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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Other sports

Laura Muir battles through mud to claim Scottish 4km Cross-Country

November 9 2015

Milnathort athlete Laura Muir stormed her way through the mud and mire of Bellahouston Park to win the Scottish 4km Cross-Country title. The Dundee Hawkhill Harrier third last year but a winner in 2013 front-ran her way to victory in the demanding underfoot conditions in 13 minutes and 16 seconds, 19 seconds clear of national cross-country champion Madeleine Murray (Edinburgh AC). With Muir’s sights set firmly on next year’s Olympics, the road to Rio could never have been as soft underfoot as 173 women ploughed their way to the finish line. “I love to race in Scotland when I can, but I don’t get much opportunity during the summer season,” said Muir. “I’ve always loved cross country and it is part of my programme towards next summer. “I enjoy being out there competing against the girls I’ve been racing since I was little and in the youth age groups. “It is brilliant to see the numbers rising for these events and the women’s race, in particular. “Getting a progression from teenagers through to senior level is vital for the health of the sport and getting people out competing is important, too.” Fife AC athlete Stephanie Pennycook, representing Edinburgh University, was fifth and second junior home, while Annabel Simpson seventh place and third junior led Fife AC to team silver, maintaining the club’s record of having medalled every year since 2009. Simpson was backed up by Angela Richardson 14th, Helen Sharpe 15th and Megan Crawford 19th. UK champion Andrew Butchart (Central A) made a successful defence of the men’s title in 12 minutes 02 seconds and was pushed all the way by Central colleague Alistair Hay, helping the Stirling club to the team title. The orange vests of Perth Strathtay Harriers led home the men’s under-17 race, with Sol Sweeney finishing one second ahead of Ben Greenwood. Fife AC, gold medallists in 2013 and 2014, moved up the ranks to claim team bronze courtesy of Tristan Rees, Adam Scott and Euan Boyle.

Other sports

Dundee athlete unfazed by prospect of battle with domestic rival and friend Sharp

January 27 2014

It might not be of a Liz McColgan-Yvonne Murray vintage, but Scottish athletics could soon have the makings of a middle distance rivalry to savour. Within an hour of Lynsey Sharp belatedly collecting her European Indoor Championship 800m gold medal at the Emirates Arena off the track, Kinross-shire’s Laura Muir was being applauded by the 5,000 home supporters as the winner over the same distance on it. Sharp, who has just returned from a South African training camp, wasn’t competing on the day, so the capacity crowd didn’t get treated to a head-to-head at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow International Match. But it’s just a matter of time before the two come up against each other somewhere. And, it could even end up being a domestic battle at Hampden in the Commonwealth Games. Sharp is a certainty to be selected for the 800, while Dundee Hawkhill Harrier Muir has already been named in the 1,500m, her preferred distance. Milnathort’s Muir hasn’t ruled out doubling up, and performances like Saturday’s, which was a new Scottish indoor record by more than a second, will make it a real possibility. The veterinary student certainly isn’t daunted by the potential of a Caledonian rivalry. She said: “I don’t mind if I’m going up against a Scot, an American or whoever. The race will be the same for me. Everybody is competition, wherever they are from. It is nice to have a friendly face when you’re on the starting line though, and before the race to have someone to chat to. “Our PBs are quite similar. She’s focusing mainly on the 800 whereas I’m not quite set on it yet. 1,500 would probably be my better event but I’m not sure.” Muir added: “It would be great for the Scottish crowd at Hampden. They wouldn’t know who to cheer for. It just shows the strength that we have that there could be more than one competitor in an event. “Knowing that you’re not guaranteed to be the fastest person in Scotland definitely pushes you on. That competition to spur you on is fantastic. “It’s great that there is depth in Scottish athletics in general, with the likes of Eilidh (Child), Lynsey, Eilish (McColgan) and Chris (O’Hare).” Had the 1,500m come first in the Glasgow schedule in July it might have made up her mind not to take on both. But it is the other way round, Muir revealed, making the temptation greater. “The scheduling would work,” she pointed out. “1,500 is my main event and it’s first. It’s Monday, Tuesday and the 800 is Thursday, Friday. “I am still only 20 though. It would be four tough races in five days. I’ll evaluate it closer to the time.” Muir finished the race in a fraction over two minutes (2:00.94), timing her run perfectly to move past American Chanelle Price with about 150m to go. She wasn’t surprised that she ran so well in her first race of the season. The event organisers were certainly impressed because Muir’s run was voted performance of the day. It was a teary-eyed afternoon for Sharp, as the presentation of her European gold was made by her father, and former Commonwealth champion, Cameron Sharp. She said: “It was the end of such an emotional journey and I’m glad it’s come to an end now and I can move forward.”

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.


Leuchars man’s Facebook posts celebrated ‘Afghans blowing up the English’

July 26 2013

A Fife man who posted sick comments on Facebook about British soldiers dying in Afghanistan was reported to police by a woman whose soldier son died in the country. At Cupar Sheriff Court on Thursday, Paul Muir, 33, of Norman View, Leuchars, admitted that on or between March 1 2012 and March 28 2012 he behaved in a disorderly manner and committed a breach of the peace by posting various offensive remarks online, such as: “Got to love the Afghans blowing the English up left, right and centre ... hahaha.” The court heard Muir’s posts were seen by a woman in Sussex, whose son had recently been killed in Afghanistan. His comments upset her so much she contacted police, who then tracked down Muir at his home. Defence solicitor Gemma Miller said Muir had been angry and hungover when he posted the comments but had immediately apologised and removed them. His apology read: “Sorry for the sick comments I made when I was drunk. I have family in the forces and wish no harm...” Ms Miller said Muir, the son of an RAF serviceman, had since been shunned by his community, lost friends and become reclusive and had even had death threats. “An apology was posted 20 minutes later but the comments had been captured in a screengrab and circulated,” she added. At an earlier hearing, Sheriff Charles Macnair deferred sentence on Muir for six months for good behaviour. But yesterday Sheriff Mhairi MacTaggart described the offence as a “serious matter” and fined Muir £350. Addressing Muir directly, she said: “The comments you made could be very offensive to certain people but the apology you posted was well-framed and came across as sincere.”

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

Other sports

Laura starting out on a muddy road to Rio

October 23 2015

Kinross-shire athlete Laura Muir starts her road to Rio across the familiar mud and hills of Cumbernauld at the Scottish National XC Relays tomorrow. It is an eagerly-awaited fixture on the athletics calendar in Scotland with this year’s entry featuring a remarkable 536 teams and athletes from U13 to V50 a new record in the 23rd year of the event. And, for British 1,500m gold medallist and Beijing World Championship finalist Muir, it marks the start of a winter season she hopes will give her the ideal preparation for the Olympics in Brazil next summer. Muir races for Glasgow University Hares and Hounds on these occasions and in the past few years has used Cumbernauld and the National 4K Champs at Bellahouston in Glasgow in early November ahead of an indoor track campaign. Once a Scottish U20 champion at cross country, Laura proved her class and her adaptability at the same event a couple of years ago when her second leg run lifted Glasgow Uni from 51st place to 13th in a women’s race which features three team members. Tomorrow will be her first race at any distance since the August 25 final in Beijing where she finished fifth and headed the last two World gold medallists in a high-class race. Muir’s coach Andy Young said: “Laura has started off really well in her training programme following a break after the World Champs. We like to do a bit of cross country at this time of year and the National XC Relays is a good event. “I’m happy to let her decide whether she wants to run the opening leg for the university this time or pick up on second or third, where she can then work through the field. We will make that decision on Saturday at Cumbernauld.” If Muir is favourite for the Women’s fastest lap, then Central AC and Edinburgh AC look likely to be locked in battle for the team golds. Central AC are the holders and are looking for four-in-a-row. Perthshire’s Morag MacLarty believes a strong bond of togetherness helps the holders. “I think competition can only be good and I guess I can understand other clubs wanting to knock us off the top,” said MacLarty. “When it comes to cross country relays, there’s never anything guaranteed and things can happen in a race. Again, though, I come back to a good spirit in our squad. There’s no doubt when you train with good groups then you train better without even realising it.”

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Other sports

World Athletics Championships: Laura Muir left to reflect on breakthrough performance

August 17 2013

An agonisingly fast opening lap last night scuppered Laura Muir’s chances of a place in her first world final but did not dent the performance and promise of Scotland’s seven athletes at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow. Kinross-shire’s Muir, whose heroic home-straight finish in her heat secured her start in the women’s 800m semi-final, could not produce the pace to stay with the world’s leading two lappers, which would have given her electric kick a chance. But there was delight for GB & NI when Scotland’s Chris O’Hare ran another fabulous men’s 1500m. He was a surprise semi-finalist now he is a surprise finalist. Muir, just 20 and a vet student at Glasgow University, has emerged as a quality middle-distance runner. Ranked around 30 in the world at 1,500m, a distance at which she is the European Under-23 bronze medallist, the Dundee Hawkhill Harrier underwent extra speed training with coach Andy Young after being selected for the 800m in Moscow. She has neither looked out of place, nor out of her depth here but last night she succumbed to the pace of five times USA national champion Alysia Johnson Montano, who led from gun to tape in a rapidly-accelerating 1:58.92. Muir finished seventh, just a fraction outside her lifetime’s best, in 2:00.83 excruciatingly the ninth quickest out of the 16 semi-finalists, and just a tenth of a second short of making the final. “I was hoping I’d get a chance to run sub-two minutes today, but that first lap was just so quick,” said Muir. “I caught up a little bit on the back straight, but it was too fast for me. “But I’m really happy with my performance here. I got a personal best I didn’t expect to get through the first round yesterday, so I’m pleased with that. “It was a little bit tough out there, but I enjoyed it. “The 800m is a different race, a completely different race that I’m not so experienced with. “I think this will only be my fifth 800m of the year and two of those were at the European Under-23 trials, so I’m really happy with it. “I never dreamed of coming to Moscow this year, so it was a huge bonus to get through the first round.” Britain’s other semi-finalist, Marilyn Okoru, also went out, finishing seventh in her semi in 2:02.26. Chris O’Hare, from West Linton, qualified for last night’s men’s 1,500m semi as a fastest loser and came up against several world greats in his race, including Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, the fourth fastest man of all time. But the 22-year-old, who came through the ranks at Edinburgh AC, became the first Briton for six years to get to the final of a world championship 1,500m by finishing fourth. Kiprop, the defending champion, duly took the race in 3:43.30, with O’Hare timed at 3:43.58. “I had to put myself in a better position, not out there for everybody to shoot at,” he said. “I pretended like I knew what I was doing. In races like this, if these guys know what they’re doing I’ve got to put on a brave face and blag it. “But it’s fantastic to get into the final.”


Trial date set for Mary McLaren death accused

January 18 2011

The trial of the man accused of murdering Dundee mother Mary McLaren is to take place this spring. Patrick James Rae (40), a prisoner at Perth, denies murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10 last year. At a preliminary hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, Lord Kinclaven ordered Rae to stand trial on May 3. Six weeks have been set aside for the case at the High Court in Edinburgh, and a further preliminary hearing to ensure all parties were ready for trial was ordered for April 6. Rae denies that at North Marketgait and elsewhere in Dundee, he assaulted Mrs McLaren, then of Rowantree Crescent, by seizing hold of her, forcibly removing her clothing, raping her, repeatedly punching her on the head, repeatedly striking her head and body on the ground and against a wall, or otherwise inflicting violence on her, repeatedly striking her on the neck with a knife or similar instrument, placing a piece of fabric or similar over her throat, seizing her by the throat, compressing, thereby restricting her breathing and murdering her. The indictment Rae is facing also alleges that between February 25 and March 15 at North Marketgait, Dundee, Brechin Road in Arbroath and elsewhere unknown, he concealed the body of Mary McLaren under leaf litter and plant foliage at North Marketgait and, at the same location and elsewhere, removed and disposed of a coat, bagging contents belonging to Mary McLaren. It is also alleged that, at the same location and elsewhere, he disposed of a knife or similar instrument. Rae is also accused of disposing of and washing clothes at Brechin Road, Arbroath, and elsewhere, doing so to avoid arrest, detection and prosecution and thus attempted to defeat the ends of justice. Rae's defence is being conducted by Mark Stewart QC, while the prosecution is being led by advocate depute David Young QC.