Kyle driver O’Kane emerges as top Skye and Lochalsh performer at Snowman Rally

John and Meghan O’Kane in their Subaru Impreza. Photos credit: Paul Campbell.

Kyle’s John O’ Kane was the top Skye and Lochalsh performer at the Coogie Urquhart Snowman Rally – the annual highlight of the Highland Motorsport Calendar.

John, in his Subaru Impreza WRX STi co-driven by his daughter Meghan, finished 27th out of 96 competitors in the five-stage race around the forest tracks near Inverness which was held on Saturday 7th March.

John and Meghan started the day seeded 42nd and were delighted with their performance of 53 minutes, 35 seconds – especially after coming through an icy opening stage which put paid to the hopes of several drivers.

John said: “It was tricky in the opening stages – we almost spun out a couple of times but we got through it and I was very pleased with it. It’s better than I have managed in previous years.

“I took up the sport in 2013 and really enjoy it – but it’s an expensive hobby. About 90 per cent of the work I’ve done to the car I have done myself. I am out in the shed most nights working at the car.”

This year John and Meghan will be taking part in the Scottish Rally Championship – and are aiming to complete five of the next six races required for placing. Their next race is at the Speyside stages rally in Elgin in April.

This year’s rally was staged at a later March date after weather cancelled the previous year’s event.

Paddy Munro and David O’Brien were thwarted by an alternator failure.

Seven cars from the Skye Rally Club started, with Glenshiel’s Paddy Munro the highest seeded, at 24 in his MkII Escort. Unfortunately, this year his alternator failed at the start of stage three between Rogie at Contin and had to retire from the rally.

Grant MacRae and his Ford Fiesta ST started as car 43, just behind John and Meghan, but a collision with a rock on stage two at Boblainy forced them off the road.

Rhuaridh Campbell and Shaina Archibald were forced to retire in stage two

Rhuaridh Campbell and  Shaina Archibald’s in their Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth as car 63, but they too were forced to retire in stage two also with a broken rear passenger side suspension

Nikki Addison and Rachel Matheson, seeded 85 in their Peugeot 106 GTI, were having a great day and had moved up to 56th after stage three before a failure in gear selection proved fatal to their chances of finishing.

Christopher Gillies and Ryan Dougan moved up 19 places before retiring in stage three.

Chris Gilles and Ryan Dougan, in a Citroen C2 GT, retired in stage three, having moved up to 70th from an initial seeding of 89.

Donald John MacLeay and Ross MacRae, in a Ford Mk1 Mexico, had an excellent day in their first rally. They started as car 94 and finished in 55th place, claiming 1st in the class two section.

The race was won by Cornhill-on-Tweed’s Michael Binnie, who produced an excellent performance to take the title for the first time in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, Binnie

The fifth seed, along with co-driver Claire Mole, completed all five stages in 45 minutes 33 seconds

If you would like to be part of the Skye Rally club get in touch with them on their Facebook page Skye & Lochalsh Rally Club and become a member. You don’t have to be a driver or co-driver and the club is always on the lookout for organisers, marshals, and helpers.

Article by Keith MacKenzie.