Duns driver Garry Pearson edged out 2015 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Champion Jock Armstrong by eight seconds to win the Speyside Stages Rally in Elgin.
Pearson, co-driven by Robbie Mitchell, won his first ever SRC event at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R5, extending his championship lead in the process.
The conditions on the 20th running of the Speyside Stages were challenging for the competitors, especially in the opening Cooper Park tests where a pre-stage rain shower had made the tarmac stage very treacherous. However, despite the odd scattering of hail stones, conditions were predominantly dry albeit quite slippy.
SS8 Gartly Moor 2 seemed to be a particular favourite, with plenty of drivers exiting the stage with beaming smiles. Jock Armstrong managed a maximum speed of 112mph through the test, so it’s not hard to see why.
Armstrong and his co-driver Paula Swinscoe were continuing their battle with Garry Pearson from the Border Counties Rally and if it weren’t for a spin in the second Cooper Park stage, it could have been another win for the defending champions.
Armstrong fought back up the leaderboard in his Subaru once the crews headed into the forests, winning the first gravel stage Knock More. However, the Castle Douglas driver had his work cut out to keep up with the more competitive R5 of Pearson, but came within eight seconds at the end after a high speed spin by Pearson on the final test.
Jock said: “It’s been a good event for us really. Garry got carried away with himself with the SS10 spin! Glad to see I’m putting somebody under pressure!”
Finishing third overall, 33 seconds back from Armstrong and Swinscoe were Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Faulkner once again gave it everything the car could give, but unlike on the Borders this time it paid off with a podium finish.
Port William’s Fraser Wilson took his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 to 13th place overall while the Castle Douglas crew of Donald and Scott Peacock finished second in class and 48th overall in their Peugeot 205GTi.
The next round of the 2016 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship is the Jim Clark Rally which will be held on Sunday, June 5. The rally, which usually runs on closed pubic roads in Berwickshire, is returning to the legendary Kielder Forest for the second year running.