum Duffy … Dougi Hall is first two wheel drive ahead of Eddie O'Donnell but Eddie's already in trouble, his alternator is not charging … Andy Knight took a chance on tyres but needs a deeper cut in the tread, "this is not ideal conditions to learn such a powerful new car" he says … Paul Kirtley is suffering severe fuel surge in the Subaru which is seriously affecting the delivery of power – or lack of it at times … Daniel Harper is struggling with no brakes – maybe that's why he's so quick at the moment! … John Cressey says he's never driven this car in the wet before but by heck, he's learning … James MacGillivray had to stop and change a front puncture in the first stage at Dervaig and lost about 5 mins … Steve Smith did a big 360 spin round the rock at Dervaig and then had another sideways moment on Gribun … Mark Jasper has limped in with no electrics due to faulty alternator, just happened near the end of the last stage so no serious time loss … Bill Bonniwell had a big off at Dervaig, "you'd have been proud of me," he laughed, but it left him with no lights and no wipers for the next two stages … Martin Healer says its scary out there with standing water in the braking areas … George MacDonald says it's brilliant fun, he must have been watching too many old Gene Kelly movies … George Grieve has blown a turbo in the second stage and was caught and passed by MacDonald, but he started the event on slicks due to an oversight by his service crew so that didn't help either.

Remember, don't treat the above positions as gospel, but the times are pretty accurate.

That's yer lot meantime, more drivel to come. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Craignure, approaching midnight Friday.

2000 – Murmur Chapter 2

It's tea-time Friday, the Scroots have kicked their last tyre and shoogled their last wheel, which means that those who passed can now start the 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally this evening at 8:00pm.

One of the last men through Scrutineering was Eddie O'Donnell. Having decided at the very last minute to do the rally (so what else is new?), he didn't have time to prepare his own car. So he borrowed the Tunnock's Caramel Woofers car from Grant Fleming, installed his own engine, gearbox and differential, and finished the whole prep job this afternoon minutes before the Scroots shut the shop.

And there's more, Eddie lent his old gearbox to Bill Bonniwell who installed it in his Shed MkII. Remember, him? He was the newcomer who finished 6th o/a last year on only his 4th ever rally! Since then Bill has done a few forest rallies and is still using the same 'shell. This is not only surprising, its bluidy miraculous considering the old thing went baggy at the knees last year after one of the notorious Mull yumps and the shell creaked like the The Vital Spark in a heavy swell.

And there's even more. Eddie O'Donnell Snr is not co-driving for number 1 son having opted to sit beside Linda Allen (thereby increasing the likelihood of an O'Donnell finishing by 100%!) but is probably now wishing he hadn't. When Linda skelped her new Astra first time out on the Derwent Stages she returned home to get it repaired and repainted. She opted for a sickly shade of puce green – and then chose the same shade for matching team polo shirts. So if yoy see a rather large lime fruit walking towards you, don't worry, you haven't been drinking too much, it's just Eddie Snr.

Keeping it in the family way, if you'll pardon the expression are the MacFadyens. Maw and Paw (Mr and Mrs Gordon and Violet MacFadyen to you) are out together in the Escort, "We'll either go helluva well together or there'll be a divorce", says Gordon. Mrs Mac (Violent, to her friends!) has a couple of Post-It notes on the dashboard with essential reminders! Son Gordon is out with Mike Storrar in the Anglia and other son Paul is making his debut alongside Norman McPhail, so that's 4 MacFadyens on a family outing.

Linda Brown is back for more, running at number 144 in the Nova. First time on Mull last year she finished 68th o/a in the 1300cc machine. Upon looking at her start number this year she remarked, "There's a couple of drivers seeded in front of me who've never done anything before – both men!" Nice one Linda, go get 'em.

Here's a pub quiz teaser, name one competitor who has scored points as a driver AND a co-driver on a World Championship Rally. Ian Grindrod knows the answer – but it wasn't him.

There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that top seed Callum Duffy has allegedly already beaten two of last year's stage records. This was merely put about by jealous rivals.

Some folks never learn. Competitor Jim McDowall got his leg pulled last year about Scrutineering and competing. Well, he's at it again Scrutineering AND competing this year but at least he keeps his mechanical skills honed which is ideal for checking cars. He had to change the head gasket on his own Avenger on Wednesday before coming up to Mull when he found oil in its water.

John McKenzie was nearly a non-starter when the plumbed-in fire extinguisher went off at Scrutineering and was contemplating the carrying of two hand-held units in the car until finding out that Martin Healer carried a spare. They were last seen huddling over a price list and notepad. But why would Healer carry a spare? One wag suggested that he too had a habit of setting off his own fire exts.

John Cressey has got a full Proflex suspension kit on his Astra, "I had it last year too, but knew nothing about it. I now know what to do with it." Expect a big battle here between the ol'timers Cressey and Ian Grindrod, with Callum Guy who finished 4th last year and Daniel Harper who was fifth, both in Astras. Cressey actually got ahead of the youngsters on the Saturday afternoon before the car broke down.

Smallest car in the rally? Surely Willie Paterson's Daihatsu Avonzato Cuore Turbo. All 660cc that revs to 9,900 with a turbocharger and four wheel drive. You can't mistake it, it looks like Postman Pat's wee van with a sexy paint job.

Even the Polis enter into the spirit of things here. If you think the traffic cars are going kind of quick, it's because they are using the same Pace Notes as the rally crews. Wonder if they teach that at Police Driving School? I wonder if the boss knows??

The Rally starts to-night at 8:00 pm from the car park in Tobermory alongside the Philips Exhibition unit, but if you're intending to spectate on the stages, remember to get there early, before the Road Closures come into effect. Pick your spot and get there in plenty of time as it is actually aganst the law to drive or even to walk on the road after it has been closed. Then wait till the Road Opening Car comes through before venturing back out again.

Please also do as the Marshals instruct, they are there for your safety as well as competitors, and take care out there. When you've picked your spot and no-one is around, beware the tap on the shoulder in the dark, you may not be alone. This is Friday the 13th after all. If it's not a Highland Coo, it might be Freddy Kreuger – if you dare to turn round and look!

That's yer lot meantime, more guff to come. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Tobermory, Friday tea-time.

2000 – Murmur Chapter 1

Well hullawrerr chinas, and howzitrustin'? Welcome yin and aw to the 31st Philips Tour of Mull Rally here on the unique and wonderfuel Island of Mull. Forget weather forecasts, these folk in the meatee.. metyer .. mityerological centres haven't a clue. Mull has its own climate, that's why we don't know what lies ahead to-night and to-morrow. Or to put it another way, the weather ahead will be changeable.

It's not just the weather that changes either, what do you make of the new Mackay's Garage in Tob, it must be the envy of BMW dealerships worldwide. Modern, bright, open plan and welcoming – the boys are dreading the arrival of the new Kwik-Fit style overalls, they can't dance!

The essential PHILIPS TOUR OF MULL PROGRAMMES are on sale in the Aros Hall with full entry list and spectator guide along with all sorts of other exclusive 2300 Car Club gear. Oh, and by the way, what is this rag you are clutching in your mitts? 'MULLMURMURS' is an on-event newsletter which attempts to inform, educate and entertain. But a word of warning, we don't let the truth get in the way of a good story. It will be distributed around the island throughout the event so look out for it at Tobermory, Salen, Craignure or anywhere our drunken distribution team can get lost in.

Last night was Forum night in the Aros Hall where that helluva nice chap John Fife, was interviewed by a huge and standing-room only audience plus Andy Knight, Callum Guy, John Cope and Paul Kirtley. The four top ten runners took an hour out of their recce schedule to come along and give us the inside dope on rallying in general and crashing in particular.

As ever, the evening kicked off with a quiz with tee-shirt prizes for correct (or nearly correct) answers. Some were quite difficult last night, for instance, who sponsors the Philips Tour of Mull Rally? Stunned silence initially greeted big Fife till Donald Brown's youngster tentatively offers 'Philips'. Right first time – see, told you they were difficult!

Top seed Callum Duffy was first at Scrutineering this morning at the wheel of the Jonathan Joannides prepared Mitsubishi Lancer, "It's GrpN and a bit," explained Callum, "it's got a standard engine and bigger wheels and brakes." But he hasn't driven the four wheel drive turbocharged beast in anger – yet! "If I'm in the top three at the end of Friday night I'll be happy." Still, it's a big change from the rear wheel drive MkII.

Neil MacKinnon is in a Kenny McKinstry Subaru again and going for his 10th Tour but remember he missed out last year so he'll be rusty this time, or will he?

Mull, the mecca for jet-setters. Michael Shiel flew in from Milan and Graham Shiel flew in from Munich. It's the only time of the year the two brothers get together, and they choose to come here and do this!!

Runner-up last year, Dougi Hall has a new 5 spd gearbox for the 2.4 Escort and was lying 4th on the Jim Clark Rally till he encountered an upside down Phil Walker, so he's match fit for to-night. John Cope has rebuilt the Cossie following its visit to the loo at Calgary last year and Paul Kirtley has a new ex-Prodrive GrpN Subaru Impreza. This is George MacDonald's first time on Mull with the Nissan, "It's very light at the rear and hangs the tail end out a lot on tar – I don't like that." It's also co-driver Stewart Davidson's first time on the Mull Rally, "I was here last year for my stag night, does that count?"

Steve Davies' Escort sounded minted till the Noise Scroot cocked an ear and told him to go and get it sorted. James MacGillivray has a 1600 Corsa (not 1400 as it says in the Prog), "It's the same car I put on the shore two years ago," he reminded us.

George Grieve has a new Harvey Gibbs 2000 spec engine fitted yesterday for his first visit to Mull but claims he'll be sensible to-night having had a look round the roads. Ian Colman had to rebuild his Nissan lump when it poked a rod through the block five weeks ago on an event being used as a warm-up for this.

When it comes to minted motor cars, it's hard to beat John and Paula Swinscoe's Rothmans liveried MkII, "It took me two weeks to paint it," said John, "but it was the wife Gibbo who insisted on it!" Typical woman, eh? No thought for the poor wretch who had to mask it and paint it. (PS, His day job is working for TVR). But what about Dave Thwaites MkII? He wrecked the Nova last year and wanted something that would ride the bumps better this time. It looks stunning in powder blue, and far too nice for this caper.

They're back again. Chris Paton driving his 30th Philips Tour and Dave Cabena co-driving his 31st. They had to hide their Bus Passes at Signing-on this morning but managed to slip past the officials due to liberal applications of Grecian 2000.

Typical of the relaxed approach to Mull, I overheard a Marshall using the two way Control radio to order tomato sauce for his bacon roll. Ain't technology wonderful. Here's hoping all you lads and lassies don't get drookit (soaked) to-night.

The Rally starts to-night at 8:00 pm from the car park in Tobermory alongside the Philips Exhibition unit, but if you're intending to spectate on the stages, remember to get there early. Pick your spot and get there in plenty of time and get there before the Road Closure Orders come into effect (or the Polis will get you!), do as the Marshals tell you, and take care out there – remember this is Friday the 13th!

That's yer lot meantime, more guff to come. Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, Tobermory, Friday mid-day.