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Rally News

Monaco Magic at the Snowman Rally (Part 1)

 

The Col du Turini is probably the most famous rally stage in the world, used as one of the penultimate tests in the most famous rally in the world, the Monte Carlo Rally.  The test starts in one village where the road snakes up and over the Col before the steep descent down the other side to the finish in the village at the bottom.  Starting off on dry, grippy asphalt the stage goes through places of black ice, snow and slush before returning to dry, grippy asphalt as the altitude drops.  This is a real challenge to the drivers as grip is at a premium, speed is high and the risks are higher.  Four weeks ago this is where Inverness driver, Donnie Macdonald started his 2013 rally season, watching the World Rally Championship stars master the Turini whilst he stood warm and secure in the VW Motorsport hospitality area.  

This weekend it is Donnie’s turn to play the rallying version of the Monte Carlo Casino roulette wheel when he tackles the Arnold Clark-Thistle Hotels Snowman Rally.  The rally takes in many stages like Col du Turini; starting down at low level before climbing the equivalent of a Munro instead of a French Alp.  All but the last stage are held at heights of around 600m, climbing up the steep slopes that the Forestry Commission-Scotland gravel tracks have been carved into.  This means that snow and ice are a hazard that is still very possible around every corner and over every crest where the drivers have to commit to their line and to keep the highest speed.  

Monaco Magic at the Snowman Rally (Part 2)

  2012 was a year that had the GPM Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX knocking on the door of a podium position; 4th on the Granite City Rally, 4th on the Scottish Rally and 4th on the Merrick Stages.  “We were always just about there last year; it feels like it was a year of 4th’s on every rally.  A top three on the Snowman is defiantly the goal for next weekend,” takes up Donnie, “it’ll be a tall order though.  There are some really fast guys in front and behind us and some of them are in World Rally Cars that have far more grunt and traction than my car has.” Over the winter the Mitsubishi has had the new engine, the electronic mapping, or brains of the car, have been reprogrammed for a more aggressive response to throttle and differential settings.  “I really wanted to get a Subaru WRC S10 but for whatever reason the organisers of the Championship won’t let WRC cars that are younger than 2001 enter the series.  I think that this is a sad thing for Scotland; for the spectators and the competitors, but it means that I am back out in the Evo.”

One benefit of continuing to run the Mitsubishi is the higher top speed it has over the WRC cars.  The Snowman Rally special stages are all incredibly fast.  “Once we get clear of the first stage in Glen Urquhart I will have about 20mph more top speed than the other guys in the WRCs.  It’ll be a case of carrying as much speed as we can to have the best crack at getting this podium place.  But a lot of the competition have been out testing their cars over the last few weeks.  I haven’t managed to get into the car since October so I’ll be hitting Glen Urquhart cold.  Paul had better tighten his belts” laughs Macdonald.  

Monaco Magic at the Snowman Rally (Part 3)

Having been at the opening round of the World Rally Championship, the Monte Carlo Rally has really relit Donnie’s enthusiasm for the sport.  The commitment, attention to detail and dedication to the sport was really hammered home when visiting the M-Sport Ford team’s service area.  “The Torrachilty stage on the Snowman may not match Turini for atmosphere but when we are crossing over the top near Ben Wyvis I’ll be having my own ‘Monte Magic’ moments to get the best I can from the car and myself.”

 

The Snowman Rally starts from the Thistle Hotel Inverness at 09.00 on Saturday morning taking in five Special Stages with Service at Dingwall Auction Mart before the first cars return for the Champagne celebrations at 15.15 again at the Thistle Hotel. 

 

Monaco Magic at Snowman Rally cont...

Having been at the opening round of the World Rally Championship, the Monte Carlo Rally has really relit Donnie’s enthusiasm for the sport.  The commitment, attention to detail and dedication to the sport was really hammered home when visiting the M-Sport Ford team’s service area.  “The Torrachilty stage on the Snowman may not match Turini for atmosphere but when we are crossing over the top near Ben Wyvis I’ll be having my own ‘Monte Magic’ moments to get the best I can from the car and myself.” 

The Snowman Rally starts from the Thistle Hotel Inverness at 09.00 on Saturday morning taking in five Special Stages with Service at Dingwall Auction Mart before the first cars return for the Champagne celebrations at 15.15 again at the Thistle Hotel. 

 

Check back here in the near future for 'Stories' from the next event....