… Armstrong Galloway Hills … Class Roundup …
Andy Struthers won the 1050cc/Rally 1st class in his Citroen C2 after a ‘trouble-free’ day (by his standards!). He had gearbox problems linkage from the start and no 3rd gear for most of the event, then a front left puncture in the penultimate stage. Having competed for the past couple of seasons as a co-driver, Ashleigh Morris made her debut as a driver in a VW Polo and finished 2nd in class. Admittedly there were only two in the class but that still represents a career best 100% finishing record and a trophy! Her opinion: “Great!”, and she was beaming from ear to ear.
Angus Lawrie made an impressive showing in his 1450cc class winning Vauxhall Corsa finishing an impressive 25th overall with regular rivals, Ross Carbry and Niall Cowan both failing to finish. Grant MacRae continued his impressive finishing record with second in class in his Peugeot 205 Rallye despite one ‘off’ when going too fast into a Left 8: “There was no damage – I just kept my foot in.”
Robbie Beattie won the 1650cc/8v class in his 205, but only after season-long series rival Donald Peacock loaned him the parts to finish the rally after Beattie arrived in service with a bent rear axle and damaged hub. By finishing second, Peacock still managed to win the Championship class, but he was struggling too: “I’ve chipped a bone in my left elbow,” he explained, “I can get first and 2nd gear OK, 3rd and 4th are a struggle, but Scott (co-driver) has to push it into 5th for me!” John McDowall retired his Sunbeam in SS5.
Thomas Gray was another to post a good result finishing 30th overall in his Ford Fiesta and winning the 1650cc/16v Class from Murray Coulthard whose Citroen C2 arrived at the finish with a bent rear axle. Even more delighted than those two was newcomer Ross Hughes finishing third in his Citroen: “I’m chuffed to bits. I punctured in the last bit of the final stage but I managed to beat them today. It’s taken all season but we’ve finished on a high note.” The Citroens of Jim Robertson and David Martin were third and fourth. Colin Hope was sixth in a hired Fiesta first time out after a big accident on the Riponian and Bill Davidson was 7th in his Nova. Final finisher was Scott Beattie who ruined his class chances when he rolled his Talbot Sunbeam in the second stage, although spectators got him out and on his way. Alex Curran was spotted stopped in SS4 and Gina Walker retired in the third stage when the car overheated and was struggling, then a puncture just scuppered her hopes altogether.
Scott McQueen was a solitary finisher in his 1900cc Peugeot 205 but everyone knew when he finished the rally – the car had lost the exhaust from the manifold backwards! John McIlwraith lost a wheel off his Escort in SS2 and Andy Chalmers retired his Escort in SS5.
Top Historic runner finishing 3rd 2WD overall was Class 6 winner Steve Bannister beating a disconsolate Allan McDowall who seems to have gone backwards since he replaced his Opel Kadett with an Escort Mk2. Elliot Retalick was third in his Avenger from Keith Davison in another Avenger who finished the rally with no intercom. Alex Milne was fifth in class in the Mk2 after an ‘off’ in Cairn Edward: “I was well off the road. Just too quick into a corner, but we drove out. I couldn’t believe it, and there’s just a wee ding in the quarter panel.” Final finisher was Alan McMorran in the Avenger.
“I was well off the pace this morning, I just couldn’t get into it,” said Fiesta Driver Luke McLaren, “but I was happier this afternoon.” Second in class was Caroline Carslaw in her Fiesta, saying that this was her last outing in the car before she moves onto something bigger, with the Vauxhall Astra of Kevin Gray in third place.
Top 2WD runner on the day was Class 8 winner Quintin Milne in the ex-Calum MacKenzie Ford Escort Mk2 and he might have done better than 7th overall had he not been playing to the crowds – as usual: “Whenever we got the spectator areas, I just set the car up on the approach to get it sliding – I love to see the crowds stepping back!” Thomas O’Connell was 2nd in his Mk2 after fixing a broken throttle cable in SS3, and Grant Inglis was third having backed off when he saw Duncan MacDonald stopped at the side of the road in Black Loch: “I just needed points in the 2WD Championship,” explained Grant. Paul Ward was fourth and Paul McErlean fifth rounding off the Mk2 domination in this class with McErlean adding: “I had a puncture on the rear which destroyed the back bakes on the long stage,” said Paul, “but that was brilliant, can I do it all again tomorrow?” Sixth was the BMW Compact of Keith Seager after 2 punctures on the same side in SS2 and first time in the woods with his BMW David Kirkpatrick was 7th despite putting the rear end in a ditch in Cairn Edward – playing to the spectators! Tommy Heard was 8th getting used to his ‘new’ Escort and Andy Jones 9th having survived: “200 yards into Stage 1, I went straight into a ditch!” Chris Rankin was the final Class 8 runner home having been off in Black Loch but rescued by spectators.
Seamus O’Connell added the Class 9 win to his 9th overall finish ahead of Derek Crossen both in Escorts.
Two GrpN Lancers finished with Alasdair S Graham taking the class win from Fraser Wilson. Alasdair was particularly delighted with his 12th overall, although at one point he was lying in the top ten. Michael McDaid failed to complete the course, slipping off the road in the penultimate test.
At least mike Faulkner got a class win to go with his runner-up position while the fast improving Michael Binnie was second and scored an excellent 10th place overall having bought a gearbox from Brian Ross to replace his Grampian Rally failure and had to fit anew clutch as well. Another improver was Iain Wilson, third in class and 11th overall and pleased to get a good clean run as he’s off to Wales at the end of next month. Ian Baumgart was fourth and Richard Dickson fifth with Simon Hay round off the top six although his Lancer was showing signs of overheating at the finish. On his first visit to the Galloway Hills, Duncan Campbell survived an ‘off’ into a ditch on the second stage but co-driver Gavin Chisholm was quick to point out: “It was a late note!” Honesty is always the best policy, eh? Ian Archer finished 8th in class although he had to stop on the road section after the first stage to replace a bolt which dropped out of the Lancer’s bottom suspension arm. Stephen McKenna was 9th and Billy Thomson 10th after having bother with the Lance’s diffs in the morning which also led to an altercation with a tree (!) but got it all sorted out for the afternoon run: “I was still running tarmac settings,” he explained, “it kept trying to brake from the rear but we got it fixed.” Scott McMinn had a big spin on the penultimate age but didn’t hit anything – this time: “There was a fast bit in there and I was just going too quick. It went one way then the other, but I got it sorted.” Jim Sharp was a bit off the pace in his Subaru and was worried he wasn’t going to get beyond the first stage: “It went on to 3 cylinders, but it was just some loose wires,” before adding, “this is the first event I’ve finished with this car.” Colin Baxter had a good day after trying a right hand ditch and a left hand ditch in SS4 and Chris McCallum was pleased with a finish as he re-adjust to forest rallying. Final class finisher was Damien Corey in a Subaru exclaiming at the finish: “This is my first rally and my first time on gravel. Normally I do sprints and hillclimbs at home. It was also my first time on Notes – it was BRILLIANT!” John Wink didn’t finish having parked up in Black Loch and Jan Budge retired his Subaru with a fractured exhaust manifold.
Armstrong, McCulloch, McKnight and McCombie led home the top points scorers here with Wayne Sisson finishing fifth in class despite a rear puncture in the third stage. Scott McCombie finished 6th and Nigel Feeney was 7th ahead of Ross MacDonald who was having trouble with his brakes in the morning run. Robert Thomson finished 9th but was having problems with a diff pump at the end of SS3 just before service. James Gibb was a lowly 10th after a turbo boost pipe blew off in SS2. Fraser MacNicol was happy enough with a finish in 11th place: “I’m just having a run out ahead of Rally Wales to check everything,” he said, and John Rintoul was the final class finisher having fitted a new clutch to the Lancer after its failure on the Grampian. Keith Morris retired his Lancer with clutch failure in SS3.
Just two finishers here with Andrew Gallacher leading home Robin Phillips with daughter Laura on the Notes.