Former winner Mark McCulloch will lead the Wigtownshire challenge on Sunday’s 40th Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally.
The Newton Stewart driver, who powered to victory in 2011, is seeded twelfth in his Subaru Impreza for the popular end-of-season event, which this year counts as the final round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship.
It will also be notable for featuring a super-special spectator stage, based in a quarry near Dalbeattie, complete with an over-and-under bridge, and for the fact that Ivor Clark and Keith McCleary, winners of the inaugural event in 1974, are among the 70-plus entries.
McCulloch and co-driver Elliot Edmondson come off the back of a battling eighth place finish on the Colin McRae Stages, their car having suffered serious rear-end damage after hitting a woodpile.
Fellow Newton Stewart competitor Craig McMiken, with Craig Wallace of Kirriemuir on the notes, is back in action in his EVO 9. The pair finished eighth in the points the last time they competed together on the Merrick Stages in September.
Port William’s Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll still have unfinished business in the Group N category, and will be targeting a big points haul in their CMS Motorsport Mitsubishi EVO 8, while Sandhead’s Jim Haugh will be on the notes for Dumfries Subaru Impreza driver Ian Paterson, who will be making his thirtieth start on the Galloway Hills
Among the 2WD entries, Alex Curran from Newton Stewart - who was fourteenth overall last year - will be at the wheel of his rebuilt Vauxhall Corsa, and will team up with experienced local navigator Laura Marshall.
Meanwhile, Motorwise boss Jim McDowall will have daughter Charlotte on the notes as he takes to the forest stages in his historic-spec Chrysler Avenger.
At the top end of the entry list, five-time winner and event sponsor Jock Armstrong will be vying for overall honours with five-time Scottish champion David Bogie.
Armstrong returns to competition after an “off” on the Merrick Stages, which resulted in heavy body damage to his Subaru Impreza. He will be co-driven by Yorkshireman John Richardson, who, with Stephen Petch, finished as runners-up behind McCulloch two years ago.
“The car needed a full rebuild after the Merrick accident, but I’m raring to go and really looking forward to the weekend. I’m pleased that David is supporting our rally and the entries are looking good”, said Armstrong.
Now the pressure is off, Bogie, with fellow multiple champion Kevin Rae on the notes, is intent on “enjoying himself” behind the wheel of his Ford Focus WRC. The 26-year-old from Dumfries won the “Hills” in 2007 in a Subaru, but the following year failed to finish, and has not competed as a driver since, although he has navigated on a couple of occasions.
Regarding the super-special stage, Clerk of the Course Mike Riddick said: “The Armstrong family have worked very hard to create a super facility within their quarry at Dalbeattie. Spectators will be able to see the cars for the entire one and a half miles - from the time they enter the stage until they cross the finish line. That’s something very rare in rallying. We’ll have full facilities there, including toilets and burger vans. There’ll be a commentator, and a live screen showing the timings as the car goes through”.
The cars will start leaving New Market Street in Castle Douglas from 8.30am on Sunday, with the leading crew returning around 2.15pm.
Full spectator details can be found at the event website www.gallowayhillsrally.co.uk
For news and updates on all SRC rounds, go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk
Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally – Dumfries and Galloway Competitors with car no:
1 Ivor Clark (Gretna)/Keith McCleary (Gretna) Mitsubishi EVO 4
2 Jock Armstrong (Clarebrand)/John Richardson (Bedale) Subaru Impreza
3 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC
5 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 9
12 Mark McCulloch (Newton Stewart)/Elliot Edmondson (Milton Keynes) Subaru Impreza
21 Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9
23 Fraser Wilson (Port William)/Steven Broll (Port William) Mitsubishi EVO 8
24 Ian Paterson (Mouswald)/Jim Haugh (Sandhead) Subaru Impreza
25 Richard Dickson (New Abbey)/Sanny Dobie (Castle Douglas) Subaru Impreza
28 Lee Hastings (Collin)/Brian Findon (Dumfries) Subaru Impreza
30 Robert Harkness (Stewarton)/Mike Curry (Lockerbie) BMW 316i
31 Stuart Paterson (Collin)/Craig Service (Whithorn) Subaru Impreza
34 Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie)/Keith Fremantle (Dalbeattie) Vauxhall Nova
35 Iain Haining (Locharbriggs)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova
37 Peter Stewart (Dumfries)/Kenneth Marchbank (Thornhill) Ford Fiesta
41 Charles Blair (Dumfries)/Mark Roberts (Dumfries) Peugeot 205GTi
42 Jim Robertson (Penpont)/Colin Maxwell (Dumfries) Citreon C2R2
46 Billy Thomson (Glenlochar)/Jim Little (Kirkcudbright) Mitsubishi EVO 9
49 Scott Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/Keith Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Peugeot 205GTi
51 Scott Sloan (Dumfries)/David Sloan (Dumfries) Vauxhall Corsa
54 Donald Peacock (Bridge of Dee)/William Paul (Castle Douglas) Peugeot 205GTi
55 Alex Curran (Newton Stewart)/Laura Marshall (Newton Stewart) Vauxhall Corsa
57 Jim McDowall (Creetown)/Charlotte McDowall (Creetown) Chrysler Avenger
59 William Pollock (Cumnock)/Helen Brown (Auldgirth) Ford Escort Mk1
60 Micky Rankin (Dumfries)/Michael Sharp (Dunlop) Ford Escort
61 Angus Lawrie (Castle Douglas)/George Myatt (Dumfries) Vauxhall Nova
64 Albert McMorran (Castle Douglas)/Albert Connelly (Castle Douglas) Peugeot 205