Thorburn beats Bogie in Merrick duel
Euan Thorburn won the sixth round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship on Saturday, and prevented David Bogie from clinching an historic fifth straight title with two events remaining.
The Duns-based competitor, co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness, powered his Ford Focus WRC to a forty-four second victory over his Dumfries rival on the GWF Energy Merrick Stages, with a total time of 42 minutes 22 seconds.
Bogie, who spun his Focus on the first stage, and had a puncture on the last, ended the day forty seconds ahead of Quintin Milne from Banchory, who took his third final podium spot of the season in his Mitsubishi EVO 9, and remains second in the drivers’ points.
Thorburn has now won two rounds to Bogie’s three, and the championship fight goes onto the penultimate round, the Colin McRae Stages in Aberfeldy on October 5th.
“We’re delighted with the win, and aim to keep the championship away from David as long as we can,” said Thorburn at the rally finish in Wigtown: “We had a real push in the morning and that helped to carry us through the day. The last stage was a bit of a struggle, it was really wet. We couldn’t see because the windscreen misted up, and we thought we’d lost a lot of time. But obviously David had his problems, and we managed to keep our noses in front”.
Bogie was disappointed not to have wrapped up his fifth championship alongside Hawick navigator Kevin Rae:
“We got off to a bad start with a spin on the first stage which cost us around twenty seconds”, said Bogie: “We got ten back off Euan by winning the second stage. That put us eleven seconds behind going into the third test, Glentrool, where we both beat the bogey so had equal times. Euan pipped me by one second on the fourth. So we went into the last stage with all to play for, and I drove as hard as I could for the first half – and, on these stages, when you attack, you’re increasing the risk of a puncture, and that’s what happened, with eight miles still to go. But I just kept on pushing hard and threw caution to the wind, and that resulted in a spin and cost us another fifteen seconds. So, with the spin and the puncture, Euan took thirty-one or thirty-two seconds off us. I’m really annoyed because I thought going into the stage, that this is mine”.
From the second stage, Milne, co-driven by Martin Forrest from Aberdeen, was never out of the top three overall: “I really can’t complain with the result, given I had two punctures today, burst a brake link pipe and lost a caliper. The last stage was really slippy with a lot of standing water, but we got through it. As for the McRae, there’s not really a lot for me to fight for now, so I’m thinking I might use my Escort Mk2 and go and have some fun on it”.
Aberdeen’s Dave Weston, with Dave Robson on the notes, pipped Mike Faulkner by a second to take fourth overall in the Paul Benn Ford Focus WRC, but admitted it had been a struggle:
“We had a huge moment at a log pile on the first corner – sixth gear, sideways, looking at the logs, really scary – and then on stage two I was just too cautious. We started to get back into the groove on the long run through Glentrool, which was brilliant, but on stage four, sitting on the line, I pressed the launch button and nothing. I hadn’t put it in gear, so we lost a bit of time. Then into the first corner I realised I hadn’t switched the valves on either! The last stage was very tricky, and I couldn’t see clearly because of the conditions”.
Fifth placed Faulkner and navigator Peter Foy, were simply relieved to make it back to Wigtown in their Mitsubishi EVO 9, after the car sustained heavy damage mid-way through the event:
“The start of the rally was really good, the car was better, everything was working well, and we were pleased with the time on SS1 Craignell, where we were fifth fastest, just a second behind Dave Weston”, said Faulkner: “We backed off a little bit on the slippy second stage before really pushing on Glentrool, where we were fourth fastest. However, on the final bend, just in the grass, there was a big rock and we ripped the front corner off the car. We managed to get it to the end of the stage, and only dropped about fifteen seconds. But we’d broken a bottom arm and steering link and there was about two miles to drive to service with the wheel folded under the car. The boys did a fantastic job to put it all back together at service, especially to Wayne Sisson at AMS, because we thought we were out of the rally”.
Former Scottish champion Jon Burn – who is not SRC-registered – was delighted with his sixth place finish alongside navigator Alan Stark in his Subaru Impreza WRC. It was Burn’s second outing this year, following a tenth place on the RSAC Scottish Rally in June.
Tarmac rally specialists Alistair and Colin Inglis had “a brilliant day” on the way to seventh overall, sixth in the points, in their EVO 5. However, as Alistair explained, there were a “a few issues”: “We had a makeshift gearstick in the second stage – which was my arm through the bulkhead, and driving while just looking over the dashboard. We also had a puncture on the last stage, so given all that, we’re absolutely delighted with the result – our best of the campaign on gravel”.
Andrew Gallacher, who registered for the SRC on the last round, finished eighth overall and was the first home of the Group N competitors in his Mitsubishi EVO 9. Co-driven by Phil Sandham from Carnforth, the Kilmarnock driver had a fifty-five second advantage over his closest GpN rival John McClory, who was thirteenth in his Subaru Impreza N15.
Newton Stewart’s Craig McMiken, was the leading local driver in his EVO 9 – ending the day in ninth place for the second year running alongside navigator Craig Wallace from Kirriemuir: “It was an excellent result for us”, said McMiken: “We had a bit of a slow start in the morning – I wasn’t commiting to the notes – and then after that we had a very good run. Great stages, lovely and fast, so we’re happy”.
Dougal Brown and Lewis Rochford – also in an EVO 9 – were a further sixth seconds behind in a hard-earned tenth place overall – ninth of the championship-registered crews: “The third stage was the best for us”, said Brown: “There was no rain, it was fast and flowing and you could get into a rhythm which you couldn’t do on the slippy stuff. We had a bit of a throttle problem but we got it adjusted at service”.
The Inverness duo ended the day two seconds ahead of Chris Collie and Mark Fisher in an EVO 5, with another Highland crew Donnie MacDonald and Andrew Falconer a further five seconds back in twelfth place, in their EVO 9.
Northern Ireland’s Jonny Greer, with Stephen McAuley navigating, was the leading front-wheel drive competitor in his Citreon DS3 R3, finishing fifteenth overall, but Steve Bannister, co-driven by Louise Sutherland, was the first of the championship-registered 2WD drivers, ending the day in eighteenth place in his historic class Ford Escort Mk2:
“It was one of those days. We got a puncture on the first stage with six miles to go”, said Bannister: “But after that we matched the pace of Jonny Greer and Garry Pearson (who took overall victory in the 1600cc category), which I was pleased with, because they were demanding stages and not suited to the Escort, particularly the slippy sections”.
Duns-based Pearson, while not eligible for points, had SRC navigator Laura Marshall alongside in his Ford Fiesta R2 – the car having undergone an engine-rebuild in preparation for Rally Yorkshire, the next round of the BRC, later this month.
Despite a puncture, Iain Wilson and Keith Fremantle from Dalbeattie took maximum championship points in the 1600cc category in their Vauxhall Nova – the pair finishing 25th overall, one place behind the Nova of Class 3 winners Iain Haining and Mairi Riddick. It was their sixth consecutive class victory, and Haining, from Locharbriggs, was delighted with the result: “It’s mission accomplished, although we had a bit of a scare on the last stage with what we thought was a puncture on the left rear. As it turned out there wasn’t a flat. So, we’re here, it’s all good, and there’s nothing broken!”
Scott and David Sloan from Dumfries took top honours in Class 2 in their Vauxhall Corsa, while Stewart Davidson, with Keir Beaton on the notes, made sure of Class 5 in his Ford Escort Mk2.
There was overall success in Class 7 for Sky TV F1 analyst Tony Jardine, who was alongside 2010 Winter Olympics Skeleton Gold Medallist Amy Williams MBE at the launch of a campaign to transform her into a fully-fledged rally navigator in time for Wales Rally GB in mid-November. The duo finished the day in 34th place in a Honda Civic.
Since neither were registered for the championship, Caroline Carslaw and John Duke, in a Ford Fiesta R2, took maximum points in Class 7 to extend their lead with two rounds remaining.
There were two notable retirements among the thirteen non-finishers. After setting the second quickest time on SS1 Craignell, Jock Armstrong’s Subaru Impreza slid well off the road on the second stage, and the Mitsubishi EVO 9 of Barry Groundwater ended up in a ditch on the final test.
GWF Energy Merrick Stages Rally: Top Ten Results with total times:
1st Euan Thorburn (Duns)/Paul Beaton (Inverness) Ford Focus WRC 42 mins 22 secs
2nd David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC 43.06
3rd Quintin Milne (Banchory)/Martin Forrest (Aberdeen) Mitsubishi EVO 9 43.46
4th Dave Weston (Aberdeen)/Dave Robson (Jedburgh) Ford Focus WRC 44.00
5th Mike Faulkner (Aspatria)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 9 44.09
6th Jon Burn (Larkhall)/Alan Stark (Milton of Campsie) Subaru Impreza WRC 45.18 (not SRC registered)
7th Alistair Inglis (Montrose)/Colin Inglis (Montrose) Mitsubishi EVO 5 45.39
8th Andrew Gallacher (Kilmarnock)/Phil Sandham (Carnforth) Mitsubishi EVO 9 46.07
9th Craig McMiken (Newton Stewart)/Craig Wallace (Kirriemuir) Mitsubishi EVO 9 46.25
10th Dougal Brown (Inverness)/Lewis Rochford (Inverness) Mitsubishi EVO 9 46.31
For full results go to www.flyingfinish.co.uk