‘Armstrong faces up to a ban from the MSA’

Scot ex­posed him­self to an on­com­ing com­peti­tor

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon

Jock Armstrong could miss the open­ing two rounds of next year’s Scot­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship af­ter be­ing banned for six months by the Mo­tor Sports Coun­cil Na­tional Court for show­ing his but­tocks to a com­peti­tor on a stage.

Armstrong, 47, was mar­shalling on the Sol­way Coast Rally on Au­gust 5/6 when he ex­posed him­self to a com­peti­tor, Niall Cowan, who is a good friend of Armstrong; he spon­sors Cowan’s MG ZR.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Ed­die Kelly took an im­age of the in­ci­dent for what Armstrong thought was a pri­vate joke, al­though Kelly posted the shot on Face­book, which the driver later con­firmed he was “OK” with.

Armstrong re­ceived a six-month ban and a £1000 fine at the Na­tional Court last week. It means he will miss the Snow­man (Fe­bru­ary 10) and the Bor­der Coun­ties (March 10) ral­lies, un­less he suc­cess­fully ap­peals. The ban starts from the date of the court judge­ment, Oc­to­ber 3.

“This week makes me more fa­mous for that than win­ning the Scot­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship two years in a row,” said Armstrong. “I fully un­der­stand they have to take ac­tion as I was wear­ing an MSA tabard.

“Ed­die put the pic­ture on [Face­book], he didn’t ask my per­mis­sion, but I was OK with that as it was a harm­less pic­ture, I’m not do­ing any­thing wrong.

“The event was short of mar­shals, so I went to help out. The Sol­way Car Club have done a lot for me over the years, I spon­sor the Gal­loway Hills Rally [a round of the SRC] and they or­gan­ise that event and they do a good job. I thought I’d put some­thing back in when I got the chance and I did that week­end.

“To get knocked over with a £1000 fine: they’ve made an ex­am­ple of me. I’ve come away and not said any­thing fur­ther. I’m just gath­er­ing my thoughts and [will] see what I can do. I haven’t made my mind up yet whether it’s worth­while to ap­peal. I don’t know the ap­peal process. The funny thing is, I can go out and mar­shal to­mor­row.”

Armstrong claims that Cowan didn’t even see him, as the com­peti­tor wasn’t at com­pet­i­tive rally speed af­ter hit­ting a bale just be­fore the in­ci­dent took place, dam­ag­ing the car.

The pho­tog­ra­pher who posted the pic­ture, Kelly, added: “I’m ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed for Jock and what was, at the time, a light­hearted mo­ment in the sun on a lo­cal event, has been scru­ti­nised in a very pub­lic man­ner and is sub­ject to a wide range of opin­ion.

“I be­lieve that there was never any intention to cause of­fence and Jock was in no dan­ger from where he was stand­ing.

“A long lens com­pressed the per­spec­tive mak­ing him look closer to the road than he may have ap­peared. There were no spec­ta­tors in the area and this was in­tended as a pri­vate joke be­tween Jock and the com­peti­tor.

“The irony is that post­ing the im­age was in­tended to high­light the pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion a prom­i­nent Scot­tish com­peti­tor was mak­ing to ral­ly­ing by turn­ing out to mar­shal for the week­end.

“Jock is a colour­ful char­ac­ter in the sport in Scot­land and the sup­port he has re­ceived on­line and in per­son in the last week, has shown that many are dis­ap­pointed at the out­come of this in­ci­dent.”

The is­sue has caused an out­cry in the ral­ly­ing com­mu­nity against the level of pun­ish­ment is­sued. The Mo­tor Sports As­so­ci­a­tion, re­spon­si­ble for gov­ern­ing mo­tor­sport in the UK, re­ferred the in­ci­dent to the Na­tional Court, which is in­de­pen­dent of the MSA as is its judge­ments.

The Scot­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship also is­sued a state­ment: “The SRC and its sup­port­ers are sad­dened to hear the news that Jock Armstrong will not be able to com­pete in the open­ing rounds of the 2018 Scot­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship.

“We are dis­ap­pointed at the length of li­cence sus­pen­sion, as Jock Armstrong is an as­set to Scot­tish ral­ly­ing and we look for­ward to him re­join­ing the cham­pi­onship at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble date.”

Photos: Writ­tle Pho­to­graphic, John Fife

Armstrong: 2015’16 SRC cham­pion Armstrong has com­pe­ti­tion ban for mar­shalling in­ci­dent

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