… RSAC Scottish Rally, 24 July, 2021 …
David Bogie, John Rowan and the MINI JCW WRC were in a class of their own on this year’s Dumfries & Galloway RSAC Scottish Rally. Fastest on each of the five stages which comprised this year’s rally ensured the local man of a record breaking 7th victory on this event beating Roger Clark’s six wins.
Much has been written and commented elsewhere about this statistic but the days of week long rallies with 70 or more stages are long gone. Not even the WRC can manage that these days. Although there is no comparison event wise, Bogie’s record still has validity – you can only beat the guys who enter on the day. In this case, Bogie was up against some of the best club drivers right across the country including across the water.
Even so Bogie said it felt like an endurance rally: “It was so hot, and so dusty and there was so much hanging around making it a very long day- full marks to the Marshals!” No argument there, the first car left the Lockerbie start at 10.00 am that morning and the last car wasn’t home till well after 9pm that night.
Eleven hours for a five stage rally? That was primarily down to a number of incidents whereby cars which had gone off had to be extricated for safety reasons. In any delay longer than 20 minutes, a ‘spectator control’ car has to be sent through before the rally can re-start. Even on an officially delayed ‘non-spectator’ rally this MS UK rule must be followed!
Nearly a minute adrift after 45 miles of stages was the Ford Fiesta Rally2 of Jock Armstrong and Cameron Fair admitting this wasn’t an event to be attacked, it was a matter of survival, while Garry Pearson and Niall Burns completed the podium line-up first time out in a Škoda Fabia R5.
Bogie was quickly into his stride over the best stage of the day, the 9.6 miler at Twiglees 1, 3 seconds up on Pearson. Callum Black and Jack Morton were 3rd quickest in a Fiesta R5 a further second adrift with the Hyundai i20 R5 of James Wilson and Arthur Kierans breathing down their necks only a second behind. Having forsaken his ‘old-school’ Subaru for one of these new “Playstation generation” machines, Jock Armstrong had his first run out on gravel after an encouraging debut on the tarmac of Argyll and was 5th quickest ahead of Rory Young and Allan Cathers having swapped their Fiesta R5 for a Mk2 version of the car and was immediately on the pace despite the lack of miles over the past two years.
As for KNC Groundworks Scottish Championship leader Freddie Milne, he and Jamie Edwards limped out of the day’s opener just 15th fastest. He had suffered yet another throttle position sensor failure. The team have now narrowed the fault down to the wiring loom so this will be replaced for the Grampian. Another early retirement was the Fiesta R5 of Hugh Brunton and Drew Sturrock which shattered a wheel and broke the suspension when it clipped a bridge parapet.
The second stage at Gill Knowe 1 featured a 9 mile loop at the most northern tip of Ae Forest where Bogie again topped the time sheets, this time by 9 seconds from Armstrong. Black was 3rd quickest ahead of young Tom Llewellyn and Ross Whittock in the Mitsubishi Mirage R5 having their first real experience of Scottish stoor. Ian Bainbridge and Will Atkins were a fortunate 5th quickest emerging from the forest with one deflating tyre and another shredded in the Fabia ahead of Elliot Payne and Rhys Stoneman in the Fiesta. This was Payne’s first rally with “proper dust” but added: “I’m enjoying it, I just need to go a bit faster!”
This time it was Pearson who lost out puncturing a tyre, and Wilson was out of the quickest times courtesy of a bent rear axle: “We got a front right puncture and ran wide with a rear wheel striking and riding over a large rock, which bent the axle.” Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear went a bit further, unintentionally putting the Mitsubishi down a banking.
Service followed before the 7.3 mile run through the third stage at Ae where Bogie again demonstrated his dominance with a 6 second faster time than Armstrong. Conditions were bad in places here as Bogie explained: “It was very rough in places, I’m just trying to say in the middle of the road. There are some big stones, I couldn’t and daren’t cut. It was all about balancing risk against reward!” Armstrong added: “You couldn’t see the edge of the road most of the time, the ditches were all overgrown, so you didn’t know what was lying in wait in the long grass!”
Wilson was 3rd quickest but Vivian Hamill showed up at the top of the time sheets for the first time. He and Andrew Grennan lost nearly a minute catching a slower car in the first stage of the day so had time to make up. Young was only 3 seconds behind while Llewellyn rounded off the top six fastest times.
Both Black and Pearson lost out again in this test. Black incurred two punctures and was crawling out when Pearson caught not just Black’s Fiesta but the huge pall of stoor hanging in the air behind it and then Iain Bainbridge caught them both. In similar positions were George Lepley and Llewellyn when Lepley’s Evo10 punctured a tyre and Llewellyn caught him.
With the frustration plainly evident on his face, John Wink called it a day as he and Neil Shanks experienced trouble with the Hyundai: “It’s not taking the throttle in top gear,” said Wink, “it’s either a fuel problem or electrical.” Also in trouble and calling it a day were Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts. The Focus WRC had thrown off a fan belt in SS2 and then suffered both a front and rear puncture stranding the car mid stage. Marty McKenna and David Young also retired the VW Polo R5 with broken suspension and Martin Cairns/Kenny Bustard were out with a power sapping misfire in the Fiesta WRC.
Having survived no brakes in the first stage, John Rintoul and Ross Hynd retired the Fabia with fumes in the car which were causing the crew to feel rather unwell and the Mitsubishi of Keith Morris and Terry Mallin retired here which may have had something to do with the sequential gearbox: “I slid on to the loose in tight corner in the second stage,” said Morris, “and it slid off into a ditch. It took ages to get it out trying to find reverse in the sequential ‘box.” They did run through Ae but were well off the pace.
A second run through Twiglees 2 followed second service and Bogie took no prisoners here, fully 15 seconds faster than Pearson who was 5 up on Armstrong. Young was 4th quickest ahead of Hamill, with Payne and the Evo10 of George Lepley and Tom Woodburn tying for 6th fastest. Bainbridge was a bit cautious having fitted a new track rod at service: “We didn’t have time to set it and went into the stage with two rear wheels pointing in different directions”. Having damaged the rear suspension with a puncture in SS3 Niall Devine and Liam McIntyre retired their Evo9 at the end of this stage. Llewellyn lost out on a top six time with a puncture but was still on for a top ten finish.
The final stage featured a return to Gill Knowe 2 where Bogie led Armstrong and Pearson with Payne and Wilson sharing 4th fastest. Llewellyn finished on a high with 6th fastest although both Lepley and Bainbridge lost out with punctures but there was still a sting in the tail for some. Leading their class and lying just outside the top ten, Niall Devine and Liam McIntyre retired their Evo9 with a double puncture. The Evo9 of Steven Ormond-Smith and Matty Daniels slid off the road and the Subaru of John and Meghan O’Kane was spotted parked up mid stage – in a ditch!
A short run down the old A74 led the survivors back to the Lockerbie finish where Michael Binnie and Claire Mole were confirmed as 10th overall. It wasn’t quite what Binnie wanted, he had set his sights on being the top ‘non R5/WRC’ car home but the Mitsubishi Evo9 let him down. The heat got to it and the anti-lag had to be switched off otherwise the car would only run in ‘road’ or ‘limp’ mode, plus he had a couple of punctures to contend with and of course, catching the dust of slower cars.
It was George Lepley who scored Binnie’s target finishing 8th overall in his Evo10 with young Tom Llewellyn completing his first Scottish Rally in 9th place, and there to greet him at the finish was his Dad, David, with a certain James S McRae in attendance, both past masters of dusty Scottish Rallies.
Ian Bainbridge was 7th behind Elliot Payne and 5th placed James Wilson who was only able to finish thanks to John Wink who had loaned him a spare wheel and a jack when Wilson’s jack broke. Rory Young was well chuffed first time out in his R5 Mk2: “It feels more stable and quicker than the old car.” It was obviously working well because Young was smiling and giggling at the end of Twiglees: “I got into it quite quickly, super stage, that stage has a bit of everything.”
With just three runs at the previous day’s test Garry Pearson was playing down his chances prior to the start of the rally first time out with the Skoda. He was thinking top six could be possible but top three out of the question. “I had no tyres left for the last stage, “said Pearson, “they were done. We coasted through bits of that stage and took a few risks, but we’re here.” Third was pretty impressive.
We know he’s quick but Jock Armstrong’s pace second time out in a new generation Fiesta and first time on gravel was mighty impressive too, and he thinks there’s more to come: “You couldn’t drive through those stages the way you’d like to drive them,” said Armstrong, “it’s not the organisers’ fault, but they were quite rough in places”.
We also learned a new phrase at this rally “risk against reward”. Given the nature of the terrain and the dust, five times Scottish Rally Champion David Bogie had taken a cool and calculated approach to the competition. It wasn’t about outright speed, it was about survival. Every decision on stage was assessed mentally and each manoeuvre judged accordingly. The result was a clean troublefree event – and his 7th victory on the Dumfries & Galloway RSAC Scottish Rally: “Yes, they were a bit rough, but there was a line. It’s been an endurance rally due to the temperature, the dust and the hanging about, but I enjoyed it”.
- 1 David Bogie/John Rowan (MINI JCW WRC) 42m 48s
- 2 Jock Armstrong/Cameron Fair (Ford Fiesta Rally2) +58s
- 3 Garry Pearson/Niall Burns (Škoda Fabia R5) +1m 47s
- 4 Rory Young/Allan Cathers (Ford Fiesta R5 Mk2) +1m 55s
- 5 James Wilson/Arthur Kierans (Hyundai i20 R5) +2m 02s
- 6 Elliot Payne/Rhys Stoneman (Ford Fiesta) +2m 06s
- 7 Ian Bainbridge/Will Atkins (Škoda Fabia R5) +2m 43s
- 8 George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) +2m 55s
- 9 Tom Llewellin/Ross Whittock (Mitsubishi Mirage R5) +2m 56s
- 10 Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) +3m 25s
- C1: Simon Double/Jessica Mitchell (MG ZR 160)
- C2: Donald Peacock/Scott Peacock (Peugeot 205 GTI)
- C3: Martin Crombie/Ricky Finlayson (Talbot Sunbeam)
- C5: Michael Renton/John Shepheard (Subaru Impreza GC8)
- M2: Niall Cowan Jnr/Callum Shanks (MG ZR)
- M3: Peter Stewart/Harry Marchbank (Peugeot 208)
- M4: Paddy Munro/David O’Brien (Ford Escort Mk2)
- M5: Johnnie Mackay/Emily Easton-Page (Ford Fiesta ST)
- M6: Mark McCulloch/Michael Hendry (Ford Escort Mk2)
- M7: Iain Wilson/Chris Williams (Ford Escort Mk2)
- M8: Ian Baumgart/Dave Robson (Subaru Impreza)
- M9: Michael Binnie/Claire Mole (Mitsubishi Lancer E9)
- SH1: Stanley Orr/Graham Henderson (Ford Escort RS1600)
- SH2: Paul Barrett/Gordon Noble (Ford Escort)
- P1: David Bogie/John Rowan (MINI JCW WRC)
- LR: Keith Harvey/Ben Shackleton (Land Rover Defender 90)
- 1400S: Richard Jordan/James Gratton Smith (MG ZR)
- N3: Brendan Leonard/Jamie Mactavish (Ford Fiesta)
- NR4: Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9)
- R2: Jonathan Jones/Jez Rogers (Ford Fiesta R2)
- B11: Neil Andrew/James Chatfield (Ford Escort Mk2)
- B12: Simon Pickard/Phil Pickard (Ford Escort)
- B13: George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10)
- B14: Garry Pearson/Niall Burns (Škoda Fabia R5)
- BH3: Paul Street/Ian Jones (Ford Escort Mk2)