Euan Thorburn won Saturday’s GWF Energy Merrick Stages, the sixth round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship, and prevented David Bogie from clinching an historic fifth straight title with two events remaining.
The Duns-based competitor, co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness, powered his Ford Focus WRC to a 44 second victory over his Dumfries rival.
Bogie, who spun his Focus on the first stage, and had a puncture on the last, ended the day 40 seconds ahead of Quintin Milne from Banchory, who took his third podium spot of the season in his Mitsubishi EVO 9.
Thorburn has now won two rounds to Bogie’s three, and the championship fight goes onto the penultimate round, the Colin McRae Stages, in Aberfeldy on October 5.
“We’re delighted with the win, and aim to keep the championship away from David as long as we can,” said Thorburn at the rally finish in Wigtown.
“We had a real push in the morning and that helped to carry us through the day. The last stage was a bit of a struggle, it was really wet. We couldn’t see because the windscreen misted up, and we thought we’d lost a lot of time. But obviously David had his problems, and we managed to keep our noses in front”.
Bogie was disappointed not to have wrapped up his fifth championship alongside Hawick navigator Kevin Rae: “We got off to a bad start with a spin on the first stage which cost us around 20 seconds. We got ten back off Euan by winning the second stage. We both beat the bogey time on the third stage and Euan pipped me by one second on the fourth. So we went into the last stage with all to play for.
“I just kept on pushing hard and threw caution to the wind, and that led to a spin.
“Hence the reason we’re missing the front bumper on the car. I’m really annoyed because I thought going into the stage, that this is mine”.
Jedburgh co-driver Dave Robson helped guide Dave Weston from Aberdeen to fourth overall in the Paul Benn Ford Focus WRC while Hawick’s Louise Sutherland was on the notes for Steve Bannister in his Ford Escort Mk2 – the pair winning the historic class, and taking maximum championship points as the first SRC-registered 2WD crew.
Class 4 winner Garry Pearson from Duns was using the Merrick as a shakedown for the next round of the BRC – Trackrod Rally Yorkshire later this month. His Ford Fiesta R2 had undergone a full engine-rebuild, and navigator Laura Marshall said they had been more than happy with the result.
“The car went really well, and gives Garry some good mileage ahead of the Trackrod”, said Marshall: “We had a small moment heading towards a log pile on the last stage, but luckily the car managed to bounce out just at the last moment!”
Meanwhile, Lauder’s Callum Atkinson, co-driven by Sue Hynd from Inverbervie, finished third in Class 3 in his Peugeot 205, to consolidate his second place in the championship.