Battle for RSAC Scottish Rally honours hots up with impressive entry for 19th/20th May event
A string of top-line rally stars will head to this weekend’s RSAC Scottish Rally in Dumfries and Galloway, as the 72nd running of the event takes place in the region on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th May.
The annual event, supported by Dumfries & Galloway Council will once again play host to the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) and ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) with both series’ providing an enviable list of crews from across the world all eager to tackle classic stages in the Eskdalemuir and Ae forests.
In a change to previous years, the event will see a shift to the new rally base in Lockerbie Lorry Park with an additional two stages as sunlight fades on Friday night. Saturday houses the bulk of the event mileage before crews from the BRC enjoy a new finish venue in the town of Moffat.
Current leader of the BRC standings Fredrik Ahlin will lead the field away from Dumfries in his Skoda Fabia R5. The Swede, with co-driver Torstein Eriksen will be aiming to make it three BRC wins in a row at the event and starts as favourite to be on the top step of the podium.
Dumfries driver David Bogie will undoubtedly be putting his local knowledge to good use during the event and starts car two in his Skoda Fabia R5. Team mate to Ahlin, Bogie will be playing his cards close to his chest if he is to beat the Swedish star on home soil and take win number five on the event. Kevin Rae will co-drive.
Welsh crew Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss start at three in their Ford Fiesta R5. An impressive showing at the second round of the series just down the road in Carlisle will set them up for a good result in Dumfries. All eyes will be on fellow Welshmen Tom Cave and James Morgan in their rare Hyundai i20 R5 during the weekend. Cave led round two of the BRC before suspension failure forced them out of the event in the rapid machine and the duo start at four.
Rounding off the top five is the Irish pairing of Keith Cronin and Mike Galvin in the M Sport Ford backed Fiesta R5. Former British Champion, Cronin is yet to challenge the leaders for the overall honours as he adapts to the new-for -2017 car.
Such is the strong BRC entry, you have to look to car nine before you find the first of the Scottish Championship runners, which comes in the form of likeable local hero Jock Armstrong from Castle Douglas. Current SRC title holder Armstrong and co-driver Paula Swinscoe are another duo to be putting local knowledge to good use and will hope to overturn the misfortunes of the previous round in Elgin.
Current championship leader Euan Thorburn from Duns is next SRC runner at car 12 with Paul Beaton alongside. Thorburn is looking likely to contest the BRC section of the event to ensure he scores points in both championships but will not have the benefit of a pre-event recce, his only advantage perhaps is the use of the Friday night stages to acclimatise to the conditions.
Other notable entrants include Castle Douglas co-driver Kirsty Riddick who sits alongside Belfast’s Jonny Greer in his Citroen DS3 R5. SRC regulars Mark McCulloch (Dumfries), Rory Young (Dumfries) and Greg Mcknight (Penpont) all line up inside the top 20, bringing a local flavour to the event.
Fans will have plenty of opportunity to catch the action both on and off the stages. The now traditional ceremonial start will take place on High Street in Dumfries at 7pm on Friday 19th May, allowing onlookers the chance to mix with the British Rally Championship stars. Crews will then head for a double run of the Mount Joe Stage in the Greskine Forest and there will be two chances to see the action from 7.50pm.
On Saturday, runners from the Scottish Rally Championship will join the fray and the full field blast through the first spectator stage, Castle O’er at 9.10am. They return for a second pass at 1.30pm.
The forest of Ae also offers the chance to see a double run, firstly at 11.30am and then again at 4.15pm although the second running will be just for the BRC crews.
The town of Moffat will play host to the ceremonial finish at around 5pm where the lucky winners will spray the champagne.
The full spectator information, more information and entry list is available at www.scottishrally.co.uk and in the spectator programme which is on sale now and throughout the event.
Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography