Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae has made motorsport history as part of the first crew to win five back-to-back Scottish rally championships.
Rae was on the notes as Dumfries driver David Bogie powered their Ford Focus WRC to victory on Saturday’s Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally in Highland Perthshire, the penultimate round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish series.
Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy were runners-up in their Mitsubishi EVO 9 – more than two minutes behind – with Dave Weston and Jedburgh’s Dave Robson third in a Focus WRC, a further 22 seconds adrift.
It was not the best of starts for the defending champions. Their car hit a rock half-a-mile into the second stage, resulting in a front-left puncture which lost them 21 seconds to main rival Euan Thorburn from Duns and navigator Paul Beaton, also in a Focus WRC – after both crews had equalled the bogey time on SS1 Sophia Wood.
Bogie pulled four seconds back over the 13 miles of SS3 Errochty, and another second on the short fourth Kindrogan stage. He was also fastest through SS5 Blackcraig, with Thorburn eight seconds slower after an oil-pipe burst.
Following repairs at the service stop in Blairgowrie, the Borderer still had an eight-second advantage going into the final ten miles of Craigvinean – and it was starting to look as though the title fight would go down to the final round in Galloway later this month.
However, disaster struck for Thorburn when the Focus picked up a puncture. He lost 26 seconds and, with a developing gear-box problem, decided to retire the car.
Rae was delighted and relieved at the champagne-spraying finish in Aberfeldy, but admitted they had harboured doubts about making up the lost time after the second stage puncture: “Twenty-one seconds is a lifetime to lose against Euan because it’s been that close on every other rally but we like these stages and we were fairly confident we could pull some of the time back,” he said.
“That early in the day we weren’t going to give up because anything can happen, so we just kept pushing. We certainly didn’t want it to go down to the wire on the last round!”
A puncture on the second stage did little to halt Steve Bannister’s progress in his Ford Escort Mk2. He finished as the leading 2WD competitor, alongside Hawick co-driver Louise Sutherland.
The eighth and final round of the championship will be the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, based in Castle Douglas, on Sunday, October 27.