David Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae sealed their third straight MSA Scottish Rally Championship with a fourth consecutive victory on the Gleaner Oil and Gas Speyside Stages. The winning partnership finished more than half a minute ahead of the rest to cap a notable 2011 championship campaign with two rounds remaining.
Behind them, Euan Thorburn and Mike Faulkner slugged it out in a gripping fight for the remaining podium places.
They shared equal times on three of the eight Morayshire stages, but it was Thorburn, co-driven by Paul Beaton, who emerged as runner-up after Faulkner overshot on the final test.
Bogie, who was fastest through four of the stages, finished with a total time of 43 minutes 42 seconds – 37 seconds ahead of Thorburn, with Faulkner a further 14 seconds adrift.
The Dumfries triple champion was clearly delighted – and relieved – as he was applauded by fellow competitors and spectators alike as the champagne was sprayed at the finish outside Elgin town hall.
“It’s just awesome and hard to sum up really, said Bogie: ” I never thought too much about the championship. We just came here to win the rally, and to be honest, all season I’ve never given it much thought. We just went to each round to do the best job we could. But to come away with a win and take the championship, well, it’s going to take time to sink in. It also makes things easier going to the next round of the British Championship, so that’s really good”.
Co-driver Rae from Hawick was “chuffed to bits” with the result: “Everything has gone so well on this event. They were great stages – we just eased off a wee bit towards the finish once we knew we were OK.. We’ve been thoroughly enjoying our rallying all season and even with the pressure today it’s been enjoyable. It’s another one ticked off, so we can now concentrate on the British”.
As is traditional on the Speyside, the event got underway with two blasts through the special spectator stage at Cooper Park in the centre of Elgin.
Jock Armstrong and Kirsty Riddick took top honours in their Subaru Impreza, resulting in the Castle Douglas pair being a second up on the Evo 9 of Northern Ireland”s Phillip Morrow going into the first 2.79 mile forest stage, Rosarie.
Bogie pipped Armstrong by a second to take the stage win but the Impreza pilot, winner of the RSAC Scottish Rally in June, still had a three second advantage overall over his younger rival.
However, the challenge was short-lived when, on SS4 Craigend Hill, the Subaru clipped a culvert, span round and ended up on its side – resulting in what Armstrong described as “pretty brutal damage when you add it all up”.
While Bogie consolidated his lead with two successive quickest times – on Craigend, and the 5 miles of Gartly Moor (“that was an awesome stage!”) – a battle royale was developing between Thorburn and Faulkner.
They posted equal times behind Bogie on Gartly Moor, and again on the eight and a half miles of Balloch Wood, before sharing top honours – one second quicker than Bogie – on the penultimate test, Backstripes.
“It’s been a really hard battle with Mike all day – I couldn’t believe how close it was”, said Thorburn who also pipped Bogie by two seconds on the final stage: “It was a shame the two of us couldn’t have carried it on until the end, but Mike lost time with an overshoot – it was a difficult last stage with all the chicanes. We came to win the event, but we’re pleased with second”.
Faulkner, co-driven by Louise Sutherland in place of the holidaying Peter Foy, also enjoyed the tussle: “It was a case of staying with Euan and matching him on stage times. When we got to the last stage we both had to go for it. The surface was really muddy and grassy and I was losing traction and tried to make it up on braking and ended up overshooting. I’ve had some close battles over the years, but three stage times on the trot with the same person is something special”.
Emerging from Cooper Park eighth overall in their Mitsubishi Evo 9, Lanark’s Robbie Head and navigator Claire Mole from Paxton had moved into fifth at the end of the first forest test and were up to fourth on the completion of Gartly Moor.
They held station through the remaining three stages, posting the third quickest time on the final test, two seconds shy of second-placed Bogie.
Inverurie’s Calum Mackenzie justified his late entry to the event with a fine fifth overall at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Evo 8. Co-driven by Alan Clark, it was Mackenzie’s best SRC result in the 4-wheel drive car, following a switch from his more familiar Escort Mk2.
Fellow Aberdeenshire-based competitor Barry Groundwater, with Daniel Paterson on the notes, bettered his 2010 Speyside result by one place to finish sixth overall, two seconds adrift of Mackenzie.
Stephen and Kevin Lockhart from Oban were a further eight seconds back in their Evo 7 – posting their third and best Scottish Championship top ten finish of the season, following two ninth places on the Border Counties and Jim Clark Reivers.
County Durham’s Tristan Pye, with three-times Scottish Co-drivers’ champion Stewart Merry on the notes, was eighth in his self-prepared Subaru Impreza N15, while Invernessian Donnie Macdonald – sixth in the points going into the Speyside – was well satisfied with his second successive ninth-place overall alongside Keir Beaton.
It was also a case of deja vu for Chris Collie and Lisa Watson with the pair recording their second consecutive tenth place finish in their Subaru Impreza – the only difference being that the gap to Macdonald had increased to 4 seconds from the 1.5 seconds on the RSAC Scottish!
For the record, the top seven places were occupied by Mitsubishi Lancers of varying ages, prompting Station Garage Mitsubishi boss Bob Shephard to dub them “The Magnificent Seven”.
The battle for 2-wheel drive supremacy, and 1600 category honours, was won by Graeme Smith in a Honda Civic after a day spent trading times with fellow Lanarkshire competitor and Civic pilot Graeme Schoneville.
Co-driven by Stuart Loudon, Smith was trailing Schoneville by six seconds after the first short forest stage, but kept the pressure on and had a two second advantage overall on the completion of SS5 Gartly Moor. Schoneville and navigator Michael Hendry were back in front at the end of SS6 Balloch Wood, but lost time on the penultimate test with Smith and Loudon eventually winning the dog-fight by nine seconds.
Banchory’s Quintin Milne and Aberdeen-based co-driver Martin Forrest led home the Escort Mk2 contingent, with Thornhill’s Liam Harkness and Kenneth Marchbank second.
Following three previous retirements this season, Sean and Iain Robson from St Boswells were surprised and delighted with their Class 3 win in their Peugeot 205 Gti. They took top honours after Tom and Sue Hynd, who led the class for much of the day, crashed out heavily in their 205 on the penultimate test.
Among the notable retirements were Andy Horne/Jim Howie who were forced to call it a day on stage four when their DAM 4100GTi developed mechanical problems, and Reay Mackay and Robert Macdonald, who were running as high as fourth overall in their Subaru Impreza WRC before it developed a gearbox fault.
There were 69 classified finishers from a start list of 101 cars.
The seventh and penultimate round of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the ProTune Remapping Merrick Stages – based in Wigtown – on Saturday, September 3rd.
SPEYSIDE STAGES – TOP TEN FINISHERS WITH TOTAL TIMES
1 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Mitsubishi Evo 9 43 mins 42 secs
2 Euan Thorburn (Duns)/Paul Beaton (Inverness) Mitsubishi Evo 9 44.19
3 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Louise Sutherland (Hawick) Mitsubishi Evo 6 44.33
4 Robbie Head (Lanark)/Claire Mole (Paxton) Mitsubishi Evo 9 45.18
5 Calum Mackenzie (Inverurie)/Alan Clark (Glasgow) Mitsubishi Evo 8 46.27
6 Barry Groundwater (Stonehaven)/Daniel Paterson (Stonehaven) Mitsubishi Evo 9 46.29
7 Stephen Lockhart (Oban)/Kevin Lockhart (Oban) Mitsubishi Evo 7 46.37
8 Tristan Pye (Durham)/Stewart Merry (Bishop Auckland) Subaru Impreza N15 46.45
9 Donnie Macdonald (Inverness)/Keir Beaton (Inverness) Mitsubishi Evo 9 46.58
10 Chris Collie (Aberdeen)/Lisa Watson (Alford) Subaru Impreza 47.02
TWO-WHEEL DRIVE CLASS WINNERS
Class 2 Colin Grant/Michael Cruickshank (Skoda Estelle)
Class 3 Sean Robson/Iain Robson (Peugeot 205 Gti)
Class 4 Graeme Smith/Stuart Loudon (Honda Civic)
Class 5 Duncan MacDonald/Neil Ross (Ford Escort)
Class 6 David Killin/Clive A. Black (Opel Kadette Coupe)
Class 7 Stuart McLeod/Gavin Riley (Peugeot 309 Gti)
Class 8 Quintin Milne/Martin Forrest (Ford Escort Mk2)
Class 9 Ken Wood/Gordon Wood (Triumph Dolomite Sprint)
Class 10 Stephen Lockhart/Kevin Lockhart (Mitsubishi Evo 7)
Class 11 Douglas Gilbert/Brian Anderson (Mitsubishi Evo 8)
FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE CLASS WINNERS
Class 12 David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi Evo 9)