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Apr 27, 2014 - 04:46 PM
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ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship: Round 3
Posted by: newsla on Apr 27, 2014 - 04:41 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship: Round 3


Borderer Euan Thorburn increased his lead in the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship with his second win of the season on Saturday's third round in Aberdeen.

 

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The Duns-based competitor, driving a Ford Focus WRC, completed the four Kincardineshire forest stages on the McCombie Builders Granite City Rally in a total time of 44 minutes 02 seconds.

Runner-up Jock Armstrong was a further 37 seconds back in his Subaru Impreza: the Castle Douglas driver finishing just over a minute ahead of third-placed Mike Faulkner in a Mitsubishi EVO.

Defending champion David Bogie, a three-time Granite winner, was forced to retire his Ford Focus after the first stage with engine problems.

Thorburn, who won the season-opener in Inverness, was five seconds down on his Dumfries rival after the first short Durris stage, which was shrouded in thick fog:

"The first stage was a real wake-up call – it was difficult to commit fully with the visibility as bad as it was", said Thorburn, who was co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness: "Then David went out, and we had to manage our lead after that. But it worked out well and we had no problems with the car. They were long stages which is what we prefer. We've never started that well in the Scottish championship, so to have built up a wee cushion after three rounds is a new experience. It's a real confidence boost ahead of my home event, the Jim Clark Rally".

Once he had negotiated the tricky opening stage, Armstrong, with Paula Swinscoe on the notes, got into his stride, and was second quickest to Thorburn through the remaining three tests – indeed there was only a second between the two on the six and a half miles of SS3 Drumochty:

"I was very happy with the times across the day, but the final stage was again quite difficult – you were in and out of the fog. The conditions were changeable and it was a challenge right until the end. But the car has gone well, and I'm happy to finish second – it's points on the board", said Armstrong.

For his part, Faulkner, alongside navigator Peter Foy, was fortunate to finish, after problems with the diff pump on the EVO meant he had to drive the last two stages with rear-wheel drive only:

"Luckily the final stage was a bit faster and more open than the previous ones, so we could carry the speed, otherwise I doubt whether we'd have made it to the end", admitted Faulkner.

Banchory's Quintin Milne, with Martin Forrest of Aberdeen navigating, was a further seven seconds behind in fourth overall in his EVO. It was Milne's thirteenth successive finish in the championship, and moved him back to second in the drivers' championship – eight points adrift of Thorburn:

"It's been a good day for us, but the car didn't feel quite right. Jock (Armstrong) is going to give me a hand to get the suspension set up right because I'm losing the odd second here and there compared to last year. The car is mega over the big jumps, but I seem to have lost the feel – it used to be like a go-kart, really precise".

The Inverness crew of Donnie Macdonald and Andrew Falconer brought their Mitsubishi EVO back to the finish in fifth place overall – a great morale boost for the pair after two back-to-back non-finishes:

Said Macdonald: "I'm absolutely delighted – the car was perfect, and we got the pace up to where we wanted to be today".

Newton Stewart's Mark McCulloch was sixth in his Subaru Impreza. despite a niggling power-loss problem early on, and worries about an over-heating engine at the finish:

"They're both issues we'll look at, but overall the handling of the car is excellent, we've definitely got that sorted", said McCulloch, who was again co-driven by Jim Haugh: "We're both working well together, and that was vital today, with the fog. I knew we were close to Barry (Groundwater) and despite the conditions, decided to throw caution to the wind on the final stage and commit totally to Jim's notes. And luckily what he said was right!"

In the event, Groundwater finished a further seven seconds adrift in his EVO. The Stonehaven driver, with Neil Shanks of Elgin navigating, summed up his day on his home rally as "reasonable".

Bruce McCombie, meanwhile, whose family sponsored the event, recorded his third successive top-ten finish behind the wheel of his "new for 2014" Mitsubishi EVO:

"I probably enjoyed the third Drumochty stage the best – it was more open – and then the fog came down again on the final stage. So very changeable through the day, but a good result for us nonetheless", said McCombie, who was alongside Michael Coutts from Torphins: "I feel I'm getting to grips with the EVO – there's plenty more to come, I think, but it's probably down to the driver, rather than the car".

Alistair and Colin Inglis, from Montrose and Edzell respectively, were ninth overall in their EVO, while one of the biggest smiles of the day came from Andy Horne, co-driven by Jim Howie, who was debuting his "newly acquired" Ford Focus WRC – a big change from the DAM 4100GTi of recent years.

"I was hoping to make it into the top ten, but I wasn't certain we'd make it, to be honest", said Horne: "The car is very capable, and I need to learn to trust it. That will only come through more seat-time but this has been a great start".


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