Armstrong takes last gasp Galloway Hills Rally win
Jock Armstrong secures ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship title and Galloway Hills Rally victory as rival Garry Pearson retires on the final stage.
Jock Armstrong scored a dramatic eighth Galloway Hills Rally victory last weekend and with it, secured the 2016 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship title at the Castle Douglas based event.
Image courtesy of West Coast Photos - Gavin Brown
Local hero Armstrong played second best to SRC leader Garry Pearson for much of the day, but in a in a nail biting twist, took a final stage victory when Pearson’s Fiesta R5 dramatically caught fire, ending his fight for the championship and hopes of a rally win. Mike Faulkner took an impressive second overall on the event with Dumfries ace Mark McCulloch securing the final step of the podium in third.
Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the Castle Douglas based event attracted a 90 car entry but all eyes were undoubtedly on the SRC title fight which would be fought out across six stages in the Dumfries and Galloway forests to the north-west of Castle Douglas. After five hard-fought rounds across Scotland, Armstrong and Pearson were separated by just 10 points and the championship would be played out during the final round of the series between the two drivers.
First blood would go to Armstrong and co-driver Paula Swinscoe who bagged a slender one second lead in their familiar Subaru Impreza on the opening stage of the event over Fiesta pilot John MacCrone with Stuart Loudon alongside. Pearson and co-driver Robbie Mitchell were down in third in their similar machine but soon vaulted into the rally lead after an impressive run over the second stage. MacCrone failed to emerge from the second test after getting the Fiesta beached, leaving Mike Faulkner and co-driver Peter Foy to slot into third spot in their Mitsubishi E9.
At the halfway point of the day, Pearson had opened up a seven second lead over Armstrong but could not afford to relax after trading times with the Castle Douglas man throughout the three stages on the opening loop. Just three more stages separated Pearson from taking his very first Scottish Championship title and the Duns resident was in a confident mood as he left the midway service halt.
Armstrong had other ideas however; closing the gap to the leader to just two seconds after stage four. But the biggest blow was yet to come for Pearson. A time only good enough for forth on the penultimate stage saw Pearson drop down to second place as Armstrong recorded a time 14 seconds faster than Pearson through the Cain Edward test. Either Pearson was conserving the car, or he had problems. And it was the latter.
Smoke engulfed Pearson’s Fiesta R5 on the road section towards the final stage and after desperate efforts to keep the imminent fire at bay; Pearson had no option but to park up at the side of the road, retiring on the spot with a broken manifold. By now, Armstrong was running first on the road and was unaware of the drama unfolding behind him. By the time he returned to the ceremonial finish in Castle Douglas however, news had filtered through that he was champion yet again.
“It’s been fantastic battle with Garry (Pearson) all year long and it’s a real shame for him that it’s ended like this” said a jubilant Armstrong. “I guess what is unlucky for him is good for me and to win my home event for an eighth time whilst taking my second Scottish Rally Championship title is a great way to end the season. Now, it’s party time!”
Pearson’s demise had changed the look of the top three, meaning Faulkner grabbed second spot with McCulloch third. McCulloch was languishing down in eighth after the opening test, but fought back through the field to take a well-deserved podium after working through the night to cure a sick car at the shakedown stage on Friday.
Greg McKnight and Laura Marshall took a solid drive in their Mitsubishi E9 to fourth overall whilst fellow Mitsubishi crew Bruce Mccombie and Michael Coutts grabbed fifth. Andrew Gallacher and Jane Nicol were pleased with sixth overall in the gorgeous Focus WRC whilst Quintin Milne and Sean Donnelly took the two wheel drive honours in their Ford Escort Mk2 in seventh. Wayne Sisson and Neil Shanks brought their Mitsubishi IX home in eighth.
The event was once again awarded a prestigious £9000 grant from the Dumfries and Galloway Council Major Events Strategic Fund, which enabled organisers to offer free ferry crossings to crews from Ireland with event partners Stena Line. A plethora of crews made the trip across the Irish Sea with Seamus O’Connell and Sean Magee taking the Irish honours in ninth with their Ford Escort Mk2.
Michael Binne and Claire Mole scored an impressive result from a start number of 25, rounding off the top ten in their Mitsubishi IV.
Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the Castle Douglas based event attracted a 90 car entry and ran for the 43rd time on Saturday.
Gigantic battle set for the Galloway Hills Rally
ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship to be decided at Castle Douglas based rally as around 90 crews set to start popular event
The ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) will go down to the wire this weekend as the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally plays host to the final-round battle for the title.
Organised by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs, the Castle Douglas based event will see the fight between local hero and event sponsor Jock Armstrong and Duns resident Garry Pearson for the prestigious SRC honours. After five hard-fought rounds across Scotland, the two drivers are separated by just 10 points and the winner will be crowned champion at the finish ramp on Saturday (10th September).
Alongside the title fight, almost 90 crews from the UK and Ireland will compete on the popular rally and Pearson with co-driver Robbie Mitchell will lead the field away on Saturday morning in their Fiesta R5. Pearson will head into battle with Castle Douglas resident and seven time event winner Jock Armstrong in his familiar orange Subaru Impreza who starts at number two with regular co-driver Paula Swinscoe. Armstrong’s outstanding record on the event will undoubtedly be an advantage in the title race.
Whilst all eyes maybe on the top two seeds for SRC honours, last month’s Grampian Stages top points scorer John MacCrone (Dervaig) cannot be discounted for the rally win who starts at number three in his Ford Fiesta R5. MacCrone will be joined for this event by Stuart Louden.
The rapid duo of Mike Faulkner (Wigton) and Peter Foy are number four in their Mitsubishi Evo IX and are still in search of their first rally win of the year. 2011 Galloway Hills Rally winner Mark McCulloch (Dumfries) and Michael Hendry are currently third in the SRC and will start the event at five in their Mitsubishi IX. McCulloch will head to Castle Douglas with a chance of a championship podium and will go head-to-head with Faulkner for the coveted spot.
Another Mitsubishi pilot Bruce McCombie (Banchory) hopes to be fighting for a podium on the event and will start at car six with co-driver Michael Coutts. Wayne Sisson makes the trip from Cumbria in his unique R4 Mitsubishi with Inverness co-driver Neil Shanks and will start at car seven.
There is an exciting prospect for rally fans at eight, with Andrew Gallacher (Hurlford) bringing an ex-Carlos Sainz Ford Focus WRC to the event. Partnered by Jane Nicol, Gallacher’s parents are both past winners of the rally and he will be doing his best to etch the family name on the winner’s trophy for a third time in the rare machine.
Greg McKnight (Thornhill) and co-driver Laura Marshall continue to adapt to four wheel drive machinery in their Mitsubishi IX at nine with Scott McCombie (Banchory) and Mark Fisher rounding off the top ten in their similar machine.
The Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally has once again been awarded a prestigious £9000 grant from the Dumfries and Galloway Council Major Events Strategic Fund, which enabled organisers to offer free ferry crossings to crews from Ireland with event partners Stena Line. This successful incentive in 2015 brought a significant number of competitors across the Irish Sea and this year has seen another bumper entry from Northern and Southern Ireland.
Heading the contingent from Ireland is Seamus O'Connell and Sean Magee who bring their potent Ford Escort MK2 to the event. They also lead away the two wheel contingent at 11th seed. Robin and Laura Phillips from Northern Ireland are another notable entry with a Subaru Impreza WRC.
Alongside regular Scottish Rally Championship contenders, the event will welcome competitors from the Ecosse Challenge, a single make series for the Citroen C2, The Five of Clubs Rally Championship, Border Challenge and Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship.
The event consists of six competitive stages located to the north-west of Castle Douglas and spectators will get plenty of opportunity to watch the drama unfold in the forests and the cars up at close quarters. Rally HQ, pre event checks and Scrutiny will all be held in Castle Douglas on Friday 9th September and competitors will leave the start line in the town at 9.00am on Saturday 10th.
The R Earsman Ltd - Cairn Edward stage will kick off at 10.30am and offers two locations in which to watch the action with the cars returning at 13.20 for a second pass. Next up is the Jas P Wilson - Forest Machines Glengap stage at 11.00am and again at 14.00. The Molplant Ltd - Black Loch stage provides easy access for spectators and gets underway at 12.51.
There will also be a chance to see the cars in the Kirroughtree Visitor Centre service area at midday. Crews will arrive back at the ceremonial finish to spray the champagne at around 2.30pm in Castle Douglas.
For more information on the event, please visit http://www.gallowayhillsrally.co.uk
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*Competitor draw winners - Round 2*
Congratulations to the second batch of four lucky mainland winners who have been drawn from the official GHR hat, each qualifying for a 50% refund on their entry fee!
The winners are:
Allan McDowall - Andy Struthers - Scott Beattie - Ian Baumgart
*Competitor draw winners - Round 1*
Congratulations to our four lucky mainland winners who have been drawn from the official GHR hat, each qualifying for a 50% refund on their entry fee! And the best part is...thanks to the number of entries, we can do another draw tomorrow night. How amazing is that?!
The winners are:
Linzi Henderson - Alan McMorran - Duncan MacDonald - Duncan Campbell
Congratulations everyone, and don't forget to check again tomorrow night!
Entries open for 2016 Galloway Hills Rally
Entries for the 2016 Galloway Hills Rally are now open. The event will be a scoring round of the Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship, Five of Clubs Championship, and Border Challenge, and for the first time, the deciding round of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship and Ecosse Challenge.
Our free ferries incentive, in conjunction with Dumfries and Galloway Major Events Strategic Fund, returns for a third consecutive year – see Appendix A for more information, and enter early to avoid 'missing the boat' (!)
For Competitor Downloads and Online Entry Form, click HERE.