Duns drivers set to battle it out for honours in Speyside Stages

Garry Pearson and Robbie Mitchell who lead the 2016 Scottish Rally Championship after the opening two rounds.
Garry Pearson and Robbie Mitchell who lead the 2016 Scottish Rally Championship after the opening two rounds.

The 2016 ARR Craib Scottish Rally Championship heads to Elgin for Saturday’s third round of the series, the McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages.

Leading the 120 crews away are 2014 Scottish Champions Euan Thorburn from Duns and Paul Beaton from Inverness, who are giving their Peugeot 208 T16 R5 its Scottish debut. They are seeking more time in their new car prior to the next round of the British Championships and it’s unclear whether Euan will register for SRC championship points.

Duns is certainly well represented in this year’s even with no less than three drivers in top ten seeds.

Starting third on the road are the Duns crew of Garry Pearson and Robbie Mitchell in their Ford Fiesta R5. Pearson and Mitchell are one of three R5 entrants for the Speyside, a record number for the SRC, and find themselves at the top of the championship after two rallies.

Garry, who missed out on a win in the Border Counties through the tie break, said: “I don’t think we could have expected what is almost a ‘dream start’ for us.

“I think we can only build on our result at the Border Counties. We didn’t expect to or try to be in first position or tied first. We tried our best in the last two stages to keep in third position and ended up challenging second.

“It’s been sixyears since I’ve been in Elgin so I’m sure the experienced competitors will be hard to beat.”

Duns driver Dale Robertson with Stuart Loudon on the notes surprised everybody with an incredible second place finish on the Snowman after taking a year away from the SRC in 2015.

However, the Border Counties didn’t go so smoothly, with the Evo IX running in just two wheel drive for two and a half stages as Dale broke a driveshaft. He put in a strong recovery drive, however, to finish seventh, and could be a dark horse for a podium finish in Elgin. They start at No 10.

Currently lying second in the championship is 2015 Champion Jock Armstrong with Paula Swinscoe alongside.

The Subaru driver got his championship campaign back on track winning the Border Counties Rally, and he is hoping for more of the same in Elgin.

He said: “The result on the Borders was amazing as I have not had a lot of luck there over the years. The plan for the Speyside is just like the last rally, quick out of the box and no mistakes like forgetting to put it in gear on the start line!”

Other Borders competitors taking part are as follows: Ian Baumgart (Hawick) and Mike Dickson (Galashiels), Subaru Impreza; Gordon Murray (Perth) and David O’Brien (Duns), Ford Escort Mk 2; James Gibb (Kilmarnock) and Iain Robson (St Boswells), Ford Fiesta; John McIlwraith (Canonbie) and Scott Young (Duns), Ford Escort RS; Thomas Gray (Muir of Ord) and Dave Robson (Jedburgh), Ford Fiesta R2; Michael Binnie (Cornhill) and Claire Mole (Whitsome), Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5; David Martin (Belford), Citroen C2; Gina Walker (Duns) and Edwin Cook (Workington), Citroen C2; Andy Struthers (Libberton) and Alasdair McIlroy (Jedburgh), Citroen C2; Max Redpath (Duns) and Jack Clayworth (Duns), Peugeot 205.

The McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages will be run on Saturday, April 23, with the first two special stages at Cooper Park being broadcast live on the Speyside Stages TV YouTube channel.