Duns driver Euan Thorburn won a dramatic Colin McRae Stages Rally to seal his first Scottish Rally Championship title after rival David Bogie went off the road on the last stage.
The result adds a new name to the championship trophy for the first time in five years, following Bogie’s dominance of the series since 2009.
As the champagne was sprayed in front of a large crowd of supporters and photographers, Thorburn expressed his delight – and relief – at the achievement: “I can’t believe it’s happened after all these years trying to win the championship. It was close all day.
“It’s a shame the way David went off, but that’s the way it goes, we’ve both been on the limit, and thankfully we got through and took the win. When you look at the names on the Scottish championship trophy, it’s great to get your name on there – absolutely brilliant”.
Thorburn, co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness, completed the six Perthshire stages in his Ford Focus WRC in a total time of 43 minutes 51 seconds – two minutes ahead of runners-up Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy in a Mitsubishi EVO 9. Jock Armstrong, with Paula Swinscoe navigating, was third in his Subaru Impreza, a further thirty-five seconds back.
It had been a close-fought battle between the top two throughout the day in challenging, and often slippy conditions.
Thorburn laid down an early marker and was seven seconds up on Bogie after two stages. The defending champion took two seconds back on the third test in his Ford Fiesta R5+, and was seven seconds faster than the Duns’ driver through the near fourteen miles of SS4 Allean. Thorburn hit back on SS5 Drummond Hill and, with one stage remaining, had a two second advantage overall.
However, his Dumfries rival had a major problem – arriving at the second and final service in Aberfeldy with a bent front-left tracking rod after clipping a rock. With no spare available, Bogie looked on while the mechanics went to work on the car, unsure whether he would be able to continue, so relinquishing his title there and then.
After a tense wait, Bogie was given the nod and climbed back into the cockpit for a last “all or nothing” assault on the 11 miles of Craigvinean. Disaster struck a few miles in when the R5+ slid off the road.
Thorburn and Beaton, who passed the scene as second car on the stage, had their own scare shortly afterwards, when they went straight on at a junction. As the realisation sunk in that they had the championship secured, it was a case of making it back to the finish safely.
Another Duns competitor, Dale Robertson, with Paul McGuire of Tranent on the notes, took maximum points in the Group N category – his third successive class win.
“We had problems with our brakes and found at second service that we had a broken pipe on the back caliper,” said Robertson. “That made it exciting, but we got to the end and have some good points on the board. And we’ve got the GpN win again which is what we were after”.
Hawick’s Louise Rae and Yorkshireman Steve Bannister were second home of the 2WD entries - ending the day eleventh overall in their Ford Escort Mk2, after a “cautious run” following an accident on the Trackrod Rally the previous weekend.
Father and daughter team Garry and Hollie Wilson from Duns fought their way to a hard-earned 24th overall in their Subaru Impreza.
There was not much joy for other Borders competitors in the challenging conditions.
Kieran Renton from Coldstream, alongside Jedburgh navigator Dave Robson, missed out on the Junior Drivers’ championship to Dumfriesshire’s Greg McKnight after the engine blew in his Ford Fiesta R2.
Duns crew Colin Aitchison and Garry Pearson also had a day to forget in their Vauxhall Chevette HSR and retired on the sixth stage.
The final round of the 2014 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally in Castle Douglas on Sunday, October 26.