The Third and fourth rounds of this year’s mini cup visited Dunoon for a closed road rally, that ran Friday evening and Saturday. The roads are very demanding with blind crests and unseen bends coming one after the other, throw in darkness, it’s a proper test of man and machine.
The mini cup would score points for Friday and then points for Saturday.
Eight minis entered and were seeded towards the back of the field but all together.
Craig King with Russell Joseph led the registered contenders away, followed by current championship leader Clive King with Ian Harrop sitting alongside for the first time.
With the rest of the cars just behind and servicing together, each team were there to help if someone had problems.
Friday started with two stages around the town of Dunoon. The heavens had opened with heavy rain, and by the time the first mini arrived at the start, the roads were drenched making grip levels low.
Quickest on the first stage was jointly set by Clive and Shane Gamble with Bob Ward co driving, the rest of the pack was within a few seconds of their time.
Crews were amazed how many spectators had braved the rain and strayed to watch the Minis, shouting and waving the cars through.
Second stage which was a repeat of the first stage, saw Clive and Ian take a small lead, with a time of 59 seconds 13 seconds quicker than Shane who was second quickest before the cars headed to a quick service, before heading out to the other stages that would be running in darkness.
By the time the minis had arrived at the third stage the rain had increased with heavy mist over part of the stage, this made the conditions very tricky.
Craig and Russell set a time two seconds quicker than Clive and Ian who had taken 48 seconds out of 3rd placed mini of Harvey Stevens who had first time navigator Craig Hardiman sitting with him.
Straight on to the next stage this was a short 2.5-mile stage that was made up of bumpy rough roads with many crests and jumps.
Craig set a time 7 seconds quicker than Clive who was a little ahead of the rest of the pack.
The event was now running behind, so the repeat of this stage was cancelled and we made our way to the final stage of the evening, this would be a 14-mile test, to sort the men from the boys.
Sadly, one of the front runners had gone off, stopping the stage. We were held at the start while the organisers tried to get the stage open.
The organisers made the decision to cancel the final stage so we were turned around back to Dunoon to finish the first leg and our first scoring round.
Craig and Russell decided to query Clive and Ian’s stage 2 time with the organisers, that made the results provisional until resolved.
Much banter was given to Craig, protesting his dads stage time. Who says this championship is not competitive.
The organisers gave Clive a penalty of 30 seconds as the check sheet had got soaked and could not be read. This was only resolved when Clive’s in car was timed showing a time of 1 minute 9 seconds instead of the time given of 59 seconds.
This gave Craig and Russell the win by 1 second for the first day from Clive and Ian, how close was that.
John Nicholson and Kari Bates were a few seconds in front of Harvey to take third with Shane and Bob getting the first finish of the year. Kevin Haselden and Cat Lund making their first appearance took the next position.
Craig King won a set of brake pads from Questmead for best improvement in seeding.
The Exol oil prize was won by John Nicholson.
Day two started with light rain. The cars had been re seeded overnight and were running mid field. With two loops of four stages with a service in between, it would be demanding for the crews.
Kenny Watt elected not to re start in his mini, as the clutch master cylinder had started to leak, with no one carrying a spare, it was his only option.
By the first stage of the day, stage 7, the weather had improved with warm sunshine and dry conditions, although damp in places.
Harvey set a time of 5.11, followed by John Nicholson 5.27 the rest were close behind. Clive took time out of Craig to move him into the lead.
Stage 8 took crews up the side of a hill, with hairpin bends and very quick roads down the other side of the hill, Clive took 16 seconds off Craig who was second quickest.
The next stage had crews run alongside a lake with tight narrow roads, lots of blind crests, finishing with a new surfaced, quick road, with sweeping bends.
Clive set a time of 7.12 with John 7.31 second, Craig took 7.33 in third. Everyone else were very close behind.
The final stage in the loop, started with a very fast section, climbing before dropping down several hairpin bends. The stage continued with very fast narrow rough roads where the minis spent more time in the air than on the ground.
Clive extended his lead with everyone a few seconds behind.
The cars returned to Dunoon for a service before completing the final loop of stages.
The weather had continued to improve, with crews suffering with the heat as it had become very humid.
Clive managed extended his lead over the remaining stages, with Craig having a push to take second in the mini cup race.
Sadly, we lost Shane Gamble and Bob Ward on the last but one stage, with engine problems, but everyone else managed to make it to the end.
On the road section to the finish, people were lining the road waving and putting their thumbs up to the minis glad to see them competing.
Clive King managed to win a set of brake pads for best improvement in seeding from Questmead
The Exol oil prize was won by Shane Gamble.
The Snap on prize draw donated by Andrew OHanlon was won by Clive King.