Titles up for grabs in the Hills of Galloway.
The KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship heads to Galloway for the penultimate round of the 2023 season, the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, and there’s a chance that the overall championships will be decided.
Championship leaders Jock Armstrong & Hannah McKillop come into the event that Jock sponsors needing a win to wrap up the 2023 title. A 9-time winner of this event, Jock is an acknowledged master of these forests. The Impreza crew have form in this part of the world in 2023, having already won the RSAC Scottish Rally.
2022 Hills winners David Henderson & Chris Lees are the crew with the strongest chance of denying Armstrong & McKillop. Fresh from a win at the Grampian the Fiesta crew can still take the championship with 2 wins over the final 2 rounds. A prospect by no means beyond the realms of possibility.
If these 2 crews slip up, there are others ready to take advantage. Michael Binnie & Emily Easton-Page led the Grampian until sadly crashing out. Michael will be looking to avenge last year’s Hills accident.
Former Hills winner Mark McCulloch & co-driver Michael Hendry’s persistence with their Proton Satria has started to pay dividends. 2 podiums in the last 3 rounds showing that they’ve built a genuine R5/Rally2 challenger.
John Wink & Neil Shanks have produced their strongest SRC season so far in the Hyundai i20. John has stuck the car on the Hills podium in the past and the Hyundai crew were right in the mix at the front of the Grampian.
Other crews in the mix include Speyside winners Finlay Retson & Paul Beaton, Argyll winners Rory Young & Allan Cathers, Stephen Petch & Michael Wilkinson, Scott Beattie & Peredur Davies, Iain Wilson & Chris Williams, Angus Lawrie & Paul Gribben and Willie Paterson & Tom Hynd.
It’s a similar situation to the main title picture in the Autoshop 2-wheel drives. Reigning 2wd champion Peter Stewart can wrap up the driver’s title with a win on the Hills. However, regular navigator Harry Marchbank is missing for this round, replaced by the experienced Dave Robson.
The crew that can deny Stewart are his 2022 rivals Stuart Egglestone & Brian Hodgson. The Pinto MK2 crew fresh from a sensational 2wd win at the Grampian, keeping the pressure on the 208 pilot.
Things are more open in the Albyn Garage Challengers division. Evo crew Scott Peacock & Craig Wallace can take the title on the Hills if other big players don’t score. The MK2 Escorts of Paddy Munro – joined for this event by Andrew Stevenson – and John Crawford & Josh Davison are ready to take the fight to the red Mitsubishi as is John Easson award winner Johnnie Mackay. The Evo 7 pilot teaming up with Barry Young for this round.
Other 2wd and Challengers crews to watch include Duncan Campbell & Michael Cruickshank, David Wilson & Kerrie MacGillivray, David Hardie & John McCulloch and the return of Fraser Smith & Nikki Addison. Fraser & Nikki making their MK2 debut as a team.
The Moates Offshore Juniors is reigning champion Robert Proudlock’s to lose. The Adam pilot’s 2023 pace has been sensational, and he needs a win to wrap up a 2nd title. Keeping him honest, Fiesta pilot Meghan O’Kane is 2nd in the points and can take advantage if he slips up. He will also have the challenge of fellow Adam pilot Archie Swinscoe to deal with. Rapid on the tarmac, we’ve yet to see what Archie’s capable of on the loose. The Peugeots of Scott Gourlay and Owen McLeod & Lochlan McIver’s Fiesta complete the Junior line up.
In the Groundwater Lift Trucks Subaru Cup two drivers come into this round with 3 wins apiece; John McIlwraith & Jordan Anderson sharing the wins throughout the season so far. John’s navigator Heather Grisedale has the points advantage in the co-drivers standings from Harry Stubbs thanks to her 3 wins over Harry’s 2.
Mike Moates & Gary McDonald have been 2023’s most consistent crew, scoring on every round and in the perfect place to pounce if those 2 crews slip up. Liam Richardson & Darren Kennedy are also in with an outside chance of the title.
The Haddo Energy Super Seniors standings is down to a 2-way race between Jim Robertson & Richard Stewart. The MK2 Escort man just 6 points up on the 208 pilot with 2 rounds remaining.
Things are even tighter in the Lady driver’s points. Reigning champ Aileen Forrest is just 2 points clear of season long rival Meghan O’Kane. The battles between the Evo & Fiesta have been some of the best in the 2023 championship.
Looking to crash the party Linzi Henderson & Sue Hynd come off their best run of the year so far at the Grampian. However, for this round they swap their Fiesta for a MK2 Escort and it will be interesting to see how they get on with the new car.
All the action goes down on Saturday the 16th of September, the event starting at 15:00 hours and running into the early evening for all SRC competitors. A further loop of 3 stages in the dark is available for those competitors looking for an extra challenge. Keep an eye on the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship Facebook page for updates and live coverage throughout the afternoon.
Current Championship points tables can be viewed on the website here
Spectator information is available from the event website here.
Live coverage from the very compact event is scheduled to be shown on the SRC Facebook page from stage 1 (15:10), Passage Control after SS3 (16:20) and stage 4 (17:35).