Wet and treacherous conditions brought an early end to the Castrol/ProSpeed team's challenge on the Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally as Sky Sports
TV presenter Tony Jardine and his guest co-driver, Motorsport Magazine
editor Damien Smith, smashed into the rocks on the notorious Errochty section.
Smith was tempted out of rallying 'retirement' in order to settle unfinished business, having failed to get to the end on his competitive debut with Jardine in the Swansea Bay Rally a year earlier. The lure of the famous McRae name drew him to make his return in the Scottish event based close to Perth.
The media pair were left frustrated, however, by numerous disruptions and the ever-changing conditions as their Castrol Fiesta crashed out down the side of the Scottish hills on a weekend during which even newly-crowned Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) Champion Kris Meeke failed to finish and a crew had to be cut out of their Vauxhall Nova on the first stage of the day.
“After a difficult start to our rally we began to settle down to a good pace on the second stage, Drummond Hill, only for a red flag caused by a rolled Escort Mk II to stop us in our tracks,” commented Smith. “We got back into a rhythm on the next stage, only for a fast left-hander to catch Tony out. It was disappointing not to make the finish, but once again the ProSpeed team have given me an experience I will never forget.”
“The Colin McRae Stages was a very challenging event,” added Jardine, “just as the great man himself would have wished. Damien had his hands full trying to navigate and call the pace notes as the scenery and surface changed so rapidly in the pouring rain, and team technician Andy Beale had to lower the pressures on our Kumho tyres to give us better grip in the mud.”
Despite his inevitable disappointment, though, Jardine was still able to see the funny side of the duo's challenge as they even became of interest to the police.
“We got into trouble with the law at one point after a couple of navigational misdemeanours caused us to be escorted back to the service area by two police motorcycle patrol men,” he recounted. “I reckon Damien was relieved when we crashed out, as his purgatory was over!”
“Tony doesn't often crash,” remarked ProSpeed boss Olly Marshall, following the long rescue operation to retrieve the stricken Castrol Fiesta from the remote Scottish hills late on Saturday night. “He and Damien had finally got into their stride after all the disruptions and they were pushing a bit too hard, as often happens in rallying. We were relieved that they were both uninjured, and the car will live to fight another day.”
The Castrol ProSpeed team will be back in action on the Cheviot Rally when Tom Cary, from the Daily Telegraph
, resumes his co-driving duties in just under a fortnight's time.