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.

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