Circuit rallying comes to Scotland

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Circuit rallying is unique, and visits Scotland this weekend (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

The Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship is heading to Knockhill Racing Circuit this Sunday for the third round of the 2018/19 season.

The championship is one of the fastest-growing in the country and has witnessed some of the best rallying battles in recent memory in its short three year history. Defending champion Chris West heads Sunday’s entry list in his Peugeot 306 Maxi, with Scottish heroes Alan Kirkaldy, John Marshall and Donnie MacDonald taking the battle to MSN Championship regulars West, John Stone and Tom Blackwood.

Now in its fourth season, the MSN Championship heads to various different race tracks across the UK, in a hybrid format between racing and rallying.

Rallying – where drivers race against the clock to set the quickest possible time – traditionally takes place in forests or on closed public roads whereas racing occurs on race tracks with a bunch of cars battling each other for position.

Circuit rallying mates the two disciplines together. The special stages are all set within the confides of a race track, but it’s a rally so each car sets off at 30 second intervals and races each other on the time-sheets and not the circuit.

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Fair (right) finds circuit rallying more relaxing than stage rallying (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

This provides a very different viewing spectacle for onlookers and a unique challenge for the competitors. Cameron Fair regularly competes with double Scottish rally champion Jock Armstrong, but is sitting beside Alan Kirkaldy in his Ford Fiesta R5 on Sunday.

“Circuit rallying is quite relaxed for a navigator compared to a circuit event,” Fair said.

“There are no road sections which for me are the most stressful part of a rally. There’s also no route notes, just a map. Spitting out a description of the road to the driver at rally pace can be difficult. The map is more vague so there’s only so much you can tell the driver, and after multiple laps he knows the lay of the land so it’s a good opportunity just to watch the driver do his thing.

“Alan and I are going into the rally looking for a strong result, as Knockhill is a place we both know very well. We’ve finished on the podium in the past so it’d be wrong to say we aren’t looking for another top three this weekend.”

Fair is aware that the competition from the regular championship competitors will be tough, even if he and Kirkaldy have the home advantage.

“Chris West in the 306 is very quick, he drives that car very well.”

“John Stone has a new WRC [Ford] Fiesta which he won with at Rockingham last weekend so he’ll be on the money. There’s also a lot of top Scottish boys that will be there or thereabouts and wanting to make an impact. It’s certainly all to play for!”

Championship co-ordinator Darren Spann is enthusiastic to be heading to Fife for the second year in succession. Hear his thoughts ahead of the event below.

 

 

A full entry list for the Cobble Shop Knockhill Stages can be viewed here, while further information on the event can be found on the circuit’s website.

Scottish Government launches closed road motorsport consultation

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Motorsport events could be held on closed public roads in Scotland (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government have launched a public consultation on proposals to enable motorsport to be held on closed public roads.

Legislation currently exists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that allows car clubs and organising teams to run a motorsport event on public roads at the discretion of the sport’s governing body, Motorsport UK.

The same legislation has been stalled in Scotland due to a joint Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) looking into the deaths of spectators on the 2013 Snowman and 2014 Jim Clark rallies.

The legislation allows event organisers to close off sections of road for a period of five hours and also suspend the speed limit on them, meaning they can be driven at competition speed.

A public consultation has now been launched to gauge whether it’s feasible for events of this nature to be held on closed Scottish public roads. The consultation is open until January 28, and can be completed here.

Closed road events have been held in Scotland before, with the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders running annually since 1997. Following a fatal accident in 2014 however, the event has ceased to run as investigations were launched into the incident. The rally previously held its own unique Act of Parliament but event insurers have been unwilling to support a return under the old legislation.

Tom Purves, the Chairman of Scottish Motor Sports (SMS) is looking forward to events like this returning to Scotland.

“This is an important step on the road back to closed road motorsport in Scotland,”

“It is now vital that the Scottish motorsport community gets behind this consultation and delivers a clear message of support for these proposals, which would allow us not only to revive world-renowned events but also to take different forms of motorsport to new parts of our country.”

Griffiths rules himself out of Scotland squad

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Griffiths wants to focus on his fitness. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has withdrawn from Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad in a bid to improve his fitness.

The forward, who has scored four times for his country, was named in the initial squad that will face Israel on Thursday on the UEFA Nations League.

There had been reports that the 28-year-old striker had fallen out with McLeish after he was left on the bench in last month’s contest against Albania, but the Scotland manager insists the decision to withdraw was entirely down to Griffiths.

In a statement released by the Scottish Football Association, Griffiths declared he’d love to play for Scotland again should he be selected.

He said: “I had a good discussion with the manager to explain my decision. It’s not one that I’ve made lightly.

“It means a lot to me to play for Scotland and I hope to be part of Alex’s plans again in future, if selected.”

Scotland will play Portugal at Hampden Park on Sunday following their away trip to Israel. The side sit top of Group One in the UEFA Nations League courtesy of a 2-0 win over Albania in September, a game in which Griffiths was dropped to the bench.

Sport Paper Review, Tuesday 9th October

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Today’s back pages (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

David Ronney is joined by Fraser Munro to discuss today’s big sporting stories from the back pages of the daily newspapers.

Dumbarton FC part company with manager Aitken

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Picture of Dumbarton stadium. Photo credit to Martyn Jenkins.

Dumbarton FC have parted company with manager Stephen Aitken following a run of just two wins in nine Scottish League One matches.

The 42-year-old leaves the club ninth in the league table and 13 points behind league leaders Arbroath.

A club statement read: “We are only too aware of the injuries which at times have severely impacted the playing squad this season. That was one of a range of considerations taken into account by the board in reaching a difficult decision.

“However, after careful and ongoing discussion, it was felt that a change at this stage, at the end of the first quarter of the season, can help bring about longer term revived fortunes on the pitch as Dumbarton FC strives to move forward.”

In his two year tenure, Aitken kept the club in the Scottish Championship twice and took the side to the Irn Bru Challenge Cup final last season, but was relegated from the Championship via the play-offs last season.

The club is already looking for a replacement manager, aiming to have someone appointed for their away trip to Arbroath on Saturday 20th October.

 

Game review: Forza Horizon 4

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Forza Horizon 4 is based in the UK (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

 

Taking gamers to the heart of Edinburgh.

For the most avid of racing game enthusiasts, Playground Games’ latest addition to the Forza Horizon series seems to be a must-have. With its vast array of cars and open world format, the game is somewhat unique in today’s rather depleted racing market, but uniqueness doesn’t guarantee greatness.

However, the series’ fourth instalment carved its way into the hearts of Scottish gamers before players even got their hands on it, when it was announced that the game would be based in the UK and perhaps most pertinently, would feature Edinburgh as its major city.

Released one week ago, we’ve had plenty of time to get to grips with Forza Horizon 4. The question is: has the game lived up to the hype?

In short: yes. It’s been a while since I personally have enjoyed a racer game this much. Since I picked up the controller to play my first game, I have struggled to put it down.

One of the biggest features of Horizon 4 in comparison with its predecessors is the changing of seasons. Where players used to be able to take on a variety of weather conditions, the world now automatically transforms depending on the season.

With the seasons altering each week, players are immersed into the bright buzz of summer, the dark range of autumn’s colours, the snow and ice of winter and the blossom of spring, all of which help to totally transform the gaming experience and allow it to feel fresh and new.

No good racer is complete without a strong selection of cars, but Forza Horizon 4 covers that basis emphatically. From old British classics like the Land-Rover Defender to McLaren’s brand new Senna hypercar, no matter what your car culture is, you’re likely to be catered for.

All road networks available to explore in your chosen vehicle are also truly stunning. From traditional UK motorways to winding mountain roads, farm tracks and city streets, Forza Horizon 4 has it all with the views to go with it. The series has previously visited Colorado, the south of France and Australia, but none of these landscapes get close to the breathtaking beauty of the UK.

Several real-life landmarks prominently feature in the game: The Uffington White Horse, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Bamburgh Castle are just some of the highlights, alongside many of the beloved Edinburgh treasures like the Scott Monument and Edinburgh Castle, which make appearances too.

But what of Edinburgh? How accurate is Forza Horizon 4’s depiction of the capital? Check out the video below to see for yourself.

 

If you’re into your racing games, you’ve more than likely already picked up Forza Horizon 4, but with its variety of racing types, locations to explore and compact yet diverse nature, I truly believe this game is appealing to anyone remotely interested in gaming.

It combines all the necessary requirements of a modern game – stunning visuals, a strong story, and good online multiplayer options – whilst including all the things that made old racers like Need For Speed Underground 2 and Test Drive Unlimted so fun.

Just make sure to get yourself an Xbox One, as sadly the game isn’t available on Playstation. I would know; I bought Microsoft’s console just to play it.

 

 

 

Mistake costs Bogie Rally podium finish

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Bogie lost British title despite rally win (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

Rally driver David Bogie fell short of a championship title after the Scotsman crashed out on the final day of the Wales Rally GB. 

Bogie was in pursuit of his second British Rally Championship (BRC) title last weekend but a mistake during Sunday morning cost him the chance to double up his successes.

The 2011 British champion did everything he could in his Skoda Fabia R5, comfortably beating his BRC rivals to win round four of the series, but championship rival Matt Edwards’ third place was enough for him to take the 2018 title.

Despite the disappointment on the final day, 31-year-old Bogie was pleased with his performances in the opening days of the competition.

He said: “We always knew the championship was going to be a tall order coming into this weekend but we did what we had to do and it’s good to get a rally win.

“I wanted to win the BRC but I also wanted to score well on the rally. This rally is tough with such early starts and late nights and unfortunately we spun on a slippy stretch of tarmac on Sunday, hit a bank and burst the radiator which was pretty gutting to be honest.”

 

One driver’s fault was another’s gain as fellow Scotsman, Alex Laffey took the driving seat to finish second in the final round in his Ford Fiesta R5.

Laffey and co-driver Patrick Walsh cruised to a comfortable fourth in the opening round but profited from Bogie and fellow Skoda driver Rhys Yates’ mistakes to take his maiden BRC podium in the process.

The result elevated Laffey to second in the championship and the 28-year-old admitted he never saw it coming.

He said: “It was a long rally but such a pleasure [to drive].

“I had the mindset of keeping it clean and staying out of trouble which is what I did, and it got us this great result we needed.”

There were similar tales of jubilation and heartbreak further down the field.

Scottish teenager Finlay Retson was chasing the Cadet Cup title in his Ford Fiesta R2, and jumped the first hurdle by finishing the first round top of the class and an impressive third in the Juniors.

However, his hard work was undone on Saturday morning when the rear right wheel dislodged itself from his car.

He said: “I thought it was just a puncture so decided to drive on but when we came to a sweeping right hand bend we lost the back end and slid off the road.”

Alongside the main event, the Wales Rally GB National Rally took in the same stages as the international contest but only went through each stage once rather than twice.

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Gallache and Nicol with four-time World Champion Juha Kankkunen (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

The newly crowned Scottish champion, Andrew Gallacher took another victory, dominating the event in his Ford Focus WRC.

His Edinburgh co-driver Jane Nicol was delighted.

She said: “It’s been a perfect season and this is the perfect way to round it off.”

Fellow Scotsmen John Wink and John Forrest made it a Scottish one-two with second place in their Hyundai i20 R5, with Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray making it three Scottish crews in the top 10 with sixth.

 

 

 

Cristiano Ronaldo denies 2009 rape allegations

Las Vegas police have reopened a sexual assault investigation against Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at the request of a woman who was allegedly attacked.

Kathryn Mayorga says she was raped by the Portuguese forward in a Las Vegas hotel back in 2009.

German magazine Der Spiegel first reported that the case was reopening, with Ronaldo taking to Instagram to brand the rumours “fake news.”

The footballer’s representatives have said they will take legal action against the publication.

Las Vegas police confirmed they had investigated a complaint made in June 2009, and have reopened the case due to new information being provided.

Sporting headlines – 02/10/18

Luke Barry talks us through the latest sporting headlines on Tuesday 2nd October.

 

James McDonaugh opens up on Edinburgh City’s “enjoyable journey”

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Edinburgh City were at the bottom of the pile 12 months ago, but are now on a record-breaking winning run that doesn’t look to be stopping. Manager James McDonaugh lifts the lid on how this change has come about.

“I’m well aware that we’re not going to keep winning,” says McDonaugh.

“Football’s not as easy as that, we’ve just got to be prepared to try and keep the run going; be prepared for it to end at some point and try and get a win after that to make sure we don’t go on a losing run.”

Losing is something that’s being stamped out of Edinburgh City’s DNA. The Ainslie Park side sit at the top of the Scottish League Two after eight matches, with last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Cowdenbeath extending their winning run to nine matches: an all-time club record.

“It [the season so far] has gone way better than what anyone would have expected or even hoped,” McDonaugh reflects.

“We obviously tried to change a lot of things between the end of last season and the start of this season, and we had a tough league cup section. All the teams in it were above us in the football league last year and we managed to come out of that in third place which was a great achievement, and since then we’ve just improved.

“We started the league season with the game against Albion Rovers where we did well and then we came back down to earth getting beat up at Elgin, but since then we’ve just gone from strength to strength, won every game since the defeat to Elgin in all the competitions we’ve played in, and I’m a bit surprised as we are ahead of where we could’ve dreamt of being.”

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McDonaugh has tried to change things on and off the pitch (Photo Credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Sitting at the top of the fourth tier of Scottish football is a fine achievement regardless of the situation, but City’s rise is even more remarkable when you consider where the club was just 12 months ago when McDonaugh was signed.

The club’s total of 21 league points is just nine shy of what was amassed throughout the entire of last season, so what has changed?

“So far we’ve probably just get the best out of everybody to be honest,” McDonaugh reveals.

“People say ‘what’s the difference’, maybe looking for the golden nugget, but the whole club has changed. We’ve tried to transform the whole place not just the players but backroom staff; how we prepare for games; how we train, everything. It’s probably a presentation on its own actually, the detail that we’ve gone into to try and change things.

“There aren’t many players left from last season but from a changing room last season that was maybe hoping to get a win here or there this season the boys are now actually thinking they’re going to win every game. They’re not expecting to win every game but they’ve got belief that they can do it.”

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Mentality has changed at Edinburgh City (Photo Credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

The summer transfer window has “absolutely been important” to City’s upward progression this term, with 12 players joining and 12 leaving for pastures now. McDonaugh has previous working experience with just about all of the new recruits, a decision that has already been rectified.

“At times you sign players and you’ve only seen them play [from a distance] or whatever, but with these new players I knew what I was getting with them,” he says.

“I knew how hard they would work and I knew their strengths, their weaknesses; I knew how we could maybe try and make them better and how to get the best out of them.”

It isn’t just the new boys that are impressing though: “The goalkeeper and the back four have been outstanding, five clean sheets out of eight is way above average of what anybody would hope for,” McDonaugh continues.

“At the moment what we have to try and deal with as a management team is when players do suffer a dip in form, how do we deal with that? How do we try and fix it? Do we freshen up the boys that are in the squad, as we’ve got some great players there that are just waiting to get their chance as well.”

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The winning goal against Cowdenbeath last weekend (Photo Credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

The momentum may be strong at Edinburgh City, but the manager is well aware that trophies aren’t won in October. Nor does a trophy have to be won, because McDonaugh believes the club is punching well above its weight. A league title remains a pipe dream, but it’s not one anyone at the club is going to stop dreaming of just yet.

“It’s not that we’re lacking ambition but I don’t think we’re a team that’s set our sights on winning a league,” the manager concludes.

“We know Peterhead and Clyde are really strong, bigger clubs in many senses who will probably fight out the league table but we’re just happy to be in their company at the moment.

“We’re on a journey that everyone’s enjoying. We are well aware it could end any minute but let’s just try and keep our feet on the ground, be level-headed and respect all the opposition that we’re playing against and just take it as it comes.”

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