Crews endure tough day on McRae Rally

Craig McMiken'Photo by LindsayPhotoSport
Craig McMiken'Photo by LindsayPhotoSport

Wigtownshire drivers had to cope with car problems as well as difficult and slippy conditions on Saturday’s Colin McRae Stages Rally in Perthshire.

Mark McCulloch and Craig McMiken finished fifteenth and sixteenth respectively on what was the penultimate round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship, while Fraser Wilson was forced to retire with a fuel pump issue.

Despite continuing concerns with the rear suspension of his Subaru Impreza, McCulloch, with Sandhead’s Jim Haugh co-driving, was sitting ninth overall after three stages, but hit problems on the fourteen miles of Allean.

“About two or three miles in, we got a puncture”, said the Newton Stewart driver: “It seemed alright to start with, we were just driving along steadily, but it got progressively worse and we ended up on the rim. The last two miles I could hardly drive the car at all, so we lost a lot of time. And then on the fifth stage we had a spin because the steering is bent on the front-left thanks to the puncture. So it was just a case of getting it to the finish”.

McMiken, who was making a rare visit to the McRae Stages with navigator Craig Wallace, picked up a front-right puncture at the start of the third stage, and resigned himself to “just getting through the day and trying to enjoy it” behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi EVO 9.

Things started to go wrong early for Group N category leaders Wilson and navigator Jane Nicol in their EVO 9:

“Third corner into a wee stage, the car just cut out”, said the Port William driver: “We presumed it was the fuel pump – it was brand new - and the boys had another one with them, but we weren’t allowed to continue, so that was that for the day. However, the good news is that we only have to cross over the start line at the Galloway Hills to get the bonus points, and the class championship is ours”.

Meanwhile, despite a concerted effort, David Bogie was unable to win his sixth straight Scottish title. The Dumfries driver had headed north trailing rival Euan Thorburn in the points and knowing that only a victory in Perthshire, and on the Galloway Hills at the end of the month, would give him a chance of hanging onto the crown he has worn since 2009.

His challenge ended when his Ford Fiesta R5+ slid off the road on the sixth and final stage, leaving Thorburn with a nervous drive to the finish in his Ford Focus WRC to win the championship.

While the title fight was being played out in front of them, Mike Faulkner and Jock Armstrong were involved in their own duel: the former securing his second successive runner-up spot.

Armstrong’s day was plagued by several punctures, but he was happy to clinch the final podium spot alongside co-driver Paula Swinscoe.

“To get third is really good after the day we’ve had”, said the Castle Douglas driver, who had not competed on the McRae since 2010: “We had a push on the last stage, but it was really bad low sunlight and we went off at a 90-left and nearly landed in a ditch. We reversed back and got going again, but it kind of knocked the concentration”.

The final round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally in Castle Douglas on Sunday, 26th October.

For news and updates of all SRC rounds, go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk

Colin McRae Forest Stages: Dumfries and Galloway finishers with total times:

2nd Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 9 45 mins 52 secs

3rd Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Paula Swinscoe (Withnell) Subaru Impreza 46.29

15th Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza 51.04

16th Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9 51.19

17th Greg McKnight (Thornhill)/Chris McKnight (Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk2 52.03

26th Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 53.22

28th Chuck Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205GTi 53.41

31st Mark McKnight (Closeburn)/Helen Brown (Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk2 54.09

35th Angus Lawrie (Castle Douglas)/George Myatt (Ae) Vauxhall Nova 55.10