There were mixed fortunes for Wigtownshire crews in tricky conditions on Sunday’s 40th Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, the eighth and final round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Championship.
Craig McMiken fared best, but both Mark McCulloch and Fraser Wilson failed to finish.
The overall win went to event sponsor Jock Armstrong, after multiple Scottish champion David Bogie, who had led throughout, pulled up a few miles from the finish line with an oil pressure problem.
McMiken, co-driven by Craig Wallace, ended the day eighth overall in his Mitsubishi EVO 9 – his seventh top-10 finish on the event in as many years.
There were few problems for the Newton Stewart driver, apart from a collision with a tyre wall on the first run through the super-special spectator stage at a quarry near Dalbeattie, which put a dent in the car bonnet.
“The super-special was difficult – lots of twists and turns which came up on you very suddenly. But apart from that we’ve had a great day – slippy in places, but the run through Glengap was fantastic. It’s also been a very well organised event, I couldn’t fault it,” said McMiken.
Wilson and navigator Steven Broll had gone into the rally with high hopes of a strong finish in the Group N class, but it was all over before the Port William duo had a chance to get into their stride. They were just 200 yards into the first stage when the gearbox of their EVO 8 failed. “It was all very sudden – a bang and that was it. It was leaking oil, so I think there could be quite a bit of damage,” said Wilson.
McCulloch, winner of the Galloway Hills in 2011, had got off to a slow start after the windscreen of his Subaru Impreza misted up in the wet conditions. He was ninth fastest through the second stage alongside Milton Keynes co-driver Elliot Edmondson, and recorded a top-five fastest time through the super-special.
However, disaster struck on SS4 Cairn Edward when the car went over on its side while negotiating a “right seven” at between 50 and 60 miles an hour.
“We were just unlucky but the damage could have been far worse. The back quarter, which we repaired after the McRae, is damaged again, and the rear suspension arms are bent, but apart from that the bumpers, lights, windscreen and side glass are all OK,” said McCulloch.
Sandhead’s Jim Haugh co-drove Ian Paterson – competing on his 30th “Hills” – to a well-earned 12th place overall in his Subaru Impreza. “I can sum up the event in three words: slippy, slippy and slippy,” quipped Paterson. Haugh won the Lawrance Clark Trophy for the first co-driver resident in the Dumfries and Galloway postal district.
Paterson’s brother Stuart, meanwhile, had Whithorn navigator Craig Service alongside as he steered his Impreza to 21st overall.
Among the two-wheel drive competitors, Newton Stewart’s Alex Curran, with Laura Marshall on the notes, had brake problems to contend on his way to 34th spot, fifth in class, in his Vauxhall Corsa.
Jim McDowall from Creetown, with daughter Charlotte on the notes, steered his historic class Chrysler Avenger to 41st place. “These rough stages are not suited to this kind of car, but apart from a carburettor problem, we’ve brought it home in one piece – and that’s a relief,” he said.
Bogie was leading Armstrong until the end of the last stage, but was forced to pull up on the way to the finish in Castle Douglas when the oil-warning light came on in his Ford Focus WRC.
Fearing an expensive repair, the Dumfries driver decided to err on the side of caution, and switched everything off.
“It just wasn’t worth risking a broken crank. Up until that point, we’d had a great run on superb stages at the end of a successful season, so we have absolutely no complaints,” said Bogie, who had fellow five-time champion Kevin Rae on the notes.
For his part, Armstrong, co-driven by John Richardson, was delighted to take his sixth win on his local event. “A win is a win in my book and I couldn’t be happier,” said Armstrong. “I’ve had a bad year – without any success in the Scottish championship – so this is very welcome, particularly with the rally celebrating its anniversary.
“After some adjustments at service, we were going better in the afternoon. David and I recorded the same time on the second run through the super-special stage, and I took eleven seconds out of him on the final stage, so we were slowly clawing it back.”
Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, Dumfries and Galloway finishers with total times:
1. Jock Armstrong (Clarebrand)/John Richardson (Bedale) Subaru Impreza 47.20
2. Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 9 48.45
8. Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9 51.12
12. Ian Paterson (Mouswald)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza 52.20
16. Richard Dickson (New Abbey)/Sanny Dobie (Castle Douglas) Subaru Impreza 53.20
19. Lee Hastings (Collin)/Brian Findon (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza 54.23
21. Stuart Paterson (Dumfries)/Craig Service (Whithorn) Subaru Impreza 54.48
22. Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 54.57
23. Robert Harkness (Stewarton)/Mike Curry (Lockerbie) BMW 316i 55.09
24. Peter Stewart (Dumfries)/Kenneth Marchbank (Thornhill) Ford Fiesta R2 55.53
30. Jim Robertson (Penpont)/Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) Citreon C2R2 58.18
31. Donald Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/William Paul (Castle Douglas) Peugeot 205GTi 58.27
32. Charles Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205 GTi 58.29
34. Alexander Curran (Newton Stewart)/Laura Marshall (Newton Stewart) Vauxhall Corsa 58.46
35. Billy Thomson (Glenlochar)/Jim Little (Kirkcudbright) Mitsubishi EVO 9 58.49
37. Scott Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/Keith Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Peugeot 205GTi 59.30
39. William Pollock (Cumnock)/Helen Brown (Auldgirth) Ford Escort Mk1 60.04
41. Jim McDowall (Creetown)/Charlotte McDowall (Creetown) Hillman Avenger 62.16