Johnnie Mackay could be forgiven for giving the Jim Clark Reivers Rally a swerve next year.
In 2022 he lasted just five miles before his Fiesta ST engine blew up, this year it was less than two miles before his day was ruined.
The reigning John Easson Award winner ground to a halt on the opening Westruther stage, with his Mitsubishi Evo7 refusing to restart.
“We were concerned about the car before the stage had even started,” explained Johnnie.
“We were in the queue for arrival with the car idling and it suddenly cut out. We waited for 20 seconds to fire it up again and it seemed to be okay.
“About a mile into the stage there had been an accident over one of the jumps, and although the crew were fine, the red flags were out. We joined the queue of cars slowly making the way down the track when it cut out again, only this time it refused to fire up again.
“There were lots of spectators around, so we tried bump-starting it, but there was nothing. All we could do was get recovered to service and try and find the problem, although that would mean missing the morning’s loop of stages. In effect our rally was over.”
At service, help arrived in the shape of diagnostic expert Andrew Gallagher, of AG Motorsport, who traced the fault to the feed to the ECU. After hot-wiring the Evo, the engine fired up and Johnnie and co-driver Andrew Cruikshank were back in the rally – although not in contention for places or points.
“We rejoined at stage four, which was re-run of stage one, but it was soon apparent that there was a problem with the clutch. We decided to call it a day after stage five because there was no point in wrecking the clutch and gearbox when nothing was at stake,” he added.
“It was disappointing to say the least. But you have to draw a line under days like these and move on to the next one.”
And that will be in four weeks time, on June 23-24, when round four of the Scottish Championship, the Dunoon-based Argyll Rally takes place.
*Congratulations to JEA finalist Archie Swinscoe who finished 15th overall in his Vauxhall Adam, also finishing first in the Two-Wheel-Drive, Junior, Class M2 and Challenger categories.
Emily Easton-Page partnered Mike East to 48th overall and seventh in class in their Fiesta R2.
Johnnie Mackay Rallying would like to thank his supporters
2300 Club John Easson Award
ISS Aberdeen Ltd
Andrew Wood Motorsport