Thrills and spills in Solway rally

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David Hardie led from start to finish to take his second successive victory on Sunday’s www.usedcarparts.co.uk Solway Coast Rally.

Co-driven by Bruce Harper, he completed the eight stages over the military range at Dundrennan in his Subaru Impreza in a time of 47m 27s – 24 seconds ahead of the Impreza of 2010 winner Ian Paterson and navigator Jim Haugh. Lee Hastings and Mark Roberts, also in a Subaru, were third, a further 1m 50s behind.

In a close contest, Hardie got off to a blistering start and was seven seconds up on Paterson after SS1 Netherlaw. “I was too cautious over the first couple of miles on cold tyres,” admitted Paterson.

Hardie had extended his lead to 12 seconds after three stages, but Paterson was smiling broadly. “We beat Ian by a second on that last one,” he said. He was also quicker by two seconds through SS5 Silverhill 2 – the gap between them now 16 seconds.

However, Paterson had problems. “It’s the gearbox – it’s jumping out of first and second – and you need first and second on these stages,” he explained.

The pair continued to trade times over the last three stages: Hardie was 10 seconds faster on the fourth run through Netherlaw but Paterson took two seconds back on the penultimate stage, and the pair set equal times on the final test.

“We started off steadily and managed to keep in front of Ian throughout the day. The last couple of stages were a bit wet, so we just took it easy – otherwise, we could have overcooked it and put the car in a ditch,” said Hardie.

Paterson was satisfied as runner-up. “We’ve tried hard to match David’s pace, but he was the better man today. All in all it’s been a fantastic rally, and very well organised.”

For his part, Lee Hastings, with Mark Robertson on the notes, declared his third-place as “one of my best rallies – it’s been excellent, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the event”.

Stranraer’s Jim Sharp, co-driven by Amy McKinnon, finished sixth in his Subaru. “We had a puncture on one of the early stages and lost a bit of time,” said Sharp. “Apart from that it’s been good and the car is back in one piece, which is the number one priority.”

Ten seconds further back in seventh were Stuart Paterson and Colin Maxwell.

Ayrshire’s Colin Gemmell and Nigel Feeney in a Subaru secured eighth spot.

Iain Haining from Dumfries and Mairi Riddick from Haugh of Urr finished 10th, and took a class win in their Vauxhall Nova. “Our result might have been better if we hadn’t spun on stage two, got stuck in a banking and then performed a three-point turn!” rued Haining.

Creetown’s Jim McDowall, with David Kilpatrick on the notes, finished the day 16th overall in his immaculately prepared Hillman Avenger, while Newton Stewart’s Alec Curran, co-driven by David McGeoch, was 18th in his Vauxhall Corsa.

Minnigaff navigator Laura Marshall was one place further back alongside Hugh Steel in a Ford Escort Mk2. It was Hugh’s first rally since 1993 – the year Laura was born.

Among the early retirements were Richard and Nancy Dickson from New Abbey. Lying third after stage one, their Subaru Impreza broke a front brake disc on the second test. “It gave us quite a jolt – we spun and ended up going backwards down a hill into the bushes,” said Richard.

After repairs, the pair rejoined as course car for the last three stages, following a mishap involving the official opening car driven by reigning Scottish champion David Bogie. His MG Metro 6R4 clipped a parapet and damaged a wheel on the opening stage.

In the junior rally for drivers under the age of 17 – which ran alongside the senior event – former Scottish Junior Champion Mark McCulloch from Newton Stewart was in the navigator’s seat for Thornhill teenager Harry Marchbank, who drove to an impressive third place finish in his Nissan Micra.

Solway Coast Rally top 10 finishers with total times.

1. David Hardie (Kirkgunzeon)/Bruce Harper (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza 47m27s

2. Ian Paterson (Mouswald)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza 47.51

3. Lee Hastings (Collin)/Mark Robertson (Torthorwald) Subaru Impreza 49.41

4. John Davies (Llandysul)/Gary Davies (Aberaeron) Vauxhall Astra 50.06

5. Ross Fernie (Glenrothes)/John Young (Burntisland) Subaru Impreza 50.07

6. Jim Sharp (Stranraer)/Amy McKinnon (Alloa) Subaru Impreza 50.09

7. Stuart Paterson (Collin)/Colin Maxwell (Kirkmahoe) Subaru Impreza 50.11

8. Colin Gemmell (Stair)/Nigel Feeney (Stair) Subaru Impreza 50.21

9. Steve Retchless (Romanby)/Iain Tullie (Cockermouth) Ford Escort Mk2 50.21

10. Iain Haining (Dumfries)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 50.41