Craig Rutherford’s 2012 Scottish Rally Championship swansong didn’t end well – but the Isle of Mull driver is determined to bounce back as soon as he returns to his home island.
The Honda Civic Type R pilot from Fionnphort was in action on Saturday’s Colin McRae Forest Stages in Perthshire. 22 year-old Craig had already secured the Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge Type R title, the Scottish Junior Rally Championship and the class honours for his Honda, but wanted to help his co-driver Ross Hynd grab some extra silverware. With Ross only joining the team halfway through the season, he was a little down on Craig’s points tally, so the aim was to get a good score and help the Ayr navigator climb the rankings.
All seemed to be going to plan until the start line of the final Craigvinean Forest test. The young crew were given a start time from the marshal, rolled their window up and prepared to start the stage. When Rutherford went to engage first gear, though, the clutch wouldn’t play ball. Game over.
“It was really strange because everything was running fine, we got the timecard back from the marshal, went to put the car into gear and just nothing,” explains company director Craig. “The main aim was to get Ross the co-driver’s championship, and it’s a real shame that couldn’t happen. It was pretty tough trying to go at 80% all day and not get sucked into any battles, actually one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in a rally!”
Nonetheless, Craig is adamant the retirement won’t affect his preparations for this coming weekend’s Mull Rally. “The Mull Rally is obviously a very special and important event for me, even though the championship season is at an end,” explains the PMG Services and Fidden Campsite-supported driver. “The car will be back to full working order by the end of the week, and as Ross can’t get the time off work I’ll have Peter MacCrone from Ulva Ferry sitting alongside me.”
The Tunnock’s Mull Rally runs from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 October. Craig Rutherford and Peter MacCrone will be 36th car away from Tobermory on Friday evening.