Defending Scottish champion David Bogie “gave it everything” to clinch his sixth McDonald and Munro Speyside Stages Rally on Saturday.
Just as it had been on the previous round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship, it was a close fought contest between the Dumfries driver and series leader Euan Thorburn from Duns. However, when the Borderer picked up a puncture on the penultimate stage, the win was there for the taking.
Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae completed the eight Morayshire forest stages in their Ford Fiesta R5+ 13 seconds ahead of the Ford Focus WRC of Thorburn and navigator Paul Beaton from Inverness. Jock Armstrong and Paul Swinscoe, in a Subaru Impreza, secured the final podium spot, a minute and a half further back.
By the mid-way point of the rally, Bogie was leading his Duns rival by just one second: the pair having beaten the bogey time on both the five-and-a-half miles of SS3 Meikle Balloch, and the following seven-and-a-half-mile run through Whitehaugh.
Thorburn then took a second out of the five-time champion on the famed Gartly Moor test to make it all square with three stages remaining, and then a further three seconds on the five-and-a-half miles of Balloch to edge into the lead.
It all started to go wrong for the Duns driver crew on the road section to the second last stage at Ben Aigan
Thorburn explained: “Something felt wrong at the back of the car. I actually got out and checked the tyre pressures but they seemed fine, so we went into the stage. By the end, we had a rear flat, and lost 14 seconds.
“With just four stage miles remaining, it was too much to make up and we cruised through the last stage. I’m really disappointed. It was nip and tuck all day and we were moving ahead. It definitely feels we’ve again missed out on a win, having lost by just over three seconds on the Scottish because of mistakes.”
The result, Bogie’s second successive win in the R5+, means he now has three victories to Thorburn’s two in this year’s SRC
Dale Robertson from Duns was delighted with his win in the Group N category in his Mitsubishi EVO 9 alongside Paul McGuire from Tranent. The Borderer was 11th overall, tenth in the points.
Robertson said: “It was a great event for us, the stages were nice and smooth. I changed to Pirelli tyres today and they’ve made a big difference - especially through the faster sections, the car just sits there. I also quite like setting the car up for the twisty technical stages. All in all, I felt we made a lot of progress. But we’ll have to win GpN on the remaining three rounds to get a chance of taking the championship, so there’s work to be done.”
Amongst the 2-wheel drive entries, there was a class win for Lauder’s Callum Atkinson in his Ford Fiesta – despite a drive-shaft breaking on the “very last corner of the very last stage”. He managed to nurse the car home, but, having lost forward drive, had to reverse over the finish line.
Leitholm’s Keiran Renton, with Jedburgh’s Dave Robson on the notes, finished third in the 1600cc category in his Fiesta, but conceded that it had not really been his best day in a rally car.
The sixth round of the 2014 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is the GWF Energy Merrick Stages, based in Wigtown, on September 2.