Kincardine Forests Ready for Round 6.
Just 3 weeks removed from the RSAC Scottish Rally, the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship circus re-assembles just outside of Crathes for Round 6 of the 2023 season, the Voyonic Grampian Forest Rally.
Championship leaders Jock Armstrong & Hannah McKillop top the seeding, fresh from their dramatic victory shootout on the final stage of the Scottish. The Impreza taking the win despite bouncing off the scenery near the end of the final stage.
David Henderson & Chris Lees have been among the fastest crews of the year but luck hasn’t been with them. The Grampian was one of their favourite events in 2022, standing on the podium 12 months ago.
Fellow Fiesta crew Finlay Retson & Paul Beaton were the other half of that Scottish Rally final stage shootout, but luck wasn’t on their side, retiring while battling for the lead. 2022 has been a year of blinding pace, particularly on the gravel, but they haven’t finished an event since their sensational Round 2 Speyside win back in April.
The Grampian marks the 1st event for the new partnership of Michael Binnie & Emily Easton-Page. There will be a lot of interested observers keen to see how Michael & Emily get on in John Forrest’s Fiesta R5.
Michael’s long-time rivals John Wink & Neil Shanks line up next on John’s home event. The Hyundai team have enjoyed one of their best seasons in the SRC with 2 podiums, narrowly missing a 3rd on the Scottish last time out.
Mark McCulloch & Michael Hendry were forced out of the Scottish before the 1st stage with gearbox troubles on the Satria. The Argyll tarmac saw them equal their best ever SRC result with 2nd, now they look to repeat that feat on the gravel.
The Rally 2 Fabias of Stephen Petch & Michael Wilkinson and Hugh Brunton & Drew Sturrock line up next. Petch & Wilkinson coming off their best performance of the season at the Scottish while Brunton & Sturrock return to the event where they scored their 1st SRC podium in 2022.
Other crews to watch include Iain Wilson & Chris Williams, Angus Lawrie & Paul Gribben, Willie Paterson & Tom Hynd, Chris Collie & Ricky Finlayson & returning former Snowman winners Donnie Macdonald & Andrew Falconer in their Evo.
2 locals will debut newly acquired Fiestas. Scott Beattie & Peredur Davies make the step from Evo power while Bruce McCombie & Michael Coutts debut their own car after sampling a Rally2 machine on this year’s Speyside.
Peter Stewart & Harry Marchbank top the Autoshop 2wd entries in their 208, just ahead of Scottish winners John Crawford & Josh Davison’s Mk2 Escort. John & Josh also top the Albyn Garage Challengers entry.
Other 2wd crews in the mix include Stuart Egglestone & Brian Hodgson, Dougal Brown & Lewis Rochford, Paddy Munro & David O’Brien, top Moates Offshore Junior seed Robert Proudlock & Steven Brown and David Wilson & Kerrie MacGillivray.
The 4wd Challengers seeding is topped by Duncan Campbell & Michael Cruickshank, followed by current points leaders Scott Peacock & Craig Wallace. Championship sponsor Kevin Crawford & Andrew Stevenson will be looking to do well in their home forests, seeded just ahead of fellow Evo crew Orrin McDonnell & Clare Fraser.
Jordan Anderson & Harry Stubbs are the top Groundwater Lift Trucks Subaru Cup seeds. Jordan will be re-kindling his 2021 junior championship rivalry with John Easson Award Winner Johnnie Mackay in his Evo 7 who has Rachel Matheson back in the hotseat.
Jim Robertson & Mike Curry head the Haddo Energy Super Seniors with Richard Stewart & Carin Tait-Logan chasing. Ernie & Patricia Lee are not far behind in their BMW.
Aileen Forrest tops the Ladies entry, returning to the scene of her unfortunate visit to a river a year ago. The Evo pilot will not be wanting a repeat of that performance this year. She lines up just ahead of 2nd Moates Offshore Junior driver Meghan O’Kane’s Fiesta ST. Meghan coming off of a Ladies win last time out after an excellent day-long battle in Dumfries & Galloway.
Linzi Henderson & Sue Hynd will be looking to make the Ladies a 3-way battle in their R2T Fiesta. Linzi getting quicker with every stage as she gets back into the swing of rallying.
Two other Junior drivers will start the Grampian, the 205 of Muir of Ord’s Owen Macleod and the Fiesta ST of Edward Noble from Inverness.
All the action goes down this Saturday, August 12th with the 90 strong entry leaving the ceremonial start in Banchory from 9:00am. After almost 44 miles of flat out driving over the network of roads in the Drumtochty and Fetteresso forests, competitors are scheduled to arrive back at the finish in Milton of Crathes from 5:10pm
Current Championship points tables can be viewed on the website here
Spectator information is available from the event website here.
Live coverage from the event is scheduled to be shown on the SRC Facebook page from stage 1 (9:40), 2nd regroup (1:20) and stage 6 (4:25).