Rally duo pray for better luck

Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll

Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll

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Wigtownshire crew Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll are hoping for a change of fortune on Saturday’s fifth round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship in Elgin.

An engine fire on the final stage of the RSAC Scottish rally at the end of June deprived the pair of some valuable points in their Group N category Mitsubishi EVO 8.

Over the past few weeks, the CMS Motorsport team has been hard at work repairing the damage in preparation for the trip north.

“The engine and gear box was taken out of the car and stripped,” said team manager Billy Broll. “We then found out after investigation that the engine was beyond repair as there was a hole blown through the side of the piston. This had caused the oil in the sump to pressurise and blow out the dip stick, causing the engine fire, and also damaging the block.”

He added: “We then went back to the old engine that had been in the car previously. It was stripped, cleaned, rebuilt, re-installed and run-in. The car then had to be taken down to Oxford to be diagnosed and mapped.”

Wilson and Broll are among more than 100 crews who have entered for the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages, which will be played out over nine short stages totalling 45 miles in the forests of Moray.

Newton Stewart’s Mark McCulloch will be in action in his Subaru Impreza, alongside navigator Elliot Edmondson, who is driving more than 500 miles from his home in Milton Keynes via Newcastle to pick up a friend, and then on to Elgin.

“Obviously we’d like to aim for a top 10 finish, but that’s going to be far from easy given the quality of the entries,” said McCulloch, seeded 16th. “The world rally cars and a few of the other championship front-runners are in a different league. However, slightly further down the field, the competition is so close that a few seconds here and there can make all the difference when it comes to the final results.”

Meanwhile, Sandhead-based navigator Jim Haugh will be on the notes for Dumfries garage owner Ian Paterson, also in a Subaru.

At the top end of the seeded entries, defending champion David Bogie, who holds an eight-point lead in the SRC after four rounds in his Ford Focus WRC, will be targeting his fifth win on the Speyside. He lost out last year to Borderer Euan Thorburn, who also drives a Focus WRC. The Duns man continues to pose a threat this season, taking victory on the “Scottish” by 20 seconds from his Dumfries rival.

The champions will be followed off the start line by Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick, who were third on the Speyside 12 months ago. The Castle Douglas crew had a disappointing start to their 2013 campaign with two non-finishes in their Subaru Impreza. A puncture then put paid to a top-three spot on the Jim Clark Reivers, followed by a close-run fourth-place finish in Dumfries.

“We made a mistake on the first stage of the Scottish, and paid the price, missing out on a podium spot. You have to be on the button from the start on these sprint rallies,” said Armstrong. “The short stages on the Speyside aren’t much fun, but then it’s the same for everyone. I plan to do the pre-event ‘shakedown’ to get back into the groove.”

Among the 2WD competitors, Newton Stewart navigator Laura Marshall and Lanarkshire driver Graeme Smith will be keen to follow up their RSAC Scottish rally win in the Civic Challenge with another strong performance this weekend. They will also be targeting top honours in the Scottish championship 1600cc category after missing out by just one second in Dumfries.

The class is currently led by Dalbeattie duo Iain Wilson and Keith Fremantle in a Vauxhall Nova. They – along with a number of local competitors, including Mark McCulloch, Ian Paterson and Scott Peacock from Bridge of Dee – will be back in action next weekend on the usedcarparts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally at the Dundrennan ranges near Kirkcudbright. Other drivers signed up for the senior event, which counts as a round of the Scottish Tarmack Rally Championship, include two-times winner David Hardie, who will be co-driven by John McCulloch from Newton Stewart, and Stranraer’s Jim Sharp. On Sunday, August 11, the focus will switch to the Junior Rally for 14-17-year-olds, competing in the F1000 Ecosse Challenge.

McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages: Dumfries and Galloway competitors with car no:

2 David Bogie (Dumfries)/ Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC

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

7 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/ Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9

16 Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliott Edmondson (Olney) Subaru Impreza

24 Fraser Wilson (Port William)/ Steven Broll (Port William) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8

31 Ian Paterson (Dumfries) James Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza

38 Graeme Smith (Carluke)/Laura Marshall (Newton Stewart) Honda Civic

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

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

50 James Robertson (Penpont)/ Colin Maxwell (Dumfries ) Citroen C2 R2

59 Scott Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/ Keith Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Peugeot 205 Gti

77 Charles Blair (Dumfries)/ Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205 Gti

96 Scott Sloan (Dumfries)/ David Sloan (Dumfries) Vauxhall Corsa

A full entry list can be found at www.speyside-stages.co.uk

For news and updates of all SRC rounds, go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk