McCulloch aims for repeat victory

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Last year’s winner Mark McCulloch will head a high-quality entry for Sunday’s Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally – the final gravel event of the Scottish rallying calendar.

The Newton Stewart driver will be at the wheel of a recently acquired Subaru Impreza in which he finished seventh overall on the Colin McRae Stages earlier this month, alongside navigator Elliot Edmondson.

However, McCulloch will face fierce competition from rally sponsor and second seed Jock Armstrong – also in a Subaru – who is targeting a fifth win on his local event.

The Castle Douglas ace, co-driven by Kirsty Riddick from Haugh of Urr, will be looking to make up for last year, when he had to retire his hired Mitsubishi EVO after three stages.

“I look forward to the Galloway Hills every year – it’s my favourite event,” said Armstrong. “I’m also excited to be back in the Subaru. We’ve contested three rounds of the Scottish championship in the car this year, and finished on the podium each time, so fingers crossed for Sunday.”

Newton Stewart farmer Craig McMiken, who finished third last year, will compete in his EVO 9, alongside McCulloch’s former co-driver Craig Wallace, while Sandhead-based navigator Jim Haugh will be on the notes for Ian Paterson – winner of the Solway Coast Rally in August – in his Subaru Impreza.

Port William’s Fraser Wilson and Scottish Junior Co-driving champion Steven Broll will be looking to impress in their Mitsubishi EVO 6 – the pair fresh from a top 10 finish on the McRae Stages.

A major threat to hopes of a local overall victory might come from Aberdeen’s Dave Weston Jnr in a Subaru Impreza WRC S11. Weston, who will have Scottish champion David Bogie’s co-driver Kevin Rae on the notes, was heading for a potential victory on the McRae Stages, but ended up “beached” after the car slid off the road.

In the 2WD entries, Minnigaff co-driver Laura Marshall will partner Scottish championship regular David Wilson in his Ford Escort Mk2 – one of a number who will compete in the iconic cars. They include Northern Ireland’s Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna who are bringing their Mk2 across on the ferry for the Galloway event.

Among the front-wheel drive contingent targeting honours on their local event will be Iain Haining and Mairi Riddick in a Vauxhall Nova; Scott Peacock and Keith Riddick (youngest of the co-driving family) in a Peugeot 205 Gti; and Newton Stewart’s Alex Curran, co-driven by David McGeoch, who finished a fine second in class on the McRae Stages in his Vauxhall Corsa. They will be followed off the start line by Hugh and Ewan Murdoch from Stranraer in a Ford Fiesta.

Crews will tackle five stages on Sunday – all in Cairn Edward Forest, north-west of Laurieston.

The times for Car 1 are: start Market Yard, Castle Douglas 08:31; Cairn Edward (1) 09:04; Barney Water (1) 09:17; Cairn Edward (2) 10:09; Barney Water (2) 10:22; service at Market Yard 11:00; Cairn Edward (3) 12:13; finish Castle Douglas 12:55.

For details and a full entry list, go to www.gallowayhills.co.uk.

Dumfries and Galloway competitors with car no:

1 Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliot Edmondson (Olney) Subaru Impreza

2 Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Kirsty Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Subaru Impreza

5 Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9

6 Ian Paterson (Mouswald)/Jim Haugh (Stranraer) Subaru Impreza

11 David Wilson (Alness)/Laura Marshall (Minnigaff) Ford Escort Mk2

15 Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Steven Broll (Port William) Mitsubishi EVO 6

19 Lee Hastings (Dumfries)/Brian Findon (Collin) Subaru Impreza

20 Stuart Paterson (Collin)/Colin Maxwell (Kirkmahoe) Subaru Impreza

22 Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova

24 Richard Stewart (Lochanhead)/Carin Logan (Kelso) Subaru Impreza

25 Scott Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/Keith Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Peugeot 205 Gti

26 Alex Curran (Newton Stewart)/David McGeoch (Dumfries) Vauxhall Corsa

28 Hugh Murdoch (Stranraer)/Ewan Murdoch (Stranraer) Ford Fiesta

29 Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie)/Keith Freemantle (Dalbeattie) Vauxhall Nova

30 Neil Wallace (Dalbeattie)/John Wallace (Dalbeattie) Talbot Sunbeam

31 Billy Thomson (Glenlochar)/Ian Windress (Northallerton) Mitsubishi EVO 9

34 Charles Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205 Gti

36 Ian Bendall (Castle Douglas)/Ruari Barber-Fleming (Castle Douglas) Vauxhall Corsa

37 Roy Eide-Johansen (Dumfries)/Mark Simpson (Moffat) Ford Escort Mk1

38 Willie Pollock (Cumnock)/Helen Brown (Auldgirth) Ford Escort Mk1