PLENTY OF CHALLENGERS FOR THE RETURN OF THE SRC CHALLENGERS

Posted on: February 18th, 2016

As well as the main battle for the ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship title, there are other titles and trophies that are up for grabs. One of the most interesting of these is the return of the SRC Challengers category. Drivers are only eligible for this award, last presented over 20 years ago if they have not finished in the top 10 overall on more than one occasion on a round of any major British championship in the last 10 years.

There are plenty of contenders looking to add their name to the who’s who of Scottish Rallying previously winning the Challengers title, and the contest should be as hot as the one for overall honours.

Heading the entry list is Scott McCombie from Banchory, brother of last years podium finisher Bruce. 2016 will be Scott’s second year of rallying and he is now equipped with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX after doing most of last season with an VIII. McCombie won the Speedline Grand Attack Award in 2015 in recognition of his consistent improvement, and climb up the leaderboard.

Also entering his second year of competition is Huntly’s John Wink in another Evo IX. John, co-driven by John Forrest, rallies in support of cystic fibrosis, with good reason. John suffers from the lung condition, and only started rallying after receiving a lung transplant. This hasn’t slowed him down on the stages though, and in 2015 he swept up the Douglas Wood Press On & Preserve Award.

Fraser MacNicol is a dark horse for a very strong result on the Arnold Clark Jury’s Inn Snowman Rally this weekend, with plenty of previous experience of the Inverness event. MacNicol drove his Evo VI on the Uleta rally in Lithuania last year, returning to the UK to put in a strong performance on the Wales Rally GB National event. Hopefully Fraser will set his sights a little closer to home in 2016 with a full SRC campaign.

Dalbeattie’s Iain Wilson, co-driven by Keith Riddick, moved into four-wheel drive machinery towards the end of 2015, using a Subaru Impreza N12 previously used by Richard Stewart. Iain is a previous class champion with a 1600cc Vauxhall Nova, and could be a strong contender for the Challengers category as he continues to acclimatise to the Subaru, and has committed to a full SRC campaign in pursuit of the award.

Another driver to look out for is Martin Scott from Banchory. He recently moved up to his four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo after starting out in a Peugeot 205. Due to work commitments Scott is only able to rally sporadically but he impressed everyone on the Granite City Rally last year, finishing just three seconds shy of the top 10 overall.

Other names to watch out for are Brian Watson and Caroline Will in the Mitsubishi Shaun Sinclair drove last year, Alasdair Anderson who has good local knowledge to count upon, Brian Ross who is in a Mitsubishi Evo VI for the Snowman instead of his usual IX and Kevin Robertson, who is rumoured to have an exciting new car in the pipeline for the 2016 season.

In the Group N category for showroom specification cars with only limited modifications, the battle is expected to be fierce between the familiar Mitsubishi & Subaru 4wd machinery.

John Morrison and Fraser Wilson fought tooth and nail last year in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX’s, with Morrison coming out on top in the championship by a mere five points. The ultra experienced Morrison’s home rally is the Snowman, so he will be looking to stamp his authority early on and make the most of this advantage. Wilson on the other hand will be looking to put some mechanical issues behind him, and show the form which has seen him mixing it with the Open class machinery.

Joining the battle are two drivers who have previously battled each other in 2 wheel drive machinery, both tasting success in their classes in the past. Mull’s Craig Rutherford will start the Snowman in a Subaru Impreza, and the former SRC Junior Champion will renew past rivalry with Paisley’s Alasdair Graham in the Evo he debuted on the 2015 Speyside Stages. These drivers have the potential to join in the battle at the head of the group N field, and it will be fascinating to watch their progress throughout the season.

John McClory will add to the Group N challenge from the Border Counties Rally, where his Brick & Steel company are title sponsors. John was in the thick of the group N battle whenever he wheeled out his Evo 9 last year, and we expect him to be straight back on the pace this year.

In our final preview to come, we will look at the Class battles, and also introduce the new SRC Subaru & 205 Cups running within the Championship

Round 1 of the 2016 ARR Criab MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the Arnold Clark Jury’s Inn Snowman Rally on February 20.

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