Mark McCulloch lost exhaust and brakes on his way to a hard-earned 14th place overall on Saturday’s RSAC Scottish Rally in Dumfries, the fourth round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish championship.
The Newton Stewart driver, alongside navigator Elliot Edmondson from Milton Keynes, started strongly in his Subaru Impreza, recording the eighth fastest time through the opening Windy Hill stage.
However, McCulloch had to nurse the car through the second stage in Ae Forest with no brakes, losing around a minute. With the car repaired at the service stop at Heathhall, it was on to the short special spectator stage before heading west to the Galloway forest:
“About halfway through the Shaw Hill stage, the exhaust fell off,” said McCulloch, “so we limped out of that one and, since there was nothing we could do, we decided to give it our all on the final stage, even though the car felt quite sluggish and we could hardly hear a thing because of the noise.
“It turns out we were fifth fastest, and just 2.8 seconds off beating the bogey time – with no exhaust! We’ve finished 11th of the SRC-registered competitors, and if we hadn’t had the problems early on I reckon we could have been well inside the top 10, which would have been superb in an old car like this.”
Meanwhile, Newton Stewart’s Craig McMiken had an even tougher day behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi EVO 9, which had been fitted with a new gearbox. That took time to get used to on the first two stages, before the problems started to mount up.
“First, we had no fuel pressure, and that dropped us back. Then on the last stage we picked up a puncture, and rather than continue and possibly cause more damage to the car, we decided to stop and change the tyre.” said McMiken, who, with co-driver Craig Wallace from Kirriemuir, finished the event in Dumfries in 44th place overall.
Port William crew Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll had gone into the event targeting a good points haul in the Group N category in their EVO 8. The early signs were promising as the pair worked their way into the top 20, and they were lying third in class at the conclusion of the penultimate stage. However, their challenge came to an abrupt end with an engine fire on the final Loch Grannoch test.
Among those following who came upon the stricken car was Sandhead navigator Jim Haugh, who was again on the notes for Dumfries garage owner Ian Paterson. The pair brought their Subaru Impreza back to the finish in 21st place overall.
Laura Marshall from Newton Stewart and Lanarkshire driver Graeme Smith missed taking championship class honours in the 1600cc category by a single second, but had the consolation of winning the Civic Challenge as the leading Honda Civic crew on the event.
Tarmac rallying specialist Roger Donnan from Stranraer survived a testing day on what, in places, were acknowledged to be very rough gravel stages. “Some of the rocks were the size of breeze blocks. I’ll be glad to get back to the tarmac,” said Donnan, who finished 45th overall in his Ford Puma alongside co-driver Ashley Trimble.
At the top end of the leaderboard, defending champion David Bogie had to settle for the runner-up spot on his home event, as his main rival Euan Thorburn got his campaign back on track after losing out on the previous Jim Clark Reivers round.
The Borderer led from start to finish in his Ford Focus WRC, completing the five special stages 19.5 seconds ahead of the Focus of Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae.
“I felt I was driving pretty well, my braking points were good, my high speed commitment was good. It was just one of those days that leaves you baffled,” said Bogie, who had won the two previous championship rounds. “Over the past few years, I’ve been pretty consistent and quick on this event, but Euan raised his game. It could have been better, but we should be pleased with second, and it keeps us ahead in the championship.”
Meanwhile, Castle Douglas crew Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick missed out on taking the final podium spot by less than two seconds to Aberdeenshire driver Quintin Milne.
Said Armstrong: “We were happy with the performance in the afternoon where we had a couple of clean runs and took time out of Quintin. However, at the end of the day I’d lost too much time on the morning stages. I didn’t get in the groove straight away, and with it being such a short rally – four stages and the spectator super-special – you have to be on the button straight-away, and we weren’t.”
The fifth round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages in Elgin on August 3.
Dumfries and Galloway competitors showing final placing and total times:
2nd David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC 36.04.1
4th Jock Armstrong (Castle Douglas)/Kirsty Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Subaru Impreza 36.57.1
7th Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 9 37.58.1
14th Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliot Edmondson (Milton Keynes) Subaru Impreza 38.57.0
21st Ian Paterson (Mouswald)/James Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza 41.04.0
22nd Richard Dickson (New Abbey)/George Myatt (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza 41.17.8
24th Rory Young (Kirkgunzeon)/Allan Cathers (Brampton) Mitsubishi EVO 5 41.28.9
29th Graeme Smith (Carluke)/Laura Marshall (Newton Stewart) Honda Civic 42.12.3
31st Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 42.26.5
32nd Stuart Paterson (Dumfries)/Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza 42.30.2
34th Peter Stewart (Dumfries)/Kenneth Marchbank (Thornhill) Ford Fiesta R2 43.39.8
39th Charles Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205GTi 44.30.3
40th James Robertson (Penpont)/Ian Crosbie (Penpont) Citreon C2R2 44.50.4
43rd Scott Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/Keith Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Peugeot 205GTi 44.55.0
44th Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9 45.09.3
45th Roger Donnan (Stranraer)/Ashley Trimble Ford Puma 45.15.8
50th Alan McMorran (Castle Douglas)/Albert Connelly (Castle Douglas) Peugeot 205 47.56.3