Saturday 10th September saw 18 year old Andy Struthers from Libberton, and co-driver Ali McIlroy from Jedburgh competing in the final round of the ARRCraib Scottish Rally Championship, which was also the final round of the C2motorsportparts.com Ecosse C2 challenge. They finished first in the SRC class and 3rd in the C2 challenge.
“I really enjoyed the Galloway Hills rally. The stages were great and the organisers and marshals ran a very smooth and compact event,” commented Andy.
Reflecting on the 2016 season Andy said “this year has been a mix of ups and downs for us, the most memorable down being the end over end roll we did at the Borders County Rally. This caused extensive damage to the car, but amazingly Barrie Lochhead managed to rebuilt it in time for us to be back out competing four weeks later!
The end of the season also sees the end of my two year “RSAC New Talent Scholarship.” As well as giving me financial help throughout the two years, I have appreciated the support and encouragement from all those involved in the scholarship.”
Andy started competing at the age of 14 when he drove his one litre Micra in the Ecosse J1000 Junior Rally championship. Andy explained “The C2 challenge is quite a new championship, it was designed as a step up from the junior challenge, with a more powerful car but one that could be built for a smaller budget than some of today’s rally cars. I real enjoy my C2 and hope that others will join the championship. At each event Stephen Smellie and Richard Welsh, C2 co ordinators are there offering support to all competitors in the challenge. This is their final year and I would like to thank them for the help they have given me over the last two years.”
The season has now finished, the 2017 championship begins in February with the “Snowman” Rally at Inverness. Andy has started his first year at Strathclyde university but is still planning to compete next year.
Andy would like to thank all members of “Team Struthers” for the work they have done preparing for rallies, servicing on the day, and repairing any damage after the event!
The Coltel Grampian stages held at Milton of Crathes in Banchory on Saturday the 13th of August 2016 was a successful day for Gina and co-driver Richard Simmonds. After finishing third over all in the Ecosse Challenge she managed to accumulate enough points to win the overall C2 Junior Championship. She quotes "I really loved the stages, there was some great flowing bits and some testing bits but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and to take the Junior Title was just the icing on top of the cake, it just rounded up a fantastic day."
The day in the Grampian forestry wasn't all plain sailing for Gina and Richard as they had some overheating trouble with the car. The crew at "Jack and Victor Motorsport" Hacker “Victor” Atchison and Billy “Jack ” O'Brien, named after the well know comics in the sitcom Still Game as they provide not only the mechanical knowledge but the entertainment too, had diagnosed the problem as a head gasket leak. They managed to work their magic and get the car back down to temperature sealing the hole causing the overheating to get them safely to the end of the rally. "I absolutely couldn't do it without them, not only for their hard work but for the fun that we all have as well" said Gina.
Mum Louise kept a close eye on things, and giving some words of wisdom when needed. Mandy Wood now known as “Isa” in keeping with the Still Game theme was there to keep the team fed and watered along with Louise doing the home baking. "It’s a massive team effort, every body has an important role to play and like I said I really couldn't do it without them." Gina was asked a question at the end of the rally " why do you think there were only 2 females in the rally today, Gina replied with "I really don't know because the C2 challenge is such a great stepping stone to get a taste of motor sport, everything is kept so basic on the cars meaning the cost stays down and every body is on the same playing field, so it really is the most affordable way to get some great experience and meet some amazing people along the way." so a great day had by all at the Jack and Victor Motorsport team.
The Scottish rally was a mixture of positivity, excitement and bitter disappointment all loaded Into one day for Andy Struthers and Alasdair McIlroy competing in their fourth event together. This event took a different format from previous events because it was also part of the BRC, and involved a number of world class rally drivers from home and abroad.
The goal for the day was to continue to up their pace and close the gap on their Class competitors. From the very first stage Andy and Ali were on the pace and straight away were in contention to lead their Class.
The stages were proving to be tough but they found themselves leading the Ecosse Challenger Class as they went in to the final stage of the day.
Unfortunately, on a very tight right bend uphill the car’s front tyre just caught a deep ditch full of small trees which dragged them into it meaning the race was over for them.
Positives throughout the day must be remembered for the next event - the Grampian rally in Aberdeen on 13th August.
Commenting on their day’s event Ali said “Gutted that Andy didn't get the win he deserved with that unlucky off on last stage when leading but massive improvement to his commitment, pace and skill level. Massive positives to move forward with but rally isn't over until you reach that last time control at finish.”
Andy said “when I slid of I was disappointed at not finishing the event. On a positive note we had made a few minor changes to the car set up for this event and it was clear that they were working.”
As always Andy and Ali thank the organisers, marshals and the rescue team – without them they would still be stuck in the ditch!
In a team message regarding who was taking what food etc to the lodges for the McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages in Elgin on Saturday 23rd April, Libberton’s Andy Struthers reply of “he’d take the rolls,” didn’t go down well with the team. ...continue reading