Class battles reign supreme in the opening snowman rally

Neil Coalter & Hannah Cessford in the Suzuki Ignis. Image: Lindsay Photo Sport
Neil Coalter & Hannah Cessford in the Suzuki Ignis. Image: Lindsay Photo Sport

David Bogie and Kevin Rae kick-started the 2017 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) last weekend with their third victory on the Arnold Clark Jury’s Inn Snowman Rally.

The Skoda Fabia R5 crew may have taken the overall spoils, but there were plenty of class battles across the 100 strong field, as the SRC was welcomed to the event with unseasonably warm conditions in the Highland forests.

Sauchen crew Neil Coalter and Hannah Cessford took a dominant class one victory in their Suzuki Ignis, taking 33rd overall ahead of Steven Crockett’s Peugeot 205 and Stephen Fraser’s rare British Leyland Mini.

Andy Chalmers took the start of the Snowman back at the wheel of a Peugeot 205 GTI having rallied an Escort Mk2 last year and duly won the class two battle in Inverness with co-driver Martin MacCabe alongside.

Class three saw one of the hottest battles of the weekend between young Irish driver Marty Gallagher and reigning SRC Junior Champion Thomas Gray.

The Peugeot 208 R2 pilot would ultimately keep the advantage he held right from the first stage, but Gray in his Fiesta R2 certainly kept the Junior British Rally Championship driver honest, finishing just one second behind at the finish.

His drive during the event was enough to see the Muir of Ord driver awarded the SRC John Horton Star Driver Award for the Snowman rally.

There were no finishers in the class nine, Group N category, after sole entrant and previous class champion Fraser Wilson left the road on SS4 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.

Wilson and co-driver Craig Wallace were running 20th overall before the incident.

Class ten was won by Dalbeattie pilot Iain Wilson with his new co-driver Callum Atkinson aboard the Subaru Impreza.

Wilson had an impressive outing, finishing 14th overall and claiming the SRC Challengers victory in the process.

Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe powered their recently rebuilt Subaru Impreza to the class 11 win on the opening round of the season. The Castle Douglas driver finished just two seconds away from the podium in fourth overall.

David Bogie and Kevin Rae took the class 12 spoils courtesy of their outright win in Inverness. Shaun Sinclair and Jamie Edwards signalled their intent for the year ahead with a strong second place.

The next round of the championship is the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, Jedburgh, in under four weeks’ time on the 18th of March.