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.