Last rally of the season gives Craig plenty to Mull over

Three days of rallying round his home island proved to be a positive way for Isle of Mull rally driver Craig Rutherford to round off his 2012 season. The Honda Civic Type R driver overcame problems from both inside and outside the car to score a sound finish on last weekend’s Tunnock’s Mull Rally.

With usual co-driver Ross Hynd unable to secure time off his day job to compete in the rally, Craig enlisted the services of fellow Muileach Peter MacCrone for the famous island rally. It was the first time on the stages in two years for Peter, whose nephew John is currently flying high in the World Rally Championship.

Rutherford/MacCrone on Tunnock’s Mull Rally. Photo (c) John Lindsay at Lindsay PhotoSport

MacCrone senior may have been on fine form from the start of the rally, but the weather wasn’t. Torrential rain greeted the 113 crews who crossed the start line in Tobermory on Friday evening, and despite taking a cautious approach on the night stages Craig bucked a wheel after hitting a pothole on the opening Mishnish Lochs test. The Fionnphort driver also entered the village of Dervaig backwards after a spin in the slippery conditions.

The day stages on Saturday saw an improvement in the weather, but also the emergence of a couple of mechanical gremlins for the Honda. Issues with the car’s differential, and a loss of power steering, meant 22 year-old Craig was using all his energy and concentration to just keep the Civic going.

However, a sterling job by the G&M Mechanical Services crew meant the Type R was restored to full fettle by the time the headlamp pod was bolted on for the final overnight leg of the rally. A brace of top-twenty times hinted at what the Fionnphort driver was capable of, and when the clocks stopped after more than 150 miles of rallying Rutherford and MacCrone were good for 23rd place outright.

“This was my third time doing the Mull Rally, and having crashed the first year I did it and driven for a finish the second time, I really wanted to have a bit of a charge this year,” admits the Rutherford Plant boss. “Unfortunately we had an awful job all day on Saturday with the power steering packing in and the differential playing up, but when it was going well it was really going well.”

“I can’t praise Peter enough either, he’s been away from rallying for two years but you wouldn’t know it such is the quality of the job he did,” Craig continues. “Who knows what 2013 will bring, but this is a fine way to finish off 2012. Roll on the Awards Ceremony at the start of December!”

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