Category Archives: 205 Ecosse Challenge

Amazing how words travel…

“Who reads this shit anyway?” Nearly everyone who writes regularly, be it reports for the workplace, group emails with fifty people ccd in, or a post on their personal blog, will have had this though flash across their mind at one point or another.

Because I write mainly for enjoyment these days, I don’t tend to keep track of who’s reading my blog on a daily basis. One thing I do always look forward to, however, is the end of year report that the good folk at WordPress lay on every December for the people using their service. What I really like about the WordPress report is that they tell you in the most positive way possible just who is reading your shit. For instance, one year they told me how many San Francisco cable cars my readers could fill, and another they put the hit count in terms of how long it would take all these people to climb Mount Everest.

What jumped out at me the most in this year’s report was that my most popular post for 2012 was one I wrote quickly two years ago, in which I listed up in rapid fire the ten drivers whose driving had impressed me most over the last few years. It wasn’t a particularly well-crafted or interesting piece, so I was puzzled as to how its popularity had suddenly spiked. Had I upset someone in the list? Had I sparked a craze for rally enthusiasts to make their own lists? Had someone taken a real shine to my writing and posted a link somewhere encouraging all and sundry to come and read?

Just as interesting, albeit slightly less odd, was the fact the site that most of my visitors came to my page from was a Japanese blog. Given that I post a lot of pictures of Japan up, and write quite often about things going on in the Far East, this seemed quite plausible. Still really interesting to find out, but quite plausible.

As it turns out, these two statistics were intrinsically linked. But first, let’s rewind to 2009.

At that time, I was working as the Media Officer for the 205 Ecosse Challenge, the one-make rally series in Scotland where all the crews use identical small cars. The idea is to keep the costs down so that the team with the biggest talent, and not the biggest wallet, take the spoils. We were concerned that our base car, the Peugeot 205, was running out of road, on account of the fact that (a) they stopped making them 15 years previous, and (b) our drivers were rapidly destroying all the ones left in a series of ever more spectacular accidents.

With that in mind we convened a committee meeting, and after much toing and froing decided that we would start to explore the possibility of introducing the Honda Civic as a step up from – and eventual replacement – for the rapidly disappearing 205. The problem was at that time, nobody with the exception of a few hardy souls was seriously rallying the Civic in Scotland. As such, we had very little access to technical knowledge about how to make an old Civic go fast, and more importantly no video footage with which to impress potential customers.

We divided our labour to resolve these issues. The more intelligent members of the committee took care of the first problem. Meanwhile, I was dispatched onto YouTube, armed with a Japanese dictionary and tasked with the job of finding some footage of a 1990s Honda Civic being rallied competitively. My task was completed before the technical guys had even had a chance to get their suspension settings sorted. The very first result that came up when I typed the magic words into the search box was an in-car from some obscure rally in Kyoto, featuring two guys hammering the absolute life out of an EK9 Civic Type R. For the entire stage, their mission seemed to be to rev the absolute nuts off the VTEC engine whilst hurling the car into corners at angles of ever-increasing impossibility. That ought to do the trick.

The three DVDs that started this long saga...

The three DVDs that started this long saga…

My fellow committee members suitably impressed, I fired an email off to the video’s producer – the mysteriously named ‘rstakeda’ – requesting further information. Two weeks and three emails later a Nagoya-postmarked Jiffy Bag of DVDs dropped through my letterbox. The DVDs showed the Racing Service Takeda team’s Honda Civic contesting the All Japan Rally Championship, with one Futoshi Murase behind the wheel. After the rollicking 2007 season when he drove the EK9 Civic, Futoshi upgraded to a much newer FD2 for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He drove it so quickly the Japanese pines at the roadside were reduced to a light-brown blur as the Civic screamed past, storming to the 2WD Championship in the 2009 Japanese series.

And then it all went quiet. Futoshi Murase’s antics briefly sprang to my mind in the middle of 2010 as I was trying to compose my ten-minute list of my ten favourite drivers, but after some outings in a Lancer Evo IX I never saw his name on a rally entry list again. It was as if he had been sent by Honda to inspire a group of Scottish youngsters to make their Civics go as fast as humanly possible and then, his task completed, just vanished into the ether.

On the evening of the 30th December 2012, it was with a mixture of bafflement and some trepidation that I struck out to solve the riddle of where all these mystery visitors to my blog had come from. I am a sensitive soul at the best of times, and was more than a little worried that someone out there on the web might be saying mean things about me behind my back. First up was this Japanese blog that lots of people had come to my website from. With the greatest of respects, this site looked like most of the other Japanese blogs I have ever seen. Ever. It had a series of medium-length, well-crafted and regular posts. There were emoticons peppered across it of the Asian variety, ones that look like (^_^) and (笑) rather than our Western 🙂 type. And it had lots and lots and lots of photos of food, all taken with a mobile phone camera. But the title caught my eye. ‘No Rally, No Life,’ it proudly declared in big white letters. And this is where a rally-prepped, shiny silver FD2 Honda Civic-shaped penny dropped, because behind the letters was a photo of Futoshi Murase’s RS Takeda rally car.

One Google search later and I came across a post dated 16th November 2012 which had a link to my blog, in particular the Ten Drivers in Ten Minutes article I mentioned above. In this post, a rather bewildered Futoshi was trying to fathom how on earth a British journalist had come to put him in the same list as Michael Schumacher and Sebastien Loeb. Clearly someone was reading my shit.

Keen to explain the long story of how I’d found his driving on YouTube and also to thank him for linking to my article, I fired a private message off to Futoshi from the fill-in form on his blog. This proved to be a little tricky, because the anti-spam test was harder than some of the Japanese exams I’ve sat. It required me to read out some symbols that phonetically spelt four Japanese numbers, then type those numbers numerically in the box below. If you manage to get that right first time, I think you deserve to be given a shot at trying to sell some discount Canadian meds or fake watches.

Racing Service Takeda's advice was valuable in the run-up to the launch of the Civic Ecosse Challenge

Racing Service Takeda’s advice was valuable in the run-up to the launch of the Civic Ecosse Challenge

Just as it had done three years previous when I responded to the driving video, an enthusiastic message came right back through the web. It transpires that soon after winning his class in the Japanese championship, Futoshi’s company transferred him to Indianapolis and the rallying had to stop. During an office discussion one day over what Murase-san did in Japan, an incredulous colleague went and Googled to see if he really was the 2009 Japanese champion. With the first English language result being my entry, the stunned colleague reported back that Futoshi was ‘famous like Michael Schumacher’.

Rather serendipitously, the week I got in touch again with Futoshi Murase was also the week he took delivery of his new American rally car. Eager to develop his career as a driver, he’s bought a bright yellow front-wheel drive Ford Focus and is going to do selected rounds of the Rally America series this year – starting with the 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri at the end of February. Budget and time permitting, he’s also thinking about coming to Europe to compete at some point in the near future.

In the intervening period since fate last brought us together, a lot has happened. Futoshi Murase has moved to the USA, RS Takeda have built a stunning Subaru BRZ competition car in their white, green and yellow livery, and I’ve packed in the serious writing for a 9-5 job. Goodness knows what will happen in the next three years, but in the nearer future, after Takuma Sato’s antics at the Indy 500 last year, Futoshi Murase still has a shot at being the first Japanese racing driver to win big in the USA.


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Filed under 205 Ecosse Challenge, Rally

Rutherford snatches defeat from clutches of victory, looks forward to Mull

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.

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Filed under 205 Ecosse Challenge, Rally, Scotland

Smashing drive from Rutherford with cracking result

Isle of Mull driver Craig Rutherford clinched the Scottish Junior Rally Championship thanks to a late turn of speed on Saturday’s Merrick Forest Stages rally. Craig overcame a slow start to take maximum junior points, sealing the under-23 title with one round to spare – and there could be more silverware to come before the season is out.

Craig Rutherford and Ross Hynd in the Honda Civic Type R on the Merrick Stages (photo by Alan Scott).

Saturday’s Wigtown-based Ian Broll Merrick Forest Stages marked the latest chapter in Rutherford’s rallying adventure. The 22 year-old from Fionnphort was once again competing in his Honda Civic Type R, with fellow youngster Ross Hynd from Ayr co-driving. Craig and Ross emerged from the Galloway forests with a timecard that guaranteed them the SRC junior prize and put them in prime position for several other honours.

Despite a slow start in the drizzle, Rutherford and Hynd were able to get their act together on the famous Glentrool stage, a single test that made up nearly half of the rally’s distance. The Honda crew then maintained their pace to overhaul main rival Lachlan Cowan – pipping the Fifer to the class win on the last stage of the day.

The result – first in class and seventeenth overall – means Craig just has to finish the last round of the Scottish Rally Championship in order to add the series Class 7 title to his Scottish Junior prize. The Honda Civic Type R Challenge trophy from the Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge is already in the bag.

“It was very important to win the class and get a maximum junior score, and we did just that,” explains company director Rutherford. “The start was terrible, nothing seemed to click, but our performance in the afternoon made the day for us really.”

The aftermath of co-driver Hynd’s leap onto the windscreen.

Despite his success, due to a bizarre accident Craig will spend this week replacing the windscreen on the rally car. “There was me thinking we’d done so well to get round without damaging the car, then Ross goes and puts his backside through the windscreen when we’re celebrating with the champagne!” continues the PMG Services and Fidden Campsite-backed driver. “But seeing as he did such a good job of keeping me on the road and at speed, I think we can let him off with it!”

Craig Rutherford’s next rally will be the Colin McRae Forest Stages in Perthshire on Saturday 6 October. If all goes well and a budget can be pulled together, a home run on the Tunnock’s Mull Rally could follow.

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Filed under 205 Ecosse Challenge, Rally, Scotland

Rutherford can’t emulate namesake’s success…this time!

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.

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Filed under 205 Ecosse Challenge, Rally, Scotland

Rutherford rocks the roads in rapidly repaired rally car!

Junior rally driver Craig Rutherford stormed to a class win and 22nd place overall on Sunday’s Jim Clark Reivers Rally – just 48 hours after wrecking his car during pre-event practice. Craig’s service crew worked flat-out to get the youngster’s car back in shape after an accident during Friday testing, and the Isle of Mull driver rewarded their efforts with a fast run over the Borders back lanes.

How many different Hondas’ parts are on this car?

More eagle-eyed fans would have noticed bits from several different rally cars bolted onto Rutherford’s rapidly repaired Honda Civic Type R as it crossed the event start in the Borders village of Duns. A front bumper was sourced from Aberdeen driver Colin Smith’s car, a wing came from Lancashire preparation firm EuroRallye, and a replacement bonnet came from a nearby scrapyard! But what mattered was that the car drove just as well as it did prior to the indiscretion.

After having to drive through the first stage of the day without windscreen wipers, Rutherford (21) and new co-driver Ross Hynd from Ayr picked up the pace to set a series of top-thirty times – including eighteenth place outright on the second Bothwell test. Despite a small excursion into – and back out of – a hedge late on in the rally, Craig and Ross finished strongly to secure another class win in the fourth round of the Scottish Rally Championship.

“After Friday, we can definitely count this as a good result. We had a big off while we were doing the shakedown, and had to replace everything at the front of the car – bumpers, wings, windscreen, you name it,” explains Fionnphort company director Rutherford, who was full of praise for his service crew. “I can’t thank my crew enough for getting the car back together, we had two very late nights before the rally but we made it!”

Craig was also delighted with the performance of new co-driver Ross Hynd, a fellow junior who – like Craig – made his rallying debut as soon as he was old enough to enter events. “Ross is absolutely brilliant, he is clearly very experienced and full of confidence,” believes Rutherford. “You can trust his description of the road ahead one hundred percent, and I’m looking forward to working with him over the rest of the season.”

The next rally for Craig Rutherford and Ross Hynd will be the RSAC Scottish Rally on Saturday 30 June 2012. By that time, the team’s Honda Civic Type R will hopefully have been returned to one coherent colour scheme – but the resolve and determination the team showed on the Jim Clark will be undiminished.

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Filed under 205 Ecosse Challenge, Rally, Scotland

Junior rallying lands in Scotland

I think I went to bed last night and woke up four years earlier. I’m in a rally service park during the break between stages, notebook in one hand, pen in the other. The generator from the Ecosse Challenge van is in full swing, a constant steam of cups of tea and slices of cake pouring out the open side door. Mark McCulloch and Craig Wallace recount the previous stages’ misadventures, Mark struggling to control his laughter as he describes going round a corner on three wheels. Euan Duncan leaps out his vehicle and charges straight up to the stage time board propped up outside the van, punching the air and loudly expressing his delight at the time his car’s set over the last two stages. Monty Pearson calmly stalks up to the board, notes some times down on his clipboard, and heads straight back over to the Borders team to relay the info to the young driver.

The only difference is that this isn’t 2008. It’s 2012. All the guys who were right at the heart of some of the most exciting times in the Ecosse Challenge’s history are here, except now they are back helping to write the next exciting chapter in the tale of Scottish rallying – the Brick and Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge. If it’s the hard work of a few individuals that have got junior rallying in Scotland off the ground, it’s the remarkable level of support from Challenge competitors past and present that has sent the series soaring skywards.

Junior 1000 Ecosse service area

It’s been a long and twisty road since I hosted a forum with Jimmy McRae and five juniors to mark the launch of the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge back in October 2010. The Junior Team of David Barlow and Jim Aitken – ably supported by rally school master Bob Watson – have spent much of the intervening time driving up and down the country, trailering Micras to motor shows to drum up publicity, attending midweek meetings to garner the support of existing events, and waking up at the crack of dawn on Sundays to go and run the production car autotests that the juniors have to complete in order to be issued with their licences. There have been big regulatory and legislative issues that have had to be worked round, but with the unwavering support of the rallies, car clubs and the Motor Sports Association, all the forms have been signed and all the boxes ticked.

Meanwhile, through various Facebook posts, Twitter feeds and news snippets on the Challenge website, from afar I’ve watched the excitement build among the first cohort of Junior Ecosse pilots. Cars have been built, licensing tests sat, and budgets pulled together. Even things like the arrival of a racesuit through the post or the bolting of mudflaps onto the back of the car served to make it all seem a bit more real as the months, weeks, and days ticked down to the first round. I’ll never forget the excitement with which young Scott Murray uploaded photos of his name, freshly stickered onto the side windows of his Micra, to the Challenge Facebook page.

Of the hopefuls I interviewed in that backroom at Perth Racecourse all those months ago, most are out and competing when I turn up for Round 2 at the Royal Highland Showground on the outskirts of Edinburgh. “It’s amazing how much they’ve all grown up since it was launched,” remarks Jake Dickie, former Challenge champion co-driver in his own right and father of early Junior frontrunner Michael. “I mean, he was 12 when we had that launch day, now he’s 14 – that’s a lot of progress for someone of that age.”

Jake himself is heading up the service crew for Michael’s car. Under the rules set out when junior rallying started in England a few years ago, the junior’s co-driver has to be over 21, holder of a National A licence, and not a relative of the driver. Euan Duncan is the man tasked with filling the hot seat for the Dickie team, serving the dual purpose of keeping Michael right on the stages and also helping to bring him along as a driver with all the experience he gathered during his time as a Challenge frontrunner. Apart from the replacement of the red Civic with a smaller white Japanese hatch, everything is pretty much the same as it’s always been for the Banchory team – except that now it’s the turn of Michael to get behind the wheel.

Michael Dickie pressing on

All around the Junior 1000 paddock it’s the same story. Most of the junior drivers have fewer than forty stage miles under their belts, but it feels like we’ve known them for an eternity. They’re the guys we’ve seen time and time again over the last few years, running round the service parks in boiler suits and doing whatever they can to help their siblings, parents or family friends’ rally campaigns. As they’ve grown up, they’ve progressed from carrying the cups of tea to fetching driveshafts right through to bolting wheels back on the cars, and now it’s their turn to be in the spotlight. Take Ryan Weston, for example. I can remember him zipping around the Ramsport tent whilst dad Dave was challenging for the Scottish Rally Championship. Then he was reading the maps in the chase car whilst big brother Dave Junior made his mark on the British rally scene. Now at long last it’s his turn to be the centre of Ramsport’s efforts, heading out to the stages in a Citroen C1 whilst his father watches on from the service area.

The main field has finished with the stage, it’s been changed over to accommodate the juniors (there are understandably restrictions on splits and merges), and it’s time for the next ten minutes of flat-out action that the last two years have all been working towards. Helmets on, doors shut, engines rev up. I head over to the fence and wait for the 1000cc cars to make their way round. First up is Alex Vassallo from the north of England. He’s been in training at Chris Birkbeck’s Rally School – and it shows. The 14 year-old is visibly faster than any of the other juniors, taking something like seven seconds a mile out of the rest. The others are quickly catching up, though, braking later and later with every pass of the stages, running closer and closer to the bales and making those gearchanges smoother and smoother. In fact, by the end of Ingliston, second-placed Harry Marchbank had sliced in half the gap that separated him from Alex at the end of the previous round.

The guy hanging off the fence next to me has seen it all before. His name is Cameron Davies, and he is living proof of the value of the Junior 1000 formula. Rocking back and forth on the cables every time a car goes past and willing the driver to brake later, he drips enthusiasm for rallying. He has destroyed the competition in almost every series he’s competed in, has been a works rally driver, and is a member of the MSA’s Apprentice Programme. Oh, and he’s just turned seventeen.

Cameron has come up from Wales – yes, Wales – for the day to give the Scottish Juniors some advice. As someone who’s been through the whole scheme himself in the not-too-distant past and hit the ground running in his first season of ‘real’ rallying as a result, he’s superbly placed to give the tips and encouragement that’s needed. “Just from seeing what I have today, I can already see the improvements that the drivers are making with every run – and also where they still need to make up time,” he explains. “Most of them won’t have driven very far on competition tyres before, for example, so they just need to be given the confidence to really turn in and brake much later than they ever could in a road car. I’ve been through this whole process myself, so I’ve got and idea of what they need to learn, what they’re going to need to work on, and where they’re going to need reined in.” Yes, this a seventeen year-old talking. When I was that age I was more concerned with trying to make my Mum’s Volkswagen Polo ‘yump’ on the Black Isle’s undulating roads.

Alex Adams hones his cornering

The other driver mentor in attendance is someone at the same end of the talent scale – if at the other end of the experience scale. Jimmy McRae has been hugely supportive of the Scottish Junior 1000 programme since Challenge Co-Ordinator David ‘DIGB’ Barlow first floated the idea, and today he has been given a group of six juniors to mentor. “We’ve come a long way since we all sat down in Perth and had that forum, haven’t we? This is a terrific initiative for Scottish motor sport and a real credit to the guys that have put in so much hard work to make it happen,” believes the man who many of the Junior 1000 drivers will have encountered for the first time when they used a digital version of his Ford Sierra in Colin McRae Rally 4 on the PlayStation. “I’m just here to watch the youngsters in action, answer any questions they might have for me, and impart whatever pearls of wisdom I can.”

As the juniors and their experienced co-drivers scoot round the tarmac tracks with ever-increasing speed, a father and his son watch on from under the Challenge tent with quiet satisfaction. Their names are Tristan and Alistair Dodd, and they are responsible for the entire junior rallying movement. From their base in deepest Wales, the Dodds have masterminded a movement that is changing the face of rally driving. “Cameron Davies, Ashley Slights, Aaron Newby,” Tristan rattles off the Formula 1000 junior alumni.

“Chris Ingram,” Alistair cuts in.

“Yep, Chris Ingram, Formula 1000 champion last year, absolutely flying in the Twingo now,” Tristan continues. All these guys are now starting to break through into rallying proper, and you can just see the way their training in the juniors has helped them.”

“I guess at this stage of their careers, one of the most important things isn’t the times they set, but the rate at which they learn,” I ask.

“Yes, that’s absolutely right, it’s all about learning and improvement at this stage,” Dodd senior promptly confirms. “But you know what the most important thing of all is?”

He turns and gestures towards the throng of drivers, co-drivers, mechanics and parents crowded round the stage times board. “Look at all those faces, grinning from ear to ear. Maybe one in ten thousand of them, if even that, will make it as a professional rally driver. So when you think about it like that, the fact that all these people are out there and enjoying their rallying is the thing that gives us the most satisfaction.”

Right on cue, John MacCrone emerges from behind a pick-up truck. A star of the WRC Rally Academy and regular competitor in the World Championship, MacCrone is perhaps the most likely in the UK to be the one in ten thousand that goes all the way in rallying. But today, he’s out for a play, and even a fuelling issue isn’t going to spoil his fun. “Top-three times, top-three times in the Fiesta, we’re loving every second of it!” declares the Muileach. Before the day is out, he’ll get fastest stage times outright in his two-wheel drive Ford. The take-home message, though, is that even at the very top levels of rallying it’s still the grin factor that makes the drivers tick. As it is, the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge is doing an awful lot to ensure that the next generation of Scottish rally stars fully maximize their talent, but it’s the number of smiling faces the series has added to the service park that could well be its greatest legacy.

Words by Leslie Mabon –

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Filed under 205 Ecosse Challenge, Rally, Scotland

Stage stars rally round for earthquake and tsunami


The horrific events that recently struck Japan need no explanation here. What you may not know, though, is that the Japanese rally driving community is pulling together to offer support to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in any way they can. Now they would like the wider rally community to support them in their efforts.

The ‘Do Something’ rally initiative is being coordinated by rally team principal and former Japan national champion co-driver Kazuya Suzuki. The aim is to draw on the spirit and camaraderie of rallying and use this as a force for good to help all those who have lost homes, loved ones or livelihoods as a result of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Through the website, rally participants from across the world are able to make donations however small to assist aid efforts in Japan. The idea is to make a contribution from the world of rallying to an extremely serious situation.

The Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge has already thrown its weight behind the initiative. At the Border Counties Rally at the weekend, participants in the Civic Ecosse Challenge and 205 Ecosse Challenge contributed to a collection for the disaster fund. Challenge sponsor John McClory of Brick and Steel Construction then agreed to double what the competitors had collected – and it is hoped more members of the Scottish and British rally community can contribute.

“When we organize a rally, everyone lends a hand and works together to make it happen. I want to capture this spirit and use it to help those who have been affected by recent events,” explains Suzuki. “As individuals we can be overwhelmed by the scale of things and feel there is nothing we can do, but by drawing on the network of the rally, even if we all do something very small we can make a real difference.”

Donations can be made via PayPal, with information available in English and Japanese at Information on the Brick and Steel Ecosse Challenge’s efforts is available at

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Filed under 205 Ecosse Challenge, Japan, Rally