Greg Rutherford may have leapt to gold in London on Saturday night – but sadly Saturday wasn’t quite so ‘super’ for another sporting Rutherford. Isle of Mull rally driver Craig Rutherford endured disappointment as his car ground to a halt midway through the Gleaner Oil and Gas Speyside Stages. The breakdown brought to an end a strong run of results for the 22 year-old, but not before he had again shown his potential on the stages.
The Fionnphort driver was knocking on the door of the top twenty of the overall Speyside field, and was again right at the sharp end of the Scottish junior battle in his Honda Civic Type R. But in the middle of the eight-mile Balloch forest stage, Rutherford’s challenge was halted due to drivetrain issues. With no way to resolve the problem in-stage, Craig and Ayr co-driver Ross Hynd were forced to call it a day.
Before the mechanical gremlins struck, Rutherford and Hynd turned in some of their fastest times this season. Continuing to recover his confidence after a big testing accident a couple of months back, Craig increased the margin to his nearest Scottish junior championship rivals – even briefly entering the top twenty of the whole rally.
But with competitors in the Scottish Rally Championship and the Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge allowed to disregard their two lowest scores from the season, the retirement doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for the young Honda crew.
“What happened was such a shame, because we’d been going so well up until that point,” believes company director Rutherford. “We’re not quite sure what happened yet, we’ll need to get the car in the workshop and open it up to find out exactly what went wrong.”
“I can take heart in the fact that I was setting a good pace and working well with Ross, and will go into the next rally with plenty of confidence in myself and in the car,” the PMG Mechanical Services and Fidden Campsite-backed driver continues. “That’s rallying – the highs are sky high and the lows are rock-bottom.”
Craig Rutherford’s next rally will be the Ian Broll Merrick Forest Stages on Saturday 1 September 2012. As a counter in both the Scottish Rally Championship and the Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge, the Merrick will be of utmost importance to Rutherford and Hynd as the rally season reaches the sharp end.