Rally crews head for Dumfries

Wigtownshire crews will be in the thick of the action this weekend as the MSA Scottish Rally Championship enters the second half of the season with the annual visit to Dumfries.

More than 100 cars will line up for the start of the RSAC Scottish Rally, which is marking its 80th anniversary.

Ahead lie more than 40 miles of classic stages in the Dumfriesshire forests, as well as two blasts through the special spectator stage at Heathhall.

Newton Stewart’s Craig McMiken will again be partnered with long-time co-driver Christine Sanderson from Berwickshire, as he returns to the forest stages in his Mitsubishi EVO 9 after sitting out the Jim Clark Reivers tarmac round earlier this month.

A few places further back in the seeded entries, Port William’s Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll are relishing the challenge this weekend and aiming to build on some strong performances so far this season.

The CMS Motorsport Mitsubishi EVO 6 has had some suspension repairs since the Reivers but otherwise is “good to go”.

Among the 2WD entries, Newton Stewart navigator Laura Marshall will be on the notes for Lanarkshire-based Honda Civic driver Graeme Smith in the 1600cc category. Following a promising start to the 2012 season, the duo will be keen to get their campaign back on track after two successive retirements. Meanwhile, Laura’s uncle, Stephen Marshall, will partner Aberdeenshire driver Rob Ashwell in his Citreon C2R2, also in the 1600 class.

Mark McCulloch will swap the Proton Satria, in which he’s been contesting the BRC Challenge, for a Peugeot 205 – the car in which he won the Scottish Junior Championship back in 2008.

Fellow Newton Stewart driver Alec Curran will have David McGeoch of Dumfries on the notes as he makes a rare outing in his Vauxhall Corsa.

At the top end of the entry list, defending Scottish champion David Bogie – who currently shares the lead in the drivers’ standings with Stonehaven’s Barry Groundwater – will be aiming to get his campaign back on track after a non-finish on the Reivers when the gearbox failed on his MG Metro 6R4.

For his home event, the 24-year-old will be behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi EVO 9, as he targets his fourth victory of the season alongside co-driver Kevin Rae.

“The EVO is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it can still do the business,” said Bogie. “We have replaced a few parts coming into the rally, just general maintenance, and by keeping on top of the car that way, hopefully it will ensure results. But obviously the competition, and the pace, is going to be fierce.

“They’re high speed stages, so punctures aren’t so much of a problem – though we were hit by one last year, which put us back to third. At the end of the day it really is an event where the fastest man wins.”

Last year’s “Scottish” winner Jock Armstrong, co-driven by Kirsty Riddick, is due to be back in action in his rebuilt Subaru Impreza, for what will be his first championship outing of the season.

The Castle Douglas-based competitor had hoped to compete on the Reivers but was hit by last-minute problems with the car.

Third seeds Mike Faulkner from Kirtlebridge, and Bingley co-driver Peter Foy (who is tied at the top of the co-drivers’ standings with Kevin Rae) won the “Scottish” in 2009, and have been runners-up for the past two years.

They also had a second-place finish on the Reivers – their third of the season – and Faulkner is relishing the forthcoming challenge at the wheel of his Mitsubishi EVO 6. “We were both really pleased with our run on tarmac, but are now really fired up to be back on gravel, and can’t wait to get stuck in.” said Faulkner, who sits one point behind Bogie and Groundwater.

“As we go into the second half of the season, the pressure on David is as strong as ever. Euan (Thorburn) is on a roll with a win and is getting quicker all the time as he adapts to his Focus, so it’s going to be tough. The ‘Scottish’ is a good event for us with some great drivers’ stages. As ever, we’ll be pushing 100 percent to try to stay in touch, but such is the pace of the championship, there are half a dozen guys who’ll be pushing for a podium.”

Kirkgunzeon’s Rory Young kicked off his 2012 championship campaign with two fourth place finishes, alongside navigator Allan Cathers. However, there was double disappointment over the Jim Clark weekend when Young was forced to retire his EVO 5 on both the National Rally, and the Reivers – where he had been running as high as fourth overall.

“The car has undergone some fairly major work since the Jim Clark – to the engine and gear-box,” said Young. “It will be ready to go this coming weekend and I’m hoping to be able to fight my way into the top six, but looking at the entry list, that’s not going to be easy.”

The action gets underway at 8.30am on Saturday, when the first of the historic cars leaves Dumfries town centre. The rest of the field, starting with 2WD Classes 1-6, follows on from 9am.

Further details can be found at www.scottishrally.co.uk.

RSAC Scottish Rally – 4WD Dumfries and Galloway competitors with car no:

1 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Mitsubishi EVO 9

2 Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Kirsty Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Subaru Impreza

3 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 6

7 Rory Young (Kirkgunzeon)/Allan Cathers (Little Corby) Mitsubishi EVO 5

23 Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Christine Sanderson (Berwick on Tweed) Mitsubishi EVO 9

26 Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Steven Broll (Port William) Mitsubishi EVO 6

28 Ian Paterson (Mouswald)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza N10

32 Richard Stewart (Lochfoot)/tba Subaru Impreza

35 Billy Thomson (Glenlochar)/Ian Windress (Northallerton) Mitsubishi EVO 9

37 Lee Hastings (Collin)/Brian Findon (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza

38 Greg Pollock (Cumnock)/Kenny Marchbank (Thornhill) Subaru Impreza

41 Roy Eide-Johansen (Dumfries)/Mark Simpson (Moffat) Ford Escort Mk1

2WD Dumfries and Galloway competitors with car no:

74 Graeme Smith (Crossford)/Laura Marshall (Newton Stewart) Honda Civic

77 Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova

79 Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/tba Peugeot 205 Gti

82 Greg McKnight (Penpont)/Chris McKnight (Penpont) Vauxhall Nova

89 Tam Brown (Boreland)/Mike Curry (Dumfries) Peugeot 205

90 Alec Curran (Newton Stewart)/David McGeoch (Dumfries) Vauxhall Nova

94 Rob Ashwell (Fyvie)/Stephen Marshall (Minnigaff) Citreon C2R2

96 Robert Paterson (Dumfries) /Neil Richardson (Kingston upon Thames) Ford Escort Mk 2

102 Gary Smith (Auldgirth)/ Mark Roberts (Torthorwald) Volkswagen Polo

104 Mark McCleary (Castle Douglas)/ Duncan Hastings (Castle Douglas) Vauxhall Nova

105 Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie)/Keith Fremantle (Dalbeattie) Vauxhall Nova

111 Michael Hunter (Dumfries)/ James McWhir (Carlisle) Lada Samara

112 Ian Bendall (Castle Douglas)/Ruari Barbar-Fleming (Castle Douglas) Vauxhall Corsa