Fascinating Battles in Prospect for 2023 Part 1 – Pro4’s
The opening round of the 2023 KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship, the A.M. Phillip Trucktech Snowman Rally, is shaping up to be an absolute cracker. With an astonishing 15 R5/Rally 2 spec cars entered in the top Pro 4 class picking a winner is almost impossible.
The blue oval is still the most represented manufacturer with 10 Fiestas on the entry list.
Galloway Hills winners and 2022 Motorsport News National Rally Driver of the year David Henderson (Oakenshaw) & Chris Lees (Glasgow) ended their 2022 SRC Campaign upside down on the Carlisle stages. Since then, the car has been treated to a fantastic new colour scheme and contested some tarmac events, including victory on the East Riding Stages the weekend before the Snowman. Stage 1 will not only be the 1st time back on the gravel but also on a new make of tyre having made the switch to Michelins.
Another driver from south of the border, Stephen Petch (Newcastle) & Michael Wilkinson have announced a full SRC campaign. No stranger to the Scottish competitors having contested events such as the Border Counties and Carlisle Stages in the past this will be their 1st experience of the Snowman. Stephen is looking forward to a new challenge and has a Skoda Fabia Rally2 in preparation for debut later in the season.
Young charger and former Ecosse J1000 Champion Finlay Retson (Blairgowrie) impressed in 2022 at both the McRae Rally Challenge and with a debut rally win at Crail. Now he steps into the woods with former Scottish champion Paul Beaton (Inverness) in the hotseat of the Fiesta.
As always there’s a strong local interest. Scott Macbeth (Muir of Ord) was the top home driver in 2022 in his Evo. Now Scott and co-driver Dan Forsyth (Elgin) step into a right-hand drive Mckinstry-run R5 and are one of a number of crews who won’t have a chance to try the car on gravel before stage 1. Also at their home event are former winners Donnie Macdonald & Andrew Falconer (both Inverness) who are always in the top 10 mix and long time Snowman supporter John Morrison (Conon Bridge). John will be forming a new partnership with Edinburgh’s Sinclair Young for 2023.
John Rintoul (Lower Largo) & Ross Hynd (Prestwick) are making a return after their Grampian accident. John teaming up with Angus Lawrie Motorsport for 2023. At a recent test in Galloway John and Angus worked on some set-up changes for the car and were very happy with the results. In a similar vein Bob Adamson (Kilmarnock) enters his 3rd year of Fiesta motoring. The car, rebuilt and refreshed over the winter, was another out at the recent test and Bob was very happy with how it was going.
Former 2 wheel drive champions Iain Wilson (Dalbeattie) & Chris Williams (Millom) are making a return to the SRC after a layoff. Making a bold step out of a Mk2 Escort and into a Rally 2 they are both excited and nervous. The recent test was an eye opener, but Iain was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he adapted to the new mount.
Irish crew Niall Devine (Strabane) & Liam McIntyre have proved to be a top 10 threat in a Mitsubishi Evo in the past in Scotland. Now they return in a Fiesta R5, a car they competed in on the Carlisle Stages at the end of 2022.
3 Skoda Fabias line up to take on the hordes of Fords.
Freddie Milne (Aberdeen) & Patrick Walsh (Aberystwyth) almost won the Snowman in 2022 but for final stage electrical dramas in their Fiesta, nicknamed “Foxy”. For 2023 they are out in the ex-Ian Bainbridge Fabia. Running a 2 litre engine rather than the normal 1600 Freddie found the car to be a handful on their debut in the car in Spain last year. The big question will be how quickly he can adapt to the new car’s characteristics.
Hugh Brunton (Arbroath) & Drew Sturrock (Brechin) were one of the crews to watch in the 2nd half of 2022. Now their Fiesta has been replaced with a Fabia, a car that Hugh thinks should better suit his driving style. They have already had a successful run to 2nd overall on the Riponian and will be ones to watch on the Snowman.
Willie Paterson (Strathaven) is making the step up from an Evo to a Fabia R5. Another to take part in the recent test Willie was getting an insight into the challenge he faces for 2023. With Tom Hynd (Inverbervie) alongside once again they will definitely rise to the challenge.
2 crews represent the Korean manufacturer on the entry list.
Hyundai stalwarts John Wink (Huntly) & Neil Shanks (Elgin) return for another season in their i20. Fresh from a podium on the final round of 2022 the car has been fully stripped and rebuilt over the winter, gaining some upgrades to the engine in the process. That hopefully will help them be closer in performance to the Fords and Skodas. John himself is excited for a new season and about the car’s new eye-catching colour scheme.
Joining the i20 ranks father and son team Stuart & Marc Irvine (Erskine/Bishopton) have acquired the ex-James Wilson car. Totally different to their Accent WRC they completed both a small test and a solid debut run at the Grant Construction Stages at Knockhill, finishing in the top 10. Hopefully the new car will spell an end to their many reliability issues with the older technology in recent times.