… McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally, Sat. 1st August …
Bogie Wins, but McCombie Leads …
David Bogie and Kevin Rae scored their fourth victory of the season on the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally. Even so, that is not enough for the five times Scottish Champions to clinch their sixth national crowns. With the Merrick gone, it’s now the best 6 from 7 rounds which count, and David has only scored on four so far with one to go.
By finishing second, Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe have put themselves in the driving seat to win their first Scottish title. Current Championship points leader Bruce McCombie retains his advantage despite finishing fourth behind Donnie MacDonald, but more crucially ahead of fifth placed Mike Faulkner. This will make it a three way fight for the 2015 ARR Craib Scottish Championship title on the Colin McRae rally between McCombie, Armstrong and Faulkner.
Over 100 crews contested this penultimate round of the national ARR Craib Scottish series based at Elgin with a huge crowd of spectators in the opening stages around the ‘city centre’ Cooper Park before they headed into the sunshine and Speyside forests.
SS1, Cooper Park 1, 0.60 mls (tarmac)
1, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 0m 45s
2= Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 0m 46s
2= Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry, 0m 46s
4= David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 0m 47s
4= Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 0m 47s
4= Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 0m 47s
4= Fraser Louden/Martin Forrest, 0m 47s
SS2, Cooper Park 2, 0.60 mls (tarmac)
1= Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 0m 45s
1= Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 0m 45s
1= Kevin Robertson/Murray Strachan, 0m 45s
1= Liam Wood/Keir Beaton, 0m 45s
5= David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 0m 46s
5= Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 0m 46s
5= Barry Groundwater/Sean Donnelly, 0m 46s
5= Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 0m 46s
5= Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry, 0m 46s
5= Greg McKnight/Chris McKnight, 0m 46s
5= Scott McCombie/Mark Fisher, 0m 46s
And speaking of sunshine, Donnie MacDonald had his moment in the sun after the first two stages, leading a forest rally outright for the first time, but really there was nothing in it. Four seconds covered the top 11 as they headed east towards the woods. They may have been short tests, but they almost did for Mike Faulkner. His Lancer broke a rear drive shaft and he left the Park in 25th place overall. Greg McKnight was luckier though, he had a big spin at the first corner of the first stage: “I made a right mess of it”, as the car spun right round and came to rest against the kerb. Lucky boy, he had visions of buckling a wheel or damaging the rear axle, but got away with it.
SS3, Balloch, 7.98 mls
1, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 7m 44s
2, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 7m 46s
3, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 7m 48s
4, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy, 7m 53s
5, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 7m 55s
6, Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 8m 06s
Once into the woods and it was a different story. Armstrong took 4 seconds out of MacDonald and more surprisingly, 2 seconds out of Bogie, but Bogie had been off. “It was just an overshoot,” said David, “it was slippery and muddy under the trees and the car just got away from me on the mud. It was going so slowly at the time that it didn’t have enough momentum for me to handbrake it round. A really slow speed off.” Quintin Milne suffered a similar fate, but went further off and got stuck, ruining his day. Adding insult to injury. Kevin Robertson gave the stranded Lancer a skelp with his own Lancer but came off worse. Milne’s car carried the blue paint scar on the front n/s corner from the side swipe, but Kevin had damaged two doors and a wing!
MacDonald was third quickest ahead of Faulkner and McCombie at the start of what would be the best battle of the day. Andy Horne emerged from the woods with a front puncture in the Focus WRC.
SS4, Malsach Burn, 4.92 mls
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 4m 34s
2, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 4m 42s
3= Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy, 4m 45s
3= Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 4m 45s
5, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 4m 51s
6, Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 4m 52s
At first service after 4 stages, Jock Armstrong smiled: “I didn’t know David had been off in the first forest stage, and because I was quicker I thought I was in with a shout today – then he took 8 seconds out of me in that last one!”
Faulkner tied with MacDonald in here as McCombie dropped 6 seconds to the twosome, but the green Lancer was already showing evidence of effort: “There’s no mechanical damage,” said Bruce, “it’s just pushed the rear quarter in at the bumper. I just slid against a banking.” Shaun Sinclair’s Lancer WRC was also showing signs of external contact as the crew set about repairing the rear wing with yellow tape: “I might have hit a tree somewhere,” he explained, the very picture of injured innocence.
Mark McCulloch was sporting a worried frown at service: “It’s the same problem we had on the Scottish. The rear brake pad retention pins are sliding out and the pads are falling out, so no rear brakes.” The problem was solved by drilling a hole in the retention pins and putting split pins through them.
Ian Baumgart emerged with a front puncture on the Subaru: “I didn’t think I was off but Mike (Dickson) had his eyes shut at the time!” And Scott McCombie had no idea he had lost the rear bumper till he pulled into Huntly service.
SS5, Rapplich, 5.65 mls
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 5m 19s
2, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 5m 30s
3= Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy, 5m 31s
3= Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 5m 31s
5, Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 5m 46s
6, Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry, 5m 47s
It was Bogie again from Armstrong in the fifth stage where Faulkner and McCombie tied on third fastest 17 seconds ahead of MacDonald: “I spun. I was going at Kris Meeke pace but with Donnie MacDonald ability,” he laughed, “and then stalled it. Just the usual.” Back on the pace was Mark McCulloch now with working rear brakes and he scored sixth quickest behind Sinclair.
SS6, Cats Craig, 3.88 mls
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 3m 52s
2, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 3m 53s
3, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy, 3m 54s
4, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 3m 56s
5, Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry, 4m 00s
6, Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 4m 02s
There was just a second between Bogie and Armstrong again in the sixth test with Bogie admitting to another “wee overshoot”. Faulkner was third quickest two seconds clear of MacDonald with McCulloch and Sinclair again topping out the fastest six, which meant that McCombie was seventh quickest, 8 seconds down on his main rivals.
SS7, Auchindinnie Hill, 8.51 mls
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 8m 33s
2, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 8m 39s
3, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 8m 40s
4= Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 8m 43s
4= Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry, 8m 43s
6, Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 8m 52s
It was Bogie from McCombie in Auchindinnie with Armstrong third, but by only a second from Bruce. MacDonald and McCulloch tied for fourth fastest with Sinclair just missing out: “The car suffered a misfire and fuel surge in there,” he said, “turns out the chap (one B Watson Esq!) responsible for topping up the fuel hadn’t done it properly. I think he was trying to save money.”
Faulkner was still in with a shout of third place overall, but blotted his copybook in here with an overshoot and he dropped back from his hard-won third place to fifth.
Meanwhile, at service, McCombie was bolting a brand new set of tyres on to the Lancer, an unheard of move from the otherwise parsimonious Banchory driver: “That tells its own story, doesn’t it,” he quipped as he set about maximising his championship points tally.
Bogie was also giving himself a talking-to: “I’ve had three overshoots today, that’s more than I had all season last year. It’s not the car, it’s me, I just need to concentrate a bit harder.”
SS8, Gartly Moor, 4.86 mls
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 4m 27s
2, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy, 4m 39s
3, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 4m 40s
4, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 4m 41s
5, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 4m 49s
6= Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon, 4m 51s
6= Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry, 4m 51s
Furious with himself, Faulkner was on a charge in the penultimate test, setting second fastest time behind Bogie but one second up on Armstrong, with MacDonald and McCombie in hot pursuit and Sinclair tying with McCulloch. Bruce did survive a bit of a scare though: “Going through the quarry in there I felt a vibration from the rear end and I heard a ‘knock’ and I think I might have backed off a wee bit. I don’t know what it was but something didn’t feel right. Once I got on to the fast bit again, it felt better. It was probably just a stone caught in the wheel, but it gave me a fright.”
SS9, Ben Aigan, 6.01 mls
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae, 5m 42s
2, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy, 5m 55s
3, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe, 5m 56s
4, Andy Horne, Jim Howie, 5m 57s
5, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts, 5m 59s
6, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, 6m 06s
Going into the final stage MacDonald was holding third place 11 seconds clear of McCombie with Faulkner 17 seconds further back and ahead lay 6 miles to sort it all out.
Faulkner scorched through the test to score second fastest behind Bogie and ahead of Armstrong, but it wasn’t enough. McCombie and MacDonald remained in touch with fifth and sixth fastest behind Andy Horne scoring his first top six time of the day.
So the order remained the same as the cars returned to Elgin. Bogie had done all he could do scoring his fourth maximum point score of the season, and even if he does it again on the McRae he can’t catch McCombie who now has the luxury of dropping a score if he needs to. Which is where Armstrong and Faulkner stand to gain, they have a score to count. Donnie MacDonald is out of the title chase too, but he was still delighted with third place overall equalling his best ever result on a Championship event, when he was third on the Border Counties earlier this year.
Mark McCulloch was rewarded with sixth overall ahead of Sinclair and a subdued Barry Groundwater in eighth place. Horne finished on a charge getting ninth while Fraser Wilson was delighted with a top ten finish in his GrpN Lancer.
It’s now all down to the final round in October, the Colin McRae Forest Stages. The best Bogie can hope for is second place in the championship. The title itself will be decided between Jock Armstrong, Bruce McCombie and Mike Faulkner. Perth, here they come!
McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally, Sat. 1st August 2015
1, David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Ford Fiesta R5+) 41m 46s
2, Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe (Subaru Impreza) +0:50
3, Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +1:31
4, Bruce McCombie/Michael Coutts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +1:35
5, Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +1:48
6, Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +2:25
7, Shaun Sinclair/Stephen O’Hanlon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) +2:39
8, Barry Groundwater/Sean Donnelly (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) +3:02
9, Andy Horne/Jim Howie (Ford Focus WRC) +3:04
10, Fraser Wilson/Craig Wallace (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9) +4:07
11, Scott McCombie/Mark Fisher (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) +4:12
12, John Rintoul/Ross Hynd (Hyundai Accent WRC) +4:19
13, Steve Bannister/Dave Robson (Ford Escort Mk2) +4:21
14, Freddie Milne/Abi Louden (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) +4:25
15, John Wink/John Forrest (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +4:35
16, Greg McKnight/Chris McKnight (Ford Escort Mk2) +4:41
17, Ian Baumgart/Mike Dickson (Subaru Impreza) +4:44
18, Fraser Louden/Martin Forrest (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +5:02
19, Ellya Gold/Jean Hay (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) +5:17
20, Willie Stuart/Neil Ewing (Ford Escort Mk1) +5:36
21, Alasdair Reid/Donald Urquhart (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) +5:50
22, Dougal Brown/Lewis Rochford (Ford Escort) +6:07
23, Hamish Grant/Stewart Hurst (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) +6:20
24, Gordon Grant/Paul Gribben (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +6:25
25, Mike Grant/Graham Kelman (Subaru Impreza) +6:26
26, Ross MacDonald/Matthew Johnstone (Honda Civic) +6:36
27, Niall Inglis/Ross Campbell (Subaru Impreza) +6:47
28, John Morrison/Peter Carstairs (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) +6:52
29, Keith Morris/Mark Runciman (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6) +6:52
30, Scott Kerr/Stephen Clark (Ford Escort Mk2) +6:57
ARR Craib Scottish Championship Leaderboard (Provsional):
1, Bruce McCombie, 155 Points
2, Jock Armstrong, 142
3, Mike Faulkner, 134
4, David Bogie, 120
5, Shaun Sinclair, 117
6, Donnie MacDonald, 104