Last year’s winner Mark McCulloch clinched the final podium spot on Sunday’s Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, with top ten finishes for fellow Wigtownshire drivers Craig McMiken and Fraser Wilson.
Sponsor Jock Armstrong from Castle Douglas took a record fifth victory on the popular end-of-season event – but had to borrow a helmet to make it to the finish line.
McCulloch, co-driven by Elliot Edmondson, was first into the Cairn Edward forest stages on only his second competitive outing in a recently-purchased Subaru Impreza.
The Newton Stewart competitor was quickly on the pace, but arriving at the service stop, admitted the early stages had been tricky: “That second test was mega-slippy – I really had to take it very steady”.
With Armstrong and Aberdeen’s Dave Weston Jnr fighting it out for overall victory in their respective Subarus, McCulloch put in an extra push on the long final stage to secure third place ahead of Lancastrian Wayne Sisson in a Mitsubishi EVO 9.
A delighte mcCulloch said: “I know we won the rally in 2011, but this being an older car, and not as quick as the Subaru we had last year, to get onto the podium actually feels better than a win, to be honest.
“We drove as fast as we could on that last stage – it was getting silly, but it was absolutely brilliant. We’ve got more power and better brakes to come for next year, so it’s looking good”.
Newton Stewart’s Craig McMiken, co-driven by Craig Wallace from Kirriemuir, finished fifth in his Mitsubishi EVO 9. McMiken, who was third last year, was satisfied with the result given the competition around him.
“The first stage we had a problem with tyre pressures - they were far too high – that was my fault, and on the second stage we had a cut out, but those were the only low points on what was otherwise a good day for us. And with a strong field, and the likes of Jock and David ahead of us, fifth feels about right”, said McMiken.
Port William’s Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll were two places further back in their CMS Motorsport Mitsubishi EVO 6 and were the leading crew in the Group N category.
“It was an eventful day - we had a couple of overshoots and were in a ditch early on, but things calmed down a bit after that, “said Wilson: “I found the second stage quite tricky, there was a kind of crest in the middle and it you hit it, the car was moving about a lot. On the last stage we lost the back of the exhaust and we were struggling a bit at times....but we’ve made it to the finish, and we’re in the top ten, so we can’t complain. We’ll make a couple of wee improvements to the car over the winter and get it set up for next season”.
Among the 2WD competitors, Alex Curran from Newton Stewart finished third in class, fourteenth overall, in his Vauxhall Corsa, alongside Dumfries navigator David McGeoch.
H e said: “The first couple of morning stages went OK for us, but I don’t know what happened on that last run – we seemed to be going backwards! The only real drama of the day was when we hit a rock. I think it knocked the tracking out a bit”.
Hugh and Ewan Murdoch from Stranraer survived a challenging day to bring their Ford Fiesta back to Castle Douglas in 24th place overall.
At the top end of the leaderboard, Armstrong and co-driver Kirsty Riddick held a comfortable lead as they drove to the final stage in Cairn Edward forest.
Before they went into the stage, the Castle Douglas duo cleaned out the boot of their Subaru Impreza, which was full of water, with the help of their support crew.
That done, they lined up for the start, and it suddenly dawned on Armstrong that his helmet was missing:
“It was a moment of drama at the end of a very exciting day, that’s for sure”, said Armstrong: “We’d taken the helmet out of the back of the car as we cleaned it out, and left it lying in the van - it was my fault, I’ll not blame anyone else! Obviously there was no way I could continue without a helmet, but Ian Paterson (who was having brake problems with his Subaru) very kindly came to the rescue and lent me one. It didn’t fit too well, but it did the trick and we were able to finish”.
For a full results and awards list, go to www.gallowayhillsrally.co.uk
Dumfries and Galloway finishers, with total times:
1 - Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Kirsty Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Subaru Impreza 41 mins 13 secs
3 - Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliot Edmondson (Olney) Subaru Impreza 43.34
5 - Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9 44.33
7 - Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Steven Broll (Port William) Mitsubishi EVO 6 46.07
8 - Iain Haining (Dumfries)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 47.02
10 - Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie)/Keith Fremantle (Dalbeattie) Vauxhall Nova 47.02
11 - Stuart Paterson (Collin)/Colin Maxwell (Kirkmahoe) Subaru Impreza 47.42
12 - Richard Stewart (Lochfoot)/Carin Logan (Kelso) Subaru Impreza 48.11
14 - Alex Curran (Newton Stewart)/David McGeoch (Dumfries) Vauxhall Corsa 48.49
15 - Lee Hastings (Collin)/Brian Findon (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza 49.11
16 - Billy Thomson (Glenlochar)/Ian Windress (Northallerton) Mitsubishi EVO 9 49.36
19 - Neil Wallace (Dalbeattie)/John Wallace (Dalbeattie) Talbot Sunbeam 50.29
20 - Charles Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205 GTi 50.38
21 - Roy Eide-Johansen (Dumfries)/Mark Simpson (Moffat) Ford Escort Mk1 51.04
24 - Hugh Murdoch (Stranraer)/Ewan Murdoch (Stranraer) Ford Fiesta 54.41
25 - Willie Pollock (Cumnock)/Helen Brown (Auldgirth) Ford Escort Mk1 56.19
27 - Ian Bendall (Castle Douglas)/Ruari Barber-Fleming (Castle Douglas) Vauxhall Corsa 62.19