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Snowman Rally - 20 Feb 10

Posted: February 21, 2010 10:13 PM - 9218 Hits

Round 1 - 2010 Scottish Rally Championship

  • Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick dominate the Snowman!

Photo: LindsayPhotoSport


Posted: February 21, 2010 10:13 PM

Jock Armstrong mastered the tricky and unpredictable conditions to secure a resounding victory on Saturday's Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally, the opening round of the Hankook MSA Scottish Championship.

The Castle Douglas ace was fastest through all five stages, bringing his Subaru Impreza home more than two and a half minutes ahead of young Lanarkshire driver, Alick Kerr, also in a Subaru, who posted his best ever SRC result.

Last year's championship runner up Mike Faulkner took the final podium spot a further twenty seconds back in his Mitsubishi Evo 6.

Competitors were faced with a mix of snow, ice and gravel – at times all on the same stage – making tyre choice extremely difficult.

There was no holding back Armstrong, however, who was determined to push for the win, having finished third last year – his first attempt at the Snowman in 19 years.

With co-driver Kirsty Riddick, he was 23 seconds up on Kerr after the opening Meall Mor test, and following what many acknowledged to be the most difficult stage of the day, Millbuie, had extended his advantage to more than a minute over last year's winner Reay Mackay, with Kerr a further three seconds adrift.

From the end of SS3 Torr Achilty, there was to be no change to the top three of Armstrong, Kerr and Faulkner.

Said a jubilant Armstrong at the finish ramp in Inverness:
"It's been fantastic – we were so close twelve months ago, and I thought there was no reason why we shouldn't go for the win, so it's all gone to plan. Compared to last year, the stages were actually more difficult by not having so much snow on them. There was more ice, and you were also going a lot quicker. But all in all, a great day, and it's set us up well for the season ahead – we need to nail the first two or three rounds".

Kerr won plaudits on last year's Snowman when he finished eleventh overall in a 2 wheel drive Ford Fiesta ST before making his 4WD debut in a Subaru Impreza – a switch which saw him move further up the rankings as the season progressed..

This was his first rally alongside experienced navigator Neil Shanks, and the 22-year-old Bothwell driver acknowledged that his presence was a confidence booster on the challenging event.

"It really helped, because at times the conditions were unbelievable and you really had to concentrate. Take the third stage, where we started off in snow – which was great - and then it was straight into gravel. But we got through, and I'm obviously very happy – it's a great way to start off the year”.

Earlier in the day, Faulkner had spoken of the difficulties posed by the changeable conditions and grip levels – with sheet ice followed by gravel on some high-speed sections.

Nevertheless, the Kirtlebridge-based driver was still second fastest on two stages, and with co-driver Peter Foy was more than happy with the outcome.

"It's brilliant – we'd targetted a top five finish – ideally a podium – so it's just what we wanted to start the year off. We had a few heart-stopping moments, particularly the fourth stage where we had a big spin, but apart from that it's just been a case of survival and reading the road".

Dumfries farmer Rory Young and co-driver Allan Cathers, moved into fourth overall after SS4 Strathrory and held position – despite a string of punctures which meant they had to go into the final stage, Scotsburn, with a "flat" because he had run out of spare tyres!.

"After everything we've been through, we're pleasantly surprised by the result, to be honest," said Young, adding: "It's certainly been one of the most challenging days I've spent in a car, that's for sure. The five punctures were a bit demoralising, but we've survived and have a strong finish".

John Mackenzie from Thurso won the battle of the iconic Metro 6R4's to finish a superb fifth overall.

He praised "new" navigator Ian Macdonald for helping make the day a success, adding: "The car has gone well with no problems, and despite the conditions, we've not really had any hairy moments to speak of and the Metro has handled really well on the high speed stretches.. I've perhaps driven a bit more carefully today – not so rash, and it's paid off.

For local favourite Andy Horne, sixth place was a huge relief after failing to finish any of the eight rounds in 2009 behind the wheel of his crowd-pleasing DAM 4100 Gti.

Following a change of engine during the off season, the Inverness-based driver, alongside navigator Jim Howie, was determined to get his season off to a positive start – which was amply achieved, and included a third-fastest through the final Scotsburn test.

Like the majority of competitors, Horne found the conditions challenging to say the least:

"Surfaces changed all the time so you were never sure what was just up ahead. In all fairness, we could perhaps have gone quicker, but at the same time, we might have ended up in a ditch. My philosophy before the start was: "We ain't going to win any rally – we're going to go round as briskly as we can without taking any chances"".

With last year's Snowman-winning Metro 6R4 off the road for an engine overhaul, Reay Mackay, with Robert MacDonald on the notes, was behind the wheel of a "recently” Mitsubishi Evo 7.

It was their second competitive outing in the car, and their seventh overall – two seconds adrift of Horne and Howie - followed a sixth place finish on the previous weekend's Riponian Stages in North Yorkshire.

Walter Henderson and Jim Kinloch were fifteen seconds further back in their Subaru Impreza, after what the Lanarkshire-based farmer conceded had been "an eventful day".

"The first stage in particular we were a bit slow off the mark – I'd never driven the car in the snow before", said Henderson, "But once we got into our stride it went fine, and we had a fourth and seventh-fastest stage time, so it's been a good day".

Banchory-based Bruce McCombie – having switched during last season fr om a 2WD class-dominating Ford Puma to a Subaru Impreza – notched up a seventh and eighth fastest stage time on the way to ninth overall, alongside co-driver Michael Coutts.

The Dumfries crew of Davie Hughes and Bruce Harper rounded off the top ten in their Mitsubishi Evo 9, after what Hughes described as a "horrendous but good fun day" which started with a third fastest time on the first stage.

Among the notable retirements was one of the pre-event favourites, Lancashire based rally preparation expert Wayne Sisson, who got stuck in snow after sliding off on the second stage in his Mitsubishi Evo 9, and Donnie Macdonald from Inverness, who had to call it a day after his Evo 9 sprung an oil leak.


Posted: February 21, 2010 10:11 PM

Full Results and Times

Posted: February 21, 2010 10:07 PM

1 Jock Armstrong(Castle Douglas)/Kirsty Riddick(Castle Douglas) Subaru Impreza 51 min 11 secs
2 Alick Kerr (Bothwell)/Neil Shanks (Elgin) Subaru Impreza 53.43
3 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi Evo 6 54.03
4 Rory Young (Dumfries)/Allan Cathers (Carlisle) Mitsubishi Evo 5 55.22
5 John Mackenzie (Thurso)/Ian Macdonald Metro 6R4 55.37
6 Andy Horne (Inverness)/Jim Howie (Kilmarnock) DAM 4100 Gti 55.45
7 Reay Mackay (Fort Augustus)/Robert MacDonald (Fort Augustus) Evo 7 55.47
8 Walter Henderson (Lanark)/Jim Kinloch (Junglinster)Subaru Impreza 56.02
9 Bruce McCombie (Banchory)/Michael Coutts (Torphins) Subaru Impreza 56.46
10 Davie Hughes (Dumfries)/Bruce Harper (Dumfries) Mitsubishi Evo 9 57.11

Class 1 James Aitken/Alistair Dodd - Nissan Micra
Class 2 Kenny Munro/Doug Jeffrey - Vauxhall Corsa
Class 3 Niall Inglis/ Chris Munro - Vauxhall Nova
Class 4 Stewart Davidson/ Breagha Dobney - Proton Satria
Class 5 Neil Morrison/Chris Ronaldson - Talbot Sunbeam
Class 6 Andrew Morrison/Michael Hendry - Ford Escort RS
Class 7 Allan Smith/ Ian McIvor - Ford Focus
Class 8 Malcolm Buchanan/ Ian Nicoll - Ford Escort Mk2
Class 9 Eddie O'Donnell Jnr/Eddie O'Donnell Snr - Ford Escort RS
Class 10 Craig McMiken/Christine Sanderson - Mitsubishi Evo
Class 11 Scott Murray/John Mackenzie - Mitsubishi Evo 6
Class 12 Andy Horne/Jim Howie - DAM 4100 Gti

Leader After:
SS1-5 Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick (Subaru Impreza WRX)

Stage Winners:
SS1 Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick (Subaru Impreza WRX)
SS3 Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick (Subaru Impreza WRX)
SS3 Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick (Subaru Impreza WRX)
SS4 Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick (Subaru Impreza WRX)
SS5 Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick (Subaru Impreza WRX)


Posted: February 15, 2010 12:01 PM

The countdown is underway for next Saturday's (Feb 20th) Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally - the opening round of the 2010 Hankook MSA Scottish Championship.

More than 120 cars are due to line up for the start in Inverness, headed by last year's winner Reay Mackay.

Fellow “Highland” competitors Andy Horne, Donnie Macdonald, Steven Campbell and up-and-coming young driver David Wilson are all seeded in the top ten.

The "Southern" challenge is headed by Jock Armstrong and 2009 championship runner up Mike Faulkner – seeded second and third respectively – with another hotly-tipped youngster, Alick Kerr from Lanarkshire, starting seventh.

Two other top-ten seeded drivers aiming for spoils are Wayne Sisson from Lancashire – a former BTRDA Group N champion – and last year's Scottish GpN runner-up Shaun Sinclair from Oban.

Mackay, and co-driver Robert MacDonald, both from Fort Augustus, scored a famous victory twelve months ago: Mackay battling through the ice and snow in his MG Metro 6R4 to take his first forest rally win.

This time out, he will be at the wheel of a newly-acquired Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7, while his Metro is off the road.

"My Metro engine is away for a check over so I'll be using the Evo which I bought over the Christmas period for the first couple of rallies", said Reay: "It's completely different to the Metro, so will take a bit of getting used to, but I think it will be a much easier car to drive!".

Jock Armstrong will again be accompanied by experienced co-driver Kirsty Riddick as he embarks on his second full season in the SRC.

Last year, the Castle Douglas pair saw their championship hopes dashed on the sixth round when Armstrong's Subaru Impreza N11 was found to have a "non-homologated" rear differential – in breach of GpN regulations.

Armstrong responded by taking his car out of Class 10, and promptly won the penultimate event, the Merrick Forest Stages.

Lockerbie-based Mike Faulkner and long-time navigator Peter Foy were also in the hunt for overall honours, notching up two round victories in their GpA Mitsubishi Evo 6.

However, a broken driveshaft on the Merrick virtually put paid to their challenge, and handed the advantage to David Bogie who went on to take the Scottish crown on the final round, the Colin McRae Stages.

While the young Dumfries driver concentrates on his British championship campaign this season, Faulkner is aiming to "up the ante" north of the Border.

“We're determined to go one better this year and put our name on that trophy", said Faulkner: “It would be a dream come true to win the Snowman, but if we can get a solid result to start the season, then I'll be more than happy”.

Rally car preparation expert Wayne Sisson – a former British junior champion – made one foray into the Scottish forests last year when he stormed to the runners-up spot on the RSAC Scottish.

However, it will be his first time on the Snowman; he will be at the wheel of a newly-built Mitsubishi Evo IX; and he will be accompanied by a new co-driver in David McFadyen, who hails from Inverness.

"I'm not sure what to expect to be honest – it's an entirely new event for me", admitted Sisson: "I'm just hoping for a good clean run, and a finish somewhere near the front".

Shaun Sinclair and navigator Chris Hamill come off the back of an impressive and consistent 2009 season in GpN during which they upgraded to an Evo 9.

The car has recently been worked-on and re-mapped at Sisson's Carnforth motorsports base, and a subsequent test in South Ayrshire met with approval.

Said Hamill: "Shaun was very pleased with the handling of the car, saying there was a notable improvement in performance".

The veteran crew of Andy Horne and Jim Howie can only hope for better things this season, after failing to finish any of the eight rounds in 2009.

Horne's mighty, but temperamental, DAM 4100Gti is always a huge hit with the spectators lining the forest routes, and the home support will be out in force this coming weekend.

Bothwell's Alick Kerr returns to the Snowman where twelve months ago he survived the treacherous conditions – and a broken driveshaft – to finish a superb eleventh overall in a 2-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta ST.

He later made his 4WD debut in a Subaru Impreza, and went from strength to strength, posting three top-ten finishes before season's end.

For 2010, the 22-year-old has teamed up with highly-experienced co-driver Neil Shanks from Elgin, and is enthusiastic about the forthcoming campaign.

Said Kerr: "I'm very much looking forward to working with Neil – he brings with him a lot of experience and knowledge. As for the Snowman, it's difficult to predict where we'll end up. A clean, puncture-free rally, with a bit of luck, would obviously be ideal".

Donnie MacDonald, with fellow Invernessian Paul Beaton on the notes, will be running his Mitsubishi Evo 9 in Group N this year and is excited by the prospect.

"The 33mm restrictor has given the car a hell of a lot more pace", said MacDonald. " The plan is to really attack in GpN this year".

Another driver expected to fight for top honours in GpN is Alness-based David Wilson, who will be accompanied by Alick Kerr's former co-driver, Drew Sturrock.

Wilson had a strong second half to the 2009 season in his Evo 4, including a seventh overall on the Speyside Stages, and tenth on the McRae. He has now upgraded to an ex Wayne Sisson Evo 9.

The Snowman top-ten starters are rounded off by the local crew of Steven Campbell and Keir Beaton – Campbell having taken advantage of the conditions last year, to finish second in his Evo 5.

Among the late entries whose seeding is still to be confirmed is Stonehaven's Barry Groundwater, who last season finished fourth overall in the drivers' points in his Mitsubishi Evo 9.

The leading 2WD contest throws up a "battle of the islands", with Skye's Malcolm Buchanan in a Ford Escort Mk2 pitched against Mull father and son team, Eddie O'Donnell Jr and Snr in their Escort RS.

As always the various championship classes throw up some potentially intriguing tussles – not least Class 4, where Paisley's Alasdair Graham will again be pushing for top honours in his Vauxhall Corsa, having missed out last year to Mark McCulloch, who will make his 4WD debut on Saturday in a newly-acquired Subaru Impreza.

1 Reay MacKay/Robert MacDonald(Fort Augustus/Fort Augustus)Mitsubishi Evo 7
2 Jock Armstrong/Kirsty Riddick(Castle Douglas/Castle Douglas)Subaru Impreza
3 Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy (Lockerbie/Bingley) Mitsubishi Evo 6
4 Wayne Sisson/David MacFadyen(Burton In Kendal/Inverness)Mitsubishi Evo 9
5 Shaun Sinclair/Chris Hamill (Oban/Kilmore) Mitsubishi Evo 9
6 Andy Horne/Jim Howie (Inverness/Kilmarnock) DAM 4100 Gti
7 Alick Kerr/Neil Shanks (Glasgow/Elgin) Subaru Impreza
8 Donnie MacDonald/ Paul Beaton (Inverness/Inverness) Mitsubishi Evo 9
9 David Wilson/Drew Sturrock (Alness/Laurencekirk) Mitsubishi Evo 9
10 Steven Campbell/Keir Beaton (Inverness/Inverness) Mitsubishi Evo 5
11 Rory Young/Allan Cathers (Dumfries/Carlisle) Mitsubishi Evo 5
12 David Hughes/Bruce Harper (Dumfries/Dumfries) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
14 Paul Cooke (Enniskillen)/ Martin Brady (Navan) Mitsubishi Evo 6
15 John Morrison/Peter Carstairs (Conon Bridge/St Andrews) Mitsubishi Evo 9
16 Craig McMiken/Christine Sanderson(Newton Stewart/Berwick)Mitsubishi Evo 9
17 Dale Robertson/Paul McGuire (Duns/Tranent ) Mitsubishi Evo 9
18 Malcolm Buchanan/Ian Nicoll (Uig/Forfar) Ford Escort Mk2
19 Martin Craik/ Steven Brown (Perth/Inverness) Subaru Impreza
20 Bruce McCombie/ Michael Coutts (Banchory/Torphins) Subaru Impreza
More Details:

Bumper entry for 'Snowman'

Posted: February 8, 2010 2:24 PM

Last year's winner Reay Mackay heads a strong field of 115 entries for the Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally on February 20th - the opening round of the Hankook MSA Scottish Rally Championship.

The Fort Augustus driver will be at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Evo 7 for the Inverness-based event, having switched from the MG Metro 6R4 in which he achieved a famous victory in the snow and ice twelve months ago.

Second seed Jock Armstrong heads the south-west of Scotland challenge in his Subaru Impreza with 2009 SRC runner-up Mike Faulkner starting third in his Evo 6.

Lancashire-based motorsport engineer and former BTRDA GpN champion Wayne Sisson, and fellow Evo 9 pilot Shaun Sinclair from Oban, are seeded fourth and fifth respectively, with Inverness veteran Andy Horne rounding off the top six in his famed DAM 4100 Gti.

Hotly-tipped young drivers Alick Kerr (Subaru Impreza) from Bothwell and Alness-based David Wilson (Evo 9) are both among the top ten starters. along with Donnie MacDonald (Evo 9) and last year's Snowman runner-up Steven Campbell (Evo 5), both from Inverness.

The leading 2WD competitor is Malcolm Buchanan from the Isle of Skye in a Ford Escort Mk2 (Car No 18).

As well as the ever-popular Escorts and Metro 6R4's, the “Snowman” entry boasts a wide and varied range of cars, including a Proton Satria, a Lancia Delta, a Ford Capri, two Skodas, and a Lada Samara.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: February 8, 2010 12:13 PM

The Rally is on ........!

Posted: February 3, 2010 3:24 PM

There is snow in the stages, but there isn't as much as last year. No need to panic - the organisers are working hard to sort it out!

Entries to Date

Posted: February 2, 2010 1:55 PM

Received Entries to date:

Regulations / Details

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM

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