Smiles and frustration for local rally drivers

Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll. Pic by Billy Broll.
Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll. Pic by Billy Broll.
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THERE were mixed fortunes for local crews at Saturday’s Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, the second round of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship.

Newton Stewart’s Craig McMiken achieved a fine top 20 result, while the challenge of Port William crew Fraser Wilson and Steven Broll was halted by an “off” on the second stage of the day.

It was McMiken’s first competitive outing of the season in his Mitsubishi Evo 9, alongside co-driver Christine Sanderson.

The pair had failed to finish the Border Counties for the past three years, and McMiken was delighted with his 18th place overall against extremely stiff competition.

“We’ve got a result which we’re very happy with”, said McMiken, at the finish ramp in the shadow of Jedburgh Abbey: “We had a puncture on the long second stage and lost a bit of time there, but apart from that it’s been an excellent day”.

However, the 17-mile Broomylinn stage in Kielder Forest proved to be more of a problem for Fraser and Broll in their Mitsubishi Evo 6 – their second event in a 4-wheel drive car.

The Clone Motorsport team-mates were approaching a sharp right corner at speed when they left the road. There was no major damage to the car but they were unable to get back onto the stage and were forced to retire.

The car was eventually recovered and the pair were able to complete the final stages as a test run – which gave them further valuable in-car experience for their next event.

At the top end of the leaderboard, David Bogie from Dumfries was again in dominant form to take his first Border Counties win, and his third major victory of the season.

The reigning Scottish champion was quickest through all four Wauchope/Kielder forest stages in his Mitsubishi Evo 9 to finish thirty-four seconds ahead of Kirtlebridge driver Mike Faulkner in an Evo 6. Borderer Euan Thorburn was third, a further 34 seconds adrift, in his Evo 9.

It completed a “hat-trick” for Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae following victories on the opening rounds of both the MSA Scottish and British championships.

The result also means that Bogie has now won each of the eight events which make up the Scottish series.

In perfect weather conditions, the defending double champions set the pace from the start and were 5 seconds up on Faulkner and Peter Foy at the end of the first 7-mile Wauchope stage, with Thorburn a further one second behind.

Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick from Castle Douglas were fourth quickest in their Subaru Impreza.

The defending champions again set the benchmark on the daunting 17-mile Broomylinn test: eleven seconds quicker than Faulkner and Foy, with Armstrong and Riddick third fastest before a broken gearstick forced them to call it a day. It was their second successive retirement on the event, following gearbox failure on the first stage last year.

Faulkner tried to keep Bogie in his sights through the third Redesdale stage, finishing the 13-miler, fifteen seconds adrift.

The final 6-mile Hyndlee test proved to be the tightest of the day with Faulkner and Foy surving a big scare to finish the stage just three seconds off Bogie’s pace.

Bogie was delighted with his second successive SRC win, which puts him five points ahead of Thorburn in the overall Scottish championship drivers’ standings, with Faulkner a further point behind in third.

“It’s nice to finally tick the box of a rally I’ve never won before”, said the Dumfries ace: “We had a small overshoot on stage two, but other than that it’s been a perfect day. It’s a very difficult rally, with the gravel at the side of the stages punishing the smallest mistake, so we made sure we kept it clean. The new suspension on the car performed really well, and it sets us up nicely for the next round of the British championship (the Bulldog International) in two weeks time”.

Faulkner said he and co-driver Foy were lucky to be on the podium: “”We were pushing hard and had a really big moment on the final stage which could have ended our challenge, but thankfully we recovered and made it through”, said the Kirtlebridge-based driver: “We just couldn’t match David’s pace today, but we’re still on track, and will give it our all on the Granite City rally next month”.

Reigning Scottish Junior Champion Peter Stewart from Dumfries, with Phil Shortt on the notes, finished 27th overall, and took a second successive class win at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta ST.

“I had to push for it today”, said Stewart: “I felt I had to prove a point against some of the others in my class, which was much more competitive than it was in Inverness. So I’m happy enough with the class win and the overall result, which I think justified our seeding of 40th”.

One of the most impressive results of the day was a Class 2 win and 35th overall for 17-year-old Greg McKnight from Dumfries. The hotly tipped young driver, with dad Chris on the notes, was competing on only his second rally in his Vauxhall Nova.

Following their class win on the Snowman, there was further success for Iain Haining and Mairi Riddick in their Vauxhall Nova – the Dumfries/Haugh of Urr duo completing the four stages in 39th overall.

Roy Eide Johansen from Dumfries also brought his immaculate Ford Escort Mk1 home in one piece - finishing 51st overall, and fourth in class alongside navigator Mark Simpson.

Crews will now prepare for the third round of the SRC - the CARS Recovery Granite City Rally – on the 16th of April.

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Border Counties Rally – Dumfries and Galloway finishers with total times:

1 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Mitsubishi Evo 9 43 mins 33 secs

2 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi Evo 6 44.07

18 Craig McMiken(Newton Stewart)/Christine Sanderson(Berwick)Mitsubishi Evo 9 47.25

27 Peter Stewart (Dumfries)/Phil Shortt (Dumfries) Ford Fiesta ST 50.08

31 Jim Robertson (Thornhill)/George Myatt (Ae) Citreon R2C2 50.30

35 Greg McKnight (Dumfries)/Chris McKnight (Dumfries) Vauxhall Nova 51.39

39 Iain Haining (Dumfries)/Mairi Riddick (Haugh of Urr) Vauxhall Nova 52.51

51 Roy Eide Johansen (Dumfries)/Mark A.S. Simpson (Dumfries) Ford Escort Mk 1 57.47