BORDERER Euan Thorburn kept his MSA Scottish Rally Championship hopes alive with a well-earned second win of the season on Saturday’s Gleaner Oil & Gas Speyside Stages.
The Duns’ driver powered his Ford Focus WRC through the ten stages in a total time of 43 mins 01 secs – twenty-six seconds ahead of the Mitsubishi EVO 9 of defending champions David Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae, who had been targeting a fifth successive victory on the Elgin-based event.
Jock Armstrong from Castle Douglas took the final podium spot just one second further back in his Subaru Impreza, after being pipped by Bogie on the final stage.
The result means the Bogie now has a six-point lead over Thorburn with two rounds remaining.
“Another two results like this would do, but it’s been a fair pace all day, with David and Jock fighting hard as well, so I’m delighted to get the win”, said Thorburn, who also won his home event, the Jim Clark Reivers, in June.
The event started with the traditional two sprints through the special spectator stage in Elgin’s Cooper Park – Armstrong and Barry Groundwater sharing the honours on the first run, and Armstrong just ahead of Bogie the second time through.
Once out into the Morayshire forests, Thorburn increasingly took control, but, along with Bogie and Armstrong, proceeded to beat the bogey time on several of the short stages, such was the relentless pace at the front.
The most remarkable result of the day came on SS7 Auchindinnie Hill when the front three recorded an identical time over the seven-mile test.
By second service at Huntly, Thorburn and Inverness-based navigator Paul Beaton had built up an eighteen second lead over Armstrong and Riddick, with Bogie and Rae nipping at their heels a further three second adrift.
On the completion of SS8 Balloch, the longest stage of the day at more than eight and a half miles, Thorburn had extended his lead to twenty-six seconds, with Armstrong defending a one second advantage over Bogie.
With crucial championship points at stake, and time running out, Bogie put in a final push to leap-frog Armstrong and snatch the runners-up spot by the narrowest of margins.
“It’s a very good result for us, probably as good as a win, given the problems we’ve had today”, said a relieved Bogie: “We got stuck behind a car on stage three, we lost the intercom on stage four, we had a spin on stage six, we then hit a gate-post on the exit to a hairpin, and we beat the bogey time three times. We’re now looking forward to the Merrick, and hopefully, if we get a good run there, the championship will fall into place”.
In the 2WD categories, Sean and Iain Robson from St Boswells now lead Class 7 by a single point after taking the runners-up spot on the day in their Ford Fiesta ST. The pair had gone into the event trailling class leader Craig Rutherford from Mull but he failed to finish following four wins in a row. Meanwhile, in the same class, Kieran Renton from Coldstream, with Tracey Louise Muir on the notes, kept himself in contention - finishing fourth and maintaining his third place in the championship.
The seventh round of the SRC is the Ian Broll Merrick Stages in Wigtown on September 1st.