Fine Fourth From Birthday Boy MacCrone
2nd July 2013

Culina Palletforce Racing’s John MacCrone scored his best result so far this season after finishing fourth on the gruelling RSAC Scottish Rally in Dumfries today. But it was a double celebration as birthday-boy MacCrone, who turned 24, was presented with a special Culina cake in front of the team’s 50 guests in service this morning.

(John is presented with a birthday cake by team principal Thomas Van Mourik)

After two less-than-perfect performances on the opening two rounds of the MSA British Rally Championship, the pressure was on Mull driver MacCrone and co-driver Phil Pugh today to bring their Citroen DS3 safety to the finish. Unlike the recent Jim Clark Rally, MacCrone didn’t aim to challenge for overall victory but his fourth place on this tough event was the step in the right direction he desired.

The Scottish Rally was reinstated to the British series after a seven-year break. That meant most drivers, including MacCrone, had little or no experience of the forest roads around Dumfries and New Galloway. And, to make conditions even harsher, many of the stages were recently re-graded with new gravel – causing slippery sections which then rutted badly on the second pass through.

(Culina Palletforce Racing service park)

Even before the start of the event MacCrone conceded that his focus was on getting to the finish and securing some precious points for the championship. But the plan didn’t get off to a great start when a punctured front tyre on the very first stage saw him drop a few seconds to the front-runners. Then on stage two the pair discovered their pacenotes were a little too fast and were forced to back off to stay safe through the tricky test.

However, on the repeat run through the morning loop, they picked up the pace and moved up to fourth after a much-improved drive through the longest stage – the 13.75-mile race through Ae West. MacCrone was happier with his driving and stepped up the speed while still maintaining a no-risk strategy.

(John MacCrone / Phil Pugh)

When the battle moved west to the Galloway forest this afternoon, things continued to improve. Equipped with new Pirelli tyres for the final important loop, MacCrone and Pugh found a much better rhythm to go third fastest on stage seven, the eight-mile blast through Shaw Hill, and consolidate their fourth overall position. A gutsy run through the rock-littered final test at Clatteringshaws allowed the pair to cruise to the finish podium in Dumfries in a comfortable fourth.

The result will boost MacCrone’s confidence as the championship switches back to Tarmac, his preferred surface, when crews travel across the Irish Sea for Rally Northern Ireland in August.

John MacCrone, Culina Palletforce Racing team driver, said: “Although we weren’t really on the same pace as the top guys today it was important to have a trouble-free run and get some points on the board. This morning I was concentrating too much on not making a mistake and I just couldn’t get into a rhythm. But the afternoon stages were much more enjoyable. Things flowed much better, the times improved and it all felt good. The result today is certainly a strong base to build on for the next event.”

Thomas Van Mourik, Culina Palletforce Racing team principal, said: “John and Phil have put in a solid drive today in what seemed to be difficult conditions. After two poor results there was a lot of pressure and expectation on the boys to get to the finish. Fourth place, and a problem-free drive, will go a long way to boosting John’s confidence ahead of the next event.”

Report: Courtesy of Culina Palletforce Racing


John Focuses On Finish As Scottish Rejoins BRC
27th June 2013

With the MSA British Rally Championship now well underway, the action stays in Scotland but switches back to gravel for this weekend’s third round. After a seven-year break from the championship, the RSAC Scottish Rally is a welcome addition for 2013 and brings some classic forest stages to the mix.

(John MacCrone / Phil Pugh - Round 1 Pirelli RBF Rally)

Speedy Scot John MacCrone is carrying the team mantle this weekend after second driver Peter Taylor opted to pull out of the series. On paper, the Scottish Rally may be MacCrone’s home event but it’s one that he and most of the other British rally crews have little experience of. And, after two events with two different issues that have seen MacCrone drop out of the battle for rally victory, he’s keen to have a problem-free run this weekend and is concentrating on a clean drive rather than a charge to top the time-sheets.

The Mull driver set the early pace on the Jim Clark Rally but suspension damage forced him into an untimely retirement. However, this weekend’s level playing field could even things out a little. His relative lack of experience in the Culina Citroen DS3 has meant MacCrone has been playing catch-up this season. But he and co-driver Phil Pugh have confidence in their pacenotes and the new Scottish stages could play into their hands.

MacCrone comes to Dumfries after some gravel mileage on last weekend’s DMACK Stages and will contest the pre-event shakedown on Friday to ensure he’s back up to speed on the loose.

The Scottish Rally sees BRC action return to the classic forests around Dumfries and New Galloway. Renowned for their demanding, high-speed stages, the forest roads also seem to cause more punctures than most other rounds so a neat driving style to avoid the rocks is vital.

The pre-event recce, which takes place on Friday morning, will also be crucial. As all crews lack experience of these roads, the driver who makes the best pacenotes, and is able to commit to them right from the start, will have a big advantage.

Event Details:
After a ceremonial start in the centre of Dumfries on Friday evening, the opening action takes place to the north of the town with stages at Windy Hill and Ae forest – the Ae West stage is the longest of the rally at 13.75 miles. Then it’s back to rally base at Heathhall airfield for a short spectator stage before service.

The first three stages are repeated before the action moves west to the Galloway forest where three compact stages will be contested. These are spilt by remote service near Clatteringshaws Loch before crews return to Dumfries for the finish podium celebrations.

John MacCrone, Culina Palletforce Racing team driver, said: “We’ve taken many positives from the Jim Clark where we were on the pace right from the start. But, for the Scottish, I’m concentrating on getting to the end without any problems, which probably means backing off a little. The stages will be tricky for everyone and I think it’s good that none of the top drivers have much experience of the roads – I’ve got confidence in my pacenotes so that could help us a little and maybe make up for our lack of experience in the car.”

Thomas Van Mourik, Culina Palletforce Racing team principal, said: “With two events under our belt, now is the time to really focus on securing some solid results and points for the championship. John has shown he has the pace and hopefully can do a good job for us this weekend.”

Report: Courtesy of Culina Palletforce Racing

Back to news