For legions of British rally fans, the month of June meant only one thing. The Scottish Rally. Two things, actually. The Scottish Rally and midges.
Summer in Britain’s far north could deliver a wide range of weather conditions, from chilly starts and all-day rain to Acropolis-style, tyre-shredding ceaseless sunshine.
Regardless of the weather, the midges were an ever present feature. Back in the 1980s, the Scottish was still one of the absolute classics and a must have on the CV of any would-be British or World Rally Champion. And the Glasgow-to-the Highlands-and-back 1985 event was no different.
Michèle Mouton started as car one in an Audi Quattro Sport. Remember that? Of course you do. The short wheelbase car which came with plenty of power, but not much of an appetite for corners. Hello understeer…
Behind the French lady were Malcolm Wilson and David Llewellin, both in Audis – but the Welshman’s a newer A2 evolution. And then came the have-nots; local hero and Scottish legend Jimmy McRae led the two-wheel drive charge in an Opel Manta 400. He would finish a distant second with arch-rival and team-mate Russell Brookes on the bottom step of the podium in third. Northern Irishman Bertie Fisher, also in a GM Dealer Sport-entered Manta 400, finished fourth.
The Manta was always a car worth listening to as well as watching, but Tony Pond’s Rover Vitesse which won Group A and finished fifth overall was a particular aural delight.
The winner of the rally? Wilson. By a country mile and more than 12 minutes. VHS Rallies has, once again, excelled itself by unearthing some quality 1980s rallying. And, talking of the ’80s (although this might have been the 1990s), remember the “Bet you can’t put a Rowntrees Fruit pastille in your mouth without chewing it…” thing? Well here’s a rally version for you: I bet you can’t watch Wilson’s approach to the final hairpin on the Rest and be Thankful hillclimb just once. Epic viewing.