Class battles reign on the Snowman Rally
Scottish rally championship season gets underway with battles across the 100 strong field
David Bogie and Kevin Rae kick-started the 2017 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) last weekend with their third victory on the Inverness based Arnold Clark Jury’s Inn Snowman Rally.
The Skoda Fabia R5 crew may have taken the overall spoils, but there were plenty of class battles across the 100 strong field, as the SRC was welcomed to the event with unseasonably warm conditions in the Highland forests.
Sauchen crew Neil Coalter and Hannah Cessford took a dominant class one victory in their Suzuki Ignis, taking 33rd overall ahead of Steven Crockett’s Peugeot 205 and Stephen Fraser’s rare British Leyland Mini.
Andy Chalmers took the start of the Snowman back at the wheel of a Peugeot 205 GTI having rallied an Escort Mk2 last year and duly won the class two battle in Inverness with co-driver Martin MacCabe alongside. Chalmers beat class-regulars Robbie Beattie and David Findlay by 41 seconds with David McLoughlin making it a trio of 205’s on the class podium in third with co-driver Graham Robertson.
Class three saw one of the hottest battles of the weekend between young Irish driver Marty Gallagher and reigning SRC Junior Champion Thomas Gray. The Peugeot 208 R2 pilot would ultimately keep the advantage he held right from the first stage, but Gray in his Fiesta R2 certainly kept the Junior British Rally Championship driver honest, finishing just one second behind at the finish.
His determination and front running pace came after a season ending crash during last year’s Mull Rally. His drive during the event was enough to see the Muir of Ord driver awarded the SRC John Horton Star Driver Award for the Snowman rally. Drummuir driver Alex Pirie completed the class podium in his Citroen C2.
Ullapool duo Fraser MacNicol and Keith Boa guided their Ford Escort Mk2 to the class four victory, over a minute ahead of the sister car of Paddy and Chris Munro. Scott McQueen and Andrew MacKinnon took third in class in their 205.
Defending historic class champions (class five) Ian and Sandy Milne were once again first to finish on the opening round of the 2017 season. The Brechin crew brought their Escort home 47th overall ahead of local duo Michael McKain and Ryan Dunbar in their Ford Anglia.
Class six belonged to Luke McLaren on the Snowman as the Blanefield driver continues to make progress in his little Ford Fiesta. McLaren, with Phil Kenny in the co-driver’s seat, beat Michael Renton and Kenny Foggo’s Peugeot 306 GTI home, who in turn finished ahead of Kevin Gray and Daniel Christie who had a good day out in “Bumblebee” the Astra.
Dougal Brown and Lewis Rochford finished as top 2WD runner in their Escort Mk2, scooping up the class seven and Scottish 2WD honours in 20th overall. Duncan MacDonald and Neil Ross brought their similar car home second in class, with Steven Ronaldson and Gordon Chalmers finishing in third.
Former Scottish Rally Champion Ken Wood took his ultra-rare Triumph Dolomite Sprint to first in class 8 with co-driver Gordon Wood. The pair finished five places higher overall than their class rivals Colin Campbell and Josh Paterson in the Ford Sierra.
There were no finishers in the class nine, Group N category, after sole entrant and previous class champion Fraser Wilson left the road on SS4 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Wilson and co-driver Craig Wallace were running 20th overall before the incident.
Class ten was won by Dalbeattie pilot Iain Wilson with his new co-driver Callum Atkinson aboard the Subaru Impreza. Wilson had an impressive outing, finishing 14thoverall and claiming the SRC Challengers victory in the process. Simon Hay and Calum Jaffray were not far behind in their Mitsubishi Evo VI finishing one place behind. Scottish Borders crew Ian Baumgart (Hawick) and Mike Dickson (Galashiels) grabbed third in class and 19th overall in their Subaru.
Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe powered their recently rebuilt Subaru Impreza to the class 11 win on the opening round of the season. The Castle Douglas driver finished just two seconds away from the podium in fourth overall. Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts took second in class and sixth overall, edging out the impressive Steven Clark and Paul Brown in the final stage to finish a mere two seconds ahead at the finish.
David Bogie and Kevin Rae took the class 12 spoils courtesy of their outright win in Inverness. Shaun Sinclair and Jamie Edwards signalled their intent for the year ahead with a strong second place in the Subaru Impreza S14 WRC, ahead of Euan Thorburn and local man Paul Beaton who were easing themselves into the new Fiesta R5 the Duns driver acquired for 2017.
Colin Baxter and Donald John Campbell took the first www.usedcarparts.co.uk Subaru Cup victory of 2017 on the Snowman rally, finishing 32nd overall. Michael Robertson and Gary McDonald came home in second, with both crews receiving vouchers courtesy of the Subaru Cup’s sponsor, Used Car Parts.
The ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship comprises of seven forest events across Scotland, taking in over 300 competitive stage miles. The next round of the championship is the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, Jedburgh, in under four weeks’ time (18th March).
The SRC is partnered by Pirelli, Reis Motorsport Insurance and Coltel Communications.
Full results from the Arnold Clark Jury’s Inn Snowman Rally can be found at www.flyingfinish.co.uk.