The 8th Flying Scotsman 2016

15th – 17th April, 2016

The 8th Flying Scotsman 2016 - Rally Reports

Visit the Flying Scotsman Photo Gallery to find Gerard Brown's event photographs

Link to the comprehensive Flying Scotsman Results Book 

Day Three - Castlecary to Gleneagles

The day of reckoning

Most people start the day with something like a coffee, a croissant, some toast and a piece of fruit. Not so our sweep crews, today they found themselves breakfasting on the remains of a Ford Model A.

Matt Abrey had had a new clutch driven from Norfolk on the overnight mail coach and it arrived just in time to allow Andy Inskip to put down his bowl of Granola and pick up his box of tools instead. The car itself had been left in a state of readiness last night and at 6.30 am the new clutch was being fitted.

For the rest of the Rally, thankfully the morning was a little less frantic until that is they arrived at Knockhill Circuit for the first two tests of the day.

The first one was on the track itself with the second following hard on its heels on the rally cross section. This short sharp blast fairly looped and swooped up and down a steep hillside and this tight technical driving demanded more pedal control than you'd usually see in three weeks of the Tour de France.

Needless to say our overnight leaders Gareth Burnett and Martyn Taylor made it look easy and their turbine smooth engine effortlessly took the big Talbot from apex to apex.

Matt Abrey and Jasper Hulscher managed to get to the control in the nick of time and set about ‘sensibly’ running their new clutch in with a combination of low revs and gentle acceleration.

With the fun and games of Knockhill out of the way then it was back to the more usual rally business of map reading and keeping to a schedule with a series of regularities through Glen Almond, Glen Quaich, and the Tay Forest before an excellent lunch in Pitlochry.

Following their refreshment, the crews were definitely in a party mood as they tackled the last test and final two regularities of the 2016 Flying Scotsman around Taymouth Castle and Loch Freuchie.

There was a certain element of showboating and some last gasp attempts to snatch the odd seconds here and there but in the event the run into Gleneagles turned out to be a victory parade for Gareth Burnett and Martyn Taylor. They well deserved the applause and the salutation of the piper after what was probably the toughest of all eight editions of this remarkable rally.

The bar was certainly busy once the engines had been turned off, but the highlight of the evening was the Gala Prizegiving where we tucked into venison en croute before Fred Gallagher and Kim Bannister set to the handing out of the prizes.

A final results can be found from the results links on this page.

This evening also saw another important announcement in that the entries for the 2017 Flying Scotsman were opened and, within minutes of this, Peter Zernial won the race to submit the first one. We look forward to seeing him and the rest of these intrepid crews back with us in twelve months time.

Syd Stelvio


Day Two - Slaley Hall to Castlecary

Ice ice baby

In the well known frost pocket of the Slaley Forest, we found the cars thick with ice this morning with flurries of light spindrift dancing over them beneath a threatening steel grey sky. Jim Gately, himself a man of iron, was also seen - under his car dressed in jeans and a T shirt at 6.15am.

So, yesterday had certainly been an epic drive, on that everyone was agreed and over breakfast several crews compared their levels of frostbite and a decision was made, albeit an unspoken one that ice axes and crampons were the probably the order of the day once again.

There was another 8.01am start and straight from the gun there was a short sharp test followed by a run through the North Pennines and over the Hadrian's Wall just north of Corbridge.

The light spindrift had given up and by now real snow was falling and whilst technically not quite a blizzard, try telling that to those crews with an open car.

We pressed on however through this variable weather and into Northumberland where we were exhorted to keep a sharp eye out for red squirrels as we crossed over the old Roman Road - Devils Causeway.

This morning was one of great regularities and stunning scenery with unrelenting yet entertaining roads such as that through Paxton Dene where we forded the same river twice as part of a long looping regularity.

A welcome coffee break was scheduled in Acklington which preceded a run up the wild and impressive Northumberland coast and a track test at Brunton. By now the sun was shining, the sky was blue and all was well with the Rally as we sped along past Bamburgh Castle alongside Budle Bay before we pointed ourselves westwards for more regularity and navigational challenges in and around The Burns. Crews had to be on their mettle in this section. The instructions demanded good trip meter discipline but even so we witnessed car 62, the Aston Martin of Thomas Maechler and Andrea Scherz making an unscheduled farm visit in Berrington.

By now the sun was well and truly shining and our friendly daffodil companions which have followed us all of the way from Belvoir were nodding themselves dizzy in the stiff northerly breeze.

Lunch was in Paxton just over the River Tweed which could be described as our very own Rubicon; crossing the Union Chain Bridge - one car at a time - was metaphorical if not geographical proof that we had made it to Scotland. With lunch finished, the Lammermuir hills hoved into view where the stage was set for the afternoon’s sport from the village of Longformacus, through which we were urged to go quiet and slow.

Once we'd driven through this lovely little village we were into yet another excellent regularity over a wild and unfenced moor with many closely spaced timing points just to make things a bit more tricky.

The finale of the day was the Forrestburn track, a stunning but unassuming little circuit. In just over 1km it packs everything you could want from a race track; off camber turns, short climbs and steep drops with a couple of straights to open things up.

Our resident trackmeisters, Martin Hunt and Peter Lovett both in Frazer Nash cars obviously relished this opportunity to ‘strut their stuff’ and both put on a very competent display for the appreciative crowd.

From fantastic Forrestburn the night halt in Cumbernauld was only a stones throw away where we found many tired but happy crews tucking into beef Wellington served at the table.

As ever, there have been some mechanical issues to deal with during the day but most seemed to have been minor ones?

Gavin and Diana Henderson’s Frazer Nash for example suffered some fuel supply issues throughout the day but they got them sorted on the road and are here with us tonight.

Sean Bramhall had a more interesting start to the day than he bargained for though when one of his wheels fell off. A passing local, a Mr Charlie McGowan, who competed in the 2010 Peking to Paris also happens to be a more than handy mechanic. He took Sean and his stricken Triumph back to his workshop and got the problem sorted. What a result.

In the hotel carpark this evening we found Andrew Davies wrestling with a niggling trip meter issue whilst Julian Riley was cutting threaded rod to repair his shock rear mountings.

Matt Abrey and Jasper Hulscher’s Model A clutch had sadly failed this morning and it looks as though they’ll be touring up to Gleneagles if Andy Inskip and the sweeps can’t get it fixed overnight. We’ll let you know tomorrow.

Tonight's leaderboard then is as follows

Gareth Burnett and Martyn Taylor still lead in the Talbot 105 Alpine, John Abel and Leigh Powley are still second in the Lagonda LG45 but third place has been snatched by Stuart Anderson and Andy Pullan in a Bentley Derby 4¼.

Dirk and Nick Van Praag’s Delahaye 135M has however dropped to fifth.

Tomorrow’s the last day, a scenic loop through the Highlands from the world famous Knockhill Circuit but Gareth Burnett, a winner of this event in 2013 will likely have little time to enjoy the scenery.

Syd Stelvio


Day One - Belvoir Castle to Slaley Hall

Judging by the spritely conversations around the breakfast table this morning most crews had been sensible last night and had put themselves to bed at a reasonable hour. So, by 7.30am Belton Woods was filled with the simultaneous sounds of a vintage rally waking itself up and a carpark emptying; banging, rumbling, creaking and popping.

There was a twenty minute drive to the Belvoir Castle start however to take into account and the sight that greeted the first crews was an impressive one. A monolithic citadel which rose from the mist surrounded by pale yellow fields of rape.

The Duchess of Rutland herself came down to flag the cars away and at 8.01am precisely our joint station masters, Shon and Pam Gosling stamped the time card and her Grace raised the Union Flag. At this signal Michaal Laarman gunned his big old Knox and every pheasant on the estate made a run for it.

A regulatory around the Rose Garden got things off to a flying start with a mixture of long straights, tight turns on a surface of variable quality which led on into beautiful rolling parkland.

From Belvoir, more fun was to be had at the Fulbeck karting circuit before an entertaining run north through the beautiful flatland villages of Lincolnshire to some more track time at the Blyton race circuit before a well earned coffee break in Red Lion Coaching Inn in Redbourne.

The mighty Humber bridge, the seventh longest bridge of its type in the world brought us straight into the first navigational section around the village of West Ella.

Crews had to perform a tricky 'join the dots' exercise with penalties applied for wrong approach or departure. Engines revved, gears crunched and drivers cursed as the navigators picked their way through some of the lesser known byways of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Yellow was very much the colour of the morning with millions of vivid daffodils nodding their approval as we passed them on the way to a superb lunch at the magnificent Castle Howard where Yorkshire beef was on the menu.

Fully fuelled and fed, from Castle Howard the Rally was to see more of Gods own County on the road to the Cleveland Hills set on the western edge of the North York Moors.

In the lovely village of Slingsby the residents were as pleased to see us as we were to see them. The Grapes Inn, a local hostelry was even offering a free Slingsby G&T for every thirsty co driver.

It was market day in the bustling town of Helmsley after which we turned onto the stunning Rievaulx Terrace for another regularity which turned and twisted, pitched and plunged and called for good brakes and clutches on the sometimes 16% gradient before the cars had to wade through he ever popular Caydale Mill Ford where they could cool also those self same brakes.

The regularities and navigational sections continued over Hawnby Moor which led to the afternoon coffee and track test at the excellent Croft circuit.

A very wet afternoon however had set in and by the time the final Regularity of the day had been reached at Muggleswick Common there was heavy sleet falling and the temperature sat at 1°c.

All sympathies were with the heroic open car crews, some of whom were seen struggling along the roadside with yards of flapping wet canvas and some bits of spilt cane attempting to sort out long forgotten roofs.

Those who could put a roof up though were the lucky ones, Dan Harrison sat along Bill Cleyndert in the Model A complained that his goggles were frozen both on the inside and the outside.

Sadly there have been problems for some of the crews today and this is what we know so far. Car 4, the Bugatti of Pablo and Julio Baptista  boiled up just before its start time but Super Sweep Wayne Dent managed to bring things under control with a slight adjustment to the water pump. The clouds of steam presaged more trouble ahead though and by the end of the day this beautiful car was on a trailer and on its way home.

Car 3, the Bentley of Alex Bell and Peter Bradfield was spotted stopped on the verge just before the Humber Bridge with the crew peering underneath the car. Unfortunately they were forced to retire with what was a catastrophic oil pump failure.

Car 74, the red Lagonda of Geert van de Velde and Robert Zehenphenning had to be towed up Hawnby Moor by Land Rover.

What of the leaderboard then, after a long tough day it’s Gareth Burnett and Martyn Taylor in a Talbot who hold the lead with John Abel and Leigh Powley in a Lagonda in second. Dirk and Nick van Praag currently sit in third place in their lovely blue Delahaye.

Rallying is not only a sport but it's a window on a country and today that window was well and truly flung open on the best of the English countryside. Unfortunately the weather played its part also and the crews in the open top cars wished that they had some windows to shut - tight - against the shocking weather which arrived in the middle of the afternoon.

Tomorrow is another day though and the warm welcome and superb food at Slaley Hall will no doubt go a long way to thawing things out.

Syd Stelvio

Thursday Pre-Start - The Grid Prepares for Departure

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines please.

Assembled here in the Belton Woods Hotel, Grantham, are more than 110 vintage cars which, along with their respective owners are fairly champing at the bit, waiting for the flag to drop, the clock to start and the 2016 Flying Scotsman to begin.

Luckily this fine hotel set in rolling parkland boasts, along with many other attributes some 300 complimentary parking spaces and we’ve managed to fill almost half of them.

The old cliche of new friends in old cars and old friends in new cars still rings true but with this, the eighth running of the event the list of those friends is getting longer every year. Stephen Jagger for example in his Bentley is about to start his first Flying Scotsman. He tells us that he’s done soft tours before but now wants to see what the car is capable of and indeed what it was designed for.

Some 26 Bentley’s are lined up this year which makes this marque among the most popular and, another notable Bentley driver as well as last year's winner, William Medcalf is once again “only here for the beer”. But this time he’s brought a different drinking partner along in the shape of his wife Victoria. Does this mean he’s really going to take it easy? Hardly likely when you consider that their honeymoon culminated with a second overall and a class win in the 2010 Peking to Paris.

Bill Cleyndert and Dan Harrison, last year's runners up are also back with us in Betsy, the Model A - aka the Silver Bullet - and are no doubt hopeful of climbing to that final step on the podium.

The 1911 Knox Type R of Michel Laarman takes the honours for the oldest car of the Rally and the car with the biggest engine at 7200cc while a relatively youthful 1948 - MG TC belonging to Peter Zernial sits at the other end of the timeline. Both of these cars and their drivers have also completed the Peking to Paris Rally in 2007 and 2013 respectively.

Clint Smith and Trevor Finn who are, like many others are getting ready for their first Peking to Paris, have brought the smallest engine of the Rally with them, 1086cc all wrapped up in a beautiful 1933 - MG K3.

A father and son team of Michael and Peter Joseph meanwhile have often been spotted in the smallest car of the Rally in the shape of a dinky 750cc Austin 7 but this time they’ve come over all grown up and are now in an Alvis Speed 20 with a full 2500cc at their disposal. Lets hope they use it wisely.

James Gately and Tony Brooks though are still as large as they ever were in their 1937 - Cadillac 60 Series Coupe. Last year's second place, in a thrilling Alpine Trial finale, showed us what these guys can do when they put their mind to it.

Nicholas Pryor and Lesley Stockwell with us for a second attempt at getting to Gleneagles are hoping to still be with us beyond lunchtime tomorrow. Last year a ‘mucky fuel tank’ put paid to their first Flying Scotsman outing in their Chevrolet Opera Coupe.

David and Jo Roberts are with us in an HRG 1500. More used to Classic cars they both looked very pleased with themselves as they pulled into the car park this morning although David says that he does prefer a car to go where he wants it to when he tells it to. The light and skittish HRG 1500 is taking some getting used to.

Trip meters are essential to any successful rally car and their accuracy or lack of it can give rise to all sorts of frustrations. For this reason, a measured mile and a practice regularity had been laid out to enable the calibration of man and machine while Andy Inskip and his band of merry mechanics were kept busy with the all important scrutineering checks throughout the day.

Away from the noise and clamour of the car park the Rally Office team of Ele, Annette, Nikki and Sue ensured that everyone had their paperwork in order as well as answering any last minute questions.

Kim Bannister, the Clerk of the Course and Fred Gallagher the Rally Director both gave welcoming speeches and a briefings for the crews, novice or otherwise and, during the course of the welcome dinner, Fred Gallagher was busy again as he presented the first ever Philip Young Memorial Trophy on behalf of the HRCR to ace navigator Iain Tullie.

Tomorrow it’s an early start from Belvoir Castle where we will be flagged away at 8.01am promptly and there’s bound to be a little nervous chatter in the bar this evening but to paraphrase Isaac Newton, perhaps the most famous of Grantham’s sons, who declared that; ‘an object  - such as a vintage Rally car - in motion tends to remain in motion along a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force’.

Tomorrow, the crews will begin to find out exactly what those outside forces could be.

Syd Stelvio



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