Newton Stewart rally driver Mark McCulloch made a successful trip to Bournemouth last weekend where he started his campaign of the 2012 British Rally Championship by finishing fourth overall in the Challenge section of the Rallye Sunseeker.
Driving his Hardie Engineering/Holmpark Caravans-backed Proton Satria 1600, McCulloch had a steady start as it was his first outing on gravel with the car. Along with new co-driver Mike Curry from Lockerbie, he finished the first loop of stages in sixth place.
Back at service, McCulloch commented: “I’m using D-MACK tyres for the first time and becoming more confident with the them. My times seem to be getting closer to the front-runners and hopefully I can pick up the pace as the day progresses.”
After heading out to the second loop of stages, Mark felt the car had developed a slight vibration but was still able to continue his increasing pace setting times that moved him up to third overall as well as building a class lead of nearly two minutes from his closest rival.
The afternoon stages in the Ringwood complex were made up of very long high speed straights and this is where the Proton clutch started to slip badly, resulting in the crew dropping a lot of time to the other competitors. On their return to service, and with little time available, it was impossible to change the clutch so they had to continue the last few stages, nursing the car to the finish.
With the time lost due to the mechanical problem only one place was dropped and the crew managed to get the car home, finishing fourth overall and first in class.
At the finish podium on Bournemouth seafront, McCulloch said: “Even although we have had a clutch problem for most of the day, I am delighted to have finished and gained valuable points towards the BRCC championship.”
McCulloch also said he would like to thank all crew members for making the long trip south as well as Hardie Engineering, Holmpark Caravans, AD Tool Hire, G A Milven Plant Hire, Solway Taxis and Next Level Bikes for their continued support, and he is now looking forward to the next round on March 24 – the Bulldog Rally at Welshpool.