Jock-steady display steers duo to successful rally title defence

The top three celebrate with the traditional champagne spraying.
The top three celebrate with the traditional champagne spraying.

Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe won their second consecutive Brick & Steel Border Counties rally at the weekend and, with it, round two of the 2017 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC).

The Subaru Impreza crew won the event by just under 20 seconds, taking the lead early on and holding on to their advantage throughout the day.

The defending champion mastered most of the tricky conditions that the Tweed Valley forest tests threw at him, with frequent rain showers and thick mud doing its best to catch out the unwary.

It wasn’t a completely clean run for the Castle Douglas driver, though. A near rally-ending moment in SS5 Elibank would have seen the orange Subaru head straight into the Borders countryside if not for a good bit of car control by Armstrong.

“It was a really good day,” he said. “I’d thought the podium was realistic in the morning but to take the lead and then stay in front to win the event from start to finish was amazing. Fair play to everybody, we were pushed hard but I’m glad I’ve got my confidence back.”

Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton backed up their podium on the Snowman rally with another on the Border Counties, taking second place in their Ford Fiesta R5.

In a repeat of his opening round pace, the Duns driver suffered a slow start and, coupled with double punctures in stage six, cost him too much time to challenge Armstrong.

Despite clawing some seconds back in the afternoon, it simply wasn’t enough and second was small consolation.

“They were tricky conditions out there but we got more miles in the car, which is important,” said Thorburn.

“We didn’t put a spanner to the car all day so we’re looking forward to building on this and pushing on in the next one. We just need to pull our finger out at the start!”

Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy got their championship season properly up and running with a third place finish in the Borders. The Evo IX pairing impressed as they further got to grips with their new and upgraded Lancer.

Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry rounded out the top five in their Mitsubishi Evo IX, bagging solid points for their championship. They were incredibly lucky to make the finish after suffering a high speed fifth gear moment in the final stage, with the car hitting a bank but somehow managing to stay on course.

Fraser Wilson and Craig Wallace were unchallenged in class nine for Group N, but still put in a solid performance to claim maximum points for the championship in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.