… Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, Sat 14th Sept. 2019 …
David Bogie and John Rowan appeared on the KNC Groundworks Scottish Championship season-ending Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally at the wheel of yet another motor, a MINI JCW WRC. After 15 years of Novas, Corsas, Lancers, Imprezas, Corollas, Metros, Focus’, Fiestas, Fabias and Mk2s, it made no difference. David fired it up, switched Launch Control on, blasted off the start line and disappeared over the horizon in a tornado of swirling stoor. It was an exemplary display of skill, control and sheer pace.
Over 42.4 miles of Galloway Forest’s finest, the top seeds pulled out a lead of over a minute on Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair in the Subaru, and when it comes to commitment and speed, few can match the Galloway Galloper in full flight. There simply wasn’t anything Jock could do that would close the gap.
At that pace he pulled out nearly 2 minutes on the third placed crew Michael Binnie and Claire Mole whose equally impressive pace pitched them on to the podium for the first time this year. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 keeps impressive company these days even though it may be outgunned by those around it. It’s not that Michael looked bleary-eyed at the start but his pre-event preparation had consisted of more than two weeks and long hours at the wheel of a combine harvester. Perhaps there’s something we could all learn from that, eh? Somehow I don’t think many of us could afford the space at the back of the hoose to store a pre-rally practice Combine!
Bogie was quickest out of the box through a very tricky, tight, narrow, green and overgrown first stage at Dalbeattie fully 10 seconds quicker over 8 miles than Armstrong, but when the orange Subaru appeared at the stop line it had a flat tyre. Perhaps the gap was a wee bit false then? Rory Young and Allan Cathers were third quickest: “I’ve done Dalbeattie on my bike,” said local man Young, “but this is the first time I’ve been through it in car.” Even so, the Fiesta R5 was some 4 seconds down on Armstrong but already Binnie was showing well just 3 seconds behind Young. Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson were 5th quickest in their Fiesta ahead of John Wink and Neil Shanks in the Hyundai.
However Dalbeattie did not provide the start that reigning Scottish champions Andrew Gallacher and Jane Nicol wanted. First time out in a borrowed Fiesta R5+ they encountered a rock in the long grass which damaged a front strut and that was their rally over, almost before it had begun.
Bogie and Armstrong again led the way through the second test at a more open and drier Cairn Edward where Petch displaced Binnie for 3rd quickest followed by Young and Wink. Petch was re-united with his Fiesta after a recent outing on Tyneside in his 20 year old Hyundai Accent World Car: “It’s a bit more like a slipper than my old boot Hyundai,” said Stephen, but with affection, and added, “I’m caught in a battle I didn’t want to be in, I can’t believe how fast these guys are!”
There was no change at the front through the Dunharberry stage where Binnie was best of the rest behind the top two ahead of Petch and Young, but of John Wink there was no sign. Sixth quickest were Scott Beattie and Paula Swinscoe as the story seeped out of the woods that the Hyundai had struck a rock in the grass which caused the bolts securing the top of the strut to shear. The same stage also accounted for the Evo10 of a visiting Joe Hegarty which plunged into the undergrowth and the VW Polo S2000 of Peter Stewart: “It was going fine,” said Stewart, “and then suddenly, no gears, just a ‘box full of nothing!”
There was no change at the top through Black Loch as Binnie stormed the stage ahead of Petch, Young and Beattie. The Mitsubishi was a full 11 seconds quicker than Petch’s Fiesta and left Young shaking his head. Petrch had backed off mid stage: “There was a loose, regraded section and I just lost a bit of confidence on the loose,” while Young commented: “I’m struggling on the fast stuff today, whether it’s tyres, suspension – or just me!”
There was an added hazard for the front runners at the re-run of the Cairn Edward, re-named Raiders Road, as Armstrong explained: “The low winter afternoon sunshine was blinding at times, and we couldn’t see a thing.” Even so, Petch bounced back setting 3rd quickest time behind the pace setters and 6 seconds up on Binnie. It wasn’t enough to claim the final podium position as Binnie had secured the position by the narrow margin of 9 seconds. Young was 5th quickest in the final stage and blaming himself: “We made some changes at the lunch halt and it was better, my time through here was 7 seconds quicker than this morning’s run.”
Rounding off the top six was Scott Beattie, once again raising eyebrows. Second time out in the ex-Fred Milne Lancer, he and Paula Swinscoe finished sixth overall, although it was trailing a wisp of blue smoke by the finish: “I slowed up in stage 3 when I saw the smoke,” said Beattie, “but we checked it at service and there doesn’t seem to be a problem.” He added: “I’m still learning the car. We had a problem with the rear end today as well, it was too stiff and floating.” That sounds like there’s more to come there too, eh?
Thomas Gray had been holding 7th place till the final test when the Lancer slid off the road handing the position to a grateful Keith Morris in his Mitsubishi who was having his usual private battle with Alan Dickson. “I just kept pushing,” said Keith while Alan added: “I put new tyres on for those last two stages and I still finished half a minute behind Ian (Baumgart) and Keith but still, I always think it’s better to be 9th than 10th. Baumgart’s Subaru finished 8th between the two Lancers but he was a bit lucky too: “I had a slipping clutch through Black Loch,” said Ian, “there were lots of hills in there, but that last stage was better.”
Rounding off the top ten was the leading two wheel drive car, Mark McCulloch’s Ford Escort Mk2. Just missing out on the top ten was the remarkable Toyota Starlet of Shane McGirr but as McCulloch observed: “Shane had two punctures today, otherwise he would have ‘whupped’ me!” He finished 13 seconds clear of 11th placed McGirr in the remarkable Starlet with Stuart Egglestone using the Galloway Hills as a recce for the RAC Rally in November in his Historic spec Mk2 finishing 12th.
Apart from a test the previous day, rally winner Bogie’s lack of familiarity with the MINI didn’t hold him back: “It’s been good. It took a wee while to get up to speed this morning. I was thinking more about driving the car than listening to the Notes. With these 1.6 litre WRC engines, you have to get them revving to make the car work.” When asked if he was going to keep it, his eyes lit up and he replied: “I don’t know – but I reckon there’s more to come.”
- 1 David Bogie/John Rowan (MINI JCW WRC) 41m 15.2secs
- 2 Jock Armstrong/Cameron Fair (Subaru Impreza) +1:08.3
- 3 Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +1:52.6
- 4 Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:01.1
- 5 Rory Young/Allan Cathers (Ford Fiesta R5) +2:13.3
- 6 Scott Beattie/Paula Swinscoe (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7) +3:07.4
- 7 Keith Morris/Terry Mallin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +3:56.2
- 8 Ian Baumgart/Sinclair Young (Subaru Impreza) +4:25.8
- 9 Alan Dickson/Martin Forrest (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +5:02.8
- 10 Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry (Ford Escort Mk2) +5:03.3
11 Shane McGirr/Liam McIntyre (Toyota Starlet RWD); 12 Stuart Egglestone/Brian Hodgson (Ford Escort Mk2); 13 Simon Hay/Mark Fisher (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6); 14 Iain Wilson/Chris Williams (Ford Escort Mk2); 15 John Rintoul/Ross Hynd (Skoda Fabia); 16 Kevin Crawford/Andrew Stevenson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9); 17 Bobby Mitchell/Craig Wallace (Ford Fiesta ST); 18 Max Redpath/Callum Redpath (Subaru Impreza); 19 Robert Adamson/Jamie MacTavish (Ford Escort Mk2); 20 Tom Coughtrie/Ian Fraser (Mitsubishi Galant VR4)
- Class Winners:
- 1 Barry Meeke/Sean Topping (Nissan Micra)
- 2 Mervyn Wilson/Darragh Sheridan (Ford Escort Mk2)
- 3 Raymond Doyle/Kevin Duggan (Toyota Corolla)
- 4 Douglas Watt/Ian Parker (Ford Escort Mk2)
- 5 Egglestone/Hodgson
- 6 Mitchell/Wallace
- 7 McCulloch/Hendry
- 8 Wilson/Williams
- 9 Binnie/Mole
- 10 Armstrong/Fair
- 11 Bogie/Rowan
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