End of Year Rally Report
13th November 2014
The final rally of the 2014 Scottish Rally Tarmac Championship, the Kingdom Stages was held at Crail Airfield near St Andrews in Fife on November 1st. Competing in Class 3 was Bill Hamilton and new co-driver Matt Fletcher in the Hamilton Optimum Training Opel Kadett. This has been a difficult year for Bill and car after finishing 3rd in class in the championship inn 2013. The year started in April with the DCC Ingleston Stages, Sara Hamilton was navigating but this would be her last rally due to a forth coming operation. The pair were going well, sitting well in the to 15, up until the 4th stage where they hit a tonne bale damaging the car, they managed to get to the end of the stage and onto a service where they managed to straighten most of the damage, but it was not to be, as the axle let go on stage 6 and it was game over, leaving them disappointed, with a lot of repairs to do, before the up coming Summer Stages at Crail. Bill enlisted a friend Laurie Walker to sit in the navigators seat for the Summer Stages but it was short lived event for the pair. After setting a top 10 time on stage 1 ,the engine blew a seal and they could not repair it within the allotted time , so it was another Did Not Finish result.
MACH1 stages in Campbelltown was the next up coming event. Bill used Caithness.Org to advertise for a navigator. Matt Fletcher originally from the USA now living in Thurso was the one that got the hot seat. Matt had never rallied before but was really excited about it. On the way to the first stage, the car cut out with the fuel vaporising in the carburettors due to the hot weather, Bill managed to get it going but it meant they had to start near the rear of the field. This was a ""jaw dropping "" stage for Matt, having suddenly to deal with the speed, reading the notes and everything else, but by stage 3 Matt had settled into the rhythm. The weather then turned from glorious sunshine to torrential rain with cars spinning of all over the stage. On Stage 4, they slipped wide on a corner smashing into a bale, they managed to get back to service with bodywork damage and a burst tyre. Luckily this was a 2 day event allowing Bill time to attempt repairs to the car before the start of the next days stages. Sunday and it was again heavy rain, they completed stage 5 & 6 but on stage 6 the car started miss firing and eventually stopped as they crossed the finish line, Bill traced it to the ECU, but with no spare, it was another very disappointing ""Did Not Finish"" . Back at home Bill repaired the body damage and sprayed the car, but the ignition problem took him a while to workout eventually replacing 2 ECU ignition driver chips and umpteen solder joints.
The final outing was the Kingdom stages at Crail for Matt and Bill. Stage 1 and they dropped 30 seconds to the leading cars in class, due to lack of confidence but by stage 5 they had clawed back 28 of those seconds. Had there luck changed ? On stage 6 , ready to go at the start line, they were informed the car was losing water, quite a bit of water, the temp looked ok so as the clock ticked down they decided to go for it. At the end of the stage, the temperature was sitting in the ""RED"". Back at service it was discovered a fitting had come loose and it looked like they would not have enough time to repair, until an Invergordon service team who heard of their plight and quickly set about the repairs. Finishing it with only minutes to spare. Bill and Matt donned helmets and lined up for the final stage of the day. Unsure if any damage had been done to the engine they decided to "drive for a finish", losing a few places, ending up 23rd overall and 8th in class. It was the finish that had eluded Bill all year and they were delighted. Bill would like to thank the service team for their help, unfortunately he did not even get there names, Matt for succeeding in the navigators role and Hamilton Optimum Training for fitness training.
Results can be found at www.scotresults.co.uk Hopefully next year will see the Opel Kadett back out on the stages.