Just two points separate frontrunners Euan Thorburn and David Bogie going into the third round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship in Aberdeen on Saturday.
Defending champions Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae will be targeting their fourth McCombie Builders Granite City Rally win, after a dominant display on the Border Counties last month in their Ford Focus WRC, while Duns ace Thorburn and navigator Paul Beaton from Inverness, also in a Focus, are looking to regain the upper hand following victory on the season-opener in Inverness.
The Granite has attracted an impressive entry of 110 crews, who will tackle 44 miles of classic forest stages in Kincardineshire.
Bogie, for whom victory on the event last year was his first in the Focus, relishes the annual visit to the north-east of Scotland.
Dale Robertson from Duns, co-drven by Tranent’s Paul Maguire, has had a disappointing start to his 2014 championship campaign in his recently acquired Mitsubishi EVO 9. On both the Snowman and the Border Counties, a broken rear brake pipe has thwarted Robertson’s challenge, and he is hoping for a change of fortune this weekend.
Dale explained: “We don’t usually do the Granite, but it’ll give us more seat time in the new car ahead of our home event, the Jim Clark, at the end of May.”
Fellow Duns-based competitors Garry and Hollie Wilson start several places further back in their Mitsubishi EVO 5 while Ford Escort Mk2 maestro Steve Bannister, and Hawick navigator Louise Sutherland, will be looking for a repeat of their Border Counties victory in the 2WD category, while Coldstream’s Kieran Renton will have leading Jedburgh co-driver Dave Robson back on the notes as he targets top honours in the 1600cc class in his Ford Fiesta. The same is true of Lauder’s Callum Aktinson, who is currently in a three-way tie at the top of the Class 7 championship in his Fiesta.
Colin Aitchison, with fellow Duns man Garry Pearson on the notes is also involved in a close fight in Class 9 in his Vauxhall Chevette, after taking maximum points in Jedburgh.
St Boswells’ navigator Scott Hunter will be alongside Scott MacBeth, who will be looking to repeat his Class 2 win last time out in a Vauxhall Nova. Richard Simmonds from Duns will be co-driving for Kinross driver Blair Brown in his Peugeot 205GTi and Jedburgh co-driver Paul Wood is on the notes for Glasgow’s Thaarique Fazal, also in a Peugeot.