Dumfries rally driver David Bogie stamped his name on the winner’s trophy of the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally for the fifth time last weekend [11 September], taking his MINI JCW WRC to victory on the 47th running of the popular gravel event.
Co-driven by John Rowan, Bogie recovered from a two second deficit to early leader Garry Pearson, overhauling the Skoda Fabia R5 driver to win by 29 seconds after over 40 miles and six stages in the Dumfries and Galloway forests.
Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the Galloway Hills Rally was forced to take a sabbatical in 2020 due to the pandemic but returned last weekend with a bumper entry making their way to the region.
The event traditionally also attracts a significant contingent from Northern Ireland and this year was no different, with a strong showing from the Emerald Isle during the weekend; 21 of the 90 starters having travelled across the Irish Sea.
Duns ace Pearson was fastest out of the blocks on the opening Cairn Edward test, stopping the clocks a slender one second ahead of the chasing Bogie. Pearson, guided by Irishman Niall Burns has shown fine form over the past few months and would prove his point on the first two stages of the event. But on the third test, Bogie came alive and grabbed an eight-second advantage to lead by six seconds heading into the only service halt of the day.
Making some set-up changes to the MINI proved to be pivotal, and from then on in he was never headed, winning each of the second pass of the stages to take a blistering win, and close in on the record nine victories from event sponsor and Castle Douglas pilot Jock Armstrong.
Pearson’s second spot was enough to give him a maximum score in the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship and move him into fourth in the points tables with just one round remaining.
Fiesta WRC driver Stephen Petch found himself down in sixth at the halfway point of the event. Co-driven by Michael Wilkinson, Petch has been tackling the British Rally Championship National Title in 2021 and headed to the event in a bid for more seat time. An impressive run over the final three stages saw him round out the podium spots in third.
Niall McCullagh and Ryan McCloskey secured fourth in their Fiesta R5 despite contact with a chicane, whilst Scott Beattie and Paul Swinscoe hauled their Mitsubishi Evo VII to fifth spot, making up four places on the final stage thanks to a blistering time from the duo.
So, what of nine-time winner Armstrong? Equal second fastest with Bogie on the opening stage set him and co-driver Cameron Fair up perfectly for the day, and would lie third at the halfway point, some sixteen seconds back from the leader. However, a broken wheel on the Fiesta Rally2 during stage four dropped them around a minute and then the loss of fourth and fifth gear over the final two stages rubbed salt into the wound. Eleventh spot would be little consolidation.
2011 winner Mark McCulloch and co-driver Michael Hendry scooped the top two-wheel-drive honours in their Ford Escort MK2, finishing a sensational 12th overall. The duo collected the ‘Brian Allan Memorial Award for Top rear-wheel-drive in the process, in memory of the well-known Machars Farmer.
The Lawrance Clark Trophy, awarded to the highest-placed Co-Driver resident in the DG postal district in memory of the 1987 event winner, went to Paul Gribben, who expertly guided Castle Douglas driver Angus Lawrie to a fantastic 10th Overall on his four-wheel-drive debut in a new Mitsubishi Evo IX.
First ‘all East Ayrshire Car Club crew’ went to Duncan Ferguson and Alex Murphy who finished 36th in their Ford Escort BDG, while the immaculate Ford Escort RS1600 of fellow East Ayrshire crew George and Jacqueline Bryson was the winner of the Jay McNicholas Memorial Award for Best Presented Car.
The Robbie Murphie Spirit of the Rally Award will be announced shortly, once it has been presented to the winner.
Full results can be found here: www.gallowayhillsrally.co.uk/rally/rally-results/
Image courtesy of Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography.