Scottish championship going to the wire with Grampian on the horizon

The Grampian Forest Rally is vital to Sinclair & Edwards' season. Image: Lindsay Photo Sport
The Grampian Forest Rally is vital to Sinclair & Edwards' season. Image: Lindsay Photo Sport

Despite not having won a round of the series yet this season, ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) front-runner Shaun Sinclair is not giving up on his dream of becoming the 2017 Scottish Rally Champion.

After five of seven rounds, the Subaru Impreza S14 WRC pilot sits third in the standings and just eight points behind championship leader Euan Thorburn with current drop scores taken into consideration.

“The championship is the goal,” Sinclair explained. “Unfortunately it’s looking as if the only way we can realistically take the title is by either Euan [Thorburn] or Jock [Armstrong] having a problem.

“I’m very frustrated that we haven’t managed to win a round yet, but I’d probably put that down to our lack of testing. I don’t sit in the car until the day of the rally so it takes us up until the first or second stage to get up to speed and then it’s almost too late. We’ve only had one test this year and that was before the Border Counties. I think even the pace notes become alien to you if you don’t get out frequently.”

Sinclair and co-driver Jamie Edwards got their season off to a near perfect start, taking second on the Snowman Rally behind five time Scottish Champions David Bogie and Kevin Rae in their Skoda Fabia R5.

“I wasn’t surprised by our strong start on the Snowman, it was the first time I actually drove stages that I remembered which certainly helps,” Sinclair recalled. “A lot of this championship is down to memory given the experience my competitors have compared to me, and the car is awesome so that obviously helps!”

Since the season-opener in Inverness, his season fluctuated a little. A costly off road excursion on the Border Counties saw the Oban driver claim just three points, but he bounced back to claim fourth on the Speyside Stages before returning to the podium on both the Scottish and Argyll Rallies. But having run so highly in difficult conditions, the overwhelming feeling was of disappointment on stages he was victorious on in 2010.

“Because of the active diffs on our car, the slippery stuff doesn’t play to our strengths so in a lot of cases we were very much a passenger on the Argyll,” Sinclair said. “I was slightly disappointed with the final stage as I felt I had a really good stage but Euan [Thorburn] ended up taking a lot of time out of us. I wasn’t too surprised though as if somebody can drive those R5’s fast they are very, very hard to beat.”

The next round of the SRC is the Grampian Forest Rally on Saturday 12th August.