Grampian Forest Rally - (Sat) 11 Aug 18

Posted: July 9, 2019 10:31 AM - 1906 Hits

Round 6 - 2018 Scottish Rally Championship


Posted: July 9, 2019 10:31 AM

Two-time Scottish Rally Champion Jock Armstrong took his first win of the 2018 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) season with a controlled drive on the Grampian Forest Rally.

The Subaru Impreza driver, co-driven by Cameron Fair, edged out the returning Garry Pearson by 15 seconds with Fred Milne a further three seconds back in third. Ford Fiesta R5+ driver Barry McKenna won the event overall but wasn’t registered for SRC points.

The Grampian Forest Rally, the penultimate round of the season, took in six fast and flowing stages in the forests around Banchory and would also offer the outside chance of the 2018 SRC champion being crowned in Aberdeenshire.

Armstrong was keen for a good result in the Kincardineshire forests having crashed out just a few metres into the previous event and duly set the pace on the opening two stages.

The Castle Douglas driver quickly opened up a 19 second lead over Pearson’s Ford Fiesta R5, before that eroded slightly as Milne upped the pace in his Impreza S14 WRC in the following two tests.

Undeterred and never truly under too much pressure, Armstrong responded with a quickest time on stage five before a steady run in the final test saw him clinch his first victory since last September’s Galloway Hills Rally.

“This event seriously suits my car because it flows and there aren’t a lot of chicanes, so we weren’t losing too much time, but to win our first SRC event in almost a year is nice,” Armstrong admitted.

“We set a good time in the first two stages and managed to stay there. Having wrecked the car and wrecked the engine in Argyll the car worked perfectly, so fair play to the boys [for repairing the car in time].

“The stages were absolutely amazing and always have been. They used to tell you this rally was one of the roughest on the calendar but now it’s the total opposite. They were absolutely fantastic to drive so no complaints at all.”

Pearson was slower than Armstrong in five of the six stages, but still managed to stay in touch despite his lack of seat time this year. The Duns driver was happy to return with a second place finish but knows he can achieve more when he gets back into the groove with the R5.

“We probably lost most of the time to Jock in the opening few stages, but it felt a lot better towards the end of the day,” Pearson said.

“I think it’s confidence; this morning we just didn’t have any. It’s coming good now so we will try and build on this for the Galloway Hills. There’s definitely more to come so the battle is heating up which is good to see."

Milne had been holding second in the SRC for much of the day having, but a moment in the final test meant he eventually finished three seconds behind Pearson. Third gave him his second podium of the year but denied him a second place finish that would’ve been his best ever result.

“I’m a little bit upset to be honest,” revealed Milne.

“We had a massive moment in that final stage, like flat out on two wheels, so after that we just had to back off which is a shame because I think before that we were maintaining our position ahead of Garry.

“That’s probably it for the year now as Patrick [Walsh] isn’t available for the Galloway Hills, but we have set some good times and results this year so we can be happy.”

Behind the top three, title protagonists Andrew Gallacher and Donnie MacDonald were continuing their tussle to become Scottish Rally Champion.

Having completed the opening test three seconds slower than his rival, Gallacher turned up the wick to hold fourth position throughout the day as MacDonald slipped back with a puncture aboard his Ford Fiesta R5+.

The Ford Focus WRC driver fended off a late challenge from MacDonald and Mitsubishi Evo IX driver Bruce McCombie to extend his championship lead to three points ahead of the final round. Gallacher’s co-driver Jane Nicol did however do enough to seal the 2018 Co-driver’s title with MacDonald’s co-driver Jamie Edwards not registered for points.

McCombie and Michael Coutts kept themselves in mathematical championship contention with fifth ahead of a disappointed MacDonald who admitted to being nervous ahead of the event.

Michael Binnie and Claire Mole put in another fine performance to take seventh in their Mitsubishi Evo IX, just four seconds ahead of John Wink and John Forrest’s Hyundai i20 R5.

Mark McCulloch was trying out an ex-Iain Wilson Subaru Impreza on gravel for the first time having previously driven a Fiesta R5 and finished ninth, four seconds back from Wink and eight from Binnie. Reay MacKay completed the top 10 in his Ford Focus WRC.

Having won each of the last four rounds, Greg McKnight was on course for a fifth consecutive Scottish 2WD win, only for his clutch to let go on the final stage. That promoted Gordon Murray to first place in his Ford Escort Mk2, just 10 seconds ahead of Willie Stuart’s smaller-engined Mk1 version. The returning Duncan MacDonald took third.

John Wink topped the SRC Challengers in his i20 ahead of Lawrence Whyte who lost time with an off-road excursion on stage four in his Fiesta R5. Keith Morris took third in the category in his Mitsubishi Evo VI.

Ally Currie salvaged the Junior win in his Ford Fiesta ST by just three seconds, struggling through the final couple of stages stuck in third gear. Grant MacRae ended up just three seconds back with Johnnie MacKay rounding out the all-Fiesta podium with third.

John McIlwraith took another Used Car Parts Subaru Cup win ahead of Matthew Thomson and Donald Brooker.

One round now remains in the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship. Jane Nicol may have provisionally sewn up the co-driver’s title, but the 2018 driver’s champion is all set to be crowned on the Galloway Hills Rally in Castle Douglas on Saturday 8th September.


Posted: July 9, 2019 10:30 AM


Posted: August 7, 2018 1:08 PM

With just two rounds remaining of the 2018 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC), the Grampian Forest Rally (11th August) could prove pivotal in deciding who will be the new Scottish champion.

Ford Focus WRC driver Andrew Gallacher currently leads the standings thanks to a breakthrough victory on the Snowman Rally and a decisive win last time out on the Argyll Rally. However, the Hurlford pilot holds just a one point lead over Donnie MacDonald, who has been improving with every round behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R5+.

The Grampian is the fifth event of the year and takes in over 40 competitive stage miles in the Kincardineshire forests. MacDonald will be keen to get his first victory since the Snowman in 2016 to grab the initiative in his title tussle with Gallacher, but the battle for overall glory will stretch far beyond the championship’s top two.

Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair start at one in their Subaru Impreza, and are in need of a confidence boost after crashing early last time out in Argyll. The double SRC champion lost his title to Euan Thorburn on this event last year, so will be keen to banish those memories with a strong result this weekend.

After missing much of the season, Garry Pearson returns in his Ford Fiesta R5 at two with new co-driver Dale Bowen alongside. The Duns driver is without substantial seat time but his pace in the SRC is well documented, so he could be dark horse for a podium on Saturday.

Gallacher and co-driver Jane Nicol start at three with rivals MacDonald and Jamie Edwards just behind as car four, as John Wink and John Forrest mark their one year anniversary behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 R5 with their highest ever SRC seeding at five.

Freddie Milne and Patrick Walsh are back out in their Subaru Impreza WRC, eager to get themselves back on the podium after coming so close on the previous two rounds.

Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts are still in the championship picture after grabbing their first podium in three years on the Argyll Rally, continuing to push their Mitsubishi Evo IX to places where it really shouldn’t belong.

Title aspirants Mark McCulloch and Michael Hendry have seen their challenge evaporate with a string of mechanical failures in their Ford Fiesta R5, so the pair have switched to an ex-Iain Wilson Subaru Impreza for the Grampian.

Having missed the Argyll Rally, Lawrence Whyte returns to SRC action at nine in his Ford Fiesta R5 with defending co-driver champion Paul Beaton alongside. Michael Binnie and Claire Mole start at ten in their Mitsubishi Evo IX.

Greg McKnight leads the Scottish 2WD contingent in search of a fifth consecutive class win in his Ford Escort Mk2. Duncan MacDonald pushed McKnight hard on the Speyside Stages and returns after a lengthy break in his Mk2, while Paul McErlean and Fraser MacNicol also join the party in their Mk2 Escorts. After failing to start the Snowman, Mike Stuart makes his first start of the season with Sinclair Young alongside.

Angus Lawrie heads the front-wheel-drive runners in his Vauxhall Corsa, with Ally Currie (Ford Fiesta ST) and Finlay Retson (Ford Fiesta R2) also sure to challenge for the top 2WD places.

John Wink and Lawrence Whyte are the favourites for SRC Challengers honours, although Alan Dickson, Paul McErlean and the returning Marty Scott will all be pushing hard to take the victory themselves.

The battle to become Scottish Junior champion is going down to the wire, with Tom Howie (Talbot Sunbeam), Ally Currie, Niall Cowan Jr and Scott Peacock (MG ZR) all still in the frame and eager to bag the top result in Aberdeenshire.

Things are equally interesting in the Used Car Parts Subaru Cup. John McIlwraith and Heather Grisedale are strong shouts for the win, but face stiff competition from series stalwarts Matthew Thomson and Ian Graham and rising star Harry Chalmers with co-driver Andrew Logan.

As well as the overall result and class position, competitors will also be eyeing up the chance to receive the SRC John Horton Star Driver Award nomination. Paddy Munro, Marty Scott, Angus Lawrie and Ross Hughes have already booked themselves a place in the end-of-season shoot-out, but plenty other will want to join them with the opportunity to receive tuition from Tapio Laukkanen at stake.

The Grampian Forest Rally kicks off with a town centre ceremonial start in Banchory on Saturday (11th August) morning before heading to the nearby forests for six special stages of competitive action.

The 2018 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is partnered by Pirelli Motorsport, Reis Motorsport Insurance and KNC Groundworks Ltd.

The championship consists of seven forest events across Scotland, taking in over 300 competitive stage miles.

Keep up to date with all the latest news via the website, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #SRC18.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: August 7, 2018 1:07 PM

Entries Received / On Line Entry / Event Website

Posted: July 10, 2018 7:05 AM

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