RSAC Scottish Rally Overall Review
KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship leaders Jock Armstrong and Hannah McKillop took their 2nd win of the season by just five seconds after a dramatic final stage on the Dalbeattie based RSAC Scottish Rally.
The Impreza crew were immediately in the groove in Jock’s home territory, fastest by four seconds in the opening stage and never out of the top two times over the next three stages. Speyside winners Finlay Retson and Paul Beaton were the Impreza’s closest challengers in their Ford Fiesta Rally 2. Third quickest in stage 1 they were speeding up as the day progressed, fastest in stage two and tying with Armstrong and McKillop for fastest in stage three. They headed into 2nd service only eight seconds away from the rally lead.
Out for the final two stages and the drama ramped up. Retson and Beaton absolutely flying through stage five, six seconds quicker than everyone else and crucially eight quicker than Armstrong and McKillop. The top two now tied on time with just one run through Dalbeattie left.
It was to be a dramatic finale, both crews putting their cars off the road – but the difference was their luck. A suspected puncture left the Fiesta crew stuck on some rocks and unable to continue while the Impreza amazingly bounced back onto the road with only cosmetic damage. Finlay and Paul were still able to take positives from the fact that they were able to run Armstrong so close in his home forests.
Despite the off Armstrong and McKillop were still 5th quickest over the final stage, Jock describing himself as “the luckiest man in Dumfries and Galloway” and saying he was determined to take the win in his backyard to keep the dream of another Scottish title alive.
Last year’s Scottish winners Michael Binnie and Claire Mole were back in the Ford Fiesta R5 they first campaigned on this year’s Speyside. 2nd fastest in SS1, Michael felt he was a bit scrappy on the opening loop. The second loop was better, but he still felt he wasn’t as committed as the two crews in front. Michael and Claire headed out of 2nd service just nine seconds down on 2nd place. They were on the move on the final loop. 2nd quickest in stage five and fastest in six saw the Fiesta close to within five seconds of the win at the finish. A good result and a fitting send off for Claire as she takes a step back from rallying.
The battle for the final podium place ended up being very close. David Henderson and Chris Lees made a wrong tyre choice for the 1st two stages and dropped 43 seconds to the leaders. Once they were on the right tyre they began to make up time and were on the charge, heading into the final loop 8 seconds behind the Hyundai i20 of John Wink and Neil Shanks. Henderson and Lees jumped past the Hyundai in stage 5 by just one second. The two crews then set identical 2nd fastest times on the final stage to stay that single second apart. Henderson and Lees completing a successful salvage job after their tyre issues in the morning. 4th was another good result for Wink and Shanks despite feeling they weren’t quite at the races this weekend.
John Crawford and Josh Davison topped the Autoshop two-wheel-drive and Albyn Garage Challengers standings at the end of the 6 stages. The Ford Escort MK2 crew were absolutely flying all event, surviving a puncture on the final stage. John, throwing caution to the wind despite the deflated rubber, was determined to hold on to the win, and the car was sporting some new bodywork additions in the form of some large ferns at the finish.
Top front-wheel-drive and Moates Offshore Junior honours went to the flying Opel Adam R2 of Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown. Robert really enjoying the stages and the battle with reigning Scottish two-wheel-drive champions Peter Stewart and Harry Marchbank. The Adam survived a big lockup and overshoot in the middle loop and pipped the more advanced 208 by just 2 seconds at the finish. A memorable and emotional result for the whole Proudlock team.
Delighted to be back in the woods, Jim Robertson and Mike Curry took top honours in the Haddo Energy Super Seniors. Jim really enjoying his home stages and feeling he was finally starting to get a handle on the BDG engined Escort after years in the Pinto. The only real issue was its’ appetite for back tyres on these loose stages.
John McIlwraith and Heather Grisedale endured a difficult day on the way to the Groundwater Lift Trucks Subaru Cup win. A puncture on the 1st stage dropped them almost 2 minutes as they opted not to change the tyre. They then discovered that running on the flat had damaged the front hub, requiring a speedy change at 2nd service. That left them 2nd in the Cup behind the flying Jordan Anderson and Harry Stubbs, inheriting the win when the red Impreza unfortunately retired after an argument with a tree.
The Ladies contest was an excellent battle between Meghan O’Kane and Aileen Forrest. The Fiesta was backwards on the opening loop, possibly due to very old tyres, and the Evo pilot had started steadily as she readjusted to the gravel. The middle loop was very close, Aileen taking the initiative with a good run in Dalbeattie before Meghan countered in Kinharvie. They ended the event in 44th and 45th overall respectively with the Fiesta pilot coming out on top this time out.
images courtesy of AF Motorsport Media