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Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally Overall Review

Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally Overall Review

18/09/2023, Scotland, Motorsport - Road Racing, Scottish Rally Championship, Article # 31424154

The Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally organisers had made the decision to start their event at three o’clock in the afternoon, guaranteeing the majority of crews some night-time running in the forests. The event also had the added spice of a chance for the destination of the overall Scottish Rally Championship titles to be decided.

The 1st loop of three stages, and it was Championship leaders Jock Armstrong and Hannah McKillop who took the early lead, fastest on stage one and two and 2nd on three to head into service with a 4 second advantage.

David Henderson & Chris Lees were 3rd quickest on the opener and 2nd on two, caught out slightly by the looseness of the roads. Stage three was more to their liking, fastest by four seconds to half their deficit to the Impreza.

Out for the 2nd loop and the battle was on. The two crews tying for fastest time on stage four before Henderson and Lees took four seconds back on five to draw level with Armstrong and McKillop with one stage remaining.

Onto the final stage and the Fiesta crew turned things up even further, taking 10 seconds out of the Impreza to take a 2nd SRC win in a row – and their 2nd successive Galloway Hills victory – to keep their 2023 title chances very much still alive going into the final round.

For Armstrong and Mckillop’s part Jock reckoned he’d been overdriving on the 2nd loop and had found himself in the wrong gear on a couple of occasions. Still, they know it’s now all to play for on the final round.

Behind the top two was a big battle for 3rd between John Wink and Neil Shanks and Michael Binnie and Emily Easton-Page.  Tying on time on four of the six stages they ended the event just eight seconds apart.

For John and Neil there was a bit of a scare on the 2nd loop when one of the bonnet pins failed, John admitting to finding it a bit distracting. That didn’t stop them from taking a 3rd podium of the season as their strong 2023 campaign continues. Michael & Emily were glad to get a clean run after their Grampian accident.

Scott Peacock and Craig Wallace wrapped up the Albyn Garage Challengers title in Scott’s home forests after an excellent debut 4wd season. The Mitsubishi Evo 8 crew narrowly missing out on an overall top 10 by just 13 seconds after an excellent battle with Barry Groundwater and Charlotte McDowall’s Impreza WRC. Scott reckoning a brake issue on the 2nd loop might have made all the difference.

It was a dramatic day in the Autoshop 2wd standings, Paddy Munro and Andrew Stevenson were fastest in stage 1 but were out after gearbox issues in 2. Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson inherited the lead and were battling with John Crawford and Josh Davison up until the final stage when Stuart and Brian would unfortunately retire. That left John and Josh to take the 2wd win but only by 2 seconds along with 12th overall. This result keeping John in with a chance of the 2wd driver’s title.

Those 2 seconds were to the Opel Adam R2 of Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown. Robert wrapping up a well-deserved 2nd Moates Offshore Junior title with yet another phenomenal performance in 2023, taking 13th overall in a 1600 engined car. It was an excellent run in the tricky conditions with only a few small moments on the stages.

There was drama in the Groundwater Lift Trucks Subaru Cup. Championship contenders John McIlwraith and Heather Grisedale would retire with a double puncture on the 2nd loop and Liam Richardson and Darren Kennedy barely made the finish after a dramatic day when even the service van experienced issues. Taking advantage Jordan Anderson and Harry Stubbs took their 4th win of the season and 20th overall despite some small issues. Once again, the Subaru Cup title will go a final round head to head, this year between Anderson and Stubbs and the reigning champions Mike Moates and Gary McDonald.

Jim Robertson and Mike Curry took a 5th maximum points score in the Haddo Energy Super Seniors to take that title with a round to spare. The Historic spec MK2 taking an excellent 22nd overall and 2nd in class. Up next for Jim will be an attack on this year’s Roger Albert Clark Rally.

There was also drama in the Lady drivers. Reigning champion Aileen Forrest had battled a puncture and cutting out issues on the 1st loop before unfortunately damaging the front right corner of the car in a ditch and retiring. Linzi Henderson and Sue Hynd were experiencing Linzi’s dad’s recently finished MK2 Escort and loving life despite fuel pump issues and a broken front caliper bracket. Taking advantage, Meghan and John O’Kane would take the win and an excellent 28th overall in the Fiesta. The handling issues much improved with a new back axle and Meghan was driving very well. This result ties Meghan with Aileen at the top of the points standings going into the final round.

images by AF Motorsport Media
Titles up for grabs in the Hills of Galloway.

Titles up for grabs in the Hills of Galloway.

14/09/2023, Scotland, Motorsport - Road Racing, Scottish Rally Championship, Article # 31416625

The KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship heads to Galloway for the penultimate round of the 2023 season, the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally, and there’s a chance that the overall championships will be decided.

Championship leaders Jock Armstrong & Hannah McKillop come into the event that Jock sponsors needing a win to wrap up the 2023 title. A 9-time winner of this event, Jock is an acknowledged master of these forests. The Impreza crew have form in this part of the world in 2023, having already won the RSAC Scottish Rally.

2022 Hills winners David Henderson & Chris Lees are the crew with the strongest chance of denying Armstrong & McKillop. Fresh from a win at the Grampian the Fiesta crew can still take the championship with 2 wins over the final 2 rounds. A prospect by no means beyond the realms of possibility.

If these 2 crews slip up, there are others ready to take advantage. Michael Binnie & Emily Easton-Page led the Grampian until sadly crashing out. Michael will be looking to avenge last year’s Hills accident.

Former Hills winner Mark McCulloch & co-driver Michael Hendry’s persistence with their Proton Satria has started to pay dividends. 2 podiums in the last 3 rounds showing that they’ve built a genuine R5/Rally2 challenger.

John Wink & Neil Shanks have produced their strongest SRC season so far in the Hyundai i20. John has stuck the car on the Hills podium in the past and the Hyundai crew were right in the mix at the front of the Grampian.

Other crews in the mix include Speyside winners Finlay Retson & Paul Beaton, Argyll winners Rory Young & Allan Cathers, Stephen Petch & Michael Wilkinson, Scott Beattie & Peredur Davies, Iain Wilson & Chris Williams, Angus Lawrie & Paul Gribben and Willie Paterson & Tom Hynd.

It’s a similar situation to the main title picture in the Autoshop 2-wheel drives. Reigning 2wd champion Peter Stewart can wrap up the driver’s title with a win on the Hills. However, regular navigator Harry Marchbank is missing for this round, replaced by the experienced Dave Robson.

The crew that can deny Stewart are his 2022 rivals Stuart Egglestone & Brian Hodgson. The Pinto MK2 crew fresh from a sensational 2wd win at the Grampian, keeping the pressure on the 208 pilot.

Things are more open in the Albyn Garage Challengers division. Evo crew Scott Peacock & Craig Wallace can take the title on the Hills if other big players don’t score. The MK2 Escorts of Paddy Munro – joined for this event by Andrew Stevenson – and John Crawford & Josh Davison are ready to take the fight to the red Mitsubishi as is John Easson award winner Johnnie Mackay. The Evo 7 pilot teaming up with Barry Young for this round.

Other 2wd and Challengers crews to watch include Duncan Campbell & Michael Cruickshank, David Wilson & Kerrie MacGillivray, David Hardie & John McCulloch and the return of Fraser Smith & Nikki Addison. Fraser & Nikki making their MK2 debut as a team.

The Moates Offshore Juniors is reigning champion Robert Proudlock’s to lose. The Adam pilot’s 2023 pace has been sensational, and he needs a win to wrap up a 2nd title. Keeping him honest, Fiesta pilot Meghan O’Kane is 2nd in the points and can take advantage if he slips up. He will also have the challenge of fellow Adam pilot Archie Swinscoe to deal with. Rapid on the tarmac, we’ve yet to see what Archie’s capable of on the loose. The Peugeots of Scott Gourlay and Owen McLeod & Lochlan McIver’s Fiesta complete the Junior line up.

In the Groundwater Lift Trucks Subaru Cup two drivers come into this round with 3 wins apiece; John McIlwraith & Jordan Anderson sharing the wins throughout the season so far. John’s navigator Heather Grisedale has the points advantage in the co-drivers standings from Harry Stubbs thanks to her 3 wins over Harry’s 2.

Mike Moates & Gary McDonald have been 2023’s most consistent crew, scoring on every round and in the perfect place to pounce if those 2 crews slip up. Liam Richardson & Darren Kennedy are also in with an outside chance of the title.

The Haddo Energy Super Seniors standings is down to a 2-way race between Jim Robertson & Richard Stewart. The MK2 Escort man just 6 points up on the 208 pilot with 2 rounds remaining.

Things are even tighter in the Lady driver’s points. Reigning champ Aileen Forrest is just 2 points clear of season long rival Meghan O’Kane. The battles between the Evo & Fiesta have been some of the best in the 2023 championship.

Looking to crash the party Linzi Henderson & Sue Hynd come off their best run of the year so far at the Grampian. However, for this round they swap their Fiesta for a MK2 Escort and it will be interesting to see how they get on with the new car.

All the action goes down on Saturday the 16th of September, the event starting at 15:00 hours and running into the early evening for all SRC competitors. A further loop of 3 stages in the dark is available for those competitors looking for an extra challenge. Keep an eye on the KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship Facebook page for updates and live coverage throughout the afternoon.

Current Championship points tables can be viewed on the website here

The full entry for the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally can be viewed/downloaded here with live results available on the day from here.

Spectator information is available from the event website here.

Live coverage from the very compact event is scheduled to be shown on the SRC Facebook page from stage 1 (15:10), Passage Control after SS3 (16:20) and stage 4 (17:35).

images courtesy of AF Motorsport Media