Newton Stewart’s Mark McCulloch powered his battered Subaru Impreza to a top-10 finish on Saturday’s Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally, despite the car sustaining serious damage when it collided with a log pile.
Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll from Port William ended the day fourth in the Group N class, while, at the top end of the leaderboard, David Bogie made motorsport history by becoming the first driver to win five back-to-back Scottish championships.
The event did not get off to the best of starts for McCulloch after he forgot the intercom lead for his helmet – a vital link between himself and co-driver Elliot Edmondson.
Mark’s dad, John, managed to deliver the lead in the nick of time at the start of the short second stage, but half a mile in, the car whacked the log pile, mangling the rear-end. It resulted in some frantic repairs at the service stop in Aberfeldy – with gaffer tape and zip-ties much in evidence.
Nevertheless, it did not appear to hold McCulloch back. He was ninth fastest through the next two stages, and seventh quickest through the remaining two, to end the day eighth overall, seventh of the SRC-registered competitors.
“After the day we’ve had, it’s something of a miracle that we’re here,” said McCulloch at the finish in Aberfeldy. “The second stage incident was purely down to driver error. I was going far too fast through the first half-mile. Well done to everyone for getting the car back on the road. After that we managed to build the pace back up again and got the result we’d hoped for.”
Wilson and Broll had a less dramatic day in their Mitsubishi EVO 8 to finish 15th overall, including a twelfth fastest time through the four-miles of SS4 Kindrogan:
“We were hoping to pip our GpN rival John McClory and take third in class – there was only two seconds between us going into the final stage,” said Wilson. “But he must have got his finger out, and we had to settle for fourth. We had an overshoot and a stall, which cost us a bit of time.”
Sandhead’s Jim Haugh and Dumfries driver Ian Paterson ended the day in 25th overall in their Subaru N10. “The good bits were really good, the bad bits were really bad,” was Paterson’s verdict.
Bogie did not have the best of starts in his quest to lift the title with one round remaining. His Ford Focus WRC hit a rock half a mile into the second stage, resulting in a front-left puncture which lost the Dumfries driver 21 seconds to main rival Euan Thorburn – after both had equalled the bogey time on SS1 Sophia Wood.
Bogie, co-driven by fellow champion Kevin Rae, was fastest through the next three stages, but was still trailing the Thorburn going into the final 10 miles of Craigvinean. It was starting to look as though the title fight would go down to the final round, the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, later this month.
However, disaster struck for Thorburn when his Focus picked up a puncture, and then developed gearbox problems, forcing him to retire.
“We went into the last stage with absolutely the wrong tyre – it a was a complete gamble – so we just drove it over the limit and never backed off,” said Bogie. “Obviously towards the end Euan picked up a puncture and that allowed us to take the win. But I really feel we deserved it. I felt it was our day. Apart from the stage where we had the puncture, we were quickest through the rest. It’s great to win the championship with one round to go. It’s been a real challenge this year, learning the new car, and great credit must go to our team and the boys who prepare it from one round to the next.”
Among the 2WD competitors, Ian Wilson and Keith Fremantle from Dalbeattie took top honours in the 1600cc category in their Vauxhall Nova. finishing the day 22nd overall. “The best event in the championship so far. Absolutely brilliant,” enthused Wilson.
Iain Haining from Dumfries, co-driven by Mairi Riddick of Haugh of Urr, only had to get over the start line in his Nova to make sure of Class 3. Having ticked that box, the pair went on to seal their seventh consecutive class win.
Newton Stewart navigator Laura Marshall and Lanarkshire driver Graeme Smith were among 22 crews who failed to finish the event after their Subaru Impreza succumbed to mechanical problems.
The eighth and final round of the championship will be the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, based in Castle Douglas, on Sunday, October 27.
For SRC news and updates, go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk
Colin McRae Forest Stages – Dumfries and Galloway finishers with total times:
1. David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC 43 mins 45 secs
2. Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 9 46.02
8. Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliot Edmondson (Olney) Subaru Impreza 47.26
14. Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Steven Broll (Port William) Mitsubishi EVO 8 48.49
22. Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie)/Keith Fremantle (Dalbeattie) Vauxhall Nova 51.09
25. Ian Paterson (Dumfries)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza 51.53
27. Iain Haining (Dumfries)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 53.06
28. Robert Harkness (Stewarton)/Mike Curry (Lockerbie) BMW 316i 53.20
31. Chuck Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205GTi 53.38
37. James Robertson (Penpont)/Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) Citreon C2R2 55.17