1996 – Murmur Chapter 10

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 10

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Final Results:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Hrs.Mins:Secs
1 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 2.40:32
2 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 2.41:28
3 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 2.46:00
4 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 2.47:46
5 Billy Bird/Plug Pulleyn Vauxhall Astra RWD 2.55:05
6 Gordon Boyd/Stella Boyles Ford Escort Cosworth 2.56:03
7 Steve Davies/Simon Proud Ford Escort 2.56:43
8 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 2.56:45
9 Gareth Jones/Lee Ellis Ford Escort 2.58:19
10 Daniel Harper/Les Reger Mini 1298 2.58:29

Neil MacKinnon and Mike Stayte won the 27th Philips Tour of Mull Rally in fine style, but it was far from easy. Chris and Stephen Griffiths ran them close losing out by 56 seconds, but going one better than their previous best result, 3rd in '94.

It seems a long time ago that 296 hopefuls lined up in their shiny machines on Tobermory Main Street, but it was was only Friday night. Even so, that was 170 miles ago and what a battle was waged over every inch of those roads, and ditches, and dykes – a look at the Final Results gives the score, Island of Mull 52, Rally crews 96 i.e. 52 of them didn't make it!

From the start Callum Duffy set the pace, and if it hadn't been for the rain, he would have lit up the tar! After just 4 stages he had over a minute on MacKinnon who was learning how to drive the McKinstry Subaru.

Over the next 3 stages, MacKinnon pulled some time back and then Duffy popped in another quick one, and this in the pouring wet rain with poor visibility, on roads that resembled Venice highways, in a Mk2 Ford Escort. Unreal, eh? Over the next 2 stages MacKinnon pulled a little more back, but still Duffy went to bed that night with almost a minute in hand.

Saturday was a bit drier than the previous night's monsoon but the roads were still tricky – and Duffy failed to make it out of the first daylight stage. A blocked oil filter and the previous night's oil cooler repairs to blame. Elation to deflation in milliseconds.

Then the reports started to filter through, MacKinnon was running late, he'd been caught and passed by two cars. The Subaru's clutch had failed and he did two stages stuck in 4th gear. That meant Griffiths was in the lead from MacKinnon with James MacGillivray now nipping at the "Ol'Man's" heels in the cheeky wee Opel Corsa.

A change of clutch had MacKinnon back in the fray but he wasn't able to do much about Griffiths' lead as he was catching slower cars. And as darkness fell over the island, we knew we were in for a battle.

MacKinnon did the business over the first three stages, converting a 36 second deficit into a 16 second lead but MacGillivray blotted his copybook. The Corsa was never actually designed to fly but no-one had bothered to tell "Jock The Bull". An awkward landing after a yump put two wheels on the grass, and he was off for 7 minutes, that meant John Price could heave the mighty Metro into 3rd place with Eddie O'Donnell hanging on to his coat-tails like Tam O'Shanter's witch.

Two stages to go and MacKinnon was worried about his clutch again, Griffiths had problems with his rear suspenion, Price had a misfire, O'Donnell had a leaking oil seal, John Kirtley had already recorded more "hits" than the Beatles but was still there in 5th with Jock the Bull in 6th – and a 22 miler lurking, waiting in the dark and the rain, just up the road at Calgary.

Most of them made it over that last frightening, hell for leather mad dash to glory, but one who didn't was Kirtley, the Escort parked nosefirst into a ditch. Another who didn't was Richard Thompson losing out on 4th place. As for the rest, they made it to Tobermory more or less in one piece but Kirtley's demise had allowed another to enter the top ten, the Mini of Daniel Harper. Ya beezer!

The rollcall of misery included quite a few top seeds. Keith Robathan crashed, John Cope blew a gasket and overheated, John Cressey tossed off all his belts and Derek Carless parked his Escort carelessly – upside down at Dervaig!

Further down the field, cautious runs from both Graham Dale and Michael Russell meant that the EARS/MN runner-up position went to Dale (I think, if my maths are right) and Monty Pearson won the F2 award on the tie-break from Tim Stell.

Class winners included Daniel Harper in the 1300 class from Duggie Ingram helped by Jim Fergusson's departure after the wee Peugeot tried to mate unsuccessfully with a bridge parapet. Mark Jasper won the big GrpN class, Robert Davies (N3) in the Astra, Roy Jarvis (A6) in the Corsa, Howard Moore (N2) in the Honda, Chris paton (A5) in the Nova, Kevin Haselden (N1) in the Peugeot 106 and both Annabelle Tennant (75th) and Julie Allan (91st) finished.

And as we look back and reflect on an excellent 27th Philips Tour of Mull, and look forward to the 28th Philips (hopefully) Tour, just bear one wee thought in mind. Without the vision and determination of one man, we wouldn't be here enjoying Britain's first closed public road rally. Thanks Brian. And on behalf of 2300 Car Club, thank you one and all for supporting "the best rally in the world"! And if you see David Jordan and John Whybrow of Philips to-night then buy them a pint from me.

And finally, can I share my favourite memory of this year's Philips Tour with you? In the early hours of Sunday morning I was standing in the rain with a dejected crew who had earlier retired and had been consoling themselves in the Mac. As one of their inebriated service stalwarts leaned forward over his cigarette to light it, the ill adjusted flame lit up his fag – and set fire to the skip of his cap! Laugh? I was helpless. Odd though, he didn't think it as funny as I did. Still it kept his head warm for a wee while in the rain.

Drive safe, stay healthy, Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Tobermory, Sunday)

1996 – Murmur Chapter 9

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 9

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Provisional Leaderboard after 17 (out of 19) Stages:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Hrs.Mins:Secs
1 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 2.11:49
2 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 2.12:05
3 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 2.15:11
4 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 2.17:58
5 Paul Kirtley/Jon Geldart Ford Sierra Cosworth 2.18:21
6 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 2.21:56
7 Billy Bird/Plug Pulleyn Vauxhall Astra RWD 2.22:54
8 Steve Davies/Simon Proud Ford Escort 2.23:33
9 Gordon Boyd/Stella Boyles Ford Escort Cosworth 2.25:17
10 Gareth Jones/Lee Ellis Ford Escort 2.25:31

Old times, eh? The "Ol' Man" back in control. Neil MacKinnon is now feeling at home in the Subaru and it shows, Mike Stayte says he's really enjoying the car now and he's just beginning to enjoy himself now that he has full confidence in the car. Neil can't tell us himself since he's suffering from a sceptic throat and it's very difficult for him to speak.

So with MacKinnon and Stayte now leading the field of this 27th Philips Tour of Mull Rally, Chris and Stephen Griffiths are in second place but only 16 seconds behind but we've lost Richard Thompson in the Nissan who was up to 5th before the night started.

So this rally is far from over … Next on the menu is 22.5 miles over Loch Tuath and Calgary, and anything can happen in these conditions with this sort of competition. Just ask James MacGillivray, he was lying third until to-night started and now he's 6th. James was quite frank about it, "We were trying at the time" he understated, but the car flew over a crest and just failed to keep all four wheels on the tar when it landed. With two wheels on the grass it slid sideways into a peat bog and had to be rescued by spectators, but the damage was done, he had lost over 7 minutes … That means John Price is now up to third and Eddie O'Donnell is fourth but both are showing signs of concern, Price has a misfire and O'Donnell has a leaking oil seal … MacGillivray's error means that Paul Kirtley is now in the top six for the first time while Daniel Harper in the wee Mini is still knocking on the door of the top ten with 11th place at present … Mark Jasper has slipped back a bit with the Sapphire which isn't handling too well at present, probably due to that earlier encounter with a bridge parapet and which he now reckons he hit harder than he originally thought … Derek Carless was spotted servicing at Craignure, the racing ovies stashed away for another year as we found out the reason for his retirement, he rolled above Dervaig … So who is going to win the 27th Philips Tour of Mull? We'll know pretty soon, eh?

That's yer lot for now, Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Craignure, Saturday, midnight)

1996 – Murmur Chapter 8

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 8

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Provisional Leaderboard after 14 (out of 19) Stages:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Hrs.Mins:Secs
1 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 1.47:37
2 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 1.48:13
3 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 1.48:41
4 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 1.49:42
5 Richard Thompson/Reg Smith Nissan Sunny 1.52:23
6 Paul Kirtley/Jon Geldart Ford Sierra Cosworth 1.52:36
7 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 1.52:55
8 Steve Davies/Simon Proud Ford Escort 1.56:37
9 Billy Bird/Plug Pulleyn Vauxhall Astra RWD 1.56:39
10 Gordon Boyd/Stella Boyles Ford Escort Cosworth 1.57:54
11 Mark Jasper/Guy Foster Ford Sapphire Cosworth 1.58:16
12 Gareth Jones/Lee Ellis Ford Escort 1.58:52

So they think it's all over, not likely it ain't. The final leg of this year's Philips Tour of Mull Rally is shaping up for a real cracking finish. There's only 36 seconds between rally leader Griffiths (5th last year and 3rd the year before) and 7 times winner Neil MacKinnon, and then half a minute to James MacGillivray, and there's still 56 miles to go to-night – in mainland terms that's virtually a rally on its own at that length, and these guys have already done over a hundred miles!

The McKinstry team soon had MacKinnon's earlier problem sorted out when he finished the first half of the afternoon's stages with a broken clutch and he put pedal to metal during the second half but on Mishnish Lochs he caught a slower car which wouldn't pull over and MacKinnon lost a lot of time before elbowing his way past at the big hairpin at Dervaig. On Calgary Bay he caught two slower cars but they saw him coming and quickly pulled over. This is always the problem when running late on the road out of sequence – catching slower cars but that will be solved with the altered running order for to-night's final leg.

Gareth Jones managed to change his gearbox at service too, broken during the first half of the afternoon and he's now pulled up to 12th just outside the top ten … But it was Eddie O'Donnell's turn to strike trouble this afternoon. He was off in Calgary and then burst the diff casing on the next one, so he'll be busy this afternoon and evening in the run-up to the final thrash to-night … Paul Kirtley was luckier, he hit some standing water at 120 mph on Calgary and saw his life flash before his eyes but he's still in the top ten … Tim Stell survived the afternoon despite a worry about his gearbox and clutch. He came out of Ensay jammed in third but when he stopped on the road section, found it was only the gear linkage which needed adjustment … Mark Jasper must have been trying too, he left his rear bumper on a bridge parapet in there … Gordon Boyd almost lost his top ten placing when he punctured a tyre on the Escort, and broke two rims before he could get the car stopped and called on spectators for help … more /…

In the 1300 class, things are no less fraught with class leader Daniel Harper having to try and cure a clutch problem before to-night but it looks as though Jim Fergusson is out. He appears to have been a victim of yet another bridge parapet … Grant Fleming is out too, courtesy of a broken stub axle, the Tunnock's Tea Cake Kid in trouble even before the rally start when an oil pump belt snapped as he lined up for the Start ramp … Monty Pearson is finding it difficult to drive with crossed fingers. The Nova has had a cracked brake disc since the start of the rally but he desperately needs to finish to clinch the F2 award in the EARS Motorsport/Motoring News Championship … Speaking of the national series, the fight for the runner-up spot is now a straight duel between Graham Dale and Michael Russell who are both still going but we'll need to have a word with co-ordinator Andrew Haill about the mathematical computations required about final positions, points and how many folk are between them … Another retirement earlier to-day was Martin Healer who replaced a diff last night but two miles into the first stage this afternoon, the new one broke and screwed up the crown wheel and pinion as he limped out of the stage … Mark Hudson got a fright when the front end of the Escort started wobbling. At first he thought he had a puncture or two, but when he stopped at the end of Ensay he found the wheel nuts were loose. Now he's wondering if there was a problem or merely if he had previously upset one of the service crew! … Dave Miller lost two minutes when the oil light came on and he stopped to investigate but it was OK it was just the fluid level which was low and oil surge causing the light to come on. When he found out what the problem was and realised he had stopped mid-stage because of it, he went a wee bit orange himself … Howard Moore's Honda came off second best after a hard landing last night, the wee thing's looking a bit knock kneed at the front end … Dawson Boyle had a slight off on Calgary and left his bumper behind … and Roy Jarvis thought he was in terminal trouble earlier to-day when a thick oil cloud appeared behind him. Thinking the engine was about to blow he stopped to investigate only to find that the wee Corsa was brim full of oil, must have money to burn these blokes, eh? … Oh, and by the way, a couple of first timers having been asking who this Jaggy Bunnet character is, well truth to tell, no-one really knows who he is. Man or myth, who can tell? But there is an easy way to spot when he's about, just leave a pint of Gillespie's on the bar at the Mishnish. If you turn your back for a minute and then turn round to find the pint glass empty, you'll know he's been – and gone … Take care out there to-night and for goodness sake, please use the single track roads and passing places thoughtfully and when parking your car, use your commonsense, otherwise the Polis will get you.

That's yer lot for now, Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Salen, Saturday evening)

1996 – Murmur Chapter 7

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 7

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Provisional Leaderboard after 11 Stages:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Hrs.Mins:Secs
1 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 1.26:59
2 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 1.27:29
3 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 1.27:36
4 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 1.28:52
5 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 1.28:53
6 Paul Kirtley/Jon Geldart Ford Escort Cosworth 1.30:58
7 Richard Thompson/Reg Smith Nissan Sunny 1.31:19
8 Gordon Boyd/Stella Boyles Ford Escort Cosworth 1.31:50
9 Steve Davies/Simon Proud Ford Escort 1.34:19
10 Billy Bird/Plug Pulleyn Vauxhall Astra RWD 1.34:24

Just when you think things are looking settled, crash, bang, wallop, what a party! This year's Philips Tour of Mull is already looking every bit as dramatic and tense as past years. After last night's rain, everyone has speeded up in daylight and that brings additional dangers. But the big news is, rally leader Callum Duffy is out. The Astra engined Escort was spotted smoking badly on the first daylight test and failed to reach the stage finish. So that puts MacKinnon into the lead, doesn't it? Nope! Halfway through Calgary, the Subaru lost its clutch and MacKinnon had to do the next stage as well without it. He was caught and passed by James MacGillivray and Eddie O'Donnell so he lost nearly two minutes. That means Chris Griffiths has taken over at the top of the leaderboard, having overhauled MacGillivray's wee Corsa, Griffiths now revelling in the Subaru's power and handling, now that it's dry and he can see where he's going.

And there's more. 10th overall last night, Stewart Hymas is going no further having wrecked the Peugeot at the same place as Doc Shirley went off last year so Steve Davies has got into the top ten for the first time followed by last year's Philips Tour runner-up, Billy Bird who has got the new Astra working better now than it was last night … 8th after 3 stages last night, Gareth Jones dropped back later and was hoping to get back into the top ten in the dry to-day, but it was not to be, the Escort jamming in 4th gear following a hard landing after a yump in Calgary and he had to do the next stage like that too. He reckons something is broken in the gearbox but is hoping to fix it at service … Paul Kirtley was lucky in Ensay. The Escort appearing at the Salen control looking very sorry for itself with lights hanging out on wires and splayed front wheels following a massive off but there were plenty of spectators on hand to help out but he dropped a minute on the front runners … Mark Jasper also had a few "offs" in the GrpN Sapphire but survived … Donald Brown did the big Dervaig Hairpin twice! He spun at the first attempt … Daniel Harper still leads the 1300s having cured last night's overheating problems and he's just outside the top ten places overall – in a Mini!

That's yer lot for now, Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Salen, Saturday mid afternoon)

1996 – Murmur Chapter 6

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 6

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Provisional Leaderboard after 8 Stages:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Mins:Secs
1 Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy Ford Escort 63:48
2 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 64:44
3 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 66:27
4 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 66:32
5 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 68:08
6 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 68:20
7 Paul Kirtley/Jon Geldart Ford Escort Cosworth 69:25
8 Richard Thompson/Reg Smith Nissan Sunny 70:25
9 Gordon Boyd/Stella Boyles Ford Escort Cosworth 71:16
10 Stewart Hymas/Kevin Wilson Peugeot 205 GTI 71:50

What a dramatic Philips Tour of Mull this is shaping up to be. With Neil MacKinnon learning how to drive the Subaru over the first three rain lashed stages last night, Callum Duffy seized the opportunity with his right foot to quickly build up a lead of over a minute as they booked into first service at Craignure. With the rapid learning curve now over, MacKinnon fought back but only managed to take 12 seconds out of Duffy who still had over a minute in hand. Over the final two stages, MacKinnon was fastest on Loch Scridain but Duffy was fastest over Gribun. Phew! … Behind these two Chris Griffiths, like MacKinnon, was on a steep learning curve with his Subaru and after 6 stages had snatched third place from James MacGillivray. Then on the final mad dash of the night over Gribun, MacGillivray stole 19 seconds from Griffiths to move back into third. More Phew!! … The O'Donnell twins are goin well too upholding island honour with 4 local crews in the top 5 places while lurking in 6th place is the mighty Metro. John Price will undoubtedly go well in the daylight stages, "At least I can see where I'm going then" … It looks as though John Cope is out. The Sierra lost all its water on the 6th stage last night and he was spotted parked up in the 7th. Also spotted at the side of the road (OK, he was off in the bushes) was Keith Robathan, so bang go his chances of the EARS Motorsport/ Motoring News runner-up position. That leaves Graham Dale and Michael Russell to fight it out, and they're little more than 40 seconds apart at the moment … We've also had reports that Stephen Macrae (135) is out after a serious bump during the night, Frosty Smart (29) also appears to be out of the running following an accident in the Lancia and Geoff Wright (32) appears to have joined the growing list of retirements (see earlier Mullmurmurs).

But you know, I can't help thinking someone should take Duffy and MacGillivray aside and point out that people in 2 wheel drive cars should not be knocking the stuffing out of the turbocharged, four wheel drive brigade in these terrible conditions. Have they no respect for their elders? And what about the 1300s? Daniel Harper is in the top 20 in his Mini, on ten inch wheels, that's not right either, is it? But Duggie Ingram's Mini and Jim Fergusson's Peugeot aren't far away.

That's yer lot for now, till later, Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Tobermory, Saturday morning)

1996 – Murmur Chapter 5

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 5

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Provisional Leaderboard after 3 Stages:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Mins:Secs
1 Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy Ford Escort 52:10
2 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 53:13
3 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 54:31
4 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 54:33
5 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 55:40
6 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 55:45
7 Paul Kirtley/Jon Geldart Ford Escort Cosworth 57:10
8 Richard Thompson/Reg Smith Nissan Sunny 57:30
9 Gordon Boyd/Stella Boyles Ford Escort Cosworth 58:22
10 Ian Wilson/John Bennie Opel Kadett 58:35

As usual don't regard these times as gospel since this is not the official Philips Tour of Mull Rally results, but hopefully it will give you an idea of what is going on out there. On the weather front, things are still unpredictable, when it's not raining there are dry stretches of road mixed in with wet, slippy bits and puddles, definitely not for the faint-hearted, or as John Price put, "It makes the old pacemaker work a lot harder."

There is no change at the top with Duffy still leading MacKinnon but the Subaru pilot has reduced the youngster's advantage from 1 minute 15 seconds to 1 minute 3, not a lot mind you, but it shows MacKinnon is getting to grips with the Legacy. In fact he's getting real confident getting the four wheel drive machine to slide when he wants to.

Chris Griffiths has moved ahead of James MacGillivray. If anything, conditions on those last three stages were not quite as bad as the first, and Griffiths got a bit more confidence although MacGillivray hasn't given up yet, he's really enjoying the wee lightweight Corsa.

The O'Donnell twins are still going well and it's about time they got themselves a result on home territory with Price secure in 6th place for the moment. Paul Kirtley's on the move too, up from 10th after 3 stages to 7th place now, demoting Richard Thompson in the Nissan while Gordon Boyd has overcome his electrical problem to move back into the top ten despite a huge spin on that last test which punctured a tyre. Ian Wilson is currently holding 10th place but that will definitely not last, for the Opel expired on the road section to Craignure service, the rear axle wheel bearings seized solid and he's now heading for the Mishnish to console himself, that's the pub, not the beauty spot! Steve Davies is still going, although he admitted to another off at Calgary, said he "went beachcombing in the reeds" and John Cope is still just outside the top ten although he struggled to reach service. The Sierra's water pump gasket is leaking and the car overheated on the last stage but they got here by stopping regularly at puddles to try and top up the radiator.

That's yer lot for now, till later, Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Craignure, Saturday, 2:30 am)

1996 – Murmur Chapter 4

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 4

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Provisional Leaderboard after 3 Stages:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Mins:Secs
1 Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy Ford Escort 24:16
2 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 25:31
3 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 25:33
4 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 25:34
5 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 26:23
6 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 26:29
7 Richard Thompson/Reg Smith Nissan Sunny 26:43
8 Gareth Jones/Lee Ellis Ford Escort 26:55
9 Neil McCarthy/Chas Hull VW Golf GTI 27:10
10 Paul Kirtley/Jon Geldart Ford Escort Cosworth 27:12

The above top ten is a bit more accurate than shown on MullMurmurs3 due to a couple of factors i.e. rain and no rain. The weather is playing a strong hand on this year's 27th Philips Tour of Mull Rally and depending on when the showers happen and who is on the stages at the time, determines the times. For that reason some of the later numbers benefitted from slightly drier conditions over the first three stages. Even so Gareth Jones and Neil McCarthy are going well but now they've poked their noses into the top ten, the others will be gunning for them … Gareth must have been going well, he caught two cars on the Hill Road but just when he was shaping up to pass the second one, the wipers stopped … Paul Kirtley lost time on SS2 with a fuel feed problem and stopped for 15 minutes at the end of the stage, but he's going again now … Derek Carless had to get a push-start out of service – guess who left the heated screen on when he stopped? otherwise he's OK … Grant Fleming broke an oil pump drive belt on the start line in Tobermory and had to start almost last … Ian Wilson is just outside the top ten in the wee Opel despite a broken disc caliper, anyone got a Gp4 Escort disc? … Ian Woodward is off his head, he likes the rain and he wants more … Chris MacKenzie broke a bottom balljoint but limped into service … Dave Calvert got a Maximum on Loch Scridain when he went off at Fraggle Rock but there were plenty of spectators getting wet and dirty pushing him back on to the road – 100 yards away! … Graham Dale and Mike Russell both know that Keith Robathan is off which has made the chase for EARS Motorsport/Motoring News points a bit less fraught … Brian Fraser thought his clutch had packed up and did the last one and half stages in 4th gear, only to find that the adjusting nut had come off … Paul Marshall has done Mull 5 times in a FWD Corsa, this time he's out in a 3.5 litre RWD Triumph TR7 V8, in this weather!? … Nick Bailey appears to be out. He caught a culvert at a cattle grid in Glen Aros which knocked a wheel back and spun him off … Brian Cameron had the wipers fail on the Rover 220 just after he left the start of Gribun, the wettest stage of the night … and Graham Hargrave is trying to fix a slipping clutch in the Toyota.

That's yer lot for now, till later, Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Craignure, Friday, Midnight)

1996 – Murmur Chapter 3

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 3

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Provisional Leaderboard after 3 Stages:

Posn Driver/Co-Driver Car Mins:Secs
1 Callum Duffy/Hugh Duffy Ford Escort 24:16
2 Neil MacKinnon/Mike Stayte Subaru Legacy 25:31
3 James MacGillivray/Brian Kennedy Opel Corsa 25:33
4 Eddie O'Donnell/Eddie O'Donnell Ford Escort 26:23
5 John Price/Mike Bowen MG Metro 6R4 26:29
6 Richard Thompson/Reg Smith Nissan Sunny 26:43
7 Paul Kirtley/Jon Geldart Ford Escort Cosworth 27:12
8 Chris Griffiths/Stephen Griffiths Subaru Legacy 27:20
9 Gordon Boyd/Stella Boyles Ford Escort Cosworth 27:30
10 John Cope/Adrian Gladwin Ford Sierra 27:33

The above top ten is by no means accurate, these are just the first cards in, but it gives some idea of what is happening out there on this 27th Philips Tour of Mull Rally … In other words, young Callum Duffy has gone off, not like a rocket, but a powerboat. He currently holds a 1 min 15 second lead over 7 times winner Neil MacKinnon … Duffy leads despite a heart stopping moment on the first stage when he crested a brow to find a "river" on the other side. The nose of the Escort gave the tarmac an awfy dunt (hard smack!) and broke the oil cooler. He was near the stage finish so he pressed on and fixed the pipes at the stage finish, filled it up with oil and he's still going … MacKinnon is not yet quite familiar with the new car and he was pretty cautious over the first test but he's picking up the pace a bit now … John Price was off the pace on the first one because the heavens opened shortly after he started the test and his tyres were far too wide but he switched to full wets for the next two … Chris Griffiths also had a cautious start, but he also had a bit of luck as a rear tyre deflated as he approached the finish of the stage. First time on Michelin intermediates, they're good, but he needs to build up a bit of confidence … Steve Davies was off at the hairpin on the Hill Road but reversed out dropping 3 minutes to the leaders. But Keith Robathan looks as though he's out for good. All that can be seen of the Escort, sticking out of the bushes, is the bootlid! … John Cressey is in trouble already. Lost a lot of time on the first test when the fan belt came off and then the oil pump belt too. Gordon Boyd is changing his alternator at service. Billy Bird (2nd last year) is struggling with the new car, it doesn't handle as well as the old one … But the story of the rally is all about water, plenty of it, lying on the roads and falling steadily out of the sky. It's not only the drivers who are having a hard time with misted up windows, spare a thought for the poor Marshals, especially at Gribun where the rain is horizontal.

Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Craignure, Friday, 10:00 pm)

IMPORTANT P.S. There is a £20 spot fine for improper use of under-bumper fog lights. If you are running round the island using these, then DON'T, they are blinding other drivers in this terrible weather. The Police are taking note.

1996 – Murmur Chapter 2

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 2

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

This here modest little epistle is designed to entertain and inform all who are here to celebrate the 27th Philips Tour of Mull Rally so let's start with a serious bit. In the Spectator Guide which is issued free of charge to all spectators (available at the Aros Hall in Tobermory) there are a few errors, only two of which are deliberate and we will not name Pete as the guilty party since to save his blushes he will remain anonymous.

But apologies to Dave Paveley and Andy Bull in the Enterprise Racing Mini 1300 (number 50) and Kevin Haselden and Bill Cook in their Peugeot 1300 (number 101). As you will see from the Spectator Guide the page break caused a bit of a kerfuffle and Pete missed them out.

By the way have a good look at Paveley's Mini. This wee beastie is reputed to have 145 BHP and a 6 spd sequential gearbox and the whole device is reckoned to weight 8 cwt (I haven't gone metric yet!)

There will be a few other changes to the entry list as the reserve entries get a run and are slotted into the spaces left by those who didn't turn up. So don't panic if you see car number 5 running in the 80s, its only Chris MacKenzie/Duncan Kennedy in their Peugeot. Car 7 is Willie Paterson/Euan O'Neill in an Escort, car 77 is Paul Marshall/Steve Hughes in a TR7V8, 75 is Gordon McCombie/Russell Blood in a Saab and 48 is Andy Wilson/John MacArthur in a Mini.

However, let's not forget this event is also the final round of the EARS Motorsport/Motoring News Rally Championship. Pete Doughty has already clinched the title and ain't here – chicken – but 2nd place is still up for grabs. But with John Brodie also opting out (another chicken) it's down to a three way fight between Graham Dale (26), Keith Robathan (17) and Michael Russell (45). So one of these guys is going to be runner-up. Dale and Russell will also have to decide who gets the Group N award in the series.

Another award still to be decided in this national series is the Formula 2 prizewinner. Monty Pearson (62) in the Nova and Graham Darcy (49) are the hot favourites, Darcy has a score to drop but Monty adds anything he gets. On the other hand, Tim Stell (52) in the Astra could snatch the title at the last gasp if the other two strike trouble.

In the Under 25 age group section, Gavin Rogers (87) could still beat category leader Gary Fincher (who ain't here to defend his lead) so he'll be going for a steady points scoring finish.

Roger Binyon and Cath Phillipson took the Montego for a run last night and found it a tight fit on the island roads. The ex-David Gillanders machine likes straight bits but isn't so sure about the corners. more /…..

And here's a nice story. Ian Donaldson and Graeme Taylor were out checking their Notes at 1:00 o'clock this morning when the electrics failed on their road car. They were stranded until Fiona from Dervaig turned up and gave them a lift back. Now isn't that nice, a young lady out on her own late at night stopping to give two strange men a lift – and they don't come much stranger than those two! Maybe she knew that they were at a low ebb as the car has only just been repaired following a dry stane dyke destroying roll on the McRae Stages just a few weeks back.

Did you see the windscreen strip on car 133? I asked Pat Inkle what it stood for and he said "Pat Inkle Sports Services", but all the sticker has is the initials followed by Engineering – think about it! Speaking of nicknames, look out for car 121, it's driven by Smudge and co-driven by Piemuncher – but don't poke fun at him, he's a big lad!

Meantime, 2300 Car Club still have some souvenir rally goodies left for sale at the Aros Hall – and remember to buy a Philips torch, the profits go to the Mull Swimming Pool fund.

That's yer lot meantime, we'll be back later at Craignure during the night. Look out for the while Albion Automotive minibus.

Hopefully we'll get a few more decent stories for the next issue, it's all been remarkably quiet so far. Usually MacKay's Garage is going like a fair with sparks flying from welding torches and curses emanating from underneath bent bodywork and broken engines. Even Chief Scroot Roger is noticing a higher standard of car preparation this year. The calm before the storm?!?!

Oh, and by the way, young Duffy has swopped his 2.1 Pinto for a 16 valve Astra 2 litre engine – crikey he was too blooming quick last year.

Did you hear about the rally driver who went out to try the car and got four punctures. The guy who fitted the tyres put tubes in them, so not only had to take the tubes out of those four but the other 40 wheels and tyres in the van! Nice one, eh?

Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, (Friday afternoon).

P.S. We've got another Philips guest here. The regulars will remember John Whybrow who flagged off the cars two years ago. Well, the President of Philips Lighting International is back for more. Mull has that effect on everyone doesn't it?

1996 – Murmur Chapter 1

MULLMURMURSMULLMURMURSMULLMURMURS – Chapter 1

– published on the island, during the event by Jaggy Bunnet

Well hullawrerr chinas, and howzitgaun, or should I say, anhowzitrevvin? This latter phrase being a quaint Glasgow term for, "Is your car properly tuned and in good order? And for sure, that's what's needed this weekend on the glorious autumnally spattered Island of Mull half way between Scotland and Americky.

And just in case you hadn't guessed, the reason the rally cars are here is the 27th Philips Tour of Mull Rally, the longest, toughest, hardest, most enjoyable national rally in Britain, well, Europe really. Oh heck, what the hell, it's the best damn rally in the world, bar none. And speaking of bars, there are one or two of these scattered about the island but don't indulge if you're driving, wait till it's all over.

If you're a first time visitor to this event then you'll find the 2300 Car Club Spectator Guide invaluable and these are available free of charge throughout the day on Friday at the Aros Hall which is also Rally HQ. If you're going out spectating, remember the Road Closure Orders. Fill your flask with lumpy soup, load up with sannies and get there early.

The rally got underway last night in the Aros Hall with the Rally Forum providing the assembled millions with a unique insight into this year's event and all were grateful to those who took the time and trouble to turn up and regale us with a pack of lies, or rather a few homespun truths. Prior to the Forum we had a unique in-car film showing the O'Donnell twins going over Mishnish Lochs in daylight last year, that was guid crack. Anyway, thanks to, CofC Nigel (Chief Bar Groupie) Worswick, Stella Boyles, John Cressey, Chris Paton, Calum Guy and young Eddie O'Donnell.

But already we're missing a few of the top seeds, so if you have a Spectator Guide there will be one or two changes to make. John Brodie ain't coming (diff problem), Dave and Mike Pattison ain't coming (no cars) and Raymond Munro is another non-starter.

But the rest are here. Neil MacKinnon is aiming for a record 8th victory on Mull this year and has borrowed a right weapon for the job, Kenny McKinstry's Group A Subaru Legacy. Kenny himself has had a look round the island and there was a twinkle in his eye when he said he quite fancied having a go himself – maybe next year? Reckons the roads here are similar to Southern Ireland, narrow, twisty and full of blind crests.

Just as intent on doing the business is young Duffy who appeared late at Scrutineering after finishing the car preparation at 11:0 pm last night. Same spec as last year and we all know how quick that was.

Maintaining the island challenge is James Mac Gillivray who has a Corsa 1600 running on Webers and is apparently lighter than the Nova last 1600 used by Andy Knight, remember that? So James should go well to-night too. Backing up the challenge is Eddie O'Donnell who has

once again demonstrated his sheer professionalism and dedication. He has lashed out and bought a brand new battery for the otherwise unchanged machine!

Richard Thompson (4th last year) is back with another new Nissan, this time the 1992 ex Stig Blomqvist machine. The Nissan works car builder had actually built his own car in his own time out of second hand parts – and then the boss sold it! Anyway, he relented and let Richard borrow this machine, but on the same basis as last year, if he bends it, he needn't bother showing up for work!

Derek Carless is back for more despite his annual protestations of retirement and resistance to new technology. He's only gone and got an Escort Cossie. John Cope has re-shelled the Sierra and is rarin to go as is Paul Kirtley who is keen not to repeat last year's "minor" indiscretion. He gave it an awfy smack, remember?

Nice to see Stephen Price wandering about after his horrific accident and the car is doing well too. It has been re-jigged, rebuilt and repaired and he'll be out in the New Year but he's "minding his Dad" this weekend.

John Cressey has swopped the Manta's Ford Cosworth engine for an Astra 16v unit and reckons its quicker, if he's got the nerve to press the right pedal all the way to the floor, and Colin "son of Ian" Gemmell is obviously maintaining the family tradition. Ian's previous co-driver David Aitken is sitting beside Colin, "Just as daft as his Dad, we went for a run and had to use reverse twice in the first mile".

And finally, it's a nice to welcome back Philips Electronics who sponsored this event in it's very early days and provided the sound footing for future events, and here they are back again putting a professional gloss on "the best rally in the world". The Philips folk have already been active and every school kid on the island has already had pencils, wallets, sweets, bugs, balloons and posters.

This year the company only has one employee competing. Chris Paton has contested every event apart from the first one – he said he was too young to do the first rally over here!! That is a pretty unique record. And let's all extend a warm Highland welcome to David Jordan, Financial Director of Philips, if we keep him happy, Philips will come back, eh?

That's yer lot meantime, we'll be back later and will be at Craignure during the night. Look out for the while Albion minibus.

Yer auld pal, Jaggy Bunnet, mid-day Friday.

P.S. Still looking for that unique Christmas present? 2300 Car Club are selling commemorative goodies in the Aros Hall. Philips are selling "Tigger" and "Lion-King" torches with all proceeds going to the Mull swimming pool fund. So go and get lit up!