Scot­tish cham­pi­onship thriller as crews have to rely on first-stage times to de­cide re­sult. By John Fife atur­day’s Brick & Steel Bor­der Coun­ties Rally ended in a dead heat. At the fin­ish, Jock Arm­strong and Garry Pear­son shared iden­ti­cal to­tals. A faster

Motor Sport News - - Rally Reports - By Peter Scherer Re­sults

Go­ing into the fi­nal stage, 10 sec­onds cov­ered the top three, with Shaun Sin­clair only a se­cond be­hind Pear­son.

Arm­strong was fastest over the first three stages, the Subaru Im­preza open­ing up an 11-se­cond lead over Sin­clair first time out in a hired Ford Fo­cus WRC, but Arm­strong nearly dropped the ball on the start line at the fourth test. “I for­got to put it in gear when the mar­shal started count­ing down,” said Arm­strong. “That cost me two or three sec­onds and could so eas­ily have cost me the rally!”

A third fastest time on the first stage fol­lowed by two se­cond-fastest times demon­strated Pear­son’s con­fi­dence in the Ford Fi­esta as he chased the top two, but it was Sin­clair who went fastest on the fourth test, be­fore drop­ping time in the fifth. “The car filled with dust. I couldn’t see a thing, it was worse than fog,” he said.

This time Pear­son was quick­est in the Fi­esta R5, clos­ing the gap to Arm­strong to nine sec­onds, with Sin­clair just one se­cond be­hind that. The fi­nal test would de­cide the win­ner, nine miles in the su­per­fast Craik.

Pear­son had been grow­ing in con­fi­dence all day with his new car and, con­sid­er­ing he had taken a se­cond a mile out of the rally leader on the pre­vi­ous eight-mile test at Elibank de­spite a front-wheel punc­ture for the last halfmile, a sim­i­lar ef­fort was needed here.

He was quick­est by six sec­onds from Sin­clair, while Arm­strong could only man­age third quick­est, a cru­cial nine sec­onds be­hind Pear­son. The re­sult was a dead heat with a re­lieved Arm­strong be­ing de­clared the win­ner.

Top Mit­subishi driver on the day was Mike Faulkner in fourth place, fin­ish­ing over a minute clear of Mark Mccul­loch, but both had their trou­bles. Faulkner dropped time on the fi­nal test with a top end mis­fire, while Mccul­loch was plagued all day by a Lancer that lacked trac­tion at the rear.

Bruce Mccom­bie had to set­tle for sixth af­ter a punc­ture on the fourth test, while

11 John S Wink/john For­rest (Lancer E9); 12 Alis­dair S Gra­ham/ Laura Stu­art (Lancer E9); 13 Scott Mccom­bie/ Mark Fisher (Lancer E9); 14 Ross Macdon­ald/ Matthew John­stone (Lancer E8); 15 Scott Mac­beth/ Daniel Forsyth (Lancer); 16 Steve Ban­nis­ter/ Kim Baker (Ford Es­cort Mk2); 17 Stephen Freddy Lock­hart/ Richard War­dle (Lancer E6); 18 Iain Wil­son/ Keith Rid­dick (Im­preza); 19 Ian Baum­gart/ Mike Dickson (Im­preza); 20 Keith Mor­ris/ Martin For­rest (Lancer E6). Class win­ners An­gus Lawrie/jeannette Kvick (Vaux­hall Corsa); Scott Beat­tie/ Rus­sell Fair (Tal­bot Sun­beam); Steven Smith/ Daniel John­stone (Es­cort Mk2); John Mcil­wraith/ Scott Young (Es­cort RS); Ban­nis­ter/ Baker; Alan Cowan/ Katie Stimp­son (Vaux­hall Astra); Grant Inglis/ Robert Gray (Es­cort); Don­ald Brooker/ Rachel Brooker (BMW 130i); Faulkner/ Foy; Arm­strong/ Swin­scoe; Pear­son/ Mitchell.

Dale Robert­son made it back into the top 10 af­ter break­ing a drive­shaft on the first test and do­ing the next two with a front-wheel-drive Lancer. An­drew Gal­lacher lost over a minute on the penul­ti­mate test when his Lancer rum­bled out of the stage on two flat tyres on the same side.

In worse luck was John Mac­crone, who re­tired his Fi­esta R5 from the top 10 when a turbo pipe clamp snapped. At least he lasted a lit­tle longer than Peter Stephen­son, whose Fo­cus had plunged down a bank. There was lit­tle dam­age but it would need more than spec­ta­tor power to get it out.

Snow­man Rally win­ner Don­nie Macdon­ald fin­ished eighth los­ing time on the fifth test with a front punc­ture and Barry Ground­wa­ter held on to ninth place in front of Gal­lacher.

Top two-wheel-drive run­ner on the day was Steve Ban­nis­ter, while Greg Mcknight, who was 10s fastest on the open­ing stage, lost out when the rear end of his Es­cort made vi­o­lent con­tact with a bank­ing on a fourth-gear cor­ner in stage 2, al­though he re­cov­ered to fin­ish fifth in class. Matthew Robin­son re­tired his Fiat 131 in the fi­nal stage when the car hit a rock “and broke some­thing un­der­neath!”

An­gus Lawrie took the 1450cc class in his Vaux­hall Corsa while Ross Car­bry’s Corsa ended its day on the first stage with a bro­ken drive­shaft. Scott Beat­tie won Class 3 in his Tal­bot Sun­beam ahead of the top-placed Peu­geot 205 of Ben Cree, while Steven Smith took Class 4 in his Es­cort ahead of the Corsa of Alex Cur­ran.

Added to his fourth place fin­ish on the Snow­man Rally, Pear­son’s se­cond place puts him pro­vi­sion­ally at the top of the ARR Craib Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship points ta­bles on 53 points, with Don­nie Macdon­ald on 52 and Dale Robert­son shar­ing 51 with Mark Mccul­loch.

Next month there is a change for the Scot­tish rally crews: it’s El­gin in­stead of Aberdeen as the Spey­side Stages as­sumes the round three role.

Or­gan­iser: Owen MC When: March 20 Where: We­ston Park, Shrop­shire Cham­pi­onships: AWMMC Heart of Eng­land; HRCR Old Stager Stages: 10 Starters: 75

Paul Evans and Stephen Turner took a dra­matic vic­tory in their Ford Es­cort Mk2 af­ter start­ing the fi­nal stage tied with Roger Mo­ran and Sa­man­tha Lester’s sim­i­lar car.

Tim­ing prob­lems caused the first stage to be can­celled, but Mo­ran had tied on the se­cond stage with five-time win­ners Oliver Davies/ben Innes, be­fore Mo­ran went a se­cond clear on the fourth.

Evans had al­ready started to con­sol­i­date third over David Wright/steve Pugh’s Ford Es­cort, af­ter the lat­ter had a cou­ple of grassy ex­cur­sions, while Paul Alexan­der/abi Hay­cock’s Es­cort headed Gareth Richards/heather Gilmore’s Dar­rian for fifth.

But Davies’ hopes of an­other vic­tory were dashed on stage five. “It was a huge tank-slap­per over the grass,” he said. It dropped him to third, seven sec­onds off the lead and chas­ing to re­cover se­cond from Evans.

Al­though Mo­ran re­tained his lead, a stall at the Hair­pin on stage six halved it and spurred Evans on to chase the win. Af­ter seven stages it was a one-se­cond gap, be­fore they matched each other on stage eight.

It was dead level into the fi­nal stage from which Evans emerged two sec­onds quicker to snatch the win from Mo­ran, but Davies was left parked af­ter his en­gine let him down. Wright there­fore claimed third, de­spite be­ing slowly caught by Richards.

They were fol­lowed home by the Class C bat­tle, led all day by Alexan­der, de­spite bat­tling with­out power steer­ing from mid-rally. Ju­lian Jones/mikey Her­ritts’ Es­cort over­came brake bias prob­lems to oust Lee Ed­wards/mike Roberts’ Es­cort from se­cond in class af­ter seven stages to com­plete the top six over­all.

Ian and Sarah Ham­ble­ton’s Peu­geot 106 led Clive King/ An­ton Bird’s Mini Cooper S all day to take Class A, with Mark Gam­ble/steve Link’s Suzuki Swift head­ing Dai Roberts/ Max Free­man’s Peu­geot 205 GTI in Class B. Stu­art and Jack An­der­son’s Vaux­hall Chevette topped the His­torics.

Ban­nis­ter im­pressed in Es­cort

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