Two points separate frontrunners Euan Thorburn and David Bogie going into the third round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship in Aberdeen on Saturday.
Defending champions Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae will be targeting their fourth McCombie Builders Granite City Rally win, after a dominant display on the Border Counties last month in their Ford Focus WRC, while Duns ace Thorburn and navigator Paul Beaton, also in a Focus, are looking to regain the upper hand following victory on the season-opener in Inverness.
The “Granite” has attracted an impressive entry of 110 crews, who will tackle 44 miles of classic forest stages in Kincardineshire.
Bogie, for whom victory on the event last year was his first in the Focus, relishes the annual visit to the north-east of Scotland: “For me, it’s one of the highlights of the season”, said the five-time champion: “There’s great enthusiasm for rallying in that part of the country. The organising committee always pull out all the stops, and the stages are among the best on the championship calendar. They’re real drivers’ stages, very wide in places. There are four this year, each at around ten miles, and at that length, you can really get into your stride”.
Dale Robertson from Duns, co-drven by Paul Maguire, has had a disappointing start to his 2014 championship campaign in his recently acquired Mitsubishi EVO 9. On both the Snowman and the Border Counties, a broken rear brake pipe has thwarted Robertson’s challenge, and he is hoping for a change of fortune this weekend:
“We don’t usually do the Granite, but it’ll give us more seat time in the new car ahead of our home event, the Jim Clark, at the end of May”, explained Robertson.
Fellow Duns-based competitors Garry and Hollie Wilson start several places further back in their Mitsubishi EVO 5.
Ford Escort Mk2 maestro Steve Bannister, and Hawick navigator Louise Sutherland, will be looking for a repeat of their Border Counties victory in the 2WD category, while Coldstream’s Kieran Renton will have leading Jedburgh co-driver Dave Robson back on the notes as he targets top honours in the 1600cc class in his Ford Fiesta.
The same is true of Lauder’s Callum Aktinson, who is currently in a three-way tie at the top of the Class 7 championship in his Fiesta.
Colin Aitchison, with fellow Duns man Garry Pearson on the notes is also involved in a close fight in Class 9 in his Vauxhall Chevette, after taking maximum points in Jedburgh.
Meanwhile, St Boswells’ navigator Scott Hunter will be alongside Scott MacBeth, who will be looking to repeat his Class 2 win last time out in a Vauxhall Nova.
For news and updates of all SRC rounds, go to www.scottishrallychampionship.co.uk
Granite City Rally – Borders competitors, with car no:
1 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Ford Focus WRC
2 Euan Thorburn (Duns)/Paul Beaton (Inverness) Ford Focus WRC
22 Steve Bannister (Malton)/Louise Sutherland (Hawick) Ford Escort Mk2
24 Dale Robertson (Duns)/Paul Maguire (Tranent) Mitsubishi EVO 9
31 Garry Wilson (Duns)/Hollie Wilson (Duns) Mitsubishi EVO 5
44 Kieran Renton (Coldstream)/Dave Robson (Jedburgh) Ford Fiesta
47 Callum Atkinson (Lauder)/Keith Atkinson (Lauder) Ford Fiesta
57 Scott MacBeth (Rosemarkie)/Scott Hunter (St Boswells) Vauxhall Nova
63 Colin Aitchison (Duns)/Garry Pearson (Duns) Vauxhall Chevette
69 Blair Brown (Kinross)/Richard Simmonds (Peugeot 205GTi)
110 Thaarique Fazal (Glasgow)/Paul Wood (Jedburgh) Peugeot 205GTi