Reivers proves tough for rally crews

Jim McDowall on his way to a fine finish in the Reivers.
Jim McDowall on his way to a fine finish in the Reivers.

It proved to be a difficult weekend for local competitors on the third round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship in Berwickshire.

Mark McCulloch from Newton Stewart was forced to pull out of Sunday’s Jim Clark Reivers Rally with an overheating engine and broken driveshaft, while Port William’s Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll ended up in a ditch on the final stage.

Newton Stewart garage owner Jim McDowall, meanwhile, did not have his troubles to seek on his way to a second in class.

McCulloch, co-driven by Elliot Edmondson, got off to a strong start in his Subaru Impreza posting a tenth fastest time on the opening stage – but the problems were already evident.

“The overheating issue started about half way through the first stage,” said McCulloch. “We backed off a bit and got the car to the end. We filled it up with water and tried to keep going, but it happened again on the second stage, even though we drove through sensibly in order to get to service.

“Again we were eleventh fastest – and still tenth overall – which was really good. We tried to get the car fixed at service, and took the car back out onto the third Langton stage. However, we broke a drive-shaft going through the water splash, and because there’s no management service on the rally, we couldn’t get it fixed, so that was that.”

Following a tentative start in the Clone Motor Sport Mitsubishi EVO 8, Wilson and Broll steadily improved, from 38th overall on the opening test, to 25th after five of the day’s eight stages. With the Group N category car running smoothly, there was further improvement after second service in Duns, and the pair were sitting in 23rd spot, before coming to grief on SS8 Edrom 2.

Jim McDowall, who had daughter Charlotte as co-driver in his historic class Hillman Avenger, needed all his mechanical skills as the day wore on. “We started OK, although the first two stages were a bit rough, but we got to first service in good shape,” he said.

“Then on the third stage the throttle stuck open and we over-revved the car and it went on to three cylinders. When we got to second service, we found that two throttle springs had broken and a push-rod had jumped out. So we managed to strip the top off, put the push-rod back in, set the tappits by sight, because we had no feeler gauges, and we went back out and had three final stages which were great fun. After all that, second in class is a great result!”

Newton Stewart navigator Laura Marshall and Lanarkshire driver Graeme Smith also had a fraught day in their Honda Civic, finishing sixth in the 1600cc category, 35th overall.

“The car’s been cutting out all day,” explained Smith. “I don’t think the gearing has been right for tarmac, so 90 to 100 miles an hour, and that’s as quick as you can go, which isn’t much good on the long straights.”

At the top end of the leaderboard, a dramatic final twist saw David Bogie from Dumfries win his fourth Reivers Rally in five years, and his second consecutive victory in the championship. Last year’s winner, Euan Thorburn from Duns, was 20 seconds up on the defending champion at the end of the penultimate stage when a hydraulic oil pipe broke in his Ford Focus WRC. Although he was able to continue following emergency repairs, he lost 30 seconds and had to settle for second.

Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick from Castle Douglas were lying third behind Thorburn and Bogie after three stages, but their Subaru Impreza sustained a puncture on SS4 Blackadder 1, losing them more than two minutes.

“It’s still a mystery where we actually picked up the puncture,” said the Castle Douglas driver. “On the second run through Blackadder we were looking out for any clue but we couldn’t see anything obvious – not even the pothole which I thought might have caused it. It’s frustrating, because we were setting some consistent times, both earlier in the day, and after the puncture.

“It’s two years since I last did the tarmac round. We were right on the button behind Euan and David and that’s where we expected to stay. We came back from 22nd to ninth, so I suppose it’s not too bad, all things considered.”

The fourth round of the 2013 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the RSAC Scottish Rally in Dumfries on Saturday, June 29.

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

Jim Clark Reivers Rally Results: Dumfries and Galloway competitors, with total times:

1. David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC 48 mins 04.0 secs

9. Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Kirsty Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Subaru Impreza 52.01.7

23. Lee Hastings (Dumfries)/Brian Findon (Dumfries) 54.55.5

26. Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie)/Keith Fremantle (Dalbeattie) Vauxhall Nova 55.21.0

35. Graeme Smith (Carluke)/Laura Marshall (Newton Stewart) Honda Civic 56.39.1

37. Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 57.02.7

44. James Robertson (Penpont)/Ian Crosbie (Penpont) Citreon C2R2

64. Jim McDowall (Creetown)/Charlotte McDowall (Creetown) Hillman Avenger 1.04.54

D & G Non-Finishers

Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Mitsubishi EVO 9) – Low oil pressure SS1

Rory Young (Kirkgunzeon)/Allan Cathers (Mitsubishi EVO 5) – Overheating after SS5

Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliot Edmondson (Subaru Impreza) – Mechanical before SS4

Ian Paterson (Mouswald)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) (Subaru Impreza) – Mechanical after SS6

Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Steven Broll (Port William) (Mitsubishi EVO 8) – In ditch SS8

Stuart Paterson (Dumfries)/Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) (Subaru Impreza) – Engine end of SS4

Ian Donaldson/Stephen Marshall (Thornhill) Mitsubishi EVO – Mechanical after SS2