Local crews head north to Inverness this weekend for the first round of the 2014 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship.
The Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally has attracted a bumper entry of 116 cars.
The Wigtownshire contingent will be led by ninth seed Mark McCulloch in his Subaru Impreza. The car has been fully rebuilt over the winter in readiness for the challenging eight-round series.
The Newton Stewart driver has teamed up with Sandhead-based navigator James Haugh, who has sat alongside Ian Paterson for the past couple of years.
“I’m very pleased with our seeding,” said McCulloch. “It puts the pressure on a little, but that should help us to concentrate faster. We plan to take it steady for the first two rounds and try to get some points on the board. It will also allow Jim and I to get used to each other.”
Fellow Newton Stewart competitor Craig McMiken starts several places back in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, with Craig Wallace of Kirriemuir on the notes. The pair plan to contest all the championship rounds this season, except for the Jim Clark tarmac round.
“We hope to carry on from where we left off last year,” said McMiken. “It was good to get a top 10 finish on the final Galloway Hills round – and we’ll be aiming for another strong finish this weekend. The weather is always the unknown factor on the Snowman, and it would be good to have some snow on the stages to mix it up a bit.”
Like McCulloch, Port William’s Fraser Wilson will also have a “new” co-driver, following Steven Broll’s decision to bow out at the end of last season. Jane Nicol from Edinburgh will take his place, as Wilson prepares to mount a bid for the Group N championship in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9.
In the 2WD classes, Minnigaff’s Laura Marshall will co-drive for Derek Connell from Ayr in a Vauxhall Nova.
At the front end of the field, five-times Scottish champion David Bogie from Dumfries will be looking to get his title defence off to a winning start in his Ford Focus WRC. The 26-year-old, who won Saturday’s Wyedean Forest Rally in Gloucestershire, will again face strong competition from Borders rival Euan Thorburn, who also drives a Focus.
2011 Snowman winner Jock Armstrong starts as third seed in his Subaru Impreza. The Castle Douglas ace will compete for the first time alongside co-driver Paula Swinscoe from Lancashire.
Full event details can be found at www.snowmanrally.co.uk.
For news and updates of all SRC rounds, go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk.
Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally – Dumfries and Galloway entries, with car no:
2. David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC
3. Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Paula Swinscoe (Chorley) Subaru Impreza
9. Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/James Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza
11. Rory Young (Kirkgunzeon)/Allan Cathers (Brampton) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 5
15. Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9
21. Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Jane Nicol (Edinburgh) Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9
30. Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova
33. Robert Harkness (Stewarton)/Mike Curry (Lockerbie) BMW 316i
36. Peter Stewart (Dumfries)/Kenneth Marchbank (Thornhill) Ford Fiesta R2
38. Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie)/Keith Fremantle (Dalbeattie) Vauxhall Nova
45. Greg McKnight (Thornhill)/Chris McKnight (Thornhill) Ford Escort Mk2
49. Jim Robertson (Penpont)/Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) Citroen C2R2
51. Charles Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205GTi
54. Scott Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/Susan Hynd (Inverbervie) Peugeot 205GTi
69. Scott Sloan (Dumfries)/David Sloan (Dumfries) Vauxhall Corsa
81. Angus Lawrie (Castle Douglas)/George Myatt (Dumfries) Vauxhall Nova SR
87. Derek Connell (Ayr)/Laura Marshall (Minnigaff) Vauxhall Corsa