Duns ace Euan Thorburn narrowly missed out on a successful defence of his RSAC Scottish Rally title in Dumfries on Saturday.
The Borderer, who currently leads the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship in his Ford Focus WRC, was beaten by just 3.5 seconds by his main rival and defending title-holder David Bogie, who was debuting a brand new Ford Fiesta R5+.
Thorburn, co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness, had high hopes of victory after winning the previous gravel round in Aberdeen, but early problems cost him dearly.
He explained: “We lost it in the morning, with a stall at the start of the first stage, and a puncture on the second. Our pace in the afternoon was much better, and it was good that we could take the fight to David. We said at the start of the day that Castle O’er and Twiglees were the best stages of the day – and so it proved. I like the tight and twisty stuff.”
For his part, Bogie, with Kevin Rae of Hawick navigating, was relieved, and happy, with his first true test of the R5 – which has replaced his Focus WRC of the past 18 months. He said : “It was a real learning experience – adapting my driving style, my braking lines, everything. Euan took five seconds off us on the second last stage. I think that shows that when you get to the high speed stuff, the 1600cc of this car can’t really compete with the Focus, that’s when you start to notice the difference. On the last stage we got a bit of dust hanging in the trees.”
Coldstream’s Kieran Renton, with Jack Morton on the notes, took the runners-up spot in the 1600cc category and 15th overall, in his Ford Fiesta R200, and also consolidated his second place in the Junior Drivers’ championship. Keiran said: “I really enjoyed the last two stages – flowing and smooth, and there were no mistakes, so I’m chuffed with that. It was very dusty, the car is full of it, but it was the same for everyone”.
Keiran finished one place ahead of Lauder driver Callum Atkinson, who, despite some “overshoots” on the stages in his Fiesta, went on to win Class 7.
Hawick navigator Louise Rae was back on the notes for Yorkshireman Steve Bannister in the historic class in his Ford Escort Mk2. A rear puncture on the third stage put paid to an outright victory, the pair finishing second.
The next round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages in Elgin on Saturday, August 2.