McCulloch scores hat-trick in Solway Coast rally

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Mark McCulloch scored his third consecutive victory at last weekend’s www.UsedCarParts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally near Dundrennan.

The event, which is held annually and is organised by Solway Car Club, attracted an entry of 80 cars for the senior event on Saturday, with competitors from the Five of Clubs, Scottish Tarmack, North of England Tarmacadam, and Borders Challenge Rally Championship all tackling the 45-mile event on the MOD ranges.

Winner in 2013 and 2014, Mark McCulloch started as top seed with Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) alongside in the Mitsubishi Evo IX. They arrived at the first service halt with a five second lead over the Hardie Engineering Subaru Impreza of 2012 winners David Hardie and John McCulloch (Dumfries/Newton Stewart), with son and father duo of ex-Scottish Rally Champions Gary and Gordon Adam in a Ford Escort Mk II a further 19 seconds back in third.

By the second service the positions had changed, with the Hardie Engineering Subaru Impreza setting impressive times to beat the younsters in the Hardie Engineering Mitsubishi Evo IX on both stages and take a slender 2 second lead at the halfway point.

Kirkgunzeon’s Rory Young/Allan Cathers in the Scottish Christmas Trees Ford Fiesta R5 had picked up their pace to move from 7th to 3rd equal with the Adams family, while a hard charging Jim McDowall/Bob Sherry held 5th in their Subaru Impreza, with 4x winner of the Solway Coast Rally Ian Paterson (Mouswald) rounding off the top 6.

Another fastest time from Hardie and McCulloch Senior on SS5 before the lunch halt left the top crews dead level on times, 28:11, setting up an exciting afternoon finale over the final 3 stages.

Rory Young was starting to get to grips with his car on his maiden tarmac event, and had moved into 3rd overall, albeit 49 seconds behind the leaders.

The McCulloch/Riddick duo laid down the gauntlet taking 5 seconds on SS6, with Hardie/McCulloch Senior only managing to take two seconds back when the stage was repeated as SS7. Another fastest time in the final 4.6 mile test saw McCulloch/Riddick take the win by six seconds, the biggest margin between the two top crews all day, with Rory Young/Allan Cathers taking the final podium spot. North of England Tarmacadam championship leaders Nigel Feeney/Phil Sandham took 4th, with a fantastic result for talented youngsters Greg McKnight/Liam Harkness taking 5th overall and first in class 3 in their Ford Escort Mk II.

Two time winner of the Solway Coast Rally Richard Dickson/Roger Alcorn finished in 6th, while Collin’s Lee Hastings recovered from a costly time penalty which dropped him top 27th, finishing just 1 second behind in 7th.

Ian Paterson/Helen Brown survived last stage fuel pressure problems to finish 9th, with Dalbeattie’s Iain Wilson/Keith Riddick rounding off the Top 10 in their Subaru Impreza.

The popular event again attracted generous sponsorship from Dumfries based DA Autoparts, with this event marking the 35th consecutive year that the Stewart family have supported the event.

Peter Stewart finished first in Class 2 in his www.UsedCarParts.co.uk Ford Fiesta R2 with novice co-driver Paula McGuire alongside.

And it wasn’t just the overall battle which was a close one; the battle for Class 1 honours between the 1400cc Vauxhall Corsas of Steven Hay/Steven Brown and Ross Carbry/Kyle Livingstone was just as close, with the two going into the final stage only one second apart, with the Stevens managing to take a further two seconds to win the class by three seconds.

Local youngsters Stewart Dodds and Scott White finished third in class, winning best improvement in seeding after starting last car at 85, to finish 35th on their first event.

Sunday’s event is a counter in three championships for junior drivers aged 14-17. 32 of the nation’s youngsters from the Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge, McGrady Insurance ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland and Kick Energy Junior 1000 Rally Championship will tackle the event in a selection of 1000cc cars.

This is the first time this season that the three series have joined together.

Newly-crowned 2015 Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland Champion Josh & Tommy McErlean (Kilrea, NI) were the fastest boys on the day, but a mechanical problem dropped them OTL.

Meaning the top spot went to Peter Bennett/Arthur Keirans who finished 14 seconds ahead of the similar Citroen C1 of current Brick & Steel Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge leader Finlay Retson/Andrew Falconer, with Welshopool based Zak Hughes/Chris Evans finishing 3rd for a second consecutive year.

The organisers Solway Car Club, winners of the coveted ‘MSA Club of the Year’ title in 2014, are grateful to all of the officials, marshals, radio crews who helped make the event a success, as well as the support of rthe Stewart family from DA Autoparts and the MOD.

Anyone interested in getting involved in motorsport can find more information on the club’s website, www.solwaycarclub.co.uk

Local finishers:

1 Mark McCulloch/Mairi Riddick (Newton Stewart/Haugh of Urr) Mitsubishi Evo IX (47:15)

2 David Hardie/John McCulloch (Kirkgunzeon/Newton Stewart) Subaru Impreza (47:21)

3 Rory Young/Allan Cathers (Kirkgunzeon/Brampton) Ford Fiesta R5 (48:38)

5 Greg McKnight/Liam Harkness (Penpont/Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk 2 (50:05)

6 Richard Dickson/Roger Alcorn (New Abbey/Castle Douglas) Subaru Impreza (50:19)

7 Lee Hastings/Julie McGuire (Collin) Subaru Impreza (50:20)

9 Ian Paterson/Helen Brown (Mouswald/Dumfries) Subaru Impreza (50:50)

10 Iain Wilson/Keith Riddick (Dalbeattie/Haugh of Urr) Subaru Impreza N12 (50:52)

11 Stuart Paterson/Allan W Paterson (Collin) Subaru Impreza (51:10)

12 Stephen Thompson/David Crosbie (Kirkcudbright/Penpont) Ford Escort Mk 2 (51:13)

15 Hamish Kinloch/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Ford Escort Mk 2 (52:10)

19 Peter Stewart/Paula McGuire (Dumfries/Glasgow) Ford Fiesta R2 ()

27 Alex Curran/Heather Grisedale (Newton Stewart/Grange over Sands) Vauxhall Corsa (54:34)

30 Hugh Murdoch/Ewan Murdoch (Stranraer) Ford Escort Mk 2 (55:14)

35 Stewart Dodds/Scott White (Kirkcudbright/Castle Douglas) Vauxhall Nova (56:31)

37 James Robertson/Colin Maxwell (Penpont/Dumfries) Citroen C2R2 (56:41)

46 Willie Nelson/Craig Nelson (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza (59:19)

47 William Paul/Kenneth Marchbank (Castle Douglas/Thornhill) Vauxhall Nova (59:21)

48 David Kirkpatrick/Colin Johnstone (New Galloway/Newton Stewart) Skoda Felicia (59:23)

F/F Jim McDowall/Charlotte McDowall (Creetown) Subaru Impreza (F/F)

F/F Murray Coulthard/Jock Frew (Twynholm/Tarbolton) Citroen C2R2 MAX (F/F)

F/F Derek Connell/Laura Marshall (Minnigaff) Vauxhall Corsa (F/F)

F/F Niall Cowan Jnr/Paul Gribben (Dumfries) MG ZR (F/F)

F/F Jamie McDowall/Craig Service (Creetown/Whithorn) Vauxhall Nova (F/F)