Euan Thorburn on his way to third place overall in Saturday's Plains Rally.
Euan Thorburn on his way to third place overall in Saturday's Plains Rally.

Scottish Rally Champion Euan Thorburn made the long trip to Welshpool at the weekend hoping to win the Plains Rally for the third year running.

After an impressive victory on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, once again Paul Benn agreed for the Duns driver to team up with his co-driver Richard Cooke and let them loose in his Ford Focus WRC.

This time round they are also very happy to have signed a deal with Amigos Tequila Beer.

It was a steady start for Thorburn as he got to grips with the car, sitting joint leader with fellow Scotsman Weston Jnr after the two morning stages.

Hoping to squeeze into the lead, he pushed the Amigos Beer Focus WRC to its limits on SS3 but unfortunately picked up a puncture whilst doing so, losing over 20 seconds to the field and dropping down to third place overall.

“It was going well in the morning” said Thorburn. “I knew we’d need time to get used to the car again, so to be joint leader after the first two was great. But we picked up a puncture on the third stage and dropped a load of time.”

With three stages remaining the rally wasn’t over, and on stage four Thorburn bounced back with a fastest stage time, eating in to his deficit from the newer machinery in front but not quite enough to change the leaderboard.

With a planned push on SS5 Thorburn was hoping to leapfrog in to second overall, but bad luck struck again when he spun and stalled the car, losing a further 15 seconds and any chances of taking second place.

After a steady run through the final stage of the day Thorburn and Cooke held on to third overall and due to non-registered drivers took a solid second overall in the championship.

Closer to home, at Knockhill, it was entirely fitting that Alister McRae should take the victor’s spoils for the first ever ‘McRae Rally Challenge’.

World Rally star Kris Meeke also took time out of a hectic World Championship schedule to drop in on this special event and it was just as emotional for him to drive Colin McRae’s former Citroen Xsara works rally car as it was for the crowd of rally fans to see him in it.

There were miles of smiles at the end of the two day event held at the Fife based motor racing complex to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Colin McRae and Derek Ringer’s World Rally Championship title victory, the first ever for a UK crew.

Supported by Beatsons’ Building Supplies and EventScotland the event provided a fitting tribute, much appreciated by the thousands of fans who poured into the Fife facility over both saturday and Sunday.

This was an event where memories were re-visited and new memories made and so it was quite appropriate that Alistair McRae won the event outright in a Proton Satria from Lancastrian rising star Aaron Newby.

Going into the final stage, McRae had a nine second lead over Newby. Alistair said: “I did get one fright. We came over a brow in the rain and the car stepped out at the back dragging me off the road into the mud, but I spotted a gap in the trees, went through that, and popped back out on to the stage.”

The 2012 British Touring Car Champion Gordon Shedden, scored a ninth place finish overall on his first-ever rally.

Scott McBeath, partnered by Lauder co-driver Callum Atkinson finished 17th overall and third in class in the Vauxhall Nova, just one place ahead of Duns driver Gary Pearson and Whitsome co-driver Claire Mole in a Peugeot 205.

Malton’s Steve Bannister, with Hawick’s Louise Rae on the notes, was 21st overall and second in class in his Ford Escort Mk2.