Euan Thorburn is hoping for his second win of the season in Saturday’s Brick and Steel Construction Border Counties Rally.
Following his victory in the opening round of this year’s Scottish Rally Championship in Inverness, the Ford Focus WRC driver from Duns has a two point lead in the ARR Craib-backed series over Aberdeenshire’s Quintin Milne, who battled snow and ice on the Kielder Forest stages to take the win in Jedburgh 12 months ago.
Once again Euan will be co-driven by Paul Beaton from Inverness. This will be the first of two ‘home’ events for the Duns driver with the Jim Clark Rally coming up in May.
Defending champions David Bogie and Hawick co-driver Kevin Rae had to settle for fourth on the opening round in their Focus WRC – a puncture putting paid to any hopes of victory. However, Bogie is in confident mood: “We were fastest through four of the five stages, so the pace was certainly there – and that bodes well for the rest of the season. If we can go into the Border Counties with the same pace, then I see no reason why we can’t take the win. It’s a rally which requires big commitment, but I’m feeling comfortable and confident in the car, and thoroughly looking forward to the event.”
Dale Robertson from Duns, co-driven by Tranent’s Paul McGuire, currently sits fourth in the Group N category, 18 overall, in his new-for-2014 EVO 9. The pair lost time on the Snowman, when a brake pipe broke on the third stage, with six miles still to go.
Another Duns-based crew, father and daughter team Garry and Hollie Wilson, will be aiming to build on their top 20 finish on the Snowman, in a Mitsubishi EVO 5.
Jedburgh’s Tommy Heard, driving a Subaru Imopreza on his local event has Amanda Burney from Kirkcudbright on the notes.
With classes 1-7 running at the front of the field, the first competitor into the Kielder stages will be Malton’s Steve Bannister, co-driven by Hawick’s Louise Sutherland, in his historic-spec Ford Escort Mk2. The pair have been the event’s leading 2WD competitors on three occasions in the past four years, but are likely to face strong competition for overall honours from past BRC and WRC competitor John MacCrone in his Ford Fiesta R200.
Colin Aitchison, co-driven by fellow Duns man Garry Pearson, currently leads the historic class in his Vauxhall Chevette, while Lauder’s Callum Atkinson, co-driven by Keith Riddick, will be eyeing Class 7 honours in a Ford Fiesta RT.
In the 1600cc category, Kieran Renton and Dave O’Brien, from Leitholm and Duns respectively, will have home support in their Ford Fiesta R2.
Other Borders crews include Ian Watson (Kelso) and Mike Dickson (St Boswells) in their Ford Escort RS, Brian Middlemas (St Boswells) and Kevin Mathers (Newtown St Boswells) in their Hillman Avenger and Iain Heard (Ancrum) and Alistair Maxwell (Ancrum) in another Ford Escort Mk2.
Duns co-driver Richard Simmonds is on the notes for Blair Brown (Kinross) in a Peugeot 205 GTI and Jedburgh co-driver Paul Wood partners M. Thaarique Fazal (Glasgow) also in a Peugeot 205 GTi.