Pictures by John Robertson
Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy emerged the victors in what proved to be a very closely contested Jim Clark Reivers Rally on Sunday.
Marking the half way point of this year’s national ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship, points were crucial and championship ambitions still hopeful.
The rally, which started and finished in Kelso, used five Special Stages in Kielder Forest in Northumbria.
Having endured some pretty bad lows over the past four years with a crash, a new car and subsequent reliability issues, Faulkner and Foy were back on form at the weekend scoring a victory over second placed Peter Taylor and Andrew Roughead from Carlisle.
However, there was controversy when rally leaders, Jock Armstrong and Paula Swinscoe from Castle Douglas were penalised one minute for a “rule infringement”. That penalty cost the crew certain victory, but rather than submit a formal protest and contest the issue, Armstrong accepted the penalty so that proceedings and celebrations could continue.
That meant Faulkner, from Kirtlebridge, scored his first outright victory since the Merrick Rally in 2011: “Of course, it’s not the way you want to win. Jock’s times were unbelievable today, and Peter (Taylor) was very close. I struggled with confidence in the car today, but made a few tweaks and adjustments to the car for the final 12 mile stage, and it worked!”
Going into the final stage, Taylor had a one second lead over Faulkner, which Faulkner converted to a six second advantage to take his first rally victory in four years.
The event had attracted numerous English crews with Taylor scoring best ahead of fourth placed Peter Stephenson and Yorkshire’s Matthew Robinson.
Finishing in sixth place overall, but more importantly third placed Scottish crew, the consistently quick Bruce McCombie and Michael Coutts scored sufficient points to ensure they still lead the Scottish national championship at this half way point.
Pre-event favourites and five times Scottish Champions, David Bogie from Dumfries and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae, failed to complete the first stage: “The engine was due a rebuild anyway,” said Bogie, “so when the oil light came on I shut it down and switched it off.”
The rally lost another tip for the top when Ayrshire’s Andrew Gallacher retired on the second stage when his car punctured punctured its radiator.
Top Borders crew were Ian Baumgart (Hawick) and Mike Dickson (Galashiels) who finished an excellent 12th overall in their Subaru Impreza. Malton’s Steve Bannister and Hawick co-driver Louise Rae were 15th in their Ford Escort Mk 2 but, more importantly, won their class.
The Duns crew of Garry Wilson and Scott Young were 24th overall in their Mitsubishi Evo 5 while Perth’s Gordon Murray and his Duns co-driver David O’Brien won their class and finished 30th overall in their Ford Escort Mk2.
Second in their class and 35th overall were Colin Aitchison and Richard Simmonds from Duns in their Vauxhall Chevette HSR while Ian Heard and Ian Maxwell from Ancrum finished 52nd overall and won their class in a Ford Escort Mk 2. One place behind them were the Duns crew of Walter Aitken and Sean Liddell in their MK 1 Ford Escort.
Kelso’s Carin Logan and Berwick co-driver Christine Sanderson finished 56th in their Citroen Saxo VTS.
Scott Macbeth (Rosemarkie) and Callum Atkinson (Lauder) retired their Vauxhall Nova after the first stage with an alternator problems.
Finally, spare a thought for Duns driver Dale Robertson. Highest seeded Borders driver for the event, Dale was forced to pull out of the rally on Saturday after losing the tip of his finger in an accident with a lawnmower!