Labelled by motorsport aficionados as "the best rally in the world", this year's iconic three-day Mull Rally will have a new sponsor: Beatson's Building Supplies.
The new five-year deal ensures the longterm future of the event — which was the first all-Tarmac event to be held on closed-off public roads in the UK — and gives the three-day event on the Hebridean Island a major boost.
This year's Beatson's Building Supplies Mull Rally will take place on Friday, October 9, through to Sunday, October 11."We've always wanted to put more back into Scottish motorsport, and the opportunity to become title sponsor of the Mull Rally was one we couldn't ignore, Ross Marshall, director of Beatson's Building Supplies, said.
Marshall, who previously raced in Legends at both National and Scottish level, contested last year's Mull Rally in his Ford Escort MkII, finishing 23rd in the 130-car field, which included entries from all over the world.
The entry list for the 2014 event, the 45th running of the Mull Rally, also included Ross's father, fellow company director John Marshall in his Escort.
"Mull's such a fantastic place as an island, and the rally ensures it becomes a mecca for international rally drivers for one week every year.
"To be directly associated with it as a company is a privilege, and we look forward to helping the Beatson's Building Supplies Mull Rally become even bigger and more successful in the coming years."
Beatson's Building Supplies began life 1966, originally trading as Robert Beatson & Son (Builders) Limited, before being purchased by the Marshall family in 1984 when it took on its current identity.
Now one of Scotland's largest building suppliers, it operates from its headquarters in Alloa, and includes four other major centres at Cumbernauld, Penicuik, Dunfermline and Stirling.
It also operates a specialist roofing division which trades under the Skyline Roofing name.
In addition, the company has a high profile at Knockhill, Scotland's national motorsport centre, where its name dominates the circuit on the famous bridge which straddles the Fife race track.
As it increases its support of Scottish motorsport, Beatson's Building Supplies will also sponsor this year's inaugural Colin McRae Memorial Stages Rally which takes place at Knockhill on May 16/17.
Today's commitment to the Mull Rally though has been welcomed by Iain Campbell, Clerk of the Course, and who is responsible for organising the event and ensuring safety is paramount.
"It is great news that Beatson's Building Supplies has entered into a five-year agreement with The Guardians of Mull Rally," Campbell admitted. "This gives us the financial backing to secure the future of the event right through to the 50th anniversary rally in 2019.
"But significant for us is the fact the support is comingfrom a motorsport family, as both John and Ross Marshall have competed regularly on the event.
"And as a firm they are not only looking after someof the economic worries that come with running such an iconic event, but they want to engage fully with the community through their Bobby Beatsons mascot.
"The Mull Rally cannot run without the support of the local residents, and it is this kind of support from our sponsors that will help in maintaining that relationship."
The route for the 2015 — which is currently with Police Scotland for approval — is quite different from last year's, with more stage mileage but actually less special stages.
However, the challenge of Mull still remains: two night legs, a daylight leg and more than 150 competitive miles in less than 30 hours.