Three local drivers head to Perthshire this weekend with hopes of a strong showing on the Colin McRae Forest Stages, the penultimate round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship.
Port William’s Fraser Wilson will be looking to pick up where he left off on last month’s Merrick Stages when he brought his Mitsubishi EVO 9 home in an impressive seventh overall – and increased his lead in the Group N category alongside co-driver Jane Nicol
Their biggest threat is Borderer Dale Robertson, who beat them to the class win on the Merrick and is looking for his third successive maximum points haul.
Craig McMiken from Newton Stewart, with Kirriemuir’s Craig Wallace on the notes, will line up his EVO for the start in Aberfeldy off the back of an eighth-place finish on his home event. He also sits eighth in the overall drivers’ championship, just one point behind Wilson – with the final rankings decided on the best six rounds from eight.
Mark McCulloch, co-driven by Jim Haugh from Sandhead, was forced to retire his Subaru Impreza on his home event with a broken wheel, and is wanting “a clean run with no issues” this weekend:
“We’ve had the suspension away and repaired after the Merrick, so hopefully that gets rid of the problems we suffered all day,” said McCulloch: “Ideally we want to be back into the top 10, but the McRae stages are a very mixed bunch, so we’ll have to get some good preparation done with the notes. It’s something we haven’t had time to do on the previous few events, because of car problems”.
Among the 2WD entries, which run at the front of the field on the McRae, Minnigaff navigator Laura Marshall will be hoping to guide Ayr driver Derek Connell to a strong points finish in Class 2. The pair have had two successive non-finishes, but Laura still leads the co-drivers’ points table.
In the overall championship race, there will be no let up in the duel between Dumfries ace David Bogie and Borders’ rival Euan Thorburn.
Thorburn moved closer to securing the Scottish crown in his Ford Focus WRC with a successful defence of his Merrick title, while Bogie – the defending champion - had to settle for third after his Ford Fiesta R5+ picked up a puncture on the second stage. Both drivers have each won three rallies in this year’s series, but, with three second-place finishes to his name, Thorburn has the advantage with two rounds remaining.
Jock Armstrong, who is currently third in the championship, has not competed on the Perthshire event since 2010. The Castle Douglas driver, along with navigator Paula Swinscoe, just missed out on a podium spot on the Merrick in his Subaru Impreza following a puncture. However, he will be ready to pounce, should either of the leading pair hit problems.
n Full details of the Colin McRae Forest Stages can be found at www.coltnesscarclub.com
For news and updates of all SRC rounds, go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk
Colin McRae Stages:
Dumfries & Galloway 4WD competitors, with car no:
1 David Bogie (Dumfries) / Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Fiesta R5+
3 Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas) / Paula Swinscoe (Withnell) Subaru Impreza
4 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge) / Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9
9 Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart) / James Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza
16 Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9
17 Fraser Wilson (Port William) / Jane Nicol (Edinburgh) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9
2wd competitors with car no (run before 4wD)
46 Robert Harkness (Stewarton)/Mike Curry (Lockerbie) BMW 316i
47 Greg McKnight (Dumfries)/Chris McKnight (Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk2
50 Iain Haining (Dumfries)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova
57 Jim Robertson (Thornhill)/ Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) Citroen C2R2
58 Chuck Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205 Gti
61 Mark McKnight (Closeburn)/ Helen Brown (Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk2
62 Scott Peacock (Castle Douglas)/ Craig Service (Newton Stewart) Peugeot 205
64 Angus Lawrie (Castle Douglas)/ George Myatt (Ae) Vauxhall Nova
65 Derek Connell (Ayr) / Laura Marshall (Newton Stewart) Vauxhall Corsa