Rally debut for lorry driver competing at McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages
FROM lorry driver to the start line at tomorrow’s McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages rally, it's been a fast journey for one Moray competitor.
Little more than a fortnight ago, Darren McDonald was steering his work truck through a forestry stage of the rally when he decided to take the plunge and sign up for his rally driving debut.
He went home that night, bought a rally-ready car on the internet, picked it up in England the following week and headed for Knockhill to pass his BARS test course allowing him to compete as a rally driver.
Previously a co-driver in the Speyside Stages, McDonald (34) then recruited his brother Greg (28) to navigate for him in the Moray leg of the Scottish Rally Championships this weekend.
“I’ve got my own lorry and i was carrying the timber out of the woods into the sawmill,” he recalled. “They were setting up things for the stage start and I started thinking ‘I need to get in here with a car and have a crack at this’.
“It’s something that’s always been on the bucket list for me so I thought why not.
“Next thing I was putting an advert in looking for a (Subaru Impreza) GC8 car, gravel ready, and the following weekend I was down at Darlington getting it.
“I got home on the Sunday and was back down to Knockhill on the Monday to get through the BARS test which let me send away for my rally licence and here we go, the rally is this weekend. It’s all been a mad dash.”
Brother Greg, from Mosstodloch, who runs his own joinery business, usually co-drivers for their cousin, Elgin driver Scott Mutch who was taking a break from the championship, and was free to form a family partnership for their home rally.
Darren has only had a couple of trial runs in his new vehicle and blew a turbo this week, but will have everything fixed and ready for Saturday’s big event.
He is no novice to competitive driving, albeit in a gearbox kart driven at Boyndie circuit in Banffshire when he used to compete against his uncle Graham – Scott’s dad – in past years.
“We used to have a good battle and I won the Boyndie open challenge championship one year just a couple of points in front of Graham – so I always wind him up.
“It was the trophy he always wanted and never got. He said he taught me too well.
“It’s probably down to Graham that we are all into motorsport because he’s been with the 63 Car Club (who organise the Speyside Stages) all his days.”
Now Graham, his uncle Graham and cousin Scott all own GC8s and would love to compete against each other at a Speyside Stages in the future.
As for tomorrow, Darren said: “We’ll work away and try to get a finish, that’s the most important thing.”