Speyside Stages Returns after 3 year Hiatus
7 weeks removed from the A.M. Phillip Trucktech Snowman Rally the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship stays in the North for round 2 of the 2022 season, the Elgin based McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages running for the first time since 2019.
Over 100 crews are on the entry list, headed up by the 5 times Scottish champion and 9 times Speyside winner David Bogie. With Irishman Barney Mitchell in the hotseat the Dumfries driver will be out once again in the MINI JCW WRC and keen to bounce back after the suspension issues on the Snowman.
Snowman winners Michael Binnie & Claire Mole took the fight to the R5s and WRC cars in Inverness. The Evo crew are looking for more of the same in Elgin to build on their points tally from round 1.
Freddie Milne & Patrick Walsh were one of the hard luck stories from the Snowman. Leading going into the final stage, the car would mysteriously cut out for around 40 seconds dropping them to 4th at the finish. Once again their blinding pace was matched only by their rotten luck. A late car swap sees Freddie & Patrick out in a Buckley prepared Fiesta Rally2 rather than his own R5. Can a new car bring a change of luck..
Reunited with their iconic Impreza Jock Armstrong & Cammy Fair took 2nd place at the Snowman despite some early brake problems. Since the Snowman they contested the opening round of the BTRDA championship in TEG Sport’s Skodaru, keeping themselves more match fit than many others.
Battling with the Impreza crew at the Snowman until late issues, Bruce McCombie & Michael Coutts were back in competitive form. The Speyside does start with Bruce’s bogey stage, Cooper Park. The 2019 event saw the Focus driver stall on the startline of both runs, Bruce will be determined not to repeat that feat in 2022.
Both Scott Beattie & John Wink were victims of Milbuie ditches on the Snowman while battling inside the top 10. Scott will have Paula Swinscoe alongside as usual but John has installed Will Atkins in the passenger seat with regular co-driver Neil Shanks busy with Speyside organising duties. Both crews will be contenders once again.
An interesting name joining the SRC regulars is David Henderson with Chris Lees alongside in his Fiesta R5. Already rally winners on tarmac down south this year they are definitely a crew to watch out for, and it’s nice to see Chris back after the big accident he and Ian Forgan suffered on the Snowman.
There are plenty of other names capable of challenging the top 10 including Scott Macbeth, Mark McCulloch, Keith Morris, Scott McCombie, Hugh Brunton & John Morrison to name just a few.
Winners of the Albyn Garage Challengers on their 4wd debut on the Snowman, Keir Beaton & Iain Thorburn are back for another go in the ex-Graeme Sherry Impreza. They’ll be resuming their battle with fellow Impreza crew Duncan Campbell & Michael Cruickshank, not to mention championship sponsor Kevin Crawford and reigning Subaru Cup champion Michael Renton.
But for an electrical issue halfway through the 1st round, Willie Paterson and Tom Hynd would also have been in the hunt for top Challengers honours on the Snowman in their Evo 9.
They’re joined on the entry list by the Challengers sponsor himself Simon Hay. The former challengers front runner has been taking a break from rallying recently, enjoying the delights of becoming a father and a gentleman farmer at the same time.
In the Autoshop 2wd race Snowman winners Peter Stewart & Harry Marchbank top the seeds. The 1 litre, turbocharged 208 R4 was able to embarrass the 4wds on the twistier stages of the Snowman and dominated the 2wds by over a minute.
The MK2 armies have assembled to challenge the Peugeot. James Brims is back in the ex-McCulloch car and Thomas Gray is reunited with Dave Robson in his new Mk2. They’re joined by Brian Ross, John Crawford & Paddy Munro.
Also returning, former 2wd champions Dougal Brown & Lewis Rochford are back with an upgraded and rebuilt Mk2. Up around 50 horsepower on what they had previously and with a massively upgraded suspension setup the car should be a bit of a weapon.
Beyond the Escorts there are a few different rear wheel drive cars in the mix. Kenny Wood & David Wilson in their BMWs, Keith Robathan is out in a Vauxhall Firenza and Graeme Sherry makes his SRC debut in his new Manta. Also keep an eye out for return of the Ford Mustang of Jack Ingleby, a regular sight on past Speysides.
The 5 Star Vehicle Deliveries Subaru Cup is heavily subscribed for the Speyside, Snowman winners Jordan Anderson & Clare McKenzie know they will have their work cut out for them with 7 other crews on the entry list capable of winning.
In the Haddo Energy Super Seniors the 4 drivers from round 1 are back to do battle once again. Round 1 was a close affair between Alistair Brearley and seniors creator Ernie Lee. It would have been a 4 way fight if Jim McDowall hadn’t been delayed with a puncture and Jim Robertson’s engine hadn’t let him down. They’ll both be looking for a change in fortune for round 2.
The Moates Offshore Junior category was a battle between Justin Gunning & Robert Proudlock in Inverness. Both drivers are back for round 2 along with Civic pilot Peter Beaton who failed to finish the Snowman after clutch failure.
In the ladies battle reigning champion Ashleigh Morris opened her title defence with a win on the Snowman, the Fiesta R200 vastly improved after suspension upgrades over the winter. Once again she has 3 other drivers to contend with, Aileen Forrest, Nikki Addison and Meghan O’Kane all ready to challenge for the ladies win.
Scrutineering will take place in Elgin High Street on Friday 22nd from 3pm, with the first car due to leave the start line on the first of 2 runs in Cooper Park at 9:04 on Saturday. Competitors then head East to tackle 7 more forest stages, with a regroup in Huntly Square around 1pm giving an opportunity to see the cars and crews up close.
Keep up to date with the 2022 Championship on the website – scottishrallychampionship.co.uk – and the facebook page – facebook.com/ScottishRallyChampionship – where live in-stage action will be broadcast from every round.