The 550-mile round trip to Elgin and back proved fruitful for Wigtownshire drivers competing on Saturday’s McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages, the fifth round of the 2014 ARR Craig MSA Scottish Rally Championship.
Mark McCulloch, Craig McMiken and Fraser Wilson all came away with top-twenty finishes, and Wilson kept his nose in front in the Group N category.
The overall win went to defending champion David Bogie – his sixth victory on the event – following another a close fought contest with Borders rival Euan Thorburn.
McCulloch, co-driven by Jim Haugh, had headed north with the sole intention of a clean run and a solid finish, after crashing out heavily on the RSAC Scottish rally in June. It resulted in a complete re-shelling of his Subaru Impreza, and the repairs were only completed on the eve of the rally.
With just a brief test in the “new” car under his belt, it was a relieved McCulloch who returned to the finish in Elgin in twelve place overall:
“It’s been a case of regaining confidence after the off on the Scottish, and it’ll probably take another rally or two yet to be honest. We now need to concentrate on getting some good finishes over the remaining rounds of the championship”, said McCulloch, who will next be in action on Saturday’s usedcarparts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally which he won last year.
Newton Stewart’s Craig McMiken, with Craig Wallace navigating, successfully negotiated the Morayshire forest stages, and was a further eleven seconds back in 14th place in his Mitsubishi EVO 9:
“It was a good day, and the stages were excellent. We were aiming for the top ten, but I’m quite happy with our result, given the competition. There was a tight battle around us, and it was a very quick pace – nobody is going slow in the top-twenty of the championship”.
Wilson, with Jane Nicol on the notes, lost time with an early puncture, and eventually ended up fourth in GpN, 17th overall, in his EVO 9:
“We think the puncture was down to a stone jamming at the top of the brake caliper. We struggled a bit to recover after that, but I was happier with the afternoon stages. On the second last, there were six of us on the same time, so there was a good wee fight going on. I’m now looking forward to the Merrick. Hopefully we can keep ahead in the GpN championship for the rest of the season”.
There was disappointment for Minnigaff navigator Laura Marshall and Ayr driver Derek Connell, who relinquished their points lead in the Class 2 championship. They were forced to retire for being over the time limit, following engine problems with their Vauxhall Corsa.
In the duel for the overall win, Bogie and Thorburn were neck-and-neck for most of the day, but the Duns’ man had eked out a three second lead with three stages remaining in his Ford Focus WRC. However, a puncture on the penultimate test scuppered his chance of victory, and Bogie, co-driven by Kevin Rae, went on to take his third win in this year’s SRC, and his second in the new Ford Fiesta R5+
“It was a long hard day – the pace was hot from the start, and there was very little in it”, he said at the finish in Elgin: “It’s great to get a win, and particularly on this event, where Kevin and I first had success in 2008. I was also very happy with the way the car performed. What it lacks in horsepower, it makes up in cornering and braking”.
As the leading pair diced it out, a battle was developing for the final podium spot, which, for the second event running, went to Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe in a Subaru Impreza.
“I came up here looking for third, so we can’t complain at all”, said the Castle Douglas driver: “We’ve not made any mistakes, and if there was a rally tomorrow I could probably take the car straight back out without too much checking or preparation, so that’s a nice feeling”.
Among the 2-wheel drive classes, Angus Lawrie from Castle Douglas, with George Myatt co-driving, took the runners-up spot in Class 2 in his Nova SR.
The sixth round of the 2014 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the GWF Energy Merrick Stages, based in Wigtown, on Saturday September 2nd.
For news and updates of all SRC rounds go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk
McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Dumfries & Galloway finishers with total times:
1st David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Fiesta R2+ 41 min 21 sec
3rd Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Paul Swinscoe (Chorley) Subaru Impreza 43.06
4th Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 9 43.13
12th Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza 45.57
14th Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9
17th Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Jane Nicol (Edinburgh) Mitsubishi EVO 9 47.06
24th Robert Harkness (Stewarton)/Mike Curry (Lockerbie) BMW 316i 48.33
26th Greg McKnight (Thornhill)/Chris McKnight (Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk2 48.44
36th Angus Lawrie (Castle Douglas)/George Myatt (Dumfries) Vauxhall Nova SR 50.27
38th Ian Archer (Glenisla)/Helen Brown (Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk2 51.05
39th Chuck Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205 51.10
47th Keith Riddick (Haugh of Urr)/Kirsty Riddick (Haugh of Urr) MG ZR 52.34