Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally Overall Review
The Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally organisers had made the decision to start their event at three o’clock in the afternoon, guaranteeing the majority of crews some night-time running in the forests. The event also had the added spice of a chance for the destination of the overall Scottish Rally Championship titles to be decided.
The 1st loop of three stages, and it was Championship leaders Jock Armstrong and Hannah McKillop who took the early lead, fastest on stage one and two and 2nd on three to head into service with a 4 second advantage.
David Henderson & Chris Lees were 3rd quickest on the opener and 2nd on two, caught out slightly by the looseness of the roads. Stage three was more to their liking, fastest by four seconds to half their deficit to the Impreza.
Out for the 2nd loop and the battle was on. The two crews tying for fastest time on stage four before Henderson and Lees took four seconds back on five to draw level with Armstrong and McKillop with one stage remaining.
Onto the final stage and the Fiesta crew turned things up even further, taking 10 seconds out of the Impreza to take a 2nd SRC win in a row – and their 2nd successive Galloway Hills victory – to keep their 2023 title chances very much still alive going into the final round.
For Armstrong and Mckillop’s part Jock reckoned he’d been overdriving on the 2nd loop and had found himself in the wrong gear on a couple of occasions. Still, they know it’s now all to play for on the final round.
Behind the top two was a big battle for 3rd between John Wink and Neil Shanks and Michael Binnie and Emily Easton-Page. Tying on time on four of the six stages they ended the event just eight seconds apart.
For John and Neil there was a bit of a scare on the 2nd loop when one of the bonnet pins failed, John admitting to finding it a bit distracting. That didn’t stop them from taking a 3rd podium of the season as their strong 2023 campaign continues. Michael & Emily were glad to get a clean run after their Grampian accident.
Scott Peacock and Craig Wallace wrapped up the Albyn Garage Challengers title in Scott’s home forests after an excellent debut 4wd season. The Mitsubishi Evo 8 crew narrowly missing out on an overall top 10 by just 13 seconds after an excellent battle with Barry Groundwater and Charlotte McDowall’s Impreza WRC. Scott reckoning a brake issue on the 2nd loop might have made all the difference.
It was a dramatic day in the Autoshop 2wd standings, Paddy Munro and Andrew Stevenson were fastest in stage 1 but were out after gearbox issues in 2. Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson inherited the lead and were battling with John Crawford and Josh Davison up until the final stage when Stuart and Brian would unfortunately retire. That left John and Josh to take the 2wd win but only by 2 seconds along with 12th overall. This result keeping John in with a chance of the 2wd driver’s title.
Those 2 seconds were to the Opel Adam R2 of Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown. Robert wrapping up a well-deserved 2nd Moates Offshore Junior title with yet another phenomenal performance in 2023, taking 13th overall in a 1600 engined car. It was an excellent run in the tricky conditions with only a few small moments on the stages.
There was drama in the Groundwater Lift Trucks Subaru Cup. Championship contenders John McIlwraith and Heather Grisedale would retire with a double puncture on the 2nd loop and Liam Richardson and Darren Kennedy barely made the finish after a dramatic day when even the service van experienced issues. Taking advantage Jordan Anderson and Harry Stubbs took their 4th win of the season and 20th overall despite some small issues. Once again, the Subaru Cup title will go a final round head to head, this year between Anderson and Stubbs and the reigning champions Mike Moates and Gary McDonald.
Jim Robertson and Mike Curry took a 5th maximum points score in the Haddo Energy Super Seniors. The Historic spec MK2 took an excellent 22nd overall and 2nd in class but with all scores counting towards their final tally, current runner-up Richard Stewart can still take the title on the final round.
There was also drama in the Lady drivers. Reigning champion Aileen Forrest had battled a puncture and cutting out issues on the 1st loop before unfortunately damaging the front right corner of the car in a ditch and retiring. Linzi Henderson and Sue Hynd were experiencing Linzi’s dad’s recently finished MK2 Escort and loving life despite fuel pump issues and a broken front caliper bracket. Taking advantage, Meghan and John O’Kane would take the win and an excellent 28th overall in the Fiesta. The handling issues much improved with a new back axle and Meghan was driving very well. This result ties Meghan with Aileen at the top of the points standings going into the final round.
images by AF Motorsport Media