Five-time Scottish Rally Champion David Bogie will go head to head with Castle Douglas hero Jock Armstrong in a bid for victory at this weekend’s RSAC Scottish Rally in Lockerbie (19th May).
After taking the spoils at the second round of the 2018 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship in his Skoda Fabia R5, Bogie from Dumfries has enlisted the services of Kevin Rae in the co-driver’s seat as he bids to defend his 2017 Scottish Rally win. However, Subaru Impreza pilot Jock Armstrong and co-driver Cameron Fair will be looking to get their SRC season back on track in the Dumfries and Galloway forests.
In a change to previous years, there will be two winners crowned at the ceremonial finish celebrations in Moffat on Saturday and as if the battle at the head of the field is not enough, rally fans and spectators will be in for a real treat at this year’s event.
In a change to the regular format, competitors in two-wheel-drive machines will tackle stages in the Eskdalemuir and Beattock forests on Saturday morning before the four-wheel-drive brigade head out to compete across the same stages later that afternoon.
This shift in format allows the sometimes lower powered cars to take advantage of the best conditions in the forests and has led to a packed entry of over 70 cars from across the UK which will head to Lockerbie for the rally.
A Ford Escort top-six lock out heads the two-wheel-drive crews away on Saturday morning with Greg McKnight and Harry Marchbank in their potent Ford Escort MK2 at number one. The duo have impressed onlookers this season and secured some top results in the rear wheel drive machine.
They will be closely followed by historic rallying ace Matthew Robinson from Yorkshire who is partnered by Dave Robson. After a storming run on the Pirelli Rally last month, Robinson will be looking to better his runner up spot and take the 2WD win in Scotland.
Fellow Yorkshireman Steve Bannister and co-driver Callum Atkinson may have something to say about that though as they aim to overthrow the top two Escorts in their familiar version at number three seed. Duncan MacDonald and Neil Ross make the trip from the Isle of Sky in their Ford with Paul McErlean and Niall McKenna coming across the Irish Sea to contest the rally.
Keith and Kirsty Riddick are local favourites to be the first non-Escort crew home, the Haugh of Urr family duo start at seven in their MG ZR and will bid for class three honours. Castle Douglas based Angus Lawrie and co-driver Paul Gribben will be aiming to beat the Riddick’s in their Vauxhall Corsa. Almost 50 two-wheel-drive crews will line up on Saturday morning and the action will be impressive across the field.
Once the two wheel drive crews have sprayed their champagne at the ceremonial finish in Moffatt, Bogie will lead the all-wheel-drive contingent away from the Lockerbie Lorry Park start and head into the Twiglees and Castle O’er forest tests. Just two weeks ago, Bogie ended his Pirelli International Rally in one of Kielder forests infamous ditches so will be looking to get back up to speed in the Scottish forests.
Armstrong missed the Snowman Rally in February but came back fighting in Elgin in April at the Speyside Stages, taking second spot, albeit over a minute behind the on-form Bogie. He will start the event as number two seed and the battle out front is set to be as intense as ever.
Another local driver aiming for the top is Dumfries man Mark McCulloch in his Ford Fiesta R5. With Michael Hendry alongside, they are another crew to be quickly adapting to a new-for-2018 steed having previously campaigned a Mitsubishi Lancer. McCulloch has always gone well on his home event and this year could see his inaugural podium or better.
But it’s not just the local favourites that you need to keep on your radar this weekend. Subaru Impreza WRC pilot Freddie Milne (Douglas) secured his maiden podium result in Elgin and is rapidly learning the potent machine with the experienced Welshman Patrick Walsh alongside. Current SRC leaders Andrew Gallacher (Hurlford) and Jane Nicol are also adapting quickly to their Focus WRC and an opening round win gave them a boost to their season from the off.
Bruce McCombie (Banchory), Lawrence Whyte (New Aberdour), Donnie MacDonald (Inverness) and John Wink (Huntly) are all very capable of a top result and should not be discounted from the potential winners.
Event organisers have ensured spectators have the best possible opportunity to catch the action in the forests and to sample the celebrations of the winners.
The SolwayPrint Castle O’er stage offers the first chance to see the cars with the two wheel drive event passing through at 08:50, returning at 10:30 . The four wheel drive competitors tackle the test at 11:50 and 13:30. The spectator point can be accessed from the B723, South West of Eskdalemuir.
The Western Nissan Rivox test will see the two wheel drive crews arrive at 12:15 before the four-wheel-drive contenders at 15:15 . Access to the spectator area is off the B7076, 2.6 miles north of A74(M) Junction 15/A701.
The event returns to Moffatt for the finish celebrations and prize giving at 13:15 for two-wheel-drive crews and 16:15 for four-wheel-drive crews.
For the 23rd consecutive year, the RSAC Scottish Rally will receive backing from the Dumfries and Galloway Council and has been awarded the designation as a Signature Event thanks to its status as one of the most important sporting events in the region. The change in format in 2018 will further enhance its important role in the British Rallying Calendar, bringing competitors from across the UK to the region.
The event forms a round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship, he RSAC Motorsport Ecosse Challenge and the Border Challenge, the HRCR Motoscope Northern Historic Challenge and welcomes the Armed Forces Rally Team who have been part of the event since 1963.
More information, full spectator information and entry lists can be found at www.scottishrally.co.uk