McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Overall & Categories Review – Motorsport UK Scottish Rally Championship

28th June 2024

McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Overall & Categories Review

After a longer than usual winter break the 2024 Asset Alliance Group Scottish Rally Championship finally kicked off on the 20th of April with the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages. Over 90 crews were on a stacked entry list, which included 20 R5 or Rally 2 cars.

At the top of the field, it was a Volkswagen benefit with 3 Polo R5s filling the top 3 places. Taking the win David Bogie & John Rowan added another Speyside win to their already impressive collection. 5th after the 2 runs of Cooper Park they took a little time to re-adapt to gravel and 4wd after a break from the forests, David admitting to over-driving on the 1st 2 forest stages. From stage 5 onwards they were back to their best, taking 5 fastest times in a row to eventually take the win by just 19 seconds at the finish.

Last year’s Speyside winners Finlay Retson & Paul Beaton were also sampling a Polo for the 1st time, looking to bounce back after a difficult end to their 2023 season. And bounce back they did, immediately on the pace and leading after 4 stages despite running 1st on the road. Stages 5 & 6 were very slippy and they made the decision to keep things safe rather than risk an accident. That saw them slip to 2nd but they kept their pace high enough to secure an excellent 2nd place, sandwiched between 2 of the drivers that Finlay looked up to as a junior.

Most experienced in a Polo but out of the woods since 2019, Euan Thorburn had installed Keir Beaton in the hotseat for the Speyside. On the pace straight away, the blue Polo was 3rd after 5 stages. Unfortunately, an off in the very slippy stage 6 dropped them almost 20 seconds to the 2 other Polos and down to 4th. The last 3 stages they were immediately back on form with 2 2nd fastest times in 7 and 8 and an equal fastest time on the final stage to regain 3rd. A strong way to start the season, especially after 5 years away from the gravel.

Also making a return to the gravel after some time away, Greg McKnight was reunited with Harry Marchbank in the immaculate yellow Escort. Despite a small misfire out of tight corners playing on their mind Greg & Harry were loving life, finding the car really suited the stages. 12th overall at the finish and the G&M Mechanical services 2wd category win by 36 seconds marked an excellent comeback to the SRC for the former 2wd champions.

Albyn Garage

2nd 2wd car home but topping the Albyn Garage Challengers Robert Proudlock & Steven Brown made it 2 fantastic weekends in a row after an excellent result at the Severn Valley Stages in Wales. Using the Speyside to continue learning their new Peugeot 208 they made some setup changes to the brake bias in the morning and were very happy with the results. Absolutely flying, they were mixing it with R5s and big Escorts alike on the way to 14th overall.

Taking 1st blood in the Groundwater Lift Trucks Subaru Cup, reigning Cup champion Jordan Anderson & co-driver Kenny Foggo were very happy at the finish. When long time Impreza rivals Mike Moates & Gary McDonald retired early they spent the day actively enjoying the slippy conditions, the red Impreza was seen at some properly sideways angles during the day. 30th overall at the finish was a solid start to their season.

Had Energy

33rd overall, Gordon Murray & Peter Carstairs guided the big Escort to the 1st Haddo Energy Super Seniors win of the year. Still rebuilding pace after a long layoff from rallying Gordon nevertheless managed a couple of spins and an overshoot in the morning but built his pace as the day wore on. There’s plenty more to pace to come from this crew as the season progresses.

Moates Offshore

Out for the 1st time in Scott Peacock’s MG ZR Lewis Haining & Eoghan Anderson would take top honours in the Moates Offshore Juniors. They played 2nd fiddle to Justin Gunning & Michael Moates in the morning and inherited the lead when the Clio crew unfortunately slid into a ditch. Still learning the gravel game, the MG pilot briefly visited the scenery on the middle loop as he tried to get a comfortable setup in the car. Happier with it by the end of the day, they were satisfied with 46th overall at the start of Lewis’s 1st full Scottish season since his days in the Junior 1000s.

After a difficult 2023 season Aileen & John Forrest were approaching the Speyside with a different attitude than in the past, in Aileen’s words going “back to basics”. The new approach clearly worked, Aileen finding her confidence again, especially from SS4 onwards to take the top Ladies prize and 56th overall in the purple Evo. Both were very happy at the finish and John was full of praise for his driver saying the old Aileen was back in business behind the wheel.


images by AF Motorsport Media